2005 MGM Ironman 3Gun match report (PICS)


Zak Smith
June 15, 2005, 12:37 PM
The MGM Ironman 3Gun match is run by MGM Targets (Mike Gibson Manufacturing) and Mike is the match director. It is held annually at the Parma Sportsmans Club near Parma, Idaho. The match is best known for its very high round count and use of the different MGM target types. This was my first time attending MGM.

For comparison purposes, I have shot RM3G in 2003 and 2004, SMM3G in 2004, the ITRC in 2004, and the Tiger Valley / CavArms 3Gun match in 2004, besides shooting 3Gun locally for almost 3 years now.

Earlier this year, I had made a decision to make as many major 3Gun matches as I could, money, schedule, and vacation-time allowing. The CavArms guys offered me a spot shooting with them at this match, so MGM was "in." M.A., a local, generously offered to let us stay at his place, so the cost for me to shoot this match was minimized: gas, ammo, some gear, and food.

Russell (SinistralRifleman) cajoled me into shooting Trooper Class. The rules for Trooper class are that you have to start the match with everything you'll use in the match in your pack, web gear, etc. You cannot add anything later except for the provided water and lunch (such as it was). You can shoot any guns you want, bring two rifles, whatever, the only catch is that you have to carry everything. A Trooper is not required to wear his pack while shooting, but he must carry everything from the "base camp" of the Cav van to every stage. Those of you who have been to large matches know that this can entail miles of hiking, just going around a shooting complex.

Because MGM is a notoriously high round-count match, Trooper class was even more challenging. At the ITRC in 2004, my partner and I were able to carry merely a pair of binocs, our LRF, and a couple hundred rounds on the field courses -- in short, no problem. At the MGM, the "minimum" round count was about 1100, split between pistol, rifle, and shotgun. When you add another 50-100% for taking extra shots, margin, etc, that's clearly a lot of ammo. And it weighs a lot. So CavArms decided to allow the use of a "staged" large 50 cal ammo can for extra ammo. Even so, the load of about 500 shotgun shells, about 500 pistol rounds, and about 500 rifle rounds, in addition to three guns, cleaning stuff, tools, water, food, mags, web gear, camera, etc, came to about 120 lbs on average for the Trooper shooters at MGM. That was not counting the weight of the loaded 50cal can.

My gear consisted of a Kifaru Marauder pack, with two external pockets from Killer Gear / Triad Tactical and a Tactical Tailor 2-piece MAV with 5 TT AR15 pouches, 7 6-per shotshell loop strips, a general purpose pouch, and a triple pistol mag pouch. Both long-guns were configured with CQBSolutions 3-point slings. My pistol stayed in a normal Blade-Tech belt loop kydex holster. I brought 8 30-round AR15 mags, and 7 18-20 round 40SW mags.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6238_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6238_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6238_img.jpg)

For this match, I used my Benelli M1S90 (18.5" bbl, straight stock, ghost rings), my 17" MSTN lightweight upper with a TA11 ACOG on a CavArms lower with a stock military trigger, and my SV "Limited" double-stack "1911" style with its 18-20 round .40SW mags. Ammo was XM193 for the rifle, a mix of #00, #4 buck, #7.5 shot, and slugs for the shotgun, and handloaded "long" 40 for the pistol.

In addition to the normal 3Gun rifles, MGM allows the use of another rifle on the single longest-range stage (to 650 yards). For most people, this meant bringing their precision/long-range rig. However, for Trooper shooters, if you shoot it, you have to pack it. I had brought my AWP (which does pwn n00b5, by the way) just to screw around with, and had planned to just shoot my AR15 on the longest shots, walking rounds in. For no reason, the Trooper squad lucked out and started on the L.R. stage. Since it was OK to ditch/abandon gear, those of us who brought bolt/long range rifles could carry them to the stage and then ditch them after shooting, which meant we didn't have to carry them the whole match.

I can't provide a very detailed description of each stage because the large number of target opportunities and re-engagements in each one. Here is a decent summary of the gist of each stage and anything special and/or interesting. Each stage employed all 3 guns.

