Usually in competitive shooting, I compete alone. My performance doesn’t affect anyone else’s score or ranking. Recently I had the opportunity to shoot my first team 3-gun match. Looking back now and thinking about the other teams and how my team worked together, I realize that there are a few things which make a team successful. Here are five tips to ensure success during a team match.
Know Your Teammate(s) Strengths and Weaknesses
When it comes to shooting 3-gun, just about everyone seems to have specific firearm strength. The one they are most confident shooting. Conversely, they also have a least favorite, the one they dread. Before you even start walking the stages, discuss who is the strongest with which firearm. It’s imperative to know who is most skilled, and prepared to engage long range, aerial and precise targets. Keeping these particulars in mind will make it easier to come up with a stage plan when walk through time is short.
Know Your Part in the Course of Fire
The course of fire for a team match creates a variety of challenges which invariably coincide with an equal variety of potential penalties. For instance, having to physically tag a teammate before moving from the shooter’s box, or being careful to not engage a target from a location on a barricade that has been previously used by one of your teammates. It’s imperative that each teammate keeps their mind on task and knows exactly what needs to be done to avoid procedural penalties.
Talking, listening and understanding are all huge parts of a successful stage. Since teammate coaching is allowed, it’s extremely important to let your teammates know when something goes wrong. For instance, if someone is about to shoot from the wrong area, or a target has not been engaged and is still standing, shout it out and let them know. Along with that, using the same verbiage with clear directions helps. When there is a stage with 96 shotgun targets, do not yell to your teammate that is shooting, “You missed the one over there!” A better choice of words would be, “Small knockdown (target), your left, back row.”
Know How to Call Teammates Shots
When engaging long range targets, whether slug, pistol or rifle, misses can be easily corrected when another shooter explains where the shots are hitting. “Hold left!” The more eyes on the target, the better the impact calls and the quicker your teammate can recover and hit. Just make sure your teammate wants your help and don’t give so many comments that confusion arises. This can happen if you call every miss and keep barking orders.
Inevitably, something, or things, will not go as planned. Guns will malfunction, reloads will be fumbled and “yard sales” will occur (a yard sale is when a competitor falls and all their gear goes flying in every direction). It’s when these unfortunate events happen that support within the team is most needed. Nothing can bring your performance down more than feeling that you are letting your team down.
The team match was a new experience this season and my final opinion is one of favor. Shooting both two-person and three-person matches brought new dimension to my 3-gun experience. Obviously the squads were larger by two and three times due to the team aspect so, I got to shoot with a lot more people than the standard squad of ten to fourteen. All those extra people made taping and putting steel targets back up almost effortless. The cheering and clapping from over thirty people was awesome, not to mention all the help that was available while planning stages. Actually, now that I know what I’m in for, I can’t wait to shoot these matches next year!