Tarheel 3 Gun Shooting Competition

Spending an afternoon at the gun range in the company of a 100 other gun enthusiasts sounds like a fantastic idea. And things get even better when the afternoon is spent blasting holes into cardboard target or the best archery targets you .

Does this sound like your kind of fun, then maybe it’s time you considered competitive shooting. There are many different types of competitive shooting matches you can attend. From 308 tactical rifle  to action pistol matches.

But none is quite as unique as the tarheel 3 gun competition. Held in the triad area of North Carolina this is a 3 gun match series organized in half day formats. The same format used in the FNH USA 3-gun championship.

What this means you do not have to spend a whole 12 hours at the gun range. The matches are divided into two. The morning sessions start at 07:30 hrs and end at 12:30 hrs. While the afternoon sessions start at 12:30 hrs and ends at 18:30 hrs.

In between the matches you can choose to indulge in side matches, watch other squads, and go for lunch or just sleep. And if none of these side activities excite you there are plenty of vendor booths to visit.

At these booths, you can check out what different companies have to offer. Try out new rifles yet to be released. You get to sample a wide assortment of rifle and gun accessories from the high end  AR 15 rifle scopes  to  progressive reloading press.

The Challenge

The official name of this competition is the tarheel3 gun challenge. So you can expect a number of challenging stages to put your shooting skills to the test. There are 8 stages 5 of which have targets at over 200 yards out.

Also as its name suggests this is a 3-gun challenge. What this means is that competitors use semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns. There are a series of courses that competitors have to move through that are timed for speed and accuracy.

In most the targets were nearly 300 yards out. On three stages you get to blast holes in cardboard targets placed from 100 yards. And to make things a bit more interesting some stages offer the opportunity to use rifles instead of a pistol on close-range targets.

One thing that attracts many to this competition is the fact that the challenge is in the shooting. Most other competitions feature challenging starting positions, unfamiliar prop guns, and poor target presentations.

Starting positions are from high ports or hands at sides and there is only one prop gun. And you are only required to shoot four shots at targets from 10 yards out. As for the targets they are colored bright orange like the archery targets and some are backed with berms.

Registration for the competition is done via an online process with payment being done via PayPal. There is a squad sign up process as well that lets you choose who you want to be in the same squad with.

In regards to scoring the process was done through PractiScore and is updated regularly. There is also a Wi-Fi hotspot and you can follow the scores on your phone. This is thanks to the PractiScore app that you can download.

Tarheel3-gun organizers have embrace of technology is refreshing to see. It makes the process much easier. Experienced ROs are also part of the experience. Unlike other sports, the 3-gun competitive shooting lacks a range officer certification body.

Nonetheless, given that the tarheel3-gun challenge has been running for close to 8 years now the ROs at the challenge are vastly experienced. Also, they are as close to professional 3-gun ROs as you will get.

For female shooters, the inclusion of a women’s only portable toilet is a great addition. Obviously, most shooting competitions have fewer women. This is why most do not invest in separate men and women portable toilets.

So it is refreshing that the organizers of the tarheel3-gun challenge invest in separate portable toilets to fit both genders.

Sponsor Presence

Another area that where the tarheel3-gun challenge really excels is in the sponsor department. Over the last couple of years, the competition has had a stellar list of sponsors. Big gun brands such as Bushmaster, Remington, and Italian Gun Grease have all sponsored the challenge.

This strong sponsor presence means a strong support. And there is always the opportunity to thank your favorite gun makers in person. Not to mention there are always exciting giveaways for those who participate.

As with any other competitive shooting challenge there are always a lot of vendors at tarheel3-gun challenge. Meaning there is plenty to do and see for those who aren’t not participating in the challenge.

From this vendors you get to sample some of your favorite accessories from reflex sights, top class rangefinder binoculars and even rubber hunting boots. And given the popularity of glock pistols you won’t miss glock 43 sights

Participants of the past tarheel3-gun challenge have won different prizes from M4 tactical rifles to a bushmaster BA 50 rifle. However, Bushmaster and its sister companies have been the main sponsors.

Some of the other main long-time sponsors include Benelli, Leupold, Vortex, Lancer, and Tru-Spec. All of whom come with bags of goodies for the participants. Including prize money which was $125,000 in 2013.


The first tarheel3-gun challenge was in 2011 and the number of participants has been increasing ever since. In 2012 the challenge attracted over 100 competitors. This number doubled in 2015 when the completion attracted over 320 competitors.

Originally, the challenge was a Saturday and Sunday only affair. Due to the increasing number of competitions the challenge has opened up a Thursday and Friday option. In its over 8 years existence, the competition has been held at Woody’s Hunt and rifle club.

Unlike other shooting competitions, tarheel3-gun uses an outlaw style stages. This is distinctly different from the shorter and fast-paced style adopted by other competitions. Most of the targets in the range are 50 to 400 yards out.


Another thing that makes the tarheel3-gun challenge a delight is the selection of firearms available. In all stages, there are different guns from pistols to shotguns. Speaking of shotguns the inclusion of flying clays and buckshot targets is a good addition for shotgun lovers. You can try skeet shooting or clay pigeon shooting by using some of the best clay pigeon thrower.

In living up to its name the challenge presents you with the option of three guns. A tactical rifle, a shotgun or a pistol. This is good as you get to try out different firearms. Obviously seeing the targets is one thing and hitting them is another.


All in all the tarheel3-gun challenge is a fun and exciting 3-gun shooting challenge. Whether you are a pro or just a gun enthusiast it is an experience worth trying.

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