Look, we get it … 3-gun competitions demand a lot of gear and practice to get even within shooting distance of a decent score. They’re fun, no doubt, but if you’re going to pay the money and invest the time to compete, you don’t want to throw that commitment down the drain without a little preparation and a decent idea of what’s involved.

So, why not try a 2-gun match?

Organized by the U.S. Carbine Association, 2-gun matches are made up of stages that incorporate precision pistol work and transitions to AR-style rifle shooting. Many clubs are starting to incorporate 2-gun matches into their schedules and they’re a perfect way to ease into the growing sport of 3-gun since they keep it relatively simple with just two weapons to have to think about in each stage.

One of the cool things about USCA 2-gun matches is that they’re a perfect evolution from USPSA or IDPA pistol matches they you’re probably already involved with, just adding the extra fun of a carbine into the mix. You can apply the same pistol skills from IDPA or USPSA matches to get a leg up on your competition, while stretching your rifle knowledge on fast transitions and even sling work (slinging your rifle and going to your pistol on the same string).

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The matches tend to be pretty laid back and lack the hardcore competitive nature of 3-gun so shooters can really focus on refining pistol accuracy and draw speeds with running the rifle against the clock. They’re typically less expensive to enter and demand less ammo (no shotgun shells), less gear (no shotgun or speed loaders) and a lot less to think about.

But one bit of advice from someone who’s done a couple of these: pay attention to your long range shooting ability with the carbine. Many 2-gun competitions include at least one stage with targets well out to 300 yards, so make sure your rifle (and optics) are dialed in for both close-range point shooting and dinking steel at extended distances.

And once you’ve got a couple of these USCA 2-gun shoots under your belt and feel pretty confident in the manipulation — and transition between — your pistol and rifle under pressure, then you’ll feel a lot more confident throwing a scattergun into the mix and step up to a 3-gun match.