Jesse Tischauser on how to Become a Champion 3-Gun Shooter

3-Gun3By Daniel Scott
Photos courtesy of Rob Jones and Image Smith, LLC.

Jesse Tischauser is a competitor on the 3-Gun (pistol, rifle and shotgun) Nation Pro Series who appeared out of nowhere to make a name for himself as a serious contender. When I first met Jesse back in September of 2010 at the TacPro fall 3-Gun match, I was blown away by his speed, accuracy, and the fluidness of his transitions. We were squadded together at the event, and I could tell even then that he was extremely capable of making some serious waves in 3-Gun competitions. Jesse placed second in that event so it was no surprise to me when Stag Arms made the announcement that they had picked him up as a sponsored shooter on the 3-Gun Nation Pro Series.

Like most shooters of his caliber, Jesse is a very friendly guy, eager to help out people who are new to the sport. When I gave him a call to see if he’d be willing to do an interview he was more than happy to oblige.

Q: When was the first shooting competition you entered?

Jesse: The first actual scored competition I entered was back in 2001 at a sporting clay tournament. It was a 5-man team and we all went out and just had fun. It was the first time I’d ever shot organized clays or anything. I’d never shot trap or skeet. I’d done some stuff with my father growing up, but we never went to the range.

3-Gun1Q: That same organization had an indoor pistol league, and they called it a “Defensive Pistol League” because it was roughly based off of some guys who had shot IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) and they were the ones who ran it.

Jesse: I really got into that. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is awesome!” You get to run around, shoot your gun, move, run some more, shoot some more, reload, and all that good stuff.

I was hooked. I went back to work the first time after doing it and was talking to some guys from Houston that I worked with and they said “Hey, that sounds like IPSC.”

3-Gun2I said, “What the heck is IPSC?” (International Practical Shooting Confederation)

That’s where it all started. I think I shot my first USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) match in early 2009.

Q: That’s not very much time between shooting your first ever USPSA match and making the Pro Series of 3-Gun Nation. Did you do any formal training?

Jesse: Yeah, it’s really not that long at all. I went and took Mike Seeklander’s competition class at USSA (United States Shooting Academy). I had worked my way up to C-class shooter and then took the class. It really took me to the next level. That’s when I learned all the things I was doing wrong and it gave me the foundation to build upon.

After that I took two of Phil Strader’s classes and I went to another local guy who teaches some indoor classes at our little indoor range here. I trained with Max Michel and Kurt Miller here in Oklahoma City. He’s one of the top 3-Gun guys. I took his 3-Gun class and his rifle class. I pretty much soaked up as much training here locally as I could get.

Q: At what point did you make the transition over to 3-Gun?

Jesse: Our local club had done some 3-Gun matches in the past. Kurt Miller was our 3-Gun match director, but they had stopped doing them because there just wasn’t enough interest. Because of that I didn’t shoot my first 3-Gun match until October of 2009. The closest match to me was the state sectional USPSA match that the Old Fort Gun Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas put on.

3-Gun4I went out and shot that match with a lot of rag-tag gear. My scope touched the top rail on my AR-15 and I couldn’t rotate my variable scope ring whatsoever during a stage. It was just terrible.

One of the cool things about that match was that Taran Butler would come out and shoot it because there weren’t that many matches around the country back then. I was squadded-up with him and Rustin Bernskoetter.

Watching Taran shoot, I was like “Wow, this is amazing. Look how fast this guy is at just everything.” Even Rustin was really good for what was, I think, only his second match. It kinda worked out funny that he and I are shooting the Pro Series now together.

Q: We’ve talked about all of the training classes you’ve done, but let’s discuss how much practice is required to be able to compete at the level that you do. How often do you practice?

Jesse: Well, I don’t practice as much as I’d like. I don’t think anyone does. Even the pro level isn’t as professional yet as we’d like it to be.

When I first started out back in 2009-2010, I dry-fired my pistol everyday. I’d dry fire my rifle, just trying to get all of the gun manipulation, magazine changes, all of that stuff to be second nature. I wanted to get to the point to where the magazine change just happens and you don’t have to think “Oh! Change your magazine. There’s the mag-well, now stick it in,” so that none of that goes through your conscious thought process. It just happens when it needs to.

As a new shooter, that’s something you have to spend time on. You can either do it with live ammunition on the range, or with dry-firing. I probably changed magazines on my pistol thousands of times while just sitting there watching TV in my room at home.

You get all of those basics down pat so that you can manipulate the trigger without upsetting the sights. You might practice some to keep it fresh right before you go to a match, but you don’t really have to think about it. You just practice to keep it fresh. You’ve already mastered all of the skills you need and it just becomes maintenance.

Q: In 2011 you got picked up by Stag Arms. Stag is well known among most shooters as the “Left-handed AR Company” but they do much more than that.

Jesse: In 2011, Stag decided they were going to sponsor 3-Gun Nation and they also picked up myself and Kalani Laker. At the time however they didn’t have a gun that was really set up for 3-gun.

With our help, they came out with the Model 3G. It is basically an 18-inch heavy-barreled rifle with a fluted barrel and rifle-length gas system. It has a long 15-inch handguard which we all like to use in 3-Gun. It also has a Geissele Super 3-Gun trigger, which was specifically developed for 3-Gun competitions and then they put on a Magpul grip and Magpul stock.

This was the first mass produced 3-gun ready rifle I believe. It is by far the most cost effective way to get started in 3-Gun. You can literally take it out of the box and go shoot a match and it’s not going to hold you back one bit.

It’s a competition ready gun, but since 3-Gun is a reality-based action shooting sport, it’s also the ideal personal defense weapon.

