Action Steel Shooting At Boulder Rifle Club In Colorado

The Action Steel discipline is a solid way to get your feet wet in practical shooting.

posted on May 29, 2024
Actionsteelshooting 1
Becky Mueller is pictured above at Stage 4: Swim With The Fishes during a recent Action Steel competition.
Photo by Jan Schuenemeyer

In 1994, I became a regular competitor at the Tuesday Night Steel at the world-famous Rio Salado range in Mesa, Arizona. Tuesday Night Steel was one of the most fun and exciting alternatives to USPSA I had ever experienced. “Action Steel Shooting” or “Tuesday Night Steel” are synonymous and carry the style of USPSA movement while shooting static steel targets. How much more fun can you have?

Fast forward 26 years, I became acquainted with Action Steel enthusiast Jason Woods from Targets USA after my wife, Mayli, and I shot the Alaska State USPSA Sectional match. Shortly after, my shooting club, Boulder Rifle Club in Colorado, purchased a combination of falling and static targets intended for USPSA and Steel Challenge for starting our own Action Steel match. Since then, we’ve had a monthly Action Steel match with 60 to 70 shooters at our limited range with only two or three berms available to us. Just like at Rio Salado, the match runs incredibly fast with quick “reset” for the next shooter. Use a little paint, and you’re ready for the next shooter.

Action Steel
This gives you an idea of the size of some of the stages in Action Steel (Janelle Bott on Stage 8).


At our monthly match, we run 30 shooters through four stages in two berms in two to two-and-a-half hours, with two start times, 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Our club invested $30,000 in steel, which was paid off in a little over two years from $20 match fees.

An important difference between USPSA and Action Steel is the simplification of divisions and rules. We only have six divisions and they are self-explanatory: Centerfire Irons, Centerfire Optics, Rimfire Pistol, Rimfire Rifle, Pistol-Caliber Carbine and Revolver. There are no gun boxes, magazine gauges or rules for equipment except for what is easily understood by the division names. You show up and bring what you’ve got. This makes it easy for beginners to come to a friendly setting and shoot with us after they’ve gone through our USPSA safety briefing. Action Steel is a great introduction for anybody to learn how to shoot and move with a gun. Because of the simplicity, we have drawn all kinds of gun enthusiasts who otherwise might find USPSA intimidating and overwhelming. Many of them have moved on to compete regularly in our local USPSA matches. It’s a win-win.

Raquel Zitta
Raquel Zitta with Pistol-Caliber Carbine on Stage 6: Die Hardest.


We don’t have stage briefings, and round count does not matter for scoring since it’s just total time that counts. The typical start position is anywhere within the shooting area with the gun loaded and holstered, hands at sides or stock on belt. If you don’t have a holster or prefer to start low ready, you can do that, but you will accept a one-second penalty added to your time. Match scoring is time plus, with a three-second penalty for misses. There is no “failure to engage,” only hits or lack thereof. We use all kinds of shapes of steel, with color determining the number of hits required, from one to three per target.

Besides our club in Colorado, Action Steel is practiced in Anchorage, Alaska (Jason Wood), Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (Tuesday Night Steel) and at the Volusia County Gun and Hunt Club in Florida (Gorka Ibanez). I’m sure there are others, but those are the clubs that I am aware of.

The incredible success of our monthly Boulder Rifle Club match turned into the Annual Colorado Action Steel Championship. This year, we are celebrating our third Annual Championship on June 20-23, 2024, at the High Plains Shooting Range in Eaton, Colorado. You can find the match at the Practiscore website if you’re interested in attending.

Brad McKiernan
Pistol-Caliber Carbine shooter Brad McKiernan on Stage 2: We Are Going To The Mattresses.


At our 2023 match, we had 200 registered guns with about 140 individual shooters and a $65,000 prize table. We achieved the great prize table through a combination of donations and using a portion of the entry fee to purchase products from some of our sponsors. When we give them money, we get a lot back and make the shooters happy.

This year we have opened the match to more than 300 entries and expect to exceed 200 individual shooters, with an expected prize table of more than $80,000. One of the ways our match differs from USPSA is that you can compete in up to three different divisions, with one division per schedule. We offer a total of eight stages, with 40 to 50 rounds per stage. Some of our stages are grandiose, with over 50 to 75 yards of movement through a maze. Similar to IPSC, you must stay inside the shooting area. We did this to avoid crazy gamer ideas and simplify the fool-proofing. The stages are meant to be straightforward so you can figure it out quickly by following the shooting path. We do, however, hide targets so you can’t fall asleep. Last year I forgot to shoot a target and it was a three-hit target, so, oops—a nine-second penalty. (You better pay attention is all I’m saying.) A cool feature of using big 18-by-24-inch steel plates as targets—they are a great way to hide other targets behind them that you still must shoot from other positions. We do this a lot.

Zack Smith at Boulder Rifle Club
Left: Sometimes we use shooting boxes with window walls as opposed to a continuous shooting area. This was a creative solution by Leslie Nielsen at Stage 1: A Bridge Foo Far. Right: Overall match winner Zack Smith.


Our prize table was incredible, thanks to huge contributions and great partnerships with Burris Optics and Vortex Optics who provided us with some high-dollar scopes. In addition, we had amazing prizes from Thunder Beast Arms, Holosun, Hunters HD Gold, C-More, Atlanta Arms, Bar-Sto Barrels, Schuemann Barrels, Springer Precision, Zero Bullets, XS Sights, TandemKross, Carver Custom, Pact Timers, Allchin Gun Parts, Scheels, Decot Hy-Wyd, Eggleston Bullets, Columbia River Knife and Tool, ERGO Grip, Rock River Arms, Shilen Rifles, TK Customs, Sierra Bullets, Charter Arms, Rainbow Technology Corporation, The Blue Bullets, Cheaper Than Dirt, Hogue, Gallery of Guns, Redding, Magpul, Starline Brass, Capstone Precision Group, StoneBridge GunWorks, SKB Cases, Evolution Gun Works and my own company, Henning Group.

The overall winner of the match with the fastest overall time of 233.68 seconds was Zack Smith, shooting Pistol-Caliber Carbine. This year we are not just honoring the top three, but the top 10 percent in every division, with medals and more than $200,000 of prizes. Additionally, everyone joins in on our massive, random prize table, along with a great food truck available for the entire match.

If you want to shoot a lot of steel fast, come join us this summer.

Learn more about Action Steel competition at Boulder Rifle Club at

Article from the May/June 2024 issue of USPSA’s magazine. All photos by Jan Schuenemeyer.


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