Competing is 3-gun is fun, challenging and expensive. In my family, with three of us involved in the sport, the bills really add up. For those planning on getting involved in competing try budgeting your money wisely, and save a penny here and there with these tips. Let’s look at the 3 main categories of expenses for matches; gear, travel, and match fees.
Having all the gear to shoot 3-gun sure makes competing a lot easier, but not completely necessary. If you do the research, you can find ways to get gear at a discount. Many 3-gunners update their gear frequently or win items off the prize table they can’t use. It never hurts to ask the prize recipient at the match if she is willing to sell any items. If you like shopping online, you may want to search brianenos.com or AR-15.com forum classifieds. Also, for those on Facebook you can write your wanted ad or see what others have for sale. Visit 3 Fun Gear Yard Sale or just ask around for other Facebook groups.
When buying your guns don’t feel you have to go all out to start. If you can that’s great, but you’d be amazed at what you can find used to meet the need. When buying new guns, do research and make sound purchases. Shop around, ask friends who have already purchased or post questions on Facebook. Then, sift through all the information you’ve been bombarded with and make your choice.
Flights, hotels and meals can make the cost of a match sky rocket. When flying, travel light. Your guns will take up at least one checked bag so you will need another to hold your clothing and gear. Also, leave room in your carry-on to put items from your checked luggage that may go over the weight limit. Whenever possible we try to fly Southwest. They are a gun friendly and the first two checked bags are free.
Hotel prices vary greatly. Always look for discounts; NRA Member Benefits, AAA, Military, etc. You might also try a bed and breakfast or places like Airbnb where you can rent a room or even a house. When traveling alone save money with a roommate and consider sharing a rental car.
Eating every meal out may be convenient, but the cost and food choices can make a huge dent in a budget. Try to find a hotel that includes a breakfast and factor in the cost. Although it may cost a little extra, saving money on breakfast (and perhaps packing up a few snacks for later) may be worth it. Quite often you’ll need to leave for the match before it’s served. If you ask the evening before, the staff will usually pack a breakfast for you. For lunch, hit a local grocery store and pack healthy foods to snack on during the day.
Volunteer to work at a match and you not only get your match fee covered but you will learn a ton. You may even get your hotel and meals included. You can volunteer for numerous positions if you ask early enough; range officer, sponsorship coordinator, social media marketing, writing press releases, photographer, or working registration and prize table. As soon as they announce the match, contact the match director and let him know you’re available.
A Few More Practical Tips
- Buy ammunition in bulk and when it’s on sale.
- Don’t go to war with long range targets. Chances are the penalty for the miss is less than the time it will take you to fire that, “One More Shot!” You’re not just burning up the clock, but ammunition too.
- Save brass when you can to sell or reload.
The best resources are the people currently competing. Ask, ask, ask! You never know who needs a roommate, when people are carpooling and what others may be willing to sell. Go for it!!!