PARMA, Idaho - A year ago, Chuck Anderson came up one run short. This time around, he could not be denied.
Anderson, delivering remarkable speed on the pistol, upset perennial favorite Daniel Horner in the finals of the FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Shoot-Off, Presented by SureFire, following the MGM Ironman to win $5,000 from Warne Scope Mounts on June 11.
Anderson qualified for the 3GN Shoot-Off by defending his Trooper class title at Ironman, one of the most unique divisions held anywhere. In Trooper division, competitors are required to carry all their gear on their person for the duration of the match. With shooters carrying as many as six firearms, ammunition and gear, especially at the physical slugfest that is MGM's Ironman, winning Trooper division is a major achievement.
Moreover, with the split-match format of this year's Ironman holding Trooper, Open, Tactical Irons and Heavy Metal Optics first, followed by a separate Tactical Optics match, Anderson was one of a handful of competitors who chose to shoot both matches. Anderson followed up his Trooper win with a 15th-place finish in a packed Tactical Optics field. Then after more than 2,000 rounds fired over six days of Ironman mayhem, he stepped to line, and using an FN-provided FNS 40, SCAR and SLP, laid down three unforgettable Shoot-Off runs.
In the first round, Anderson drew Dave Neth, the defending 3GN Shoot-Off winner at Ironman. The rematch was thrilling, with Anderson jumping all over Neth out of the gate with a phenomenal pistol run, before cleaning his rifle and holding on as Neth picked up the SLP and nearly ran him down.
"Last year I was completely surprised by getting into the Shoot-Off," Anderson said. "I didn't have the chance to really think about it before having to get up and perform. This year I had several days to think about it and strategize. While this was my second one to compete in, I did get a front row seat to the Championship Shoot-Off and the Ozark match Shoot-Off. Last year I had two good runs and completely fell apart on the third. Dave Neth beat me ... badly. I'm pretty sure he could have shot it left-handed and still come out on top. This year I drew him in the first round and that was probably the most stressed out I was of all the matchups. Dave was also really close to beating me in that first round, and things could have ended very differently."
But Anderson moved on, as did Daniel Horner with a first-round win over Ironman veteran Matt Burkett. The two had a competitive run going, with Horner maintaining a lead heading into the final shotgun arrays. Unfortunately, shotguns had failed to be placed in the staging boxes, the first of several dramas to unfold in one of the wildest 3GN Shoot-Offs to date. After catching their breath, the two ran the course of fire again, and Horner expanded his lead over the first run for a comfortable win.
Horner's AMU teammate, Tyler Payne, drew MGM's Travis Gibson, who celebrated his 37th birthday in style by winning the Tactical Irons division to claim his first Ironman victory and 3GN Shoot-Off debut. He didn't disappoint, laying down a solid opening run to take out the impressive Payne, who is in the process of cementing himself among the top competitors in all the sport.
SureFire's Barry Dueck, a 3GN Shoot-Off veteran, knocked off one of the most accomplished 3-gunners of all time in Bennie Cooley, who made his 3GN Shoot-Off debut. Dueck , like Horner and Gibson, had a strong first round, but none of their pistol runs matched the pace set by Anderson.
"By the time the first round was over, I was the only one who didn't have to reload the handgun," Anderson said. "Most of the guys had several shots after the load. I figured if I could just stick to using that first magazine I'd do OK."
In the second round, Anderson took on his second consecutive local favorite in MGM's Gibson. Like Neth, Gibson had many supporters in the stands, making for a loud scene as Anderson once again jumped out to a big lead with the FNS 40 before cruising to the rifle and shotgun. However, Gibson was granted a re-shoot after a shotgun malfunction, and the two stepped to the line again. Anderson merely regained his composure, and laid down yet another blistering pistol run on his way to a semi-finals win.
In the other semi-final match-up, even more drama ensued as Daniel Horner, after seemingly winning his bout against Barry Dueck, was forced to step to the line again after a late re-shoot was issued by the Controlling Range Officer. After much discussion, Dueck's shotgun indeed did malfunction during his run, and per 3GN rules, he was granted the reshoot.
But like Anderson before him, Horner simply walked back to the line and laid down a spectacular run, setting up the final showdown. And like last year, Anderson found himself in the finals against one of the top guns in the sport, this time, arguably the top shooter in 3-gun in Horner. But unlike last year, this time Anderson kept his cool.
