3 Gun Competition stage slide

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A semi pro competitor by name of Rick Birdsall recently shot this 3 Gun stage where he slid underneath the stage wall and completed the course of fire. Pretty neat and a great use of time. Before people start ringing bells about safety, he cleared his actions with the RO before the match and if you look carefully, he completes his action with a magazine inserted, but no round in the chamber, and loads it on the other side of the wall. There was some criticism voiced on his page but overall it was conducted in a safe manner.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Is it wise? Probably not. But it is legal per the four safety rules, and the safety rules of the 3gun match he was shooting.

    Many of the 3 gunners promote the fact that their rulebooks are so short. So was the IPSC rulebook at one point, but rules got added as people did something unwanted by the sport and said “It isn’t explicitly banned in the rulebook.”

    • KestrelBike

      Sounds like what’s happening to the Constitution……

    • Grindstone50k

      It’s a microcosm of society.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Mall Team 6 engage!

  • Bill

    What is this, NASCAR? Stretch the rules to just prior to stress fractures? Stuff like this may be fine in competition, even if it ignores the intention of simulating a wall, but is also a perfect example of why competition doesn’t translate to street skills.

    • W.P Zeller

      Actually, I think this action applies especially well to street skills, but not competition ones. Gaining a new shooting position via unorthodox methods is extraordinarily valuable in a fight.
      In action shooting competition, it’s heartburn for the match director.

      • Bill

        Sliding through a “wall?” It shows more concern in cutting time than the practical use of a pistol. There are plenty of ways to force a shooter into a less than optimal position: shooting under cars, shooting from a ladder, shooting through unusual shaped or positioned openings in cover, etc.

        There was an actual training video accidentally released a number of years ago in which LEOs chased an armed subject into a building, then fired from from one room through a wall into another room to “kill” him. I say “accidentally” because in about 17 seconds everyone was raving about just how stupid and wrong actually doing that would be.

        • W.P Zeller

          Bill, I’ll have to stay with my original take on it: this is excellent skill-building and a fabulous skill for fighting, where there aren’t rules such as “from ground to height as built”. There was a space, and he took advantage of it.
          The only rules in a fight are about not losing.
          But again, as a competition action, there are problems with this, particularly if the there was a verbal okay of the procedure but it wasn’t presented to every shooter in the match equally. If only one wall of the thirty in the match ends two feet up but only one competitor knows that, it’s unfair.
          I don’t have the information whether this was done. When I find out, I can opine further.
          I will just revert to my USPSA position: no, I wouldn’t okay it verbally without it also being in the official stage briefing, and if the slide-under was done without the wall being specified to end 2′ up, it would be called for PEs per shot fired.
          I also repeat, I haven’t verified yet that 3GN rules have the same height provision and status as barrier (which means it can’t be altered by the competitor).
          On the other hand, as an MD faced with widely varying physical skills, and viewing my attendees as being of all ages and conditions, I avoid putting them in “unusual positions” as much as possible in order to keep the game as level as possible and to take out the extraordinary advantages not available to all.

          • Bill

            I think we essentially agree on one point when it comes to gunfighting: if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

        • John

          >in which LEOs chased an armed subject into a building, then fired from one room through a wall into another room to “kill” him.

          That’s because law enforcement officers are civilians first and people who are supposed to use lethal violence as the last means of resort.

          If this was SEAL Team 6 or some other special force unit, or even regular military they’d be ok with this, because soldiers are supposed and allowed to use lethal force as the FIRST means of resort in most circumstances.

          Soldiers are not police. They never will be police and they never should be police, because civilian police and military soldiers are two completely different jobs requiring two completely different skills.

          Furthermore, this is a sport. And like all sports, there are a bunch of arbitrary rules in play to promote sportsmanship and fair play. Very little of that applies to real life.

          • Bill

            Why did you go left of center comparing cops and soldiers? Furthermore, why did you ignore the fact that soldiers are governed by rules of engagement and the UCMJ as to when and how they can use force, which is very appropriate for this discussion, because the designer of the course likely thought that a “wall” was a “wall,” and didn’t think someone would go all Bill Clinton by using their own definition of what constituted a wall?

            While we are veering wildly off topic, LEOs use force as an appropriate means of resort, not the last means of resort.

            You’re exactly right, it’s a sport, not training.

    • anon

      Some people shoot for fun.

      • Bill

        Acknowledged. And there isn’t a thing wrong with that. Some people also claim that formal competition breeds better gunfighters than those who don’t engage in formal competition. That’s my issue, particularly in sports that are deliberately intended to simulate a gunfight.

  • tony

    This is good. No dry run allowed would be even better.

  • W.P Zeller

    I’m a USPSA program director and have been asked about the legality of this- particularly since it happened at one of the clubs I run a zUSPSA program at, in Chesterton, IN.
    Under USPSA all barriers run from the ground to height as built; as such, going through a wall, which is what happened here in the USPSA interpretation, is a violation, since it would constitute altering the course of fire (eliminating a barrier via passing through it).
    Therefore it’s an unsportsmanlike conduct violation, which can then be interpreted to anything from a single procedural penalty to a match disqualification.
    3-Gun Nation rules are rather softer than USPSA, but I eagerly await the 3GN experts to read me their rule book.
    This is the first I’ve heard of the action being “cleared by the RO before the match” but that sounds a bit off.
    I’ll have to see what my fellow MD has to say.
    By the way, I find the actual action to be perfectly safe and not worthy of a violation in terms of safety; again, speaking in terms of USPSA rules, a competitor may re-holster a firearm during the course of fire if done safely: i.e., in the division’s specified safe condition.

