You can certainly get an AR for well under $1,000. However, decent optics can cost about as much as the rifle. Rifles are only useful if you can actually hit the target. So, that is at least $1,500. You can also customize the AR platform with all sorts of "tacticool" goodies (lights, lasers, handles, etc.). Such upgrades also cost a premium. Still, $3,000 seems like too much for most people, but I am sure that you could spend $3,000 if you really wanted to.
My dad once told me, "When your clubs are what's keeping you from a lower handicap, it's time to spend more money on them." He also insisted that I learn wing-shooting with a single-shot .410. My golf game still won't be helped much by new clubs, but I'm pretty damned sure that I can get more out of an off-the-rack piece than most of the wannabe's will with their $3000 AR's. It has always amazed me, tools like that, who look like they should be trusted with anything more lethal that a pointed stick, walking around gun shows, or at the range, with arms you just know will be, well... let's just say it, wasted.