"I was actually a lot more relaxed by the final round," Anderson said. "I figured I didn't have a lot to lose going into the final round. If I get beat, I get beat by Daniel Horner, and that's something we're all used to. I think there was more pressure on him to not get beat by the slow fat guy."
In that final run, Horner, as expected, was good. But Chuck Anderson was nearly perfect, going one-for-one on eight poppers and a six-plate-rack, before ripping off seven-for-seven on the rifle and finishing with seven clay birds and the cross-over stop plate. The pistol-heavy course of fire set up perfectly for Anderson, and he took advantage by absolutely smoking the field with the FNS 40.
"It's really, really similar in feel to a Glock," Anderson said. "I've been shooting Production in USPSA for the last six years, mostly with the Glock pistol. I also just ran both matches with Glock handguns. Of the eight competitors, I was the only one that primarily shoots a striker-fired gun in competition. I've been a law enforcement officer for 17 years and a firearms instructor for most of that. I tell my students every time as long as the sights are aligned with the target when the gun fires, the bullet's going to hit the target. The FNS is no different. Line the sights up, pull the trigger 'till it goes bang, find the next target and repeat. The FNS shot exactly where I aimed it, and the trigger was really very good for a Production firearm. I already contacted FNH this morning and told them I'd love to buy one when they are available in the U.S. "
Anderson can afford a new pistol and more thanks to his $5,000 payday from Warne Scope Mounts. But he's not alone: Horner received $1,000 for finishing second; Dueck and Gibson earned $500 for making the semi-finals; while Burkett, Payne, Cooley and Neth each took home $100 for qualifying for the 3GN Shoot-Off. The total payout: $7,400, all courtesy of Warne.
"I'd love to say I'm going to use (the winnings) to buy an FN SCAR, SLP and FNS pistol," Anderson said when asked how he'd spend his payday. "But I doubt I would have anywhere to store them after the wife kicked me out of the house. I'll use the $5,000 to pay for the rest of my season and probably take my wife on a vacation somewhere. She's put up with a lot to let me shoot as much as I do, and she deserves a break."
Preceding the main event, the 3-Gun Nation Team Event, presented by Brownells, fired up the crowd with some local flavor. The top junior, Meridian, Idaho's Hayden Hixson, with Joe Wong and Jesse Redell, took on the top lady, Katie Harris, with J.D. Wilcox and Jerry Jones.
And in front of the hometown crowd, which is fitting at Ironman, Team Hayden cruised to the win, with each team member taking home $500 from Brownells. Each member of Team Katie received a Brownells 3-Gun bag for qualifying.
As exciting as the match-up was, the highlight, however, arguably came when Joe Wong immediately donated his winnings to the upcoming MGM Targets Junior Shooters Camp at the Parma Rod & Gun Club. It was a surprising, classy move from Wong, the Louisiana chef who, along with brother Tommy and nephew Jason, are familiar faces across the national 3-gun circuit.
The eight-person 3GN Shoot-Off is a format like no other, where competitors take on reactive pistol, rifle and shotgun targets in a race to the stop plate. To level the playing field, contestants fired FN FNS 40 striker-fired pistols, SCAR 16s rifles and SLP semi-automatic shotguns. Each rifle was fitted with SureFire Muzzle Brakes and Suppressors, as well as Leupold optics. Each firearm ran ammunition provided by Federal Premium.
The next stop on the FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Tour, Presented by SureFire, is during the JP Enterprises Rocky Mountain 3-Gun, August 4-6 at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M. Rocky Mountain is a 3GN Points match, and will serve as the next Shoot-Off venue as well, with $7,400 on the line, courtesy of Safariland.
Chuck Anderson was one of a handful of competitors who just shot the most brutal match in all of 3-gun-twice! So we asked Chuck how on earth he was able to get through it all, and the gear he used:
"I ran my Warne RAMP mount in the first match with a Leupold 1.5-5 MR/T scope with the CM-R2 reticle and a Delta Point on the side. Totally rocked. For the second match I swapped to a Leupold CQ/T with the CM-R2 reticle as well. MGM Switchview levers on both. My JP rifle shot like a laser, like it always does. I used Nordic Components tubes on my Scoped Tact shotgun. I used Safariland ELS belts for both matches. If you haven't tried the ELS for 3-gun you're missing out. Just perfect. I hauled all my stuff around for Trooper in an Eberlestock pack. Couldn't finish the match without something to haul all that gear in. Finally, Schuemann Barrel. Even though I didn't run a 2011, Mike let me use his spot in the Trooper match. Thanks all."