Do we really need a new division in 3-Gun? As you can imagine, there are arguments on both sides of the position.
I have not been doing 3-Gun that long relatively (and honestly am not that good at the competition aspect). I have a shotgun with a front fiber post, a pistol with iron sights, and a simple 1×4 optic on my rifle. Which puts me squarely in the Tactical (Optics) Division.
I do admit to having some envy seeing a number of the other people running sexy platforms with optics and multicolored bits of metal adorning their rigs. Does it make them better shooters? It definitely makes them better at running during a 3-gun match, and just like anything, the more you train with it, the more advantages you can reap.
The disparity comes for those that want to enhance their existing rigs, but don’t necessarily have the money to invest in going full “race”. And once you have added a couple of specific modifications, you are no longer able to compete in Tactical Division, but neither are you going to be competitive in Open.
Enter the creation of Stealth Division which has grown out of that disparity. Richard Bhella, of Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun at Rio Salado, efforted out the design of a division to bridge the gap. The Rio Salado 3-Gun Club has been running it for a number of their local matches, and it was successful enough that they incorporated it into the annual Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun competition (which KE Arms invited me to under a media sponsorship).
KE Arms is working on creating a number of upgrades to existing weapons to allow the to compete in the Stealth Division, from optics mounts for shotguns, to a full replacement slide for a Glock with a forward mounted Aimpoint. They already make a number of upgrades (and base platform components) for rifles.
So, you may ask, how does it work? Pretty simple, actually. There is a box for the pistol, and the pistol needs to fit entirely within the box. Basically you can have an optic on the pistol OR an extended magazine, but not both (unless you an exceptionally clever monkey). The rifle just cannot use magazines with a capacity greater than 31 rounds. Shotguns cannot be magazine fed, nor have ginormous tubes. Also, however your weapon is configured is the way it must remain. For example if you have a bipod on your rifle, it needs to keep the bipod throughout the match.
Here are the exact rules:
The handgun holster must safely retain the handgun during vigorous movement. A semiautomatic pistol holster must completely cover the trigger, and must cover the slide up to 1/2” below the ejection port. A revolver holster must completely cover the trigger and the cylinder. The belt upon which the holster is attached must be worn at waist level. Shoulder holsters, cross draw holsters and “race” holsters are prohibited.
The handgun in its ready condition, with magazine inserted and all accessories attached, must fit wholly within a box with internal dimensions of 8.938” x 6.938” x 1.938” (tolerance +0.0625”, -0”). Measurement will be made with the slide parallel to the longest axis of the box. All magazines must comply.
Maximum magazine capacity is thirty-one (31) rounds, and no magazine may be loaded with more than thirty (30) rounds at the start signal. Compliant magazines may be coupled together provided such coupling does not increase the capacity of any magazine.
Supporting devices (bipods etc.), if used, must be installed in the same location for every stage of the event, but may start any stage folded or deployed at the participant’s discretion.
Only a tubular magazine is permitted, and its length may not exceed 23.5” measured from the front of the receiver. Speed loading devices are prohibited.
Supporting devices (bipods, etc.) are prohibited.
One of the biggest benefits is allowing for competitors to not be stuck in the flooded Tactical Division which sees more entrants than the other divisions. And at large matches with long prize tables it can take a while to get through it (which has even caused missed flights, etc).
The other large benefit is that a shooter that may need optics (e.g. for vision issues) is not penalized by being forced into competing in the Open Division.
The biggest criticism is that another division is not really needed–stay in tactical, or pony up and go to open. The issue with that, which I brought up before, is that optics on a pistol do make sense for some shooters–especially ones with poor eyesight, or depth perception issues. In order for them to compete, they would now be in open, but not really competitive against shooters that are running the latest race configurations.
And really this is only an issue for people that are in to the competitive aspect of 3-Gun (whether or not that should be your main focus). If you just shoot for fun (or are not fighting for prizes) this is a non-issue.
Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun was the first place I had experienced this division, and for that matter even heard of it. I, personally, am in the camp that sees the need and utility for this division at competitions.
I think with a Division that sits between Tactical and Open, there is a better likelihood of having new shooters come in and not be overwhelmed by a huge division, or dismayed by having to go against shooters that are configured for racing. It will also take some of the load from the Tactical Division (and really, if you are running in Tactical, you can move into Stealth with no issues).
What do you readers that play in 3-Gun think? Needed? Not needed? Irrelevant?