Daniel Mathias Achieves Grand Master Classification In Every Steel Challenge Division

by
posted on February 25, 2022
sc-dm-gm13-1.jpg
Donna Hatcher Getts

Recently, I was fortunate enough to interview the first shooter to reach Grand Master in all 13 divisions of Steel Challenge, Daniel Mathias. While the sub-60-second (and possibly the sub-50) is being chased, Daniel took a different route and focused on the goal of ranking as a Grand Master in every division. Since Steel Challenge is all about speed, here is a quick interview with Daniel about competition.

Daniel Mathias
Brazilian-born Daniel Mathias is the first 13-division Grand Master in the history of Steel Challenge.


Jeff Jones: First off, congratulations. It's quite an accomplishment.

Daniel Mathias: Thank you, I'm very fortunate to be the first one to accomplish this.

JJ: To begin, where are you from?
DM: I was born in Brazil and actually had my junior year of high school here. After that I visited to skydive and moved here in April 2017.

JJ: What was it that brought you to the states, skydiving?
DM: While skydiving is fun (laughs), it was for work. I kept applying to a multi-national company and after 20 or so applications, they hired me.

JJ: So where are you living now?
DM: I'm currently living in Noblesville, Indiana, with my wife of five years and my one-year-old son.

JJ: What training schedule do you have your son on?
DM: He's currently training on a soap bubble gun (laughs).

JJ: Okay, back to the shooting questions. When did you start shooting?
DM: In 2011 a friend took me to a range and we shot a semi-automatic pistol at bullseye targets. It was the first time I'd shot, and I enjoyed it, but I had other interests at the time.

JJ: How did you find about Steel Challenge?
DM: While in Terre Haute, there was a big gun store that I would drive by and I'd always been interested learning more about guns. Don Brannan with Pro TEQ has a new shooter course where he brings 10-plus guns, so students can experience different platforms. After that, I bought a Walther and started shooting bowling pin matches. I met a shooter from Riley Conservation Club who invited me out to shoot Steel Challenge, which I immediately fell in love with.

JJ: People want to know what your progression was to this feat. Can you share with us some of your journey?
DM: Well, in August 2017 I took the class with Don. September 13 I shot a bowling pin match, October 22 I shot a USPSA match and November 5 was my first Steel Challenge match.

JJ: Wait, you know the exact dates?
DM: Yeah, I have a habit of writing down stuff like this; I like to keep track of things, so I did it with shooting as well.

JJ: You mention three different disciplines of shooting. Do I need to ask your favorite?
DM: I like all types of shooting; however, being a father, I have to limit my time at the range. I decided on Steel Challenge as there are 13 divisions and I like shooting all types of guns.

JJ: So when was your first Grand Master, what division and how did that feel?
DM: It was in RFRO in November 2018, and it was the coolest thing ever!

JJ: What was the last gun to get you to 13 Grand Masters?
DM: It was Production, and before you ask, yes, getting all 13 felt better than getting the first one.

JJ: When did you decide to get all 13 divisions to Grand Master?
DM: Towards the end of the 2020 WSSC, I had about seven GMs and I decided to chase the goal of getting all 13. When I got home, I opened the safe and realized I didn't have all of the guns to be able to compete in all 13 divisions. Not long after, I purchased a revolver and a PCC. At that point, I had all of the guns that I needed.

JJ: Can you share any tips on how you accomplished your goal?
DM: Keep the platforms as close as possible, which allows for an easier transition from similar divisions. I also chose what I considered the harder divisions first—Open and Limited. This then made Carry Optics, Single Stack and Production divisions a little easier. What I also did was stick with a platform until I attained my goal. While I may have shot other divisions in a match, I made sure I was shooting the division I was working on at the time.

There are a lot of great shooters who can switch guns without issue, but for me, focusing on one at a time was the way to go. Also, being in the moment with my mental attitude was huge. Focusing on what needed to be done, which was shoot the best string I could shoot at that time. Lastly, I would not mix optics and iron sights in the same session. When I made this choice, I was shooting my iron sights like I was shooting a dot, which didn't work out well for me.

JJ: Great tips, but what would you say to the shooter who just shot four great strings and is on their fifth?
DM: Well, up until a year ago it was "hold my beer, watch this," and of course that didn't work. In the past year I've focused on what inefficiency can I improve upon on that last string, and try to squeeze an extra 0.10-0.20 out of the last string.

JJ: Daniel, thank you for this interview, it's a great accomplishment and I look forward to seeing you on a range in the future.
DM: Thank you and thanks to everyone (especially my wife) who has helped me get here.

If you'd like to hear more about this topic, Daniel Mathias was recently a guest on the Steel Target Paint Podcast, episode No. 70. You can find it on SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher.

Article from the January/February 2022 issue of USPSA’s magazine.

Latest

Rimfirecomp 3
Rimfirecomp 3

Compensators On Rimfire Rifles Can Make Sense

There are some valid reasons for adding a comp to a .22 LR rifle

Staccato XL Competition 2011

This fast-cycling, flat-shooting competition 9 mm with extended sight radius is perfect for action pistol competition and the Tactical Games

Sporting Clays Shooter Madison Sharpe Joins Team Remington

Madison Sharpe is now a member of Team Remington’s impressive roster

Hillsdale College Hosts USA Shooting Junior Olympic Rifle National Championship For Second Consecutive Year

Olympic hopefuls compete at Hillsdale College for spots on the U.S. Junior National Team

New: SIG CROSS-PRS Rifle

SIG Sauer says its CROSS-PRS precision rifle “delivers an extremely capable long-range shooting experience that scores big on the range, right out of the box.” 

Kentucky Wins 2022 NCAA Rifle Championship

Back-to-back NCAA rifle championships for the Kentucky Wildcats

Interests



Get the best of Shooting Sports USA delivered to your inbox.