I’ve been perusing my A Girl & A Gun Shooting Journal this week and I came upon “The Road to Fall Fest” and my notes from last February. It really made me giggle thinking about my own personal road to Fall Fest. I love how the Journal lays out how to prepare for the match and I shake my head at myself because my preparation was a bit different.
In the Summer of 2018, I PMed AG & AG Founder Julianna Crowder about Fall Fest. I knew nothing at all about 3 Gun. Honestly, I had only fired an AR & a shotgun a few times over the years, but I love a challenge and thought it sounded like fun. Julianna encouraged me to participate in 3-Gun University.
I shot my first local match (of course, in Vegas in August) just after my 57th birthday. I didn’t have my guns that I would take to Fall Fest yet (who knew it could take so long to get parts?) and so I used a tactical shotgun and a 14 lb AR with an unzeroed scope. But you know what? I LOVED IT!
Off I went to Kentucky for Fall Fest 2018. Here I am: all of 5’2” on a good day and I’m carrying the biggest, heaviest case that the industry sells. I was quite the sight!
I highly recommend new shooters to participate in 3-Gun University. Even though I was a deer-in-the-headlights, it did settle me down a bit. I was lucky to squad with some of the loveliest ladies, who I’m still friends with and always look forward to squadding with in other matches.
I set some reasonable goals for the match: Don’t DQ (I did come super close); don’t time out (easy peezy when you just skip so many targets like I did); and try not to be last. I succeeded in all my goals.
In hindsight, being last is not a bad thing. When I got home, my gunsmith (who has become a close friend since starting this journey) said that he was so proud of me. Scott said, “You showed up.” He reminded me to think about how many other women considered it, but didn’t get on a plane by themselves with all their guns & gear and fly clear across the country to a match not knowing anyone. That really made me feel empowered. I think about that now at every match no matter where it is. I showed up. Not bad for a woman who started this 3-gun craziness at 57!
As soon as I got home, I immediately started thinking about Fall Fest 2019. What would I have to do to prepare? So back to goal setting which brings me right back to the journal. My main focus for training last year was focusing on my shotgun skills. Basically, I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with my shotty. I figured if I could clean that up that would be a huge start. I made some changes to the shotgun itself (opened up the port, put an extended tube on it, and learned to load from my caddy).
Throughout the year leading up to Fall Fest, I traveled to a few matches. I even participated in my first team match at the DC Project Match. I continued to shoot local matches and pouted if I missed 3-gun weekend. At AG & AG Conference 2019, all of my classes focused on competition. I was honored to be able to take a class with Patrick Kelley (a legend in the shooting world).
Off to Kentucky again for Fall Fest 2019, I opted to participate in 3-Gun University again. What was so cool about it this year was that I was calmer and more versed in the sport, so I could actually listen and absorb the information. Yes, I did have one major meltdown when my shotgun “broke,” but once again the shooting community stepped up and helped a girl out. Crisis adverted.
Did I win? Did I come in the top 10? NOPE. But I saw a major improvement. I only left one shotgun target standing and it’s because I couldn’t find it in the shrubs and sometimes it’s just not worth the time to continue looking. I truly felt like I met my goals from the previous year. I did place in the top 10 on one stage & that felt awesome.
I had ups and downs during the match, but honestly my greatest memory was my squad. We had an incredible time together all supporting one another throughout the match. We shared equipment, stage plans, and maybe a cocktail or two after all the firearms were put away. It truly was an incredible experience to share that weekend with those women.
I’ve registered again for Fall Fest 2020. I’ll be 59 at this year’s event. Can I run as fast as the younger women? NOPE. Can shoot as accurately as the pros? NOPE. But that’s ok. I set my goals for MYSELF. Though I must admit they do make me better. I want to be able to compete with them.
If you’ve ever considered shooting 3 gun matches and going to Fall Fest, and you just aren’t sure, here is my advice: DO IT! You can’t go wrong. Plan ahead. This truly is the perfect time to start the Road to Fall Fest. The AG & AG community is top notch from the pros to the lowly amateurs like me. Feel free to reach out to any of us. We all love to share our sport and would love to help you in your quest.
I have set my goals for 2020: figure out how to shoot a slug (at my last local match I hit all my slug targets – woohoo!) and hit AR targets past 200 yards. Unfortunately, I didn’t truly understand my scope last year, but I’ve already had an a-ha moment this year, so hopefully that will improve. I’m going to continue to dry practice, shoot local and national matches, and take training when available. And I’ve started working out, doing some light lifting and cardio, cardio, cardio. I do plan to take 3-Gun University again this year.
By the way, Super Senior is in my view down the road and that’s when I plan to really rock it. Just 6 more years. Hopefully, I’ll have it all figured out by then!