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Why is Action Steel so popular?

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I realize this is the Steel Challenge subforum but there is a connection here ...

 

my club started shooting Action Steel matches about a year ago & they have become quite popular with 50 or so shooters/match.  This rivels our Steel Challenge matches which ave 50+/month, even in the dead of summer.  however, I've noticed that a very large percentage of the Action Steel shooters don't shoot USPSA (but they all shoot Steel Challenge) and this seems quite odd to me given that in its most basic form, Action Steel is just a USPSA match with all non-falling steel targets.  So it would seem that if you like AS you'd also like USPSA but at least at my Club this is not the case.

 

Thinking about this a little deeper, the one big difference in these 2 matches comes down to a question of accuracy.  In AS, you just have to hit the the plate, & if you don't know how to call your shots, which I would submit is the norm for the typical 'rank & file' shooter, you get the added benefit of 'waiting for the ding' to ensure you hit it to avoid the embarassing 'walk of shame' so typical in a USPSA match where you discover all manner of uncalled misses when you walk around to score your targets.  This difference is level of required accuracy and feedback apparently makes for a more pleasant experience and therefore a more 'fun' match.

 

I've asked this question many times of the AS shooters at my club who have never shot a USPSA match and the only answers I ever get are "its a lot of fun to shoot" ... not exactly an enlightening answer .... :).  I realize this is only one data point from one Club & therefore may represent nothing more than a weird outlying statistic but I'm curious what those of you at other Club's are experiencing?

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We have two clubs in the Phoenix area that shoot what you call Action Steel.  Rio Salado has about 20o shooters every Tuesday Night ringing those targets.  It's great practice and is more fun when you can hear your shots.  It's even better for the spectators.  They instantly know what's happening.

 

Cactus Combat League also does Steel every Thursday Night.  They get a lot of shooters also but not as many as Rio.

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No idea what action steel is, is there a national rule set or a local thing ?
Far as USPSA,, could be a rule set thing, whats the difference ? can stock guns run full capacity ? What other rules are different.
Also could just be a local thing.  I like USPSA but there are clubs I only shot once and never went back for one reason or another.

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We don't have any action steel matches as you describe, but we do have a lot of falling steel matches.  It works pretty much like USPSA, but with no paper targets.  Registration for these matches fills up in a matter of seconds.

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None of my local clubs shoot "Action Steel" as you describe but a couple shoot falling steel matches which are similar to Steel Challenge in that the shooter remains in a fixed firing position but the targets number 25 to 35 per stage and must fall to score.  Obviously no rimfire class as the targets are calibrated to require a power factor of at least 125 to knock them down.

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Volusia action steel is crazy popular. 

 

Number one one reason is no resetting and no working. 

 

Number 2 is newbies like being able to hear a shot but predominantly is not having to work.

 

Action steel takes 2 hours for 6-7 stages with 10-12 man squads. 

 

Uspsa with 7-8 people and 6-7 stages takes 4-6 hours. Same round count

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1 minute ago, mach1soldier said:

Volusia action steel is crazy popular. 

 

Number one one reason is no resetting and no working. 

 

Number 2 is newbies like being able to hear a shot but predominantly is not having to work.

 

Action steel takes 2 hours for 6-7 stages with 10-12 man squads. 

 

Uspsa with 7-8 people and 6-7 stages takes 4-6 hours. Same round count

 

I think it’s this right here. ^^^ Match moves along faster, less work and people love to hear that sound of the steel being hit.  

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I agree with the assessments above, and also think that USPSA shooters are

better shooters - which intimidates newbies.

 

Some good USPSA shooters will show up at action steel shoots, but most don't - they

prefer to drive to a different city that weekend and shoot USPSA.    IMHO.

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Because of the binary scoring, and with no national rule set it feels more relaxed.

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Posted (edited)

No reset is a big thing for lots of "competitors" and competition is a big thing for others. I think the competition oriented ones trend to end up in USPSA the have fun with guns group tends to go to other games.

One question about this Action Steel match, does it attract a lot of lower skill level shooters as in if you were used to shooting competitive USPSA matches and you came to this match would you notice a lower level of gun handling? Personally, after years of shooting USPSA I'm at the point where I don't even like being at the range with non USPSA shooters as the lack of gun handling skills I see makes me crazy, and there are matches I flat wont go to due to the skill level of the participants. 

