The National Shooting Sports Foundation held their spring Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas, NV April 20-23… and it did not disappoint. This camp is the perfect opportunity for new, novice, and even experienced 3-gun shooters to get hands-on training with professional shooters and even make a few new friends.
The NSSF had the best of the best on the Clark County Gun Range to lend their expertise. Professional shooters Robert Vogel, Randi Rogers, BJ Norris, Dianna Muller, Chris Cheng, Tommy Thacker and Ryan Muller held nothing back from their eager students.
“If you’ve ever watched the pros on TV and wonder what they are like in real life, they are even more awesome than they are on TV!” said camper Rick Bandy. A “repeat offender” of the camp, Bandy went on to say that the professional shooters are also “able to meet you wherever you are in your shooting life and give you tips to help you improve. The Camp FAR exceeded my expectations – it ranks up there as one of the highlights of my life!”
NSSF graciously invited a few select writers to the event including Sue Huntington from American Handgunner and Guy Sagi who has written for publications like Shooting Illustrated and American Rifleman. I was also lucky enough to be invited to attend the camp and although the lessons I learned were innumerable, I’m going to narrow them down to five!
Here are the top five reasons the NSSF Fantasy Camp is a must for all shooters:
- You won’t be alone
The idea of the fantasy camp was, for me, daunting. I’ve never shot 3-gun, and although I have experience shooting pistols, shotguns, and rifles, it’s all in different capacities. Knowing I had shot self-defense and street encounters courses with my pistol, been upland game hunting and skeet shooting with my shotgun, and was an accomplished long range target shooter with my AR did nothing to calm my nerves about learning the ins and outs of 3-gun competition shooting, which is something I’ve always wanted to learn more about.
Thankfully, there were shooters of all levels learning with me (even newbies!) and I never felt like the ‘odd one out’.
- Coaches are everywhere
Heading onto the range Friday morning, campers were split into teams and taken through individual stages run by the pros. Having the opportunity to watch and learn from professional shooters is amazing in and of itself, but I immediately noticed an amazing characteristic on display that first morning and carried on throughout my time at the camp. Not only were the pros overwhelmingly eager to share their tips and tricks to all participants, but other campers were jumping in to point out things they were noticing that would help their fellow shooters.
A willingness to help others is most indicative of this industry as a whole but it also served to ease my nerves and made my time at the camp even more productive.
- Recognizing potential hang-ups is half the battle
Of the biggest challenges I experienced at the camp was transitioning from rifle to shotgun. At one point, after I had finished shooting the rifle stage, I literally couldn’t even think of how to grip the shotgun! Humbling, yes, but I’d never had to run from accurately shooting an MSR to knocking out four clay targets with a shotgun.
Thankfully, Ryan Muller was on hand to share his tips with me and had me practice the transition a few times. Before long, I had the hang of it, but having someone there to help me immediately after identifying a problem was great, and receiving advice from a professional on how to correct it was immeasurable.
- Do or do not, there is no try
Proof of how effective the NSSF’s camp really is literally came to me overnight. I left the gun range on Friday thinking the title of this article would be “I Went to Fantasy Camp to Discover I am NOT a 3-Gun Shooter“.
But on Saturday morning, I was pleasantly surprised that somehow, thanks to all the knowledge, tips, tricks, and advice and information the professionals and my fellow shooters had drilled into me the day before, everything had sunk in and paid off… big time.
I didn’t finish first, but I completed each stage so well that I really impressed myself and a few fellow campers, too!
Something else I encountered throughout my time at camp was how everyone rallied to encourage their fellow shooters. Whether it was sharing gear or giving encouragement, the most amazing characteristic I encountered was the overwhelming desire of every competitor to not only help their fellow shooters but to cheer them on.
Even when we were competing against each other.
Knowing we were all pulling for each other to perform at our best served to take the pressure off myself and allow me to concentrate on really soaking in all the information that was presented.
Need proof? Check out my run on the shotgun stage:
After running individually timed stages Saturday morning, my team went on to exceed our own expectations in the final tag-team 3-gun challenge that afternoon.
Team Randi, baby:
So that was my time in Vegas, but no matter where you are in your shooting skills, this camp is a must for everyone! Not only will you learn invaluable lessons from the pros, you’ll also make new friends and have an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Honestly, until you can shoot like this, there’s always room for improvement:
The NSSF has announced plans for their next Shooting Sports Fantasy Camp, slated for October 26-29, so what are you waiting for? Tell ’em Jenn sent ya!
For more information and to sign up for notifications regarding future camps, click [HERE]