We asked the Team RISE pro shooters what equipment tips they have for people getting started in 3-Gun and other shooting competitions. Here’s what they had to say.


Always try to get the best equipment you can afford right off the bat. You will only kick yourself when you outgrow it and have to buy another, better one. Specifically for the rifle, get a good trigger, optic, and adjustable stock—not collapsible, adjustable.  


For 3-Gun competitions, you’ll need a reliable rifle that shoots 1 MOA or better, preferably ½ MOA. You’ll also need a 9mm pistol that holds 23 in the magazine and is reliable and a shotgun that you handle well and that is reliable. The key word in all these is “reliable.” 


Make sure the rifle and shotgun fit you. Have an adjustable stock on the rifle, so when you put it up, the scope is right there; there’s no moving your head to get the eye box correct. Length and cant are also key. “I am a big proponent of a fitting a shotgun,” says Joe Pitha. Shotguns are typically made to fit everyone; make it fit you. Raise or lower the comb. Make the length of pull correct to your body style and shooting style. Adjust/trim the recoil pad to fit your shoulder. 


Your rifle MUST be reliable above everything else. If you do not have the focus, money, expertise, or time to spend tuning a system with lightweight components, stick with full-weight buffers and a full-weight bolt-carrier group. If you do have the money and time to spend tuning your system with lightweight components, there is a risk versus reward relationship with overall system weight when you start getting lighter and lighter. You can use lighter buffers and/or lightweight bolt carriers, including aluminum and titanium bolt carriers. “I am using a titanium bolt carrier with standard weights on a silent captured system; the gas system is tuned specifically for that weight of system,” Dillen Easley says. Make sure your total system weight does not get too low, or you may have function issues as the rifle gets dirty. 


Look on websites that sell used or prize table equipment. There can be some good deals on there, and you can haggle! 


You can find deals on belts, shell caddies, holsters, and mag pouches on various Facebook pages dedicated to selling gear. 


Don’t use what the hot shooter is running just because he/she is running it. Looks don’t matter, winning does. 


Many shooters will let you try their gear if you ask.  


Never skimp on ammo. Quality ammo will make your day much better. One bad round could ruin a match! Just like the guns, reliable ammo is key. If it doesn’t go bang every time, it doesn’t belong in your match ammo. Practice with it a lot. Get the confidence in your ammo before you go to a match. 


That said, choose ammunition based upon what your rifle likes and the targets you are planning to shoot. “I use cheaper 55gr ammo inside of 100 yards, as long as I am not shooting at small targets. I use 69gr-77gr ammo for small targets, and for everything beyond 100 yards,” Dillen Easley says. Heavier bullets cause targets to react more for called hits, and—more importantly—they fit crosswinds better than lighter and shorter bullets. 


It’s important that the magazines for your rifle are reliable and allowed within the division you shoot. When it comes to magazines, variety can be important if your division allows it. Be sure to know the division and match rules for the matches you are attending. Otherwise, you risk heavy penalties or getting bumped to open division for using the wrong gear. “My match load-out includes 20-, 30-, and 40-round Magpul PMAGs with MBX basepads, as well as Magpul D-60 drum and nonextended 30-round PMAGs,” says Dillen Easley. “All mags were brand new at the beginning of the season, and I use last year’s mags more for practice. Magazines are cheap. There’s no reason not to have fresh mags!”  


Adjust your grips, stocks, and scope mount locations to your body, face, and hands and your preferences. “I am an average-height shooter with a stockier build, round face with high cheekbones, and meaty, squarer-shaped hands. My setup includes a Cole Components 6E fully adjustable stock that lets me elevate my head higher than other stocks to accommodate the shape of my face, an Ergo deluxe grip with palm swell that fits my meaty hands better, and a Warne X-Skel scope mount with the front mounting screw in the furthest forward rail opening on the top of the receiver and Vortex Razor 1-6x scope mounted almost all the way forward in the mount,” describes Dillen Easley.  
Do not allow your scope mount to go out onto your handguard and always snug your scope mount forward before properly torquing the mount down. When optimizing your setup, you want to be able to look through your scope naturally when standing and prone, and you need to be able to see your reticle and target without having any shadows on the edges of your scope. An adjustable stock allows you to raise and lower your cheek piece, shorten and extend your length of pull, and some will even allow the butt-pad to rise, lower, and cant to the side. 


Get good optics. You’ve got your RISE Armament rifle ready. It’s reliable, tuned, and your RA-535 trigger is rockin’. Now you just need to hit the targets, but you have to be able to see them out to 600 yards in order to guide the bullets in. “Since 2013, I have shot TacOps using a Vortex Razor 1-6×24 scope that has been moved from gun to gun until it’s rested on my red RISE rifle,” Dilley Easley says. Good optics aren’t cheap, but you cannot hit what you cannot see!