Saturday, December 20, 2008

Steel Challenge, Speed Steel, Fun Steel -- ??

The Steel Challenge "Pendulum" stage.

The question came up over at Walls of The City as to exactly what Steel Challenge matches were like. Before getting into that, you should know that there lots and lots of gun clubs that shoot some form of steel target shooting against the clock. Theses matches may be called Speed Steel, Fun Steel, or sometimes incorrectly called Steel Challenge matches. The rules at most of these club level steel matches often vary widely from club to club.

Steel Challenge, however, is different. the rules are the same world-wide, and there is a Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) that establishes and maintains the rules. SCSA is under the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) umbrella, as is IPSC competition here in the United States. If you shoot a Steel Challenge match in Australia, Holland, or Piru, California, the same rules will be used.

The Steel Challenge rule book has the layouts for eight different stages, with exact dimensions given for target size, height, and location. All championship matches must use these stages, although for State championship matches if I remember correctly, they can use six or more of the stages. Regional, National, and World Championships shoot all eight stages. The distances to the targets vary from ten to thirty-five yards. The smallest target is a ten inch round plate, and the largest is a 18" x 24" rectangle. Each stage will have five plates, and one of them is the Stop Plate, which must be hit last.

At a large match there may be a number of sub-classes, the basic classes are Centerfire revolver (sometimes optic and iron sight are separate), Centerfire Optic Sight, Centerfire Iron Sight, Rimfire Optic Sight, and Rimfire Iron Sight. Centerfire Optic Sight and Centerfire Iron Sight are essentially the same as USPSA/IPSC Open and Limited.

All centerfire classes start with the gun holstered and the shooter's hands above his shoulders. Both rimfire classes start from a ready position with the gun pointed at a flag or marker on the ground twelve feet in front of the shooter on the centerline of the stage.

Range commands are fairly standard if you've ever shot any timed matches in the past. If you've never shot a Steel Challenge match before, tell the Range Officer running the stage and he'll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Seven of the eight stages will be shot from one shooter's box with no movement required when shooting. One stage ("Outer Limits") has two shooter's boxes and you shoot the two weak-side plates from the first box, then move six feet to your strong side into a second box and shoot the two strong-side plates, then the stop plate. If you aren't quite sure, ask the R/O and he'll get you straightened out!

When the start buzzer buzzes you shoot each plate once, then shoot the stop plate to stop the clock. You can shoot as many times as you need to hit each plate once. Anywhere on the plate counts as a hit. There is no penalty for shooting the same plate twice. If you miss a plate and shoot the stop plate, the time stops, and there is a three second penalty for the missed plate. Once you hit the stop plate you cannot go back and pick up a plate you missed. You shoot each stage five times, and your worst (slowest) run is discarded. The remaining four times are added together for your score on that particular stage. Your score for the day is the totals from all of the stages.

For Steel Challenge you need to be able to shoot each stage five times, so it's a good idea to have at least five magazines loaded when you go to the line. Hi capacity magazines will let you use fewer magazines, but sooner or later you'll forget and start a run with not enough rounds left to finish the run. Changing magazines after each run will keep you from doing this!

Any of the USPSA/IPSC, IDPA, or Steel Challenge matches will build your shooting skills. The biggest benefit, however, is that competition shooting makes you work on the two most important things should you ever find yourself in a defensive position, those being Trigger Control, and shooting when you are full of adrenalin. I've seen a number of shooters who can shoot fast and accurately right up until they hear the buzzer, the adrenalin spikes, and they can't hit anything!

If you've always wanted to give one of these matches a try you should do so! Steel Challenge is probably the easiest to shoot, as the difficulty is not hitting the plates, but hitting them quickly. As in the real world, slow hits are still far better than fast misses, and no matter how fast you are, you can't miss fast enough to win!

Check out the Steel Challenge web site for more information on Steel Challenge.



At Sunday, December 21, 2008 11:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Mr. C. I have no idea which of these my local range actually does, but I will have to find out one of these days :).

At Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:48:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Completely said...

Linoge: Your Baby Desert Eagle 9mm. should do well in Steel Challenge, as CZ-75's and EAA's of the same basic design are very competitive. If you load your own, you don't need a power factor much over 120, since you don't have to knock anything over, just hit it.

.... Mr. C.


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