Gabriella Raquel’s AR15.COM – Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am After Action Report

By Gabriella Raquel

Gabriella Raquel
Gabriella Raquel's AR15.COM – Rockcastle 3-Gun Pro-Am After Action Report

Honeoye Falls, NY –( This year the AR15.COM Team has invited 17-year old Gabby to shoot with our team. She's writing a couple of articles for us to describe what it's been like to prepare for and compete in a major match from the perspective of a young female new shooter.

Shooting the AR15.COM Pro Am 3-Gun Championship was such a fun and exciting learning experience.

Gabriella Raquel
Gabriella Raquel

It was awesome to be among so many experienced and professional shooters. Everyone I met was so supportive and eager to share their wisdom on shooting as well as techniques for conquering each of the stages. I met so many helpful people and had a really great time.

While often learning is associated with being a good thing, unfortunately, some of the things I learned included penalties, not such a good thing. I learned that you get a 10 second penalty if you “fail to engage” a target. This means that if time runs out and you do not shoot at every target, each target you failed to shoot at counts as time added to your score. Now going in the order you planned and not having enough time is bad, but having time remaining and realizing that you forgot to shoot that cleverly hidden target really stinks. I also learned that sometimes shooting at a target, missing, and moving on to the next can get you a higher score than staying on a target, running out of time and having points added for each target you didn’t get to shoot at. This is important to remember when thinking through the stages and how long it might take to clear every target.

I also learned shooting a 3 gun match is as much a physical sport as it is an intellectual sport.

I had to walk through a stage at least three times to have a solid game plan on what I’m shooting and how many targets are set up. I would count each of the targets, then walk through the stage again counting them off as I mentally engaged them one by one. Planning reloads was another important lesson, thinking through when and where each one would take place. This turned out to be especially important for me in a shotgun stage. Considering the division capacity is nine, for a loaded firearm, and on one stage there were ten clay birds sent flying two seconds apart it was important to calculate and time my reloads. I was very proud to break eight out of 10 on this stage. Another big part of thinking through my game plan at each stage was to make sure I didn’t break the 180-degree rule. This is when you are moving with a loaded firearm to never point it beyond 180-degrees of the course of fire. While this seems obvious, once the buzzer goes off and the timer has started, your heart is pumping and everything you thought you know and everything you had painstakingly planned seems to take a pause. Running through a maze of targets can get you momentarily swinging your gun to hit one you may have passed up. Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way.

Gabriella Raquel
Gabriella Raquel

Even when I thought through the stage completely I still learned I had some advantages and some challenges. For example, being 17 years old and standing 5’2, my youth served me well. There were a few stages where you had to shoot through a port that for the average man was an uncomfortable height, but not for me. I just bent my knees a little bit and I was completely comfortable shooting through the port. Sometimes the port was on the ground and the men in my squad would talk about how hard it would be for them to get up from the ground.

But I was able to bounce right up and continue shooting. However on one of the stages we had to shoot five close paper targets and three long distance gongs from behind a wooden table that was about four and a half feet tall and slanted upwards on a hill.

Though I went three for three on the gongs over 100 yards away, when I was shooting the closer paper targets I made the mistake of resting my rifle on the table and every shot I took hit the table and missed the target. I could see the targets through my scope perfectly fine but I shot the table every time.

Quick note here, I didn’t loose any points for failing to engage as I shot at each target yet, I didn’t score any points either because the targets must have holes in them to be counted.

Whenever my father talks about shooting he always mentions the camaraderie that comes with it and I really understood that after leaving this great event. Every person I meet was so excited to see a young girl shooting. Even the pros I met were so helpful, kind and willing to answer any questions I had. I was nervous going to my first big match but after I left I felt like I had so much more experience and knowledge and I was ready for the next match. Though I ended up placing 221st this time, I was happy, as my not so lofty goal was simply not to finish last. Yet, I knew when I left I would be able to do a whole lot better the next go around. I guess looking forward to shooting this match again means I’m off the sidelines and in the game now.

As a post note, since the AR15.COM Pro Am 3-Gun Championship, I had the opportunity to shoot an action rifle match at our local range. I took what I learned from the previous match and gave it everything I had.

I ended up placing 13th out of 36 competitors beating my dad for the first time ever. I can’t wait till next year. I’ll be back.

AR15.Com originated in 1996 as a mailing list for firearm enthusiasts. As the years passed and interest grew, a website came into existence to present those same enthusiasts with a means to collect, share, and explore information. Shortly afterwards, a bulletin board was added to create a more interactive experience for the growing list of users. The site was still in it's infancy, but was growing in popularity. Visit:

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