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Steel Challenge: Intro to Competitive Shooting


One of the frequent comments/requests we get at the EOC is if we have any type of adult shooting group/league/team/meet/etc. Until now we have had to say "no, but we're looking into it so stay tuned!". Sunday June 4, 2023, we took a big step forward, by having our first "intro to steel challenge" practice.

Is this for me? I'm not good enough! I'm not a competitor!

Don't let the term "competitive shooting" scare you. Anyone can do this, and while there is a degree of competition, it's really a competition against yourself. The goal is to improve your skills, have fun, and hang out with good people. If it turns out you want to compete at serious levels, you can do that. If it turns out you just want to plink and better your skills, you will not be questioned or judged, everyone is out there for a different reason and we're all there to have a good time and try and hone our skills (believe me, at our first meeting I... well... let's just say there's room for improvement). Folks involved are there to support everyone, offering advice if you'd like it, tips on what you may want to try that works for them, and often offer you their gear to try so you can decide if something different works for you.

So, what is Steel Challenge?

Steel challenge is arguably the first step in the organized shooting sports. Some go so far as to call it the "gateway drug" to other shooting sports such as USPSA and IDPA. Officially, the mission of the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) is "to promote safe, fair and fun participation in Steel Shooting competition, for members of all ages and skill levels, through effective leadership, education, communication and administration."

You can learn more at the SCSA webpage: Welcome to SCSA - Steel Challenge. Here you will find all the rules and gear allowed, all the various divisions. What's a division? There are 9 different divisions, each with different types of equipment you'd like to use. Essentially, it groups people together based on the type of shooting they want to do that day. I won't bore you with the details here (they are on the SCSA website) but just to give you a flavor, these are the divisions:

  • Open

  • Limited

  • Rimfire Pistol

  • Production

  • Single Stack

  • Revolver

  • Carry Optics

  • Pistol Caliber Carbine

  • Rimfire Rifle

But what IS it?

In simple terms:

  • Steel Challenge has the shooter stand within a specified area outlined by a box. You don't move during Steel Challenge; you stay in the box.

  • Downrange are 5 steel plate targets configured in a specific way (there are 8 different target layouts, or 'stages' in all).

  • When the timer starts, you shoot each plate, in any sequence you want, as long as you shoot the 'stop plate' last. The 'stop plate' is identified in red. That's it. Shoot 5 targets as fast as you can. Sounds easy right? The complexity comes when the timer starts. Some say the timer is the great "brain eraser". When you hear that "beeeep!" the world changes and everything is much harder!

  • If you don't miss any shots (you probably will), you need 5 rounds to shoot the stage. You then repeat this 5 times. So a perfect shoot will require between 25 rounds and however many you really need, because you can shoot however many you need to hit all 4 plates then the stop plate.

  • Your slowest time is thrown out, and the remaining 4 times are added together. That's your score.

  • The process is repeated for as many 'stages' (i.e. target layouts) as the match defines, and the total time for all stages is added together to determine final standings.

  • There are penalties for missing a plate completely before the stop plate is hit, and so on, but you'll learn the details.

What does it look like?

This short video clip shows one round of a single stage. 5 shots, ending with the stop plate:

Sounds like fun? Want to get involved?

  • Just contact us! We will be setting up an email box soon, but for now, you can reach us at -or-

  • Just show up! We will be putting the dates on the club calendar on the website. The plan at this point is Sundays from 3:30 - 6:00pm. Check the calendar though to be sure.

  • What should I bring?

    • If you just want to watch and see what it's all about, or you don't have any gear, don't worry! Come anyway and see if you want to get involved and we'll help you with gear options. There will be plenty of people offering up their firearm for you to try I'm sure - we're just like that!

    • If you have a firearm already, bring it along with some ammo and you can use what you have, since almost every firearm has a division. You can bring a pistol of any caliber (.22 included), a .22 rifle, a revolver of any caliber, a semi-auto pistol of any caliber, or even a pistol caliber carbine - they're all good to go.

In conclusion, if any of the above sounds interesting to you, we encourage you to get involved and see what it's all about. Hope to see you on the range!

Stay safe, stay responsible, and stay on target,

Sean Murphy

Vice President

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George Carpenter
George Carpenter
Jun 09, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This looks to be an awesome introduction series!

Cecilia  Murphy
Cecilia Murphy
Jun 09, 2023
Replying to

Right?!? If Sean thinks that it's tough, imagine what's going through MY mind....

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