Jump to content
Brian Enos's Forums... Maku mozo!

Recommended Posts

I've seen a lot of talk in the last year or so about the SOF match, and how amazing and great it was, and how 3-gun today is nothing like it used to be. I'm relatively new to this sport, my first major was TXMG in 2012, so my frame of reference is very limited.

I haven't seen the answer anywhere else, so I'll ask it here: why did SOF cease to exist? I'm genuinely curious about what happened to it. Does anyone who was there care to share the story?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3-Gun USED to be a lot more physical. You also did not have a lot of the 'Go-Fast' gear we see today. Shotguns were loaded off side-saddles and out of bandoleers and loop chest rigs, Rifle mags were carried in canvas pouches, Pistol holsters were not as slick as they are today,. The stages were most often 'Scenario' based, there was a narrative to the stage, something had occurred and you were tasked to solve the situation. Maybe a hostage rescue or an attack. You vaulted walls, swung on ropes, shot and crawled under buses, cleared rooms and vehicles. You have to ID your friendly and shoot targets by a 20 second look at a series of photos. Often you had to carry all your gear on the stage, you re-holstered HOT, you transitioned between Pistol and Rifle or shotgun and then back.

Then we started to see the Kydex gear, mag pouched, holsters and shot shell carriers. Some guys learned to grab 4 shells and feed them into the bottom of their SGs, Shotguns went from 18-20" with the tube the same length as the barrel to how long can I make it work. Rifles went from Iron and 1-4 scopes to 1-8s and who bothers with iron as the targets got smaller and smaller.

Nowadays we have penalty targets, not hostages and shoot targets, not 'Bad Guys', we don;t very often see a scenario, we are told there are 10paper and 8 steel, We get to walk the stages and plan our route. Used to be you got one walk through, maybe. We did often have dedicated range staff so that you could do semi-surprise stages. much harder if the whole squad has to set the stage up.

I was never fortunate enough to be able to shoot the old SOF matches. I started out with the Carolina Tactical run by Kyle Lamb and the NC Recon by Dennis Heath as well as some others run by Mike Oberman. The new matches are often USPSA with three guns. FNH is a good example of what a modern 3-Gun can be. THe stages offer you a choice of ways to shoot, yes they are 'GO-Fast' oriented in that you better have all the new low drag high speed gear and be able to use it if you want to place high. But you are usually given a choice of firearms to use against different arrays. No, we don't have scenarios but we do see natural terrain and we do have physical challenges there. The same goes for the TarHeel Series and some others. 3-Gun, like most other things in life evolves. The good mutations will continue and grow, the bad choices will usually die out.

Now, all this said, I am sure that there are a heck of a lot of others here that have a lot more to add and I am also sure that there will be a number of holes poked into some of what I've written down. I have less experience than many and more than some.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never shot the match, but went in the late 80's to check out the carnival that surrounded the SOF match, and cheer on a few friends who were shooting it. It was pretty wild, and the match looked like a ton of fun.

Check out the link below where Mr. Leatham and Lieutenant Colonel Robert K. Brown (publisher of SOF) talk about the history and events.

https://www.sofmag.com/how-soldier-of-fortune-put-three-gun-matches-on-the-shooting-competition-map/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen a lot of talk in the last year or so about the SOF match, and how amazing and great it was, and how 3-gun today is nothing like it used to be. I'm relatively new to this sport, my first major was TXMG in 2012, so my frame of reference is very limited.

I haven't seen the answer anywhere else, so I'll ask it here: why did SOF cease to exist? I'm genuinely curious about what happened to it. Does anyone who was there care to share the story?

Since "I was There....." (and this is accurate from my perspective - anyone can improve upon it :devil: )

The last SOF match in Las Vegas was 1999 (maybe 2000?). The SOF magazine crew was becoming less and less enthusiastic about Las Vegas as a venue. The crew that put on the match for the magazine was out of Bakersfield, CA, so it was a piece for them to travel to Vegas to begin with.

In 2000, The magazine put on the first and only "Spring SOF" at the NRA Whittington Center, they used local resources to put on the match, it was too far for the Bakersfield crew to take their show on the road. A bunch of us locals shot this match.