Edited by MikeBurgess
format

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45 minutes ago, MikeBurgess said:

 Action Steel match, does it attract a lot of lower skill level shooters 

 

My experience is that there are more less experienced shooters - still some

very good shooters also, but where I shoot, definitely more less experienced

shooters.

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I like shooting both. It gives me an excuse to shoot my 9mm and I like to use it as practice for USPSA. I'm the opposite of what you described though, I won't shoot Action Steel there.

 

I would guess that some of the reasons people don't shoot both there are unique to the club. I shot one AS match there earlier this year and it just didn't appeal to me. I shot a few last year and felt the same. From my perspective the AS stages there are not at all like a USPSA stage. Even when they use left over USPSA stages the flow gets changed.  So I would imagine the opposite is also true, the people who like the AS stages wouldn't like the USPSA stuff. For the most part the AS stages there seem to require less movement, less planning, etc. That means they don't have to think as much, they don't have to be concerned as much with breaking a 180, etc. The scoring is easy, no taping, there are less divisions and it usually takes a lot less time. You're also not going to see a lot of moving targets. Simple and relatively easy. I've also wondered about the average age at that club. Seems to be a bit higher than the other clubs within an hours drive.

 

I have asked a couple of people there about why they didn't shoot USPSA and the answer was that USPSA takes more time and it's more complicated. I know I take USPSA more seriously. I shot about 5 AS matches between CFRPC and there before I ever shot a USPSA match and I can remember my first match in both. My first AS I was excited. My first USPSA I was nervous as hell. As Hi-Power Jack mentioned I knew the level of shooters was going to be higher, the stages and scoring were going to be more complicated and that was a little intimidating. 

 

As for the accuracy thing, maybe. It certainly is easier to hit an 18x24 inch steel target, yet they do use some 10" round steel at distance as well. 

 

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On 6/4/2019 at 12:30 PM, promtcy said:

I like shooting both. It gives me an excuse to shoot my 9mm and I like to use it as practice for USPSA. I'm the opposite of what you described though, I won't shoot Action Steel there.

 

I would guess that some of the reasons people don't shoot both there are unique to the club. I shot one AS match there earlier this year and it just didn't appeal to me. I shot a few last year and felt the same. From my perspective the AS stages there are not at all like a USPSA stage. Even when they use left over USPSA stages the flow gets changed.  So I would imagine the opposite is also true, the people who like the AS stages wouldn't like the USPSA stuff. For the most part the AS stages there seem to require less movement, less planning, etc. That means they don't have to think as much, they don't have to be concerned as much with breaking a 180, etc. The scoring is easy, no taping, there are less divisions and it usually takes a lot less time. You're also not going to see a lot of moving targets. Simple and relatively easy. I've also wondered about the average age at that club. Seems to be a bit higher than the other clubs within an hours drive.

 

I have asked a couple of people there about why they didn't shoot USPSA and the answer was that USPSA takes more time and it's more complicated. I know I take USPSA more seriously. I shot about 5 AS matches between CFRPC and there before I ever shot a USPSA match and I can remember my first match in both. My first AS I was excited. My first USPSA I was nervous as hell. As Hi-Power Jack mentioned I knew the level of shooters was going to be higher, the stages and scoring were going to be more complicated and that was a little intimidating. 

 

As for the accuracy thing, maybe. It certainly is easier to hit an 18x24 inch steel target, yet they do use some 10" round steel at distance as well. 

 

So I was going to wait to mention this but you've hit on an important point, at least at our club - Its one of the reasons i don't shoot AS very often, as compared to the USPSA matches I'm used to the stages are very vanilla & don't change that much from month to month.  I think the perceived 'intimidation factor" of USPSA shooting has something to do with it as well.  If you're new to action shooting you've probably heard that USPSA is full of a bunch of highly competitive, world-class shooters at every match ... lol.  I know I've heard this before from new shooters whoa re interested in competition shooting but don't want to shoot a match until they get better ...

being able to 'know' you hit the target by waiting for the ding is a big deal to a lot of shooters and a significant difference from USPSA ...

