Competing and doing well in 3-Gun competitions has a lot to do with personal preference of gear and guns. Mind you, training is pertinent, but figuring out what works best for you is subjective. I prefer not having to think about much when I shoot except, “See target, see sight on target, pull trigger.”
Most 3-Gun competitors use either a 50-yard or 100-yard zero for their rifle. Through trial and quite a bit of error, I have learned that using a 50-yard zero works best for me. I utilize this zero for all matches, whether only short-range targets are present or a mixture of both long and short range.
Using a 50-yard zero simplifies my thought process when shooting most distances encountered at 3-Gun matches. At most major matches, long-rang targets will not go further than 325 yards. The bullet trajectory of most 55- and 77-grain .223 or 5.56 has the same point of impact at 50 yards and 200 yards. This means at 50 yards and 200 yards, I would hold center of the target and would make the hit. During a match, if there are rifle targets at 50, 100, 200, and 300 yards, my thought process is: “50 yards: hold center, 100 yards: hold low, 200 yards: hold center, 300 yards: hold high.” By streamlining my thought process for the rifle portion, I can focus on other aspects of the stage that require more attention to detail.
With a 100-yard zero, targets out to 200 yards can easily be hit. When I used a 100-yard zero, I would hold center on targets out to 100 yards and then start to hold high on further targets. What I did not like about the 100 yard zero is that with no magnification and just a red-dot optic, I had to put too much space between the top of the target and the bottom of the dot when shooting past 250 yards. When your hold over a target requires a lot of space, it is easy to lose track of the expected point of impact.
To get an accurate 50 or 200 yard zero, I zero my rifle at 50 yards first. Then verify the 200-yard point of impact, and I adjust as needed to until my hits are dead center at 200 yards. As a new 3-Gun competitor, I have been able to dodge a lot of penalties on long-range steel by having a simple approach to my rifle game.
By Candice Toy. Originally published in the May 2014 issue of GunUp the Magazine.