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Is Steel Challenge Dying?


drysideshooter

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The majority of the clubs in my area have started having "fun steel" matches and the like instead of shooting the actual Steel Challenge stages. I sent an inquiry to the association (have been a member for years) and got a very basic, somewhat condescending reply telling me how to use the search function by state. I had already done that. I checked again. Many of the clubs listed are no longer shooting the Steel Challenge stages. There is one of about five that are, and there is one club that I know still shoots the Steel Challenge stages and hosts the state championship each year and reports results that isn't even listed, and I don't think they ever have been.

When I renewed this year I found that Steel Challenge is now entirely under the USPSA umbrella and is no longer a separate entity. That doesn't matter to me, but the fact that so many clubs seem to be going away from actual Steel Challenge is. I live in Washington state. Is anyone else seeing anything similar in their area?

My son and I are shooting a "fun steel" match at YRPA tomorrow, and we have shot actual Steel Challenge there for several years. They are one of the clubs that the person from the association said are a Steel Challenge club. It's obvious they aren't even aware of which clubs are actually shooting their stages. That is doubly sad because the association headquarters is in Washington and they still don't have a clue what is going on.

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We have a club about 60 miles from me that hosts the state

championships and they practice quite often.

There are two other ranges that also shoot steel - including

my local club twice a month.

Personally, I much prefer shooting a USPSA match or

a multi-gun match or action steel, but that's just personal

preference.

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IMO it's very clear that Steel Challenge is the red-headed step-child at USPSA HQ. I can see why clubs would discontinue holding steel matches. You pay your $1.00 per gun fee and what do you get in return from HQ? Pretty much zilch. I know the AD's are working on bringing a new classification system to the sport but I wonder if that's too little too late? There are a number of things that need to be addressed regarding Steel Challenge at HQ:

1 - We need more stages. Not all clubs can setup all 8 stages due to the size of bays. We need some shorter stages.

2 - There's no information about the 2015 world shoot. In fact the domain hosting the information for the 2014 match is now expired.

3 - The Steel Challenge National match is supposed to be the nationals for steel challenge but there's zero mention of it on the steel challenge web site nor can you find results from the 2014 match there. How can you possibly run the nationals and not have scores posted?

I could go on but it will only make my blood pressure go up so instead I'm going to go to the range and shoot some steel :).

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IMO it's very clear that Steel Challenge is the red-headed step-child at USPSA HQ. I can see why clubs would discontinue holding steel matches. You pay your $1.00 per gun fee and what do you get in return from HQ? Pretty much zilch. I know the AD's are working on bringing a new classification system to the sport but I wonder if that's too little too late? There are a number of things that need to be addressed regarding Steel Challenge at HQ:

1 - We need more stages. Not all clubs can setup all 8 stages due to the size of bays. We need some shorter stages.

2 - There's no information about the 2015 world shoot. In fact the domain hosting the information for the 2014 match is now expired.

3 - The Steel Challenge National match is supposed to be the nationals for steel challenge but there's zero mention of it on the steel challenge web site nor can you find results from the 2014 match there. How can you possibly run the nationals and not have scores posted?

I could go on but it will only make my blood pressure go up so instead I'm going to go to the range and shoot some steel :).

I agree completely. It does seem that very little effort has really gone in to Steel Challenge in the last year or so. My son and I really enjoyed shooting the non-Steel Challenge steel match yesterday. It was great to shoot some different stages. As cool as it is to be able to get an index and get quicker on each of the Steel Challenge stages, for us it also got a bit boring. I believe they should have added additional stages long ago to keep things fresh and interesting.

The club we shot at yesterday has gone away from shooting Steel Challenge, and instead they are shooting a steel match with a much wider variety of stages. Everyone we talked with yesterday had very positive things to say about the change. It sounds like it is probably the way quite a few clubs are going.

I personally believe it's important to have the steel matches so that kids have a competitive event they can start at with 22's and gain exposure to the competitive shooting sports.

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I think you have to look at it from the club's point of view, why would you run an official steel challenge match? What is USPSA providing for the fee you have to pay to run knee of their matches? What is lost running your own match?

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IMO it's very clear that Steel Challenge is the red-headed step-child at USPSA HQ. I can see why clubs would discontinue holding steel matches. You pay your $1.00 per gun fee and what do you get in return from HQ? Pretty much zilch. I know the AD's are working on bringing a new classification system to the sport but I wonder if that's too little too late? There are a number of things that need to be addressed regarding Steel Challenge at HQ:

1 - We need more stages. Not all clubs can setup all 8 stages due to the size of bays. We need some shorter stages.

