Steel Challenge is the drag race of the shooting sports—focusing on the delicate balance between speed and accuracy. In order to place well, you have to shoot all eight stages well or your competition will.
In this article, we will examine the Steel Challenge stage Outer Limits, the only stage in Steel Challenge where the competitor is moving from one shooting position to another while on the clock. So what is the fastest order for this stage? As a right-handed shooter, the most popular and accepted option as we are looking down range is shot 1-2-3-4- Stop Plate. This pattern does not differ for most with the type of division being shot. When shooting any gun from the low ready or from the holster, the order is the same. This is the only stage with more than one shooting box where the rules indicate in which box you have to start. If you are right-handed, you will start in the left shooting box. If you are left-handed, you will start in the right shooting box but reverse the order of the targets.
Tip No. 1. I prefer to have my index set up on the first plate—right in front of me. I test this by pointing my pistol straight out and it will show me where the gun is pointed. I will also hold a rifle like a pistol and do the same check. This allows my body to wind up on my first shot, and when I transition the gun fast, the height of the gun does not change.
Tip No. 2. For those of us with shorter legs, I like to get as close to the side of the shooting box as possible and even will place the right foot on the edge of the box. Remember to be careful not touch the ground outside of the shooting box or it’s a penalty.
Tip No. 3. For those who are starting at the low ready, take a few sight picture repetitions to the first plate to make sure when you move the gun up, the dot or front sight is on the middle of the target. This allows you to get the gun up fast and get a solid first shot.
Tip No. 4. Keep your eye on the sight/dot when shooting Plate No. 2 as you break the shot. The most missed plate on this stage is Plate No. 2 if you are right-handed and if you shoot the stage as outlined above. This happens because in your mind you want to get moving to the second box even before you break the shot. When your conscious mind thinks about moving, you take your focus from completing the second shot.
Tip No. 5. Bring the handgun in when moving to the middle box. This allows you to focus on moving and getting a good draw onto Plate No. 4.
Tip No. 6. If you are shooting a rifle, drop the gun down slightly when moving to the middle box. Your goal is to have the sight/dot just under Plate No. 4. You do not want to track the sight the whole way. For some reason, when we track the sight, our mind has a tough time focusing on a moving object and it subconsciously tells our brain to slow our body down.
Tip No. 7. Follow through on the stop plate. The concept of follow-through when shooting in Steel Challenge on a stop plate means as you drive the gun hard to the stop plate, stop the gun on the stop plate as you are pressing the trigger. I advise students to count “One Mississippi” with the gun on the plate. This helps reinforce the concept of calling shots.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you step into the box in practice or in a match and watch your times fall. Be on the lookout for more analyses of the other Steel Challenge stages.
Article from the November/December 2020 issue of USPSA’s FrontSightmagazine.