Remington’s Johnson Wins 3GN Shoot-Off, $5,000 from Safariland
I got a call first thing Thursday morning, and got the news about my friend Jared N. Van Aalst, who was killed in action, Johnson said.
RATON, NM –-(Ammoland.com)- Remington’s Robby Johnson upset Smith & Wesson’s legendary Jerry Miculek to win the 3-Gun Nation Shoot-Off and $5,000, courtesy of Safariland, following the JP Enterprises Rocky Mountain 3-Gun here Aug. 7.
The last qualifying event on the inaugural FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Tour, Presented by SureFire, with more than 30,000 acres of rugged, scenic backdrop of the NRA Whittington Center, the final shoot-off lived up to the hype, with Johnson completing arguably the toughest route of the season, with wins over Daniel Horner, Eric Miller and Miculek.
The performance provided a bright cap to an otherwise difficult time for Johnson. While competing in the three-day event, the former Army Ranger learned that his dear friend, Army Master Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst, had been killed in action August 4th while conducting combat operations in Konduz Province, Afghanistan. Johnson received word while in Raton, and admitted that much of the weekend was surreal as calls, texts and e-mails poured in from the Army community.
Johnson and Van Aalst were each snipers, Rangers and members of the accomplished Army Marksmanship Unit.
“I got a call first thing Thursday morning, and got the news about my friend Jared N. Van Aalst, who was killed in action,” Johnson said. “It was very tough to think about the match, but I had a lot of friends and supporters call me. Jared was a competition shooter at heart and an AMU guy, and he taught me a lot about shooting. It was cool to give it my best effort and come out on top and dedicate the win to him.”
In the first round, Johnson drew his longtime friend, and former teammate, the AMU’s Daniel Horner, who was competing in his first 3-gun event of the season following a deployment to Afghanistan. Horner, who many consider the best in the game, won the Tactical Optics division, setting up the showdown with Johnson, who left the AMU to pursue a career with Remington.
“He does a lot for the Army and the AMU,” Johnson said of Horner. “He was almost soldier of the year. We kind of clicked the whole time we were in, we got super close and we still talk on the phone all the time. I try to shoot with him as much as I can to get as many pointers as I can. It’s a friendship I’ll have for life.”
Horner was first to the rifle, but struggled to stay steady from a standing position against the barricade. But Johnson, a former Army Ranger sniper, went one-for-one through five of six rifle plates to establish a comfortable lead through the shotgun portion of the shoot-off. Although Horner accelerated through the shotgun poppers and pistol rack, the lead was to much to overcome, as Johnson stayed smooth to the stop plate.
Miculek cruised to comfortable wins in his first two match-ups, knocking off Burton Thompson and Craig Underdown, respectively. Underdown defeated four-time 3GN shoot-off participant Patrick Kelley in the first round.
Meanwhile, the final first round match provided a moment of high drama, as Kelly Neal pulled ahead of Eric Miller through the pistol rack only to knock down Miller’s stop plate instead of his own, giving the win to Miller. But the highlight of the event was, of course, the final showdown between one of the greatest 3-gunners of all time versus one of the best 3-gunners of the last few years.
“The whole time I thought to myself that there was no shame in getting beat by Jerry, but the competitive spirit in me, I just went out and gave it everything I had, I wasn’t going to give it to him,” Johnson said.
Nor would the elder statesman of 3-gun, who seemed extremely focused after a first-round exit to Taran Butler in his previous 3GN shoot-off. But after shooting the second of the two semi-final match-ups, and with little break before the finals, Miculek was clearly winded, as the 6,500+ feet above sea level seemed to take its toll.
As such, Miculek struggled to settle in at the rifle barricade, while Johnson easily pulled to the early lead. Similar to the Horner match-up, Miculek mowed through the shotgun poppers at an intense rate, but it wasn’t enough, as Johnson kept his composure and cleaned the pistol rack to the stop plate and the victory, along with $5,000 from Safariland.
“With Jerry, there was a lot of pressure because it was the last match, the money was on the line, and I was going against the best shoot-off guy in the world,” Johnson said. “I knew I had to go for it, because I wasn’t going to win going slow.”
The eight-person shoot-off is a format like no other, where competitors take on steel rifle, shotgun and pistol racks in a race to the stop plate. To level the playing field, contestants fire an FNH USA SCAR 16 equipped with a SureFire muzzle brake and suppressor, chambered in .223 Rem., a new competition variant of the 12-gauge SLP semi-automatic shotgun, and the new FNX-9 semi-automatic pistol in 9 mm. Each gun runs ammunition provided by Federal Premium, and the rifles are topped with Weaver or Leupold optics.
Add in eight of the world’s fiercest 3-gunners, and the competition heats up. The next stop on the FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Tour, Presented by SureFire, is during the USPSA Multi-Gun Nationals, Sept. 9-12, where 10 Wild Card slots will be on the line for the 3GN Championship.
On Sept. 13, 60 competitors will battle for the 3GN Championship and $25,000, courtesy of Luepold; 2nd place will receive $10,000 from US P.A.L.M., and 3rd place will win $5,000 from Timney Triggers. Multi-gun, or 3-gun, is a unique sport within the discipline known as practical shooting. Considered the fastest growing segment within the shooting sports, 3-gun challenges competitors with rifle, pistol and shotgun, maneuvering through unique stages of fire as fast as their skill will allow.
The National 3-Gun Association, through media properties “3-Gun Nation Television” and 3GunNation.com, was formed with one mission: to promote practical shooting by shining a light on amateur and professional shooters alike, as well as the guns, gear and lifestyle that define the high-octane sport of 3-gun competition. Bringing never-before-seen cash payouts to the table, 3-Gun Nation is quite simply changing the game. 3 Guns.
One Champion. For more information, visit www.3GunNation.com.