 

While AS is still basically just an outlaw match I did see on 'matchsignup.org' that there is apparently a National Action Steel Championship being held this year.  Didn't think there was any origination yet so its probably someone who just decided to claim it to be a Championship but it will be interesting to see who shows up ...

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I was at the range today running some new bullets over the chrono and saw two of the stages for this weekend. Pretty simple, lots of targets, not much movement and really only one way to shoot them. One thing I realized as well is with that type of stage design there isn't much chance of breaking a 180 because the movements and direction are pretty straight forward or side to side. 

 

I can't fault the MD or setup crew for that. It's what the shooters seem to want. I know he also feels that people should shoot a lot since there are usually only 4 stages. On a side note I've been wanting to try the Wednesday morning steel and Thursday GM match at Volusia. I can't shoot Sundays and our club moving the USPSA matches to Sunday messed up my plans for this year. 


Yeah I was one of those who avoided USPSA because I thought I wasn't ready. Even when I finally decided to shoot my first match I didn't think I was ready. Aside from the shooting, rules, gun handling and not wanting to finish last, I wasn't sure I could remember what my stage plan was. I did something a little different than most in that I watched quite a few Steel Challenge, USPSA and 3 Gun matches before I started shooting Steel Challenge. Technically I did more than watch. I taped, painted steel, reset steel etc. Mike Selvetti and his wife suggested that. That helped a lot to know all the procedural stuff and know the general flow of a match. 

 

I take USPSA more seriously. I think most others do as well.  Some of that I think has to do with something you mentioned, there is an organization for it. There are classifications, etc. Even though I'm not a USPSA member it means more to me. It's still fun, but it's more serious fun. :) 

 

If you are talking about the Sig Sauer thing at Volusia I think that's been done before. I was actually considering shooting either one or both of those matches. The match fee for the Pro-Am is a bit steeper than I was expecting. Not sure what the weather will bring that time of year either.  

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I run an Action Steel match in the Spokane area. We typically do three stages, 2 of which are 'USPSA' style and 1 which is 'Steel Challenge' style. The match is on Wednesday afternoons, and usually attracts 25 or so shooters. Show up anytime between 4 and 6pm, no squads, just go shoot wherever you want, and play as much as you want. There are only 3 classes: Open, Limited and 10 round. Open is anything with a dot or a comp, so Carry Optics and PCC is included. All of the stages are .22 friendly. About 2/3rds of the shooters also hit our USPSA match with regularity. Some observed thoughts:

 

Everyone seems to like the relaxed atmosphere of the match. No rush to show up, no shooters meeting, no squads, play with your friends. Some people shoot through just once, some shoot through 3 times, some get stuck on a prop and they just shoot the hell out of it as long as they are not holding anybody else up.

 

Some people just like Action Steel for whatever reason, and aren't really interested in trying or doing anything else. To each his own. I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago. I worry more about safety, shooter enjoyment, and shooter retention.

 

We have a huge mix of abilities, from new shooters up to our Uber competitive high M class shooters. Everyone plays well together, and everyone stays safe. The newer shooters like the simplified movement because it's simple, and the better shooters like the simplified movement because they can work on entering and exiting shooting positions. The match format allows them to experiment freely. The newer shooters are more easily able to ask the more experienced shooters for advice, and can then try out the tips they receive. Free training as it were.

 

I like to use this match as a training tool for new / newer shooters to learn the USPSA rules. We encourage everyone present to learn how to RO, and to get the range commands correct.  Especially the Junior shooters. They are usually willing to learn and help out, and like being able to run the adults. Not everyone can make it to an RO class, but that doesn't mean that the experienced club RO's can't  help teach the trade as it were. Is it the same as having Carl Schmidt teach? Nope, but it beats the hell out of "Does the shooter understand the course of fire? Is the shooter ready? Give me a nod if you are ready. Beep." And then having someone try and run with you while keeping the timer three inches from your right eye ball. By having low stress RO training at the steel match, we've greatly increased the number of people that are willing and able to help out with our USPSA and 3 gun matches. Quite frankly, knowing the rules and being able to RO makes shooters more confident.

