The USPSA Multigun Nationals have moved around between being out west in Nevada, to Florida and in South Carolina last year; for 2023 it was time to try something new. It was decided to do an outsourced contracted Nationals, and Adam Maxwell raised his hand to take on the challenge. The club was set to be the Forest Lake Sportsman’s Club in Forest Lake, Minn., which has been host to the very popular Tri-Gun and the Jeff Kirkwold Memorial matches. There is an active multigun community, and multiple matches that take place at the range throughout the year.
Adam is an experienced 3-gunner and Match Director, having taken on that role with the Jeff Kirkwold match and the Wisconsin 3-gun matches. He would work directly with folks in the Minnesota 3-gun community—Josh Erickson, Spencer Marsh, Kevin Harrington, Joel Meier and Brian Duncan—to develop a match that would be challenging and fun as well as work with the Forest Lake range. Ron Westberg, the operations manager at Forest Lake, was instrumental in helping to get things arranged and contracted with the range in order to host the match.
Federal stepped up to be the Title Sponsor of the match, with it being in its own backyard, and Vortex Optics was extremely eager to take on the role of Presenting Sponsor. Adam worked with Troy McManus to arrange a Range Officer and Chief Range Officer class ahead of the match with a focus on the USPSA Multigun rules. The team that Adam assembled would not only attend the class, but go as far as learning Sketch-Up software to develop the stage diagrams. The match that was put on the ground was a collaborative effort of the folks at the range, the Minnesota 3-gun and competitive shooting community. Even some pistol shooters such as Tim Dunderi got in on the match, designing a stage, shooting and working the match. Another Minnesota local also got in on the act this year—Andre DeSautel from JP Rifles opened the match by grabbing his guitar and performing the Star-Spangled Banner to kick things off.
Adam had taken to the social media airways ahead of the match on several different podcasts and “Lives” to talk about what to expect and how the match was going to run. It was scheduled as a three day match, July 21-23 for the main competition, while staff would shoot on that Wednesday and Thursday, July 19-20. The match would consist of 12 stages that would test all three firearms—rifle, pistol and shotgun. The flow of the match would have competitors shooting the first eight stages over Friday and Saturday, with the remaining four stages, nine through 12, shot on Sunday. The design of the match was that the more traditional field courses would be on the first two days and the remaining four stages were somewhat of a “shoot-off” style, stand and deliver stages.
With how USPSA Multigun scoring works, where every stage is worth 100 points, going into the last day it would be anyone’s match. You had to be on your game the whole time, but especially on the final day.
The stages were designed to test all three platforms. There was a mix of stages that required all three guns, a pistol-only stage, a rifle-only long-range stage, as well as a rifle and shotgun stage. There would be a total of 182 competitors broken down into five recognized divisions. Open division was the most populated with 73 competitors, Tactical had 42 and Limited saw 15. This was also the first match to recognized the new provisional Modified division with 50 competitors. In addition, there were two shooters in the Heavy Metal Tactical division.
The long-range rifle-only was Stage 1. There was a mix of close paper and distant steel out to 400 yards. The start was seated on a zero turn-style lawn mower where the competitors had to engage the furthest steel target. There was no easy seated position or good way to brace for this. Some tried off a knee, others with an elbow on the levers of the mower, and some just threw down with an elbow on a knee and took the steel. From there you had about a 40-yard run, engaging mini-USPSA paper targets before getting on an inverted slanted platform to engage steel targets at 250 yards, followed by a quick run over to hop into an unstable jon boat to take the remaining steel at 150 yards and two paper targets to the far right at 75 yards. This was not an easy stage with the unorthodox shooting positions that were required.
Stage 2 took up two bays and required all three firearms. The right bay was all pistol on the 10 USPSA targets before dumping your handgun and running over to the left bay for the rifle and shotgun part of the stage. You transitioned to the rifle for the first part of the stage for nine targets, then finished with shotgun on the back half that was a mix of clays and pipes.
Stage 3 again had you using all three firearms, starting with your shotgun. There was a mixture of steel poppers and steel pipes on this stage. Starting with the shotgun, you activated aerial clays by shooting a popper down. There was also a rabbit clay that would streak out in front of you. Once you finished up with the pipes and transitioned to the rifle, you then needed to climb up on a slanted rooftop for the rifle targets. Jumping down and dumping the rifle, you ran up zig-zagging from side to side to finish with pistol on a mix of paper, poppers and a plate rack.