2 - There's no information about the 2015 world shoot. In fact the domain hosting the information for the 2014 match is now expired.

3 - The Steel Challenge National match is supposed to be the nationals for steel challenge but there's zero mention of it on the steel challenge web site nor can you find results from the 2014 match there. How can you possibly run the nationals and not have scores posted?

I could go on but it will only make my blood pressure go up so instead I'm going to go to the range and shoot some steel :).

I agree completely. It does seem that very little effort has really gone in to Steel Challenge in the last year or so. My son and I really enjoyed shooting the non-Steel Challenge steel match yesterday. It was great to shoot some different stages. As cool as it is to be able to get an index and get quicker on each of the Steel Challenge stages, for us it also got a bit boring. I believe they should have added additional stages long ago to keep things fresh and interesting.

The club we shot at yesterday has gone away from shooting Steel Challenge, and instead they are shooting a steel match with a much wider variety of stages. Everyone we talked with yesterday had very positive things to say about the change. It sounds like it is probably the way quite a few clubs are going.

I personally believe it's important to have the steel matches so that kids have a competitive event they can start at with 22's and gain exposure to the competitive shooting sports.

I ran the official USPSA / Steel Challenge State Championships for 5 years (held in Ephrata Wa) Two years ago some local guys wanted to run

monthly steel matches...and they have...but like you said it got boring and the customers wanted a change. So change occurred. I shot Yakima yesterday and had a good time

with the new and different stages. Come shoot Ephrata next weekend as this club also sets up some fun stages that you will enjoy.

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Locally the Steel Challenge based matches seem to do pretty well as far as attendance goes. I think they are good and lots of people get started in the action shooting sports via steel challenge. Plus, I gotta give huge kudos to the folks who shoot the current standard 8 stages well It takes a lot of work to get to the point of nailing the stages consistently.

Having said that, I enjoy action steel matches much more. A few folks at our club have talked about mixing it up with some action steel stages at the monthly steel match but is hasn't had much traction yet. A large part is because there is a good USPSA match at another local club on that same day that attracts folks who have advocated this change.

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The more I get involved with and talk with NSSF rimfire shooters the more I like it over USPSA steel challenge. I do like the classification system we have as it gives me a good way to measure myself against others around the world but let's face it odds are I'm not going to shoot against the majority of them. Doing well in a match where the stage layouts aren't known and practiced in advance has been very rewarding for me as a MD as well as a shooter. I know NSSF is about fun and introducing new shooters but if they wanted to expand their program they could wipe out USPSA steel challenge in short order. I'd rather send $1.00 per month to NSSF where the $$$ will do some real good than to USPSA HQ where God only knows what the money is used for. There's a guy on YouTube (Lawson11B) that has several videos from a speed steel match in Washington state. They look like very fun stages. I've borrowed some of them for our NSSF matches.

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Hey Patrick, saw you at the match in Yakima yesterday but didn't have a chance to talk with you. You are right, it was a fun match and it will be exciting to look forward to some different stages.

Will you guys still put on a big state steel match in Ephrata this year? We are planning to shoot the big June match in Yakima and would enjoy shooting in Ephrata again. We couldn't make it to the big match last year, but really enjoy the one before that and plan to start shooting some of your regular monthly matches too.

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SCSA varies greatly state to state. Some states on the East coast do really well. Washington does poorly now. The guy who used to push steel more than anyone else around, Robin Taylor, no longer works for USPSA. Mike Gallion another long time steel shooter from Washington started his own steel association. Can't rememeber the name off the top of my head, but they are running the Ephrata state match now.

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One idea is to use the same format USPSA does for steel challenge. For the monthly matches, clubs could run one of the eight standard stages as a classifier stage, and create the others to have new ones each match - the standard eight would be counted toward classification. The Nationals could consist of the standard eight with some new surprise ones each year.

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There was a time when SCSA had more TV coverage and price money than 3GN does today. Sadly there was only something like 35 people registered for the world shoot a month before the 2014 match. It's too bad, Robin was a huge proponent of SCSA and SSC. He was also an excellent writer and editor for Front Site. If you value SCSA you need to make those values known to the SCs, ADs and the future president.