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Zak Smith
June 15, 2005, 12:38 PM
Stage 3: Long range, 550 and 650 yards, 20' tower to climb and descend, a bunch of intermediate rifle targets to about 350 yards.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6208_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6208_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6208_img.jpg)

Stage 4: Shot a bunch of slugs and rifle at small targets, and alternated shooting self-triggered birds from a trap house and slugs.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6242_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6242_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6242_img.jpg)

Stage 5: A run-back-and-forth stage with a bunch of ports and ridiculous number of shots required per paper target (10). This stage had two double-turn targets which had to be fully rotated around once each with handgun and shotgun. I was able to do so with 3-5 rounds of #00, and over half a magazine of 40SW.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6248_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6248_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6248_img.jpg)

Stage 6: Engage a bunch of rifle targets, three plate targets, and a double-turn target with a 9mm subgun, a 45ACP AR15, your pistol, rifle, and shotgun.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6254_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6254_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6254_img.jpg)

Stage 7: Run about 80 yards down through a serpentine berm shooting rifle, pistol, and shotgun at popper-pigeon-flippers, a Texas star, a double-turner, 1.5" cube rifle targets, small auto-poppers, and a bunch of paper targets.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6258_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6258_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6258_img.jpg)

Stage 8: Start off engaging intermediate rifle targets to about 250 yards, and put 12 rounds on a "running" target, then the truck you are in the back of takes off and you engage like 100 more targets with rifle, shotgun, and pistol, while it's moving.

Zak Smith
June 15, 2005, 12:39 PM
Stage 9: After shooting a gazillion rifle targets and some shotgun slug targets, Drive a golf cart forward about 80 yards while engaging clays with your shotgun, then shoot 4 plate racks with pistol and shotgun each. Then reverse the golf cart while shooting a bunch of pistol targets. Finish up shooting small pistol steel at like 30 yards.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6279_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6279_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6279_img.jpg)
http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/162_6284_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6284_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=162_6284_img.jpg)

Stage 10: Engage a gazillion shotgun and pistol targets while running up a gully. Finish up with a bunch of rifle steel and a Texas star (rifle) at about 100 yards.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/163_6305_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6305_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6305_img.jpg)
http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/163_6320_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6320_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6320_img.jpg)

Stage 1: Shoot a gazillion pistol, rifle, and shotgun targets from near a bench. To about 350 yards.

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/163_6325_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6325_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6325_img.jpg)
http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/163_6328_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6328_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6328_img.jpg)

Stage 2: Shoot a gazillion pistol, rifle, and shotgun targets from a wall thing. We convinced Brad to throw his smoke grenade, and the RO "made" Shawn shoot accurately when he just wanted to blast on selector position "F".

http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/small/163_6361_img.jpg (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6361_img.jpg) [ link to LARGER image ] (http://apollo.demigod.org/~zak/DigiCam/MGM2005/?medium=163_6361_img.jpg)


Lots of shooting.. I shot probably over 1500 rounds. Average of 150 or more per stage.

Some great folks to shoot and hang out with.

Long days. We would leave for the range at 6AM and drive off the range at about 8:30-9:00PM.

Seemed like the round count was inflated for its own sake. This did reveal fatigue and degradation in performance after 50-100 rounds of a 150 round stage. For example, after shooting 60 rifle rounds, running around, loading and shooting 40 shotgun rounds, many shooters commented on how shooting their pistol accurately was much harder.

Stages had little to no problem solving opportunity, and were not really that interesting (e.g. re-engaging the same target array 50 times is boring). The main gimmick was high round count and some novel targets.

Shooting trooper class was not much harder than just shooting the match itself. We had the advantage of more serious gear setups, and we could use the same exact layout of ammo for every stage which helped. Nobody on team Cav had gear issues. We also had all of our stuff together and weren't running to our car every 5 minutes to gather something else.

The fine silt (almost like flour) eventually got almost everywhere. Don't flop down prone and expect the ammo on your MAV/LBV to stay clean! My AR15 ran flawlessly the entire match. My pistol had one fail to chamber, which was probably due to an out of spec handload. When I had to switch to factory S&B after running out of reloads on the last stage, I had one or two FRTB which just needed a little push to fix. My shotgun would run sluggishly when silt infiltrated the action, to the extent of needing a push on the charging handle to close it, or a round would get stuck on the lifter.

I run my AR15 wet (one drop FP10 on each of the corners of the bolt carrier, wet gas rings, and wet bolt sides where it enters the BC). I run my SV pistol lubed on the bbl, slide rails, and lugs. I run my M1S90 dry.

June 15, 2005, 12:46 PM
Sounds fun.

Honest opinion? How did it stack up against the other big matches?

I've never been to the Ironman.

Zak Smith
June 15, 2005, 02:02 PM
I would rate it behind RM3G and SMM3G (both also "conventional" 3Gun matches) because:

- round count inflated for its own sake

- egregious target / target array re-engagement to support the first point

- little problem-solving opportunity for stages, because the stage procedure was not flexible, ie, "do A, B, C, then D, E, F, then do A, B, C, again". Another way to look at this is that a better shooter could not solve the problem differently.

- inconsistent stage descriptions, procedures, penalties, bonuses, etc

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