    • W.P Zeller

      A little more to add… an RO made the decision it was legal, not the match director. It may well be legal after all- the INMG rulebook does not specify walls go from floor to height as built, as do most other action shooting sports.
      Nor was the competitor pictured the only one to use this technique- apparently three did, and this one wasn’t the first.
      Ironically, the stage winner elected not to use the slide and won by a solid margin over those who did, so a witness tells me.
      Hoo-boy.

      • Ripley

        He spent all seconds saved by missing 5 shots on that full size steel. Reminds me of the tortoise and the hare.

        • Ryan

          Except he was shooting at paper targets, not missing at steel.

          • Ripley

            I can clearly see him hitting dirt behind the hinged steel target from 0:27-0:29. No paper there.

    • Bruce

      I’m actually shocked that you’ve never had a competitor ask about an action before a course of fire. I’ve only been an RO for 3 years and I’ve had a competitor ask.

      • W.P Zeller

        No, I get asked when I’m ROing.
        The quote here comes from the original blog post, and that while I’d seen the video (and the subsequent discussion) elsewhere, I had not previously heard that the competitor(s) were “cleared” by the range officer.
        The issue is that the RO doesn’t have the authority to alter the official stage briefing, which is what may, and I stress may, have happened here.
        Only the MD and RM can change the briefing.
        Otherwise, the stage gets tossed from the match. Nobody wants that.
        So the problem comes when ROs re-interpret on their own and then not all the competitors get the same exact stage to shoot.

  • Ben

    Looks like he lost any time he made up firing 5 rounds at the first pepper popper.

  • Elwood

    He lost two items off his belt during the slide, a rifle mag and possibly a pistol mag or timer, I believe.

  • ghost

    I mean no disrespect. I understand this is a civilian pass time/sport. We did stuff like this in the middle of a firefight. I had this one technique where I ran thru a thorn bush. Do you know they do not give Purple Hearts for being wounded by a thorn bush? Not only that, but the VC had better sense than to follow me.I would have liked to think my fire team had something to do with it, but, when I slid into position with them, they were still laughing about me and the thorn bush.

    • John

      Then the bush slide worked. You came home alive to laugh about it.

      It could have failed, and you died.

  • JF

    The only reason this would be “dangerous” is if an amateur/newbie/inept shooter attempted it and was physically/mentally unable to complete the action, safely.

    If this is deemed dangerous, BAN ALL MATCHES.

    Because, inherently, a bullet might ricochet of a random rock in the berm and pierce someone’s artery, causing a death.

    Or, you can’t trust anyone with a gun. SO BAN ALL GUNS. Because they might accidentally kill people.

    Safe/unsafe in competition is up to the rule committee; but as competitors, most of us know our limits and where grey areas of safety come into play based on our ABILITIES.

    If you can’t do the slide, don’t. You’ll hurt yourself. Gun or no gun. Don’t try to ban it for everyone.

    USPSA rules do not always apply to 3GN. 3GN rules don’t always apply to … 3GN rules hahahahaha

    • The big deal is that since the walls aren’t considered to be constructed to the ground (as virtually all walls are made like that), is that you can shoot under the walls.

      You also have the holstering on the clock. They is discouraged due to a number of accidents. That is why the clock ends at the last shot fired.

  • john

    What was the purpose if this was not designed for ALL shooters to do…to allow him to cheat? Barriers are there to SIMULATE walls, why not just go through and kick down all the barriers in front of you and finish in 10 seconds flat? Because that would be stupid and pointless, kind of like this “slide” maneuver .

  • iksnilol

    Please bear with me here (I don’t do USPA or 3-gun): Aren’t shortcuts in competition cheating?

    • USPSA, unless it is blocked physically (and walls go from ground to height built), it is perfectly legal to leave the shooting area and reenter it elsewhere as long as no shots are fired.

      IPSC – banned, if you exit the shooting area accidentally you must reenter in the same area.

      3 Gun Nation – Similar to IPSC

      Outlaw 3 gun matches like this one – mixed bag as each match has it’s own rule book, in this case it was legal under the rules. But I imagine that it might change and that they will be adopting the USPSA rules on wall height, because it also means you can shoot under walls.

  • Sianmink

    Gaming the system. I expect this sort of thing to be DQ-worthy for the next rules revision.

    • W.P Zeller

      Indeed. The rule “book” for this match was the Indiana Multi Gun one, which is only a few pages. Rumor has it there’s some revisions contemplated, but since the INMG prez also did the slide, it’s not known what might come of it.
      Ironically, I went through the new and vastly improved IDPA rulebook and did not find a provision dealing with this “ground to height as built” issue, which I thought was previously there.
      Their rules would no doubt put a strong penalty on such a maneuver, but it would be subject to the MD’s judgement.

  • USMC03Vet

    When did no fun allowed become a rule on TFB?

    Maybe 3 gun should incorporate a slide portion in the course? Looks fun. Guy is obviously having fun. FUN FUN FUN. 🙂

  • Maximus Hypicus

    Wait till this guy starts competing!!!!

  • Nicks87

    More gamer goofiness. Maybe if he spent more time shooting instead of practicing that slide he wouldn’t have missed that steel plate so many times.

  • jonspencer

    Is there any sport where there are not local rules and rules that are different between levels of competition? For a simple example, your local trap range and a olympic trap range.
    This guy was following the local rules.

  • scaatylobo

    IF he violated R&R then that is on him AND the R.O..
    BUT as for a survival technique = BINGO he wins.
    The rules in a street fight are the same “rules” in a gun fight ,THERE ARE NO RULES.
    you need to win to stay alive !.

  • gamers

    And he STILL didn’t win the stage. A guy who shot it by remaining in the shooting area did. Lets talk about him instead.
    Gamers will be gamers so why are you all making this guy internet famous for it? *yawn*
    Call me when the guys who win do something impressive. This is just another mid level 3 gunner doing gamer stuff.