Anyone who has ever participated in a competitive shooting match likely remembers the intense stress he or she felt the very first time on the firing line waiting for the timer to beep. For those who shoot 3-gun—regardless of how well they can handle a rifle, pistol and shotgun—the stress can be tripled. Enter former Army Blackhawk aviator and rising country music star Ryan Weaver.
Weaver not only shot his first 3-gun match at the recent D.C. Project team match, but did so with arguably the best, fastest shooter in the world as his partner: Jerry Miculek.
Ryan Weaver Joins 3-Gun
Weaver received an invite to the match from D.C. Project Founder Dianna Muller to emcee the ceremonies and serve as auctioneer during the fundraising auction. However, plans changed quickly, as they often tend to do.
“I’ve known Dianna Muller for quite a while and consider her a friend,” Weaver said. “She invited me to come down to help emcee their nonprofit event and help with their live auction. Then, I found out shortly before I went down that I was actually going to be shooting in the match with the great Jerry Miculek!”
As a little explanation, Miculek had allowed Muller to auction off the partnership with him in the team match in order to raise additional funds for the D.C. Project. Buddy Raney paid a substantial sum for the opportunity to shoot the match with Miculek, but then was unable to attend, opening the door for Weaver to do so.
“I was fortunately given that opportunity to do it, and I’m extremely grateful that Buddy Raney is not only an awesome person, but that he supported the D.C. Project with that donation,” Weaver said.
First Time for Everything
Weaver equates the match to the first time he was in flight school and hadn’t flown a helicopter before. His brother, a Blackhawk aviator himself, was actually going through Fort Rucker while Weaver was in flight school.
“I came in after my first flight, after trying to hover,” he said. “You usually do that at around 10 hours of flight time, but I had just done my first flight on the flight line. I came in to my brother and said, ‘I can’t hover.’ He asked me when I started, and I said, ‘Well, today was my first flight.’ He said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Flight school wouldn’t be nine months long if you were meant to fly on the first day.’”
“I like to think that I’m proficient with firearms—that I can hit a target when I’m aiming at it,” he added. “But going into this was something like I never expected.”
Shooting with Miculek, while somewhat intimidating at first, was nothing short of an incredible experience, according to Weaver.
“I have to say that every single step of the way, even if I made mistakes, he taught and he encouraged me,” Weaver said. “It was amazing to get to watch him do what he does, the speed he does it, and the accuracy with which he does it.
“Going in on a team 3-gun with a person of his experience and talent was an incredible opportunity for me.”
The Miculek Way
Weaver didn’t just benefit from Miculek’s help. He also received support and encouragement from two other top shooters from the same family: wife Kay and daughter Lena.
“They are the epitome of graciousness, of kindness, of patience,” Weaver said. “They were just so positive and so encouraging. And to be at the elite level that they are, you would not know it, because they just don’t act like it.
“They opened their arms to a complete stranger, and quite honestly I felt like I was part of their family. And I could say that about not just them, but many of the others who were out there. The whole 3-gun community is just such a gracious community.”
Ryan Weaver and the D.C. Project
As mentioned, the match was a fundraiser for the D.C. Project, an organizations started by Muller four years ago. Through that project, one woman gun owner from each of the 50 states visits Washington, D.C., talks with her legislators about guns and gun owners, and helps educate those lawmakers about critical Second Amendment issues. The group’s motto is, “Education, not legislation.”
“Dianna and the D.C. Project are absolute class acts,” Weaver said. “Her heart is in the right place and she’s a great advocate for Second Amendment rights. She and her husband Ryan are just great people, and the folks who are involved with that organization are great people.”
“As a veteran myself and a country music artist, I’m always asked to support nonprofit organizations,” he added, “but I’m also extremely hesitant to do so because I feel they need to be well vetted. But I’m proud to be associated with the D.C. Project and would recommend supporting the organization to anyone.”
3-Gun Advice From Ryan Weaver
For his part, Weaver came away with some pretty good advice for others who might be soon shooting their first 3-gun match—with or without a great partner like Miculek.
“Number one, go into this looking to have fun first and foremost,” Weaver said. “Even if you’re serious about shooting, go to enjoy yourself. Because you’re going to constantly ruin your day if you get upset every time you make a mistake.”
Weaver’s second piece of advice is equally applicable.
“The next, I would say, is check your ego at the door,” he said. “Because if you don’t, it will be knocked down pretty quickly.”
Third, Weaver said, is to look at that first match as a learning experience—period.
“I learned immensely about different aspects of my shooting ability, along with working in a high-pressure, intense environment,” Weaver said. “Shooting with arguably the greatest shooter of all time, you just can’t compare yourself to anyone. You’re only up against yourself. You just have to compete with yourself.
“It took me a few stages to really realize that I needed to live in the moment with it instead of thinking about what other shooters were doing.”
Weaver said that rather than the incredible shooting he witnessed, it was the culture he experienced at the match that made the biggest impression on him.
“If there’s anything that I could say about the whole experience, the camaraderie and family atmosphere of 3-gunning is incredible,” he said. “Everybody loaned me all of their stuff because I didn’t even know I was coming to shoot. They all came together to get me the different equipment I needed to participate. Obviously, I was shooting with some of the best equipment that I could possibly start with, but that still wasn’t going to make me do great.”
For his part, Weaver is now pretty much hooked on 3-gun, as are many shooters after competing in their first match. I think there’s little chance that he won’t be out on the range competing again sometime soon.
“When you do something great, it’s like golf,” Weaver said. “Ya know, you hit that one amazing golf shot. The thing is, you have to hit so many shots in this game that you can’t enjoy just one good one. You want to try to keep hitting more.
“I was hooked after the first stage. If you like to shoot, I would look at going to this event next year. It’s a perfect one to get started on if you haven’t done it before. And you’re also going to support an amazing cause in the D.C. Project.”