In 2001, the loose confederation of Rocky Mountain 3 Gun folks (us) responded to a RFP from the magazine to put on the SOF Match at the Whittington Center and we "won" the proposal. (I think maybe only a couple individuals besides us actually responded to the RFP)

The RM3G folks actually put on the SOF match 1st part of September and then traveled to Las Vegas to shoot the World Championship 3 Gun later in the month. This match was put on by the Bakersfield crew and really "was" still the SOF match, since they had done the magazine match for so long. This match ran as WC3G and SWAT Magazine 3 Gun for a couple of years.

When contacted by us (Remember this was 2001 - 9/11 - anyone remember???) about doing next year's match, the SOF magazine crew said they were not going to be in the match business anymore so that they could concentrate on the GWOT.

In 2002, I came up with the crazy idea that all of us RM3G folks could put on a big 3 gun match at the Whittington Center, after having worked with the NRA folks for the SOF match. That was RM3G, which still runs to this day.

Savvy???

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, Thank you for the history. I appreciate it. My intent was to describe,albeit poorly what one used to find at matches as opposed to what many matches today are like.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eric, Thank you for the history. I appreciate it. My intent was to describe,albeit poorly what one used to find at matches as opposed to what many matches today are like.

That wasn't what the original poster asked.....next question.....

(This answer was concocted to give all a "flavor" of what the grueling SOF mandatory shooter's meeting tone was like........) :devil:

(....and Jim is correct in his off-topic description) :goof:

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How sure are you on the dates? My first match was the end of September 2001, in Vegas. I thought it was still an SOF match, but who knows. I know I shot the WC3Gun after that. Can't remember if I shot 2 or 3. I do remember finishing 10th at the last one. And wishing I finished 11th because of the way they did the prizes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How sure are you on the dates? My first match was the end of September 2001, in Vegas. I thought it was still an SOF match, but who knows. I know I shot the WC3Gun after that. Can't remember if I shot 2 or 3. I do remember finishing 10th at the last one. And wishing I finished 11th because of the way they did the prizes.

you may be right, but WC3gun was happening in the mid 90's. i didn't know it continued that late.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How sure are you on the dates? My first match was the end of September 2001, in Vegas. I thought it was still an SOF match, but who knows. I know I shot the WC3Gun after that. Can't remember if I shot 2 or 3. I do remember finishing 10th at the last one. And wishing I finished 11th because of the way they did the prizes.

You may be right....I can almost see in my minds eye a 2001 SOF or WC3G T-shirt. I'll have to look at my shirt "collection" (I don't throw them out until I use them for gun rags)

How sure are you on the dates? My first match was the end of September 2001, in Vegas. I thought it was still an SOF match, but who knows. I know I shot the WC3Gun after that. Can't remember if I shot 2 or 3. I do remember finishing 10th at the last one. And wishing I finished 11th because of the way they did the prizes.

you may be right, but WC3gun was happening in the mid 90's. i didn't know it continued that late.

Was it the same Bakersfield crew that put on SOF? I'm pretty sure they started World Championship 3 Gun at the same range in Las Vegas after SOF wanted them to travel to NRA Whittington Center. The only two big matches (not local - and I understand the Bakersfield crew did put on semi-local matches) that I'm aware of in the middle to late '90's was SOF / SMM3G; one in the spring one in the fall.

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? You guys must be getting real old!

First off Outerlimits, all the S.O.F. matches were WC3-G...it just had the S.O.F. at the start... Soldier of Fortune World Championship 3-Gun match. The year 2000 was THE LAST S.O.F. branded match. In 2001 it became just plain old World Championship ship 3-gun match. In 2002-2003 it was S.W.A.T. Magazine World 3-gun Championship. This was the Bakersfield team!!! .... mean while....back at the ranch...

S.O.F. had put on a match in Raton New Mexico in May of 2000. They were tired of Vegas and wanted to change venues. At the last minute in 2001 they backed the World Championship 3-gun Match, but due to the late date were not the head line sponsor of the match. S.O.F decided they wanted to go with the Whittington Center in New Mexico for their next match and Eric Miller, Kurt Miller, Blane West, and Jimmie holdsworth ( who all ran the local " Rocky Mountain 3-Gun" Matches) decided to run what turned out to be the last S.O.F. Sanctioned 3-gun Match in September 2002.

When Soldier Of Fortune decided to dedicate their energies to reporting on G.W.O.T. The idiots who had decided to do the last match ( Eric, Jimmie, Kurt, Blane, and a bunch of the guys who helped run the local RM3-Gun) started what is now Rocky Mountain 3-Gun match, which in a way is still going making it the longest running 3-gun Match in the U.S.