Stage 4 was one that I watched get shot about 182 different ways. All three firearms were needed on this one, starting with your choice of long gun or handgun. The shooting area was laid out in a square, and you had to work your way around it at least twice, no matter which firearm you started with. The pipes on this stage were shotgun only, but the IPSC targets were optional for rifle or pistol. There was a single static clay target at about 75 yards for the rifle and some small IPSC steel for rifle only. There was a lot going on here, and lots of ways to shoot this stage.
Stage 5 was going to take all three firearms, and again, your choice on which firearm to start with. Targets were laid out on both sides of the bay and you had to work your way up and down as you transitioned between firearms.
Stage 6 was divided up into two shooting areas uprange for rifle, then a single shooting box where it was optional to take targets with either rifle or pistol. The downrange shooting area was a mix of handgun for the first half before transitioning and ending with shotgun on a mixture of poppers, pipes and two aerials.
Stage 7 was the pistol-only stage, with 15 USPSA targets and seven poppers. The shooting area was large, and competitors had to work their way to the far right for some longer downrange shots, then to the far left for some up-close and fast ones before moving downrange to engage a mix of poppers and more cardboard targets.
Stage 8 was going to use two bays and only required the rifle, the shotgun and maybe some good running shoes. You started with the rifle in the right bay with 11 targets, one a swinger activated by a stomp pad. The shooting area was a large X shape, and you needed to hit all four ends of it before dumping the rifle and taking a long run to the shotgun-only bay, grabbing the scattergun and getting to work on the 14 static clay targets that were available from two separate shooting areas.
Those were the eight stages that made up the first two days of the 2023 USPSA Multigun Nationals. There was a lot of shooting, and many different options and plans on all of the stages. There were several interesting challenges for competitors; the rabbits and the aerials were tough. The other challenge was the pipes—these are just what it says, steel pipes. They are cut at different lengths, different diameters and different weights, and they make for very interesting targets for shotguns. They sit on a metal base and you have to knock them off. The cylindrical shape of a pipe leaves the surface you have to hit and knock over much smaller than a standard plate. Having them set up at different distances and being of different weights and diameters means you really had to be on your shotgun game.
The remaining four stages were, again, designed to be stand and deliver-type of shoot-off stages, but part of the match. There were two shotgun-only stages that would feature those pipes as well as aerials and a rabbit. These were Stages 11 and 12; Stages 9 and 10 were rifle and pistol only.
Stage 9 and 10 were similar in their layout, with a mix of rifle-only and pistol-only targets set up in a large arch shape in front of the shooting box. Competitors had to work their way through them with both rifle and pistol, remembering which ones were which.
Stage 11 was set up with aerials, another rabbit clay and pipes. The competitors self-activated the clays; if you got the aerials and that rabbit, the pipes were another challenge. You had to set your choke for the aerials, but the pipes were stretched out there and would take a solid hit with the reduced shooting surface to knock down. They proved to be quite difficult for some.
The last Stage, number 12, was also aerials and pipes. Again, the shooter self-activated the two aerials that launched at the same time, but the pipes were all closer and set up to just blast your way through them.
From rooftops, to lawn mowers, pipes, and testing out all three firearms, everyone who competed walked away feeling challenged at this year’s USPSA Multigun Nationals. The stacked prize table was enjoyed, but the awards for each division with the champagne toast was probably one of the biggest hits. The trophies were designed and made by local 3-gunner Varick Beise.
The match had a different feel compared to years past. The USPSA rules for Multigun has been going through several updates to make it more accommodating, and the new Modified division has been well-received. The range had areas set up for pre-loading of shotguns, rifle staging areas and were partitioned off, making it obvious where gun handling was allowed compared to where the safe tables were. There were several vendors on hand during the match and the USPSA members’ meeting for competitors was well-attended and lively.
2023 USPSA Multigun Nationals Leaderboard
You can view the full results of the 2023 USPSA Multigun Nationals at the Practiscore website.
Next year's USPSA Multigun Nationals will return to Forest Lake again July 19-21, 2024, for regular competition, and the staff match will be held July 17-18. Federal is again going to be the Title Sponsor with Vortex serving as the Presenting Sponsor. Adam and his team have stepped up to run this as an outsourced contracted USPSA Nationals. Planning for the 2024 event started right after this year’s match, and additional information about registration and staffing the match will be released shortly.
Article from the November/December 2023 issue of USPSA’s magazine. All photos by Jake Martens.