SCSA might not be dead but it moved down to Florida a couple years back and now complains often about how the kids never call and that 3GN is too loud and doesn't respect its elders. SCSA does have a bitch'n lawn and a mailbox shaped like a manatee. Its also been cleaning up at bingo but all those winnings go right back into the slots.

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I have to admit, I don't really see the whole point of big (state/section/national) steel challenge matches. Maybe it's just because I've always shot it this way, but steel challenge makes sense to me as something you can shoot on a weeknight in an hour or two (4-5 stages) and track your improvement and get some trigger time. It also seems like a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport (esp if they own a 22).

As the MD of a local weeknight steel match, I'm starting to get excited about starting up again next month, but I can't say I'd travel to a big steel challenge match somewhere.

They could use a few new stages, but I have to admit, I like being able to shoot the same stages over time. Makes it easy to look back to a few months ago or last year and see the improvement.

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I have to admit, I don't really see the whole point of big (state/section/national) steel challenge matches. Maybe it's just because I've always shot it this way, but steel challenge makes sense to me as something you can shoot on a weeknight in an hour or two (4-5 stages) and track your improvement and get some trigger time. It also seems like a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport (esp if they own a 22).

As the MD of a local weeknight steel match, I'm starting to get excited about starting up again next month, but I can't say I'd travel to a big steel challenge match somewhere.

They could use a few new stages, but I have to admit, I like being able to shoot the same stages over time. Makes it easy to look back to a few months ago or last year and see the improvement.

I agree there is some appeal to having the same stages, but on the other hand, that's also what's less than great about it. My son and I own a full set of steel and can set up any one stage. While it is fun to see improvement in shooting a certain stage, in my mind that is less important/fun than improving as a speed shooter overall. When faced with a new stage you have to figure out the best way for you to shoot, it, where to index, etc. I think the additional problem solving/strategy is more fun, for me at least. I think it probably leads to more real gains in skill too.

I thought the previous suggestion that SCSA use their stages like a classifier was a great idea. A club can put on a match with however many stages they want to set up, and have one of them be a classifier so folks can still keep track of how they are doing against shooters everywhere. I think, that like USPSA, even then they would want to add some additional stages from time to time. Especially for younger shooters, it's really about the fun, and new and different stages are fun. At the match in Yakima last week they did a great job of mixing things up. There was one stage with falling plates. There were 5 falling plates set up, and they served as the stop plate. Each of the 5 times you shot it you would shoot one of the falling plates as you stop plates. It was a reactive target and it was fun. They have a stage they are calling "Top Shots" and they keep the fastest times on that stage posted. It's two 12x18's with a single plate (can't remember diameter, 10" I think) in between them. You have to double tap each of the 12x18's and then the center stop plate. Really fast, and really fun. Different than Smoke and Hope in that there is much less movement. My son and I both came away excited to see what they have next time. Instead of setting up single stages to try to get that dialed in, we will spend more time with different set-ups to hopefully lead to better overall speed and accuracy.

I believe if they want to survive, it might just be time for the SCSA to change and update a bit.

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SCSA varies greatly state to state. Some states on the East coast do really well. Washington does poorly now. The guy who used to push steel more than anyone else around, Robin Taylor, no longer works for USPSA. Mike Gallion another long time steel shooter from Washington started his own steel association. Can't rememeber the name off the top of my head, but they are running the Ephrata state match now.

Damn, sorry to hear Robin Taylor isn't working for USPSA anymore. I'll miss seeing him at the Nationals and being kidded about being the best dressed guy on the range.

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My wife and I are relatively new to handguns and very new to SC, but really enjoying the sport. We're 50 miles south of San Jose, CA and it's our experience you've got to be willing to travel. The nearest club shoots their SC 70 miles south of us. The next nearest monthly matches are in San Luis Obispo, about 160 miles. We've also decided to drive to Piru once or twice a month to shoot their WCSC stages. I hope finding steel competition doesn't get any harder since my wife really, really likes SC.

It will take us a long time to get tired of the current stages, but it would be interesting if local competitions consisted of 5-6 stages selected from a set list and 1-2 wild card stages. Competitors would still get their monthly benchmark "fix", but would have the challenge of stages for which they hadn't practiced. I don't see my local club trying to attract new shooters to SC: maybe a semi-monthly practice day with experienced shooters on hand to help newbies. The San Luis Obispo club seems to get a very good turnout and with 8 bays can efficiently run a lot of shooters. And I believe ISI Shootists (Piru) gets a big turnout for their monthly matches, albeit not "SC".

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