2011 3GN Divisional Champions
Upchurch, Horner, Miller, Dueck, Romero Win Inaugural Division Races
By Chad Adams
GLENGARY, WV-(Ammoland.com)- With the conclusion of the 2011 3-Gun Nation points matches for this season, 3GN has named the five winners of the inaugural 3GN Divisional Championships, presented by Hornady. Along with the division title, each winner takes home $5,000—a total cash payout of $25,000 by Hornady.
The divisional races were decided by the 3GN Standings, where points are taken from 3GN-affiliated matches across the country. A competitor’s top three scores within any one division were tabulated for division points. After approximately 1,500 competitors recorded scores this season, each 3GN Divisional Championship boiled down to a two-man race entering the final match of the season, the FNH USA 3-Gun Championship, which also served as the tie-breaking event.
The Open division came down to Colt’s Clint Upchurch and SureFire’s Mike Voigt, with 300 points apiece. Upchurch dominated the division for the first half of the season for the early lead, but Voigt won three out of four down the stretch to force a tie heading into FN.
There, Upchurch outlasted Voigt by the slimmest of margins, 777.40 to 776.02, for a normalized score margin of victory of .02 points—good enough for the title of 3GN Open Division Champion and a check for $5,000 from Hornady.
Tactical Optics came down to the two most dominating shooters in recent years—Taran Butler and Daniel Horner. Butler picked up two division wins earlier this season, while Horner had won six 3GN-affiliated matches in 2011 and entered FN with a perfect score of 300. However, if Butler could post a win, he could tie and tie-break all at the same event, and steal the division, so to speak.
Horner surprisingly opened the door at FN as he struggled, at least for him, to a fifth place finish. And Butler charged through the opening with a solid match. But it was Tyler Payne, Horner’s U.S. AMU teammate, who picked up his first major match victory, thereby keeping Butler from money.
Payne’s win ensured Horner’s dominating season, as Horner outlasted Butler 300 to 299 points to become the 3GN 2011 Tactical Optics Division Champion, earning a $5,000 check from Hornady.
In Tactical Iron, division leader Kurt Miller (300 points) was a disappointing no-show. Miller’s absence left a huge window open for Kelly Neal, who had picked up two wins earlier this season. However, it was James Casanova who ended up stealing the show, and along with it, Neal’s chances for a division title. Casanova won seven of nine stages on his way to an impressive performance, part of a spectacular weekend of shooting for Casanova, including the 3GN Championship on Sunday.
Ultimately, Miller had done enough, as he is the 2011 Tactical Iron Division Champion, winning $5,000 from Hornady.
Heavy Metal has been an interesting race all season. Gone was former Heavy Metal king Patrick Kelley, who competed in other divisions this season. Seemingly out of nowhere came Bryan Ray to fill the void, as Ray posted division wins at Ozark and Fort Benning to take the early division lead. But a limited travel schedule prevented Ray from sealing up the division.
At Rocky Mountain, Rob Romero first stepped into the division to make a run at the money. Ultimately, Romero would go three-for-three in his only Heavy Metal matches shot, including two heads-up wins over Ray, completing a remarkable run to become the 2011 3GN Heavy Metal Division Champion with a prize of $5,000 from Hornady.
Heavy Metal Optics featured a season-long battle between SureFire’s Barry Dueck and Hornady’s Adam Popplewell. Dueck picked up a third division win, taking a 300- to 298-point lead over Popplewell. But with two division wins, a victory at FN would give Popplewell the division title.
In one of the closest finishes of the season, it was Barry Dueck who edged out Popplewell at FN, winning 825.96 to 820.30. Barry Dueck is the 2011 3GN Heavy Metal Optics Division Champion, with a cash prize of $5,000 from Hornady.
Eds. Note: The 3-Gun Nation Divisional Championships recognizes sustained excellence over the course of an entire shooting season. All of the competitors that were in the running demonstrated uncommon shooting skill. 3GN thanks each of the competitors who laid it on the line, as well as Hornady, who was the sole sponsor for this incredible points series.
Hornady’s Neal Emery awards prize checks to (left to right) Barry Dueck, Daniel Horner, Rob Romero and Clint Upchurch.
For more information, go to www.3GunNation.com.