Taran Butler defeats Team Sig Sauer Eric Lund in 32-man shoot-off.

Taran Butler defeated Team SIG Sauer’s Eric Lund in an…

Taran Butler defeated Team SIG Sauer’s Eric Lund in an unprecedented 32-man shoot-off on the FNH USA 3-Gun Nation Tour, Presented by SureFire, earning a check for $5,000, following the Sabre Defence Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun at the Rockcastle Shooting Center here April 23-25.

Competing in his second 3GN shoot-off, Butler seemed determined to fare better than his one-and-done finish at the DPMS Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun in March. Lund looked equally dominant in his four wins as he advanced past James Phelps, Joe Wong, Larry Toney and Jason Wong in route to the finals. But Butler, who took out Robert Romero, Adam Popplewell, John Bagakis and James Darst, found his rhythm first and left the rifle plates with a comfortable lead. However, Lund accelerated through the shotgun plates, broke two clay birds, and closed the distance heading into the final pistol targets. Ultimately, Butler’s lead proved to be too much, as he cleaned his pistol rack and was first to knock down the cross-over stop plate, earning his first win on the 3-Gun Nation Tour and a check for $5,000, courtesy of Leupold Tactical.

While Butler was well on his way to earning a spot in 3-Gun Nation’s traditional 8-man shoot-off, severe weather rolled through the Bluegrass, with a tornado actually touching down within the county Saturday night. Match director Andy Horner was forced to make a tough call and cancel the remainder of the Blue Ridge event for official scoring, leaving 3-Gun Nation officials scrambling for an alternative.

“Once that weather rolled in, we had to make a decision on what to do with the match,” said Andy Horner, match director, Sabre Defence Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun. “An option was to attempt to finish the match on Sunday, however it would have been midnight before the awards were completed. Therefore, we made a decision to call off the scored portion of the match and shoot for fun on Sunday. With the tornado warnings, severe thunderstorms, hail and lightening, it would have been too dangerous to continue on Saturday afternoon.”

Since not one stage of fire had been completed by each of the competitors, 3GN scrapped the normal qualification standards, consulted with match officials and top-level professional shooters, then made a bold move and opened the door to a wide range of competitors.

“We poured over every angle to this thing,” said Chad Adams, National 3-Gun Association. “Ultimately, we had no satisfactory baseline in which we could compare our competitors. So we took every name that had at least one top 10 overall finish within their division on any stage, threw the names in a hat, then held a random drawing for 32 shooters.”

The result was an intriguing mix of big-name pros, non-sponsored shooters, family members and even one of the Blue Ridge range officers, Bryan Ray, a local shooter from nearby Elizabethtown. The draw also provided the first two women to make a 3GN shoot-off, DPMS shooter Deb Cheek, and FNH USA’s Tasha Hanish, who made the field with her husband, Mark Hanish, also with Team FNH USA. Another pair of family members, Jason Wong, along with his uncle and shooting mentor, Joe Wong, represented JP Precision.

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