Q: Yeah, exactly. Guys ask me what I use for home defense or for hunting. I shoot my 3-Gun rifle more than anything I’ve got in my safe. When you think about all the features it has, there’s nothing on that gun that is only useable for 3-Gun.

Do you have any ammo sponsors right now?

Jesse: Once you get to the Pro Series level, people are more than willing to give you discounts on stuff, but getting ammunition is like the Holy Grail. You can never have enough ammunition!

Stag Arms helps helped Kalani and I out with rifle ammunition some, but I also get some help from Fiocchi USA. They help me out with my rifle and shotgun ammo. In 2012, I used nothing but Fiocchi .308 ammo to win the 2012 3-Gun Nation Heavy Optics Title. I also used a bunch of Fiocchi Spreader Shot Shells and Fiocchi Low Recoil Aero slugs to win the 2012 Rockcastle Tactical Shotgun Championship Open title and the 2012 High Plains Shotgun Challenge Pump title.

Q: Prior to the current ammunition drought we’re experiencing, how many rounds would you run through on an annual basis?

Jesse: My first year I probably shot 5,000 rounds, and my second year maybe 10,000 to 12,000 rounds. That was when I was shooting mostly pistol. This last season I decided to take notes and keep track and I did it online so other people could do it and see and follow what I was doing. I shot almost exactly 21,000 rounds in 2011 between matches, practice, everything.

To be honest with you, that’s about a third of what I wish I would have shot.

Q: The current shortage in the ammunition market is unprecedented in the scope and scale it has reached. How is that affecting your practice and your ability to get rounds for competition?

Jesse: Thankfully I knew the Pro Series was coming up and I knew I was going to be shooting a lot, so towards the end of last year I bought 15,000 rounds of pistol and I stocked up on the same amount of .223. Shotgun ammunition isn’t really short yet, though slugs and buckshot can be hard to come by. I still keep two or three cases of that stuff around since I like to buy ammunition in case-lots. That way I know that all of the ammunition is made at the same time and I know it will all shoot to the same point of impact.

Q: We’ve got a lot of guys who are just starting out. They’re having to mix and match or borrow ammunition, or pay these outrageous prices, just so that they can shoot a local match. As good as everything was progressing with 3-Gun growing in popularity, this has really put the brakes on.

From your perspective then, this ammunition crisis could really have a detrimental impact on the shooting sports and our ability to get new shooters participating. Could it potentially set us back a number of years?

Jesse: Yeah, I would think so.

If you just bought your first AR-15 and your first pistol and you’re planning on coming to your first shoot, but you don’t have ammunition, you’re in a world of hurt. I’ve had people that I haven’t talked to since high school sending me emails and messages asking “Hey, do you know where I can a rifle?” or “Do you know where I can find some ammunition for the rifle I just bought?”

If you’re wanting to start out now you’re either going to have to pay for it or you’re just not going to get to play.

Q: Let’s talk about tips for new shooters like myself. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on ammunition and range time. What’s the best way to get noticeable improvements in my game?

Jesse: If you’re a new shooter who is just getting started there’s no reason to go and spend a bunch of money. My recommendation to guys is to just take what you have and come out and shoot a match.

I hear guys saying “Well, I need to practice a little first,” but really you don’t. As long as you know how to safely handle your firearm you’re ready. Get out there and shoot and talk to the guys you’re shooting with. It’s a lot more fun to learn while you’re doing it anyway.

There’s shooting, and there’s everything but shooting. In 3-Gun we do a lot of transitions from one weapon to another, and that’s something you can practice at home. You can drop your rifle and draw your pistol. Everything that happens in between each shot is something you can practice at home. Practice the fundamentals and all of the weapon manipulation tasks. Just becoming comfortable running with your firearm is a huge thing.

I actually bought a couple of Glock Airsoft pistols and a 1911 style pistol as well as a bunch of Airsoft knock-down targets. Airsoft is really the next step above dry-fire. Dry-fire gets boring, and that’s why a lot of people don’t do it. That’s a problem, because if it’s not fun you won’t continue to do it.

Q: How important is it to track your progress as you train?

Jesse: Having a journal so you can track your progress is very important. You don’t want to be there going “Well, I think that was faster than I did last time.” You need to know whether or not it was.

Right after you buy a holster you should buy a timer. If you’re trying to get better at 3-Gun or USPSA, there’s no excuse. There are even apps on iPhone or smart phones you can get very cheap or even free. I think SureFire has one, and Taurus had one at some point.

Shot timers are a necessity.

Q: Those are some great points there. Thanks again for sharing your insights and giving us some tips and tricks.

Jesse Tischauser is getting off to a slow start this season. Due to the fact that he, like most pro series competitors, has work obligations, he’ll be unable to attend the first stop on the 3-Gun Nation tour. He’ll face an uphill battle as he has to avoid disqualification and score high enough in each of the remaining three matches to qualify for the 3GN Championship Finale in Las Vegas. Ranked 17th overall last season, Jesse has shown he’s more than up to the challenge and is looking forward to his second shot at winning the $50,000 prize and being crowned 3-Gun Nation Champion.

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Western Shooting Journal.

Editor’s Note: Daniel Scott is an outdoor writer with a background in technical writing, editing, and publishing. When he’s not writing, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and various shooting sports. Daniel is the Executive Editor of The Colored Lens, a speculative fiction magazine available online and in e-book format. He blogs about hunting, shooting, and the outdoors at Daniel makes his home in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife, and two dogs who couldn’t retrieve a bird if their lives depended on it.

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