Edited by kurtm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So having shot RM3G in 2004 that means I actually got to shoot the 2nd ever RM3G match ?? Cool ! Still have the t shirt and hangover 11 years later :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So having shot RM3G in 2004 that means I actually got to shoot the 2nd ever RM3G match ?? Cool ! Still have the t shirt and hangover 11 years later :-)

Do you and Barry still have your "special award" certificates?...... I think you placed 10th and Barry was 11th..... :devil:

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

post_old.gif October 13, 2002, 02:54 PM #1

Junior Member

Join Date: October 4, 2002
Location: colorado
Posts: 5
Whittington Center 3 gun Match
The Rocky Mountain 3 Gun Association is going to be puting on a match at the N.R.A. Whittington center in Raton New Mexico, on the 23-25 of August 2003. This match is being put on by the SAME people that put on the last S.O.F. match. There will be 8 stages of fire and almost all WILL NOT BE in square ranges. The match will run under International 3 Gun rules, just like S.M.M.3 Gun. there will be Open, limited and He man classes. We will have a web site soon and will post the rules and an entry form. Please let us know how much interest there is in this match. KURT

Looky, looky what I found at a place called the www.thefiringline.com/forums .....everything will live on the interweb forever

Kurt: We did the last SOF in 2001......memory is....well....not what it used to be...

First RM3G in 2003

Note the awsome number of posts :goof:

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep 2001, I must have had some pig blood on my finger because I really thought I had typed 2001, but who the well proof reads anymore? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not trying to troll this thread at all. That said, this post may ruffle some feathers even though not intended that way. We live in a free country, and capitalism is (theoretically) still king. So, the only reason the run and gun type matches would have displaced the scenario based, "real life" type matches should have been because more people wanted to shoot the way it is now, right?. Unless there was an infrastructure type cause, which is believable if the old days required a full reset crew. People busting ass so others can shoot wears out volunteers lickety-split. So the real question is, did the SOF type matches go away because the majority of shooters like this style better, or because the people necessary to make those type of matches succeed would rather be shooting instead? That is not a trick question, or one intended to induce death threats. I would LOVE to shoot a retro SOF type match. BUT, I have also been a past President, Secretary, Match Director, Head RO, and many other jobs for our local 3gun club, and it burned me out. Like, to the point where I quit shooting for a while. From THAT perspective, I would bet a few of my hard-earned dollars that the shooter-reset, easy setup/teardown type matches currently in vogue are not driven so much by shooter preference as by the level of effort that the crew putting on the match is willing to expend making it happen. Can any of the old(er) guard comment as to the validity of my hunch?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you answered all of your own questions and validated your own hunch.

Especially since, with all that you've done in the past, burned out, and then come back, you sound pretty much like an old(er) guard to me.... :bow:

....but, what do I know....

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SOF WAS run and gun, just no walk throughs wich meant you had to be able to formulate a plan on the fly. It kicked the butts of the USPSA walk through kings, and also made the stages more exciting! They were the only 3-gun match for quite a while.

Next, along came SMM3-Gun. It was mainly a USPSA club that put on the match, so shooters re-set stages. You could do walk throughs, and the staff shot for score.

As 3-gun started growing it attracted the guys tired of USPSA, but their paradigm was the USPSA way of doing matches, so it became kind of the norm, which is the way it is played today. Less staff, shooters work, staff shoots for score. I wouldn't say the SOF match fell out of favor, I would say it was nudged out in favor of the "easiest" way to run a match, and sometimes easy isn't the right answer.

you will really never know just how "busy" a stage can till you can't do a bunch of walk throughs. You stand there, make ready, and try to relax and then BEEP!!! And all you got is your head on a swivel, and hopefully a hand full of basics. Get too excited and you miss or run by targets. Be too timid and your time blows.

Edited by kurtm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I remember wasn't the last SWAT World 3-Gun Championship in Laughlin / Bullhead City ?

Yes it was. I did not make it to that match, but John from JP Enterprises did, along with his long-time SOF teammates.

The stories he tells of the heat and sand were epic!

Tommy Wong got heat stroke, as I recall, and the sand was so deep and soft at the range, the match staff created 4X4 "shuttles" to get competitors from their city cars to the stages. :surprise:

At that time, we were swamped with making RM3G work, and just couldn't make it.

ericm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It wasn't sand, it was more like talcum powder. On top of that it sprinkled every morning and again at noon, so along with the 107-110 temp you had suffacating humidity to deal with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×