How To Win Steel Challenge Special Awards

What does it take to win the Steel Master, Rifle Master and Rimfire Master awards?

posted on April 6, 2022
SC Special Awards 1
Top Steel Challenge and World Speed Shooting Championships competitor Grant Kunkel.
Jake Martens

Did you know there are more than just division, class and category awards given out at the World Speed Shooting Championships? There are also Special Awards.

Special Awards include the Steel Master, Rifle Master and Rimfire Master titles, and competitors must shoot in multiple Steel Challenge divisions across multiple matches to win them. Many people aren’t sure of the qualifications, so here is a look at what it takes to compete for Steel Challenge Special Awards.

First, let’s recap what divisions are in each match:

  • Carry Optics (CO)
  • Iron Sight Revolver (ISR)
  • Limited (LTD)
  • Open (OPN)
  • Optical Sight Revolver (OSR)
  • Production (PROD)
  • Single Stack (SS)
  • PCC Iron (PCCI)
  • PCC Optics (PCCO)
  • Rimfire Pistol Iron (RFPI)
  • Rimfire Pistol Open (RFPO)
  • Rimfire Rifle Iron (RFRI)
  • Rimfire Rifle Open (RFRO)

Steel Master Award

This is the oldest of the special awards and was the only one for many years. Strictly pistol based, to compete for this award, you have to shoot the Rimfire Pistol Match and the Main Match (center-fire pistol). From the Rimfire Pistol Match, your best score will be used, so you can use RFPO or RFPI. From the Main Match, you have to shoot two divisions, and only one of the divisions can be optics-based (OPN, CO or OSR). The other gun from the Center-fire Match must be iron-sighted (LTD, SS, PROD or ISR).

Since any gun in the Center-fire Match can be considered for the OPN division, it is possible to compete for this award and not shoot an optics-based gun, although it would be difficult to win (#dotsrule). While most will opt for OPN, LTD and RFPO, it’s not always the case that the combination of those three divisions will turn in the best aggregate time.

Steel Challenge Steel Masters
Steel Master results from the past three years and what divisions were shot by the winners.


Rifle Master Award

This is the second oldest of the Special Awards and, as the name states, is strictly for rifles. In 2014, RFRI and RFRO were added to Steel Challenge. In 2016, PCCO was added, and two years later PCCI entered the fold. To bring recognition to the fastest rifle shooter, the Rifle Master Award was created. To compete, you have to shoot the PCC Match and the Rimfire Rifle Match. The best time from each match will be used for your aggregate score. Most people opt for PCCO and RFRO, but as you can see from the results, PCCI and RFRI have helped shooters win this Special Award.

Rifle Masters in Steel Challenge
Rifle Master results from the past three years and what divisions were shot by the winners.


Rimfire Master Award

This is the newest Special Award and could also be called the Rimfire Iron Man Award. To compete for the Steel Challenge Rimfire Master title, you must shoot all of the divisions in both the Rimfire Pistol Match and the Rimfire Rifle Match.

Similar to the other special awards, the aggregate score from all of the divisions is used to determine the winner. While looking at the times, you will notice the large jump in aggregate times from 2019 to 2021. This more than 11 percent change is due to the fact that shooters are earning much faster times in all Steel Challenge divisions.

Rimfire Master award winners
Rimfire Master results from the past three years and what divisions were shot by the winners.


The Steel Challenge Special Awards, along with the division, class and category awards, are what make the World Speed Shooting Championships such an exciting event. There are so many ways to complete—and if you shoot well enough, you may just end up with a title of your own.

Article from the March/April 2022 issue of USPSA’s magazine.


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