The Journey of a Run n Gunner
By Brian Jeno
Almost five years ago some friends and I saw an ad on Facebook for the Carolina Run n Gun. Without hesitation we knew this was a must do. Several months later four of us were on our way to the Clinton House Plantation in SC for our first taste of “Run n Gun”.
Needless to say, we had fun, we wanted to do more of these, and we wanted to do better! I was hooked from the first stage, I knew that this was the beginning of a new chapter for me, I had found my sport! Little did I know how much that first Run n Gun would impact my life. Looking back at the competitors from that first event, although I may not have met everyone that weekend, they are now some of my best friends, and certainly some of the best Americans that I know.
Getting into this sport had many unintended benefits, not just for myself, but so many others in our community. I've lost count of how many of us have started to take their fitness more seriously because of this sport. I personally know several people that have lost 50, 60, even up to 100 pounds doing this. Whether your goal is to win one eventually or just be able to run an entire match, this community has your back and will support you like no other community I have found. Although I have always been active, I never considered myself an athlete, this sport has changed me in that regard. I now train regularly and at 43 I’m in the best shape of my life. I focus on my nutrition more, I run or ruck at least three days a week and strength train or do CrossFit three to five days a week. When you find something that you love to do that becomes your "why" for staying healthy, it is a very positive thing in your life. I know that I am not alone in feeling this way, so many of the people in this community are undergoing amazing transformations in their lives right now, it's never a bad thing to get healthier!
Over the past three years I have had the privilege of being an RO for The Gun Run, and seeing so many competitors improve over the years has been nothing short of inspiring. I can remember people doing their first match with borrowed gear and timing out on every stage. Now they show up with their own gear, they have taken shooting classes, they train regularly, their fitness is greatly improved, and they complete stages easily. The willingness to improve and put in the hard work needed to get better at this sport can be translated to any aspect of your life. For me personally this is true in a major way, and I see it in pretty much every other competitor at every match.
The Run n Gun community is hands down the best in the shooting sports. People are always willing to help you get better, to answer questions about gear selection, very supportive, and are just great people. Compared with some of the other shooting disciplines I have participated in, there is a sincere lack of ego here. I have friends from all over the country that I've met through Run n Gun. Whether it is running a side match during the day to raise money for a good cause, a family in need, or the massive donation that Legion Memorial Run n Gun gives to Gold Star Families of the 5th Special Forces Group, this community steps up to help each other out. This fall as a hurricane approached my area several of my Run n Gun buddies reached out, and said they could be there with trucks full of supplies if needed. Thankfully we didn't need that, but the fact that they offered meant the world to me.
If you are on the fence about signing up for your first event, I would urge you to sign up and get out there. You don't have to be super fit, you can walk it, of course we hope that you will work towards improving your fitness! You don't need gucci gear, bring what you have and get started, I would strongly encourage a good holster that will secure your firearm during physical activity. You don't have to be an amazing shooter; you DO need a good understanding of safe firearms handling and the four basic safety rules of firearms.
Run n Gun is one of the best ways to get better at shooting. Not to say that other disciplines are bad, but these competitions will test you while you are tired and stressed. Shots that may seem easy on a flat range become much more difficult after you just ran two miles and had to drag rescue randy through a puddle. The stages are typically much more challenging than I've seen at other events, and hands down some of the most fun and unique shooting experiences around.
Looking back over the past few years, I can honestly say that signing up for my first event was one of the best decisions I've ever made. The friends that I have made on this journey are truly some of the best people I know, and the community keeps growing. My drive to keep getting better and be able to enjoy this sport for many years to come has kept me hyper focused on my health and fitness, which has positively impacted my life in so many ways. I hope that if you read this and have been thinking about signing up for one, this helps solidify your decision. You won’t regret it; I hope to see you at the next one!