The 2012 SHOT show provided the backdrop for the richest payout in the sport of 3-gun, when eight finalists squared off under desert floodlights to battle in front of the cameras. Team FNH veterans Tommy Thacker and Mark Hanish took it to the wire in a nailbiting finish and later, I got to speak with the guy responsible for creating the event.
Chad Adams is both the presenter and chief string-puller at 3-Gun Nation, the TV show that has introduced the sport to millions on Versus and is about to enter its third season.
IH: Chad, we've seen a whole raft of TV shows present shooting in a positive light in the past couple of years and it's great to see 3GN has gained audience. What do you see as the main reasons for this?
CA: I truly believe our ratings and viewers are increasing because there is nothing else quite like 3-Gun Nation on television. When you look at the exposure shooting is getting through major networks like History and Discovery, combined with the traditional outdoor networks, there has never been more shooting shows reaching mainstream America. But within all of the that, 3-Gun Nation is unique. It features raw and unfiltered, pure competition at the highest levels, seen through the lens of the top shooters in our sport. You get a feel of who these competitors are and what they're all about.
IH: The new relationship with NBC Sports probably raised some eyebrows in the shooting community, given that NBC has never been particularly gun-friendly. Have you felt any influence or pressure in that regard?
CA: We're excited about the potential that comes with Versus becoming the NBC Sports Network. For us to be able to leverage the NBC Sports brand is a powerful tool. The folks we work with at NBC Sports Network have shown a real, positive interest in how we showcase the shooting sports. In fact, NBC Sports Network match Leupold Tactical Optics' contribution of $25,000, making the $50,000 3-Gun Nation Championship prize the largest payout in the history of our sport.
IH: You've changed the competition format for 2012, concentrating on the Scoped Tactical division to the exclusion of the guys running Heavy Metal or Open gear. I have to admit, I was pissed when I found out. Care to give everyone the rundown on that?
CA: I'll use the analogy of racing: A traditional 3-gun venue is sort of like having NASCAR, Formula 1 and Truck Series drivers all on the track at the same time. Having five different equipment divisions competing at the same venue makes 3-gun difficult to relate to the average viewer. The 3-Gun Nation Pro Series will put the top 3-gunners all in one division, competing head-to-head, for cash payouts. The Pro Series represents a new era in 3-gun -- the dawn of a true professional shooting sport.
IH: Of the matches & venues you've been to in the last 24 months, which ones have been your favorites from a TV standpoint?
CA: Showcasing Outlaw 3-Gun matches on our TV show has been an awesome experience. Each one really does have its own flavor, and those very personal characteristics of each match make for a very different TV experience. Rocky Mountain presents wide open vistas at NRA's amazing Whittington Center. Blue Ridge challenges competitors with stages weaved into rolling natural terrain. Superstition, very much a square bay match, amazes with flat-out, wide open shooting unlike anything seen anywhere else. Shooting styles, the use of props, the backdrop -- 3-gun has a different face everywhere we've been.
IH: What's the one piece of advice you'd give someone looking to get into the sport of 3-gun?
CA: The best piece of advice I've heard, and I've heard it time and time again from top 3-gunners, for those thinking about getting into 3-gun is simply this--go shoot a match! It doesn't matter what guns and gear you have to start. Nearly everyone begins with very basic firearms and loading out of pockets. Most folks will be pretty awful at the game compared to the veterans on their squad. But it doesn't matter. Come out and shoot a match. Most likely the folks there will lend you gear, coach you up, and you will leave the range that day changed forever. Give it a chance and 3-gun will get into your blood forever. And I speak from experience. A couple of years ago I shot my first match, and I'm completely hooked.