 

As far as not having to worry about accuracy, meh. It's pretty hard to clear a plate rack shooting through a barrel or a polish plate rack without being mildly accurate. Like A zone accurate. It doesn't take long for most people to figure out that first shot hits are way faster than spraying and praying. 

 

If I think of anything else I'll post it later.

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My main takeaway of why I'm primarily shooting steel now and have uspsa on the back burner after shooting it for 3yrs+ is steel is less tolling mentally and physically. No stress, no remembering stage plans. I mean sure I wrestled with plate order at first, but even that is not stressful with 5 targets. Also I believe steel challenge is shooting in it's purest form and is more difficult from a shooting standpoint. It's fast, it's fun, it's simple, and it can be very challenging. Also the scoring metrics are much easier to track and set goals and compete against shooters sport wide. 

 

Also getting done at 1 or 2pm is pretty sweet and I got to shoot 2 guns. Stage scoring/reset is also very simple and fast.  

 

My same feelings apply about action steel although I have shot very little of it. Typically the stages require a little planning. I mainly prefer SC due to the scoring metrics and support across the member base. I don't really go to compete against local shooters. I go to compete against myself and the times put up by the top 10 shooters at LVL3 matches. If I had all 8 stages setup at home I'd wager that I'd spend more time there than at lvl 1 matches.

 

I'm about to dip my toes into USPSA again, but I'm not leaving SC anytime soon.

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Reading all this I am struck with two thoughts, some of this may have already been said above in a different way, so I apologize for that:

 

1. Most "traditional" shooting sports that I knew of had some level of speed, accuracy rating, power factor, movement and strategy. It was such an equipment race, sometimes too intimidating. Oh, you can shoot with what you already own. Yeah, not entirely :) I'm really glad that MDs and ranges are allowing more and more sports that take away one or two or more of those factors away for shooters that were deterred by either of those.

 

2. It's just much more refreshing that there are so many more options to shoot these days. When I first moved to the US, 20+ years ago, the most you could do was shoot trap/skeet and shoot at paper targets. These days, there's a match almost every weekend within a 100 mile radius. The sport is growing and I hope we don't get paralysis by analysis and just do whatever we can to provide more shooting opportunities to the young and old alike. I had proposed at our local steel match that we let all juniors under 12 get to shoot free when shooting with an adult. Anything to get more and more shooters.


I will look for an AS match now :)

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Our local (90 miles) club sells out Action Steel every month. It is usually the prior weekends USPSA stages changed over to metal.

It takes a lot of steel to have 8 stages !  Some falling, some standing and taking multiple shots.

I guarantee you that Foley and friends are looking at AS for USPSA and NROI only has to change a few rules with non falling steel to get it up and testing.

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On 6/2/2019 at 12:42 PM, AzShooter said:

Cactus Combat League also does Steel every Thursday Night.  They get a lot of shooters also but not as many as Rio.

There is always some steel on Thursday nights but there's paper too.  I've always liked the Cactus Thursday night matches, except when they're really crowded.

 

I do believe there is appeal in matches where little or no target resetting is needed.

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I’m a huge fan of steel shoots ( see a lot of it in the Vegas area, two or more dedicated clubs host weekly) as well as USSL being here and having steel in many matches. It’s common for pros and sponsored shooters here to come shoot the matches mostly because it’s fun, they are doing the same thing they do to practice ( ie shooting steel) and typically bring any manner of  firearm they haven’t used in a while.

 

here at least the sharing of tips and help is prevalent, but moreso at steel matches because it’s training for the pros and learning for Joes.

 

me personally I think major minor power factor in uspsa is antiquated and solely a tool to keep dieing calibers relevant. I think this because of decades in medicine in war zones treating gun shot wounds and working in ERs. As most doctors will likely agree, the human body is no more or less wounded by the size of anything over 9mm traveling subsonic or hot loaded in a torso hit.

generally when I hear “ oh subsonic ammo does less than x” I start to dress the speaker in sneakers and army surplus gear mentally.

the only place caliber over 9mm matters is rule books. But I digress. 

It’s  like PCC in my mind, if it’s getting people out to matches it’s a good thing

 

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