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What are Run and Gun Competitions?

Run and Gun or Centerfire Biathlons competitions might be the most fun shooting events you've never heard of. Part trail run, part mud race and part 2-gun competition, the Run and Gun (RnG) community is spreading like wildfire.

Like many shooting sports in their formative years, there isn't a national or parental organization guiding events. The concept was born in Texas and is expanding to many sites across the country, with most events being similar in format and rules. The outlaw spirit is encouraged and keeps events unique, reflecting the location and the match director’s personality. Competitors are drawn to Run and Gun events for the combination of physical and shooting challenges. With the nature of the events, competitors come from all walks of life and backgrounds, whether as a test of equipment, for the thrill of competition or to practice for more serious work.


Photo Courtesy of Lisa Stennett


Run and Gun events feature trail/cross country runs ranging from 3 kilometers to 20 kilometers in length, with 5Ks (about 3 miles) being most common. As the course progresses, different obstacles must also be completed, whether low crawls under barbed wire (usually in the mud), negotiating wooden structures, crossing creeks, sliding across slacklines and anything else dreamed up by match staff. Because the running is combined with the shooting, competitors must carry everything with them to be able to complete the entire course. If you happen to catch a runner at a shooting stage, a range officer will direct you to start your stopwatch for wait time. When your turn to shoot comes up, this wait time is recorded and then later subtracted from the total run time.


Photo Courtesy of Lisa Stennett

As for the shooting, stages require hits on paper or steel with pistols, rifles or both. Courses of fire are inclusive of the stage elements and props encountered at other action shooting sports such as USPSA and 3-gun. Barricades, window ports, and other props typically equip stages, with shooting from a mix of prone, kneeling and/or standing.  If a facility can handle it, rifle shooting can stretch out to 4-500 yards. Nearly all will require an unloaded start, so loading the firearms on the clock is mandatory.


As the name implies, Run and Guns score the running and shooting equally. To win you have to be a good runner and good shooter, as match points are based on percentage of finish relative to the best performer for each stage and then total run-time.

For a run-time score, half of the maximum points possible for the match will be awarded to the best runner. Every other person’s percentage of the best run-time is applied to the total points possible.

Example: With 5 shooting stages worth 100 points each, the running is worth a maximum of 500 points. If your run-time is 90% of the best runner, you will have 450 points for the run-time.

Shooting stages are scored using time-plus, where the time to complete the course is the base time. Penalties add time for missed targets, targets not engaged, no-shoots hit or other procedurals. For match points, the best shooter receives 100 points and others get points based on their percentage of the best stage run.

Example: Each of the shooting stages is worth 100 points each. The best shooter for the stage receives 100 points, and if your time is 85% of the best stage run you are awarded 85 points.

A competitor's total match score is the sum of run points and stage points. The best total score determines overall placement.



Post-run gear dump from the recent Carolina Run and Gun.

At a minimum, competitors will need a rifle, pistol, ammo, magazines and a way to carry it all. Eye and ear protection are needed along with a stopwatch to track potential wait time. Organizers generally provide a round count or limited written stage briefs before the event. It is then up to the shooter to determine how many magazines and how much ammo to bring. Many shooters plan for at least twice the minimum round count. As for support gear, if you want to haul something along it is allowed provided you carry it the whole way.

Firearms are typically unregulated in terms of chambering, sight configuration and setup. Without divisions, everyone can run their preferred rifle and pistol that they feel will let them be successful. AR-15 rifles are most popular, but some shooters will run FALs, Garands, and AKs or other unique rifles for fun. However, things like durability and reliability, shootability under stress and when tired, optics, and weight of the rifle and ammunition are all factors when picking a competitive rifle. The majority of rifles are AR-15s that are handy, accurate and have some type of low-powered optic. A rifle like this allows for rapid target engagements from very close to 500 yards. Slings are highly encouraged for shooting and running with the rifle.

Pistols must be holstered and start with a draw on the clock. A retention holster is highly recommended to prevent the pistol from falling out while running or negotiating obstacles. Pistols with a 15-20 round capacity are preferred to save on reloads and logistical burden when running.


Photo Courtesy of Lisa Stennett

There aren't many shooting competitions that combine a trail run and obstacle course between stages, and then put you on the clock to shoot. A competitor faces challenges to work through, from selecting the right equipment pre-match to working through unanticipated obstacles and developing shooting plans on the fly. If you think running and gunning your way through a course sounds like fun, look into a Run and Gun event for a new challenge.

Some events to check out:

Oklahoma Run ‘n Gun – Pawnee, OK

Pecos Run and Gun – Pecos, TX

Texas Run and Gun – Texas

Impact Run and Gun – Texas

Carolina Run and Gun – Clinton, SC

Legion 9/11 Memorial Run and Gun – Park City, KY

Run For Your Life Zombie 10K – Park City, KY

Wolverine 5K – Lansing, MI

Lead Farm Run N Gun – Missouri

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