Jump to content
Brian Enos's Forums... Maku mozo!
Hoops

Steel matches - balance between challenging and too difficult

Recommended Posts

Our location does not host a Steel Challenge match.  Usual drive to one is hour fifteen minutes.  We do have Outlaw Steel matches.  Single shooters box similar to SCSA.  Over the past couple of years we have seen a shift to more targets per stage (5 bays).  Poppers, plate racks, stars and knockoffs.  Up to 40 targets in a bay.  3 hour matches for 5 bays.   Who doesn't like to mow down a sea of steel...right?   But over the last 6 months we have had a steady decline in participation......especially newer, younger shooters.  Discussing this amoung ourselves, we believe that we have made the matches too difficult and losing single stack, revolver and out of the box stock pistol shooters who get frustrated with several reloads per stage etc.  The question is where is the balance between challenging but fun enough to encourage new shooters to want to come back?

 

 (We are discussing an official Steel Challenge match but nothing firm yet).   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

standing in one place and shooting up to 40 steel targets sounds like it would be fun about 1 stage per year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

😂😂😂  I see you got the gist of my question.  Routinely the MD sets from 12 to 16 shots in 3 bays and in the "Chaos" stages from 30 to 40.  PCC and RFRO optics required one reload.  Revolvers, Single Stacks and RFPO are on their own depending on skill level.   

 

Hence my request for input...…….

 

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little background.  There are those of us that drive a bit each month to official Steel Challenge matches within 65 to 180 miles and we will continue to do so.  We have the time and can afford it.

 

Its the local range that that host's 2 Outlaw matches per month that can easily have a 5 stage shot count of 160 rounds.  These matches evolved over time "not to be boring".  (its not boring for the set up crew either 😂)

 

I personally think participation has dropped off due to too many targets and new and intermediate shooting becoming frustrated and not enjoying the matches.  Since I enjoy shooting official Steel Challenge and will continue to drive to matches, I think the 8 stages offers plenty of challenge to all levels and allows folks to shoot whatever gun they can afford to like to shoot (within the allowed guns of course) and to monitor their progress.   

 

Where is the line between challenging and just too hard for shooters of all walks?  

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Blue Mountain Steel Classic is a hoser match like what you describe as Chaos.  Six stages with lots of falling steel.  I didn't go this year, because the last two years were BORING.

 

When I set up outlaw steel matches there were never any more than ten targets..  Usually a few fewer so the 10 round mag people had a better chance of making it through without a reload.  I made the courses challenging, and never repeated a stage throughout the entire League schedule (16 weeks).  We had separate divisions for rimfire and centerfire.  We let people draw from a holster or barrel start.  Aside from all the safety issues, the only requirement we had was to bring enough mags to complete all the strings, or have a buddy reload your mags while you shot.  Everyone loved it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, zzt said:

The Blue Mountain Steel Classic is a hoser match like what you describe as Chaos.  Six stages with lots of falling steel.  I didn't go this year, because the last two years were BORING.

 

When I set up outlaw steel matches there were never any more than ten targets..  Usually a few fewer so the 10 round mag people had a better chance of making it through without a reload.  I made the courses challenging, and never repeated a stage throughout the entire League schedule (16 weeks).  We had separate divisions for rimfire and centerfire.  We let people draw from a holster or barrel start.  Aside from all the safety issues, the only requirement we had was to bring enough mags to complete all the strings, or have a buddy reload your mags while you shot.  Everyone loved it.

Thank you zzt.  Your response is what I was hoping to get with this post.    BTW...………...I personally lean in your direction.  Will be interesting what others in the forum think.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I thought folks hated Outer Limits......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, zzt said:

The Blue Mountain Steel Classic is a hoser match like what you describe as Chaos.  Six stages with lots of falling steel.  I didn't go this year, because the last two years were BORING.

 

When I set up outlaw steel matches there were never any more than ten targets..  Usually a few fewer so the 10 round mag people had a better chance of making it through without a reload.  I made the courses challenging, and never repeated a stage throughout the entire League schedule (16 weeks).  We had separate divisions for rimfire and centerfire.  We let people draw from a holster or barrel start.  Aside from all the safety issues, the only requirement we had was to bring enough mags to complete all the strings, or have a buddy reload your mags while you shot.  Everyone loved it.

That does sound like fun! Step outside the Steel Challenge "comfort envelope" and just start nailing steel... but not too many steel. I think your approach is a good one.

And, YES, nso123, this multiple division Steel Challenge A Class shooter does hate Outer Limits! But, zzt's thingy would get me to his match, at least once.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, zzt said:

The Blue Mountain Steel Classic is a hoser match like what you describe as Chaos.  Six stages with lots of falling steel.  I didn't go this year, because the last two years were BORING.

 

When I set up outlaw steel matches there were never any more than ten targets..  Usually a few fewer so the 10 round mag people had a better chance of making it through without a reload.  I made the courses challenging, and never repeated a stage throughout the entire League schedule (16 weeks).  We had separate divisions for rimfire and centerfire.  We let people draw from a holster or barrel start.  Aside from all the safety issues, the only requirement we had was to bring enough mags to complete all the strings, or have a buddy reload your mags while you shot.  Everyone loved it.

zzz......First hand experience is great.  Hopefully others will jump in with their preferences too.  On average, how long were your matches running from hammer down to last shot?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hoops said:

On average, how long were your matches running from hammer down to last shot?  

 

2.5 hours.  Any longer than that and people got bored.  We ran them through quickly, without rushing anyone.  I limited each string to 30 seconds.  If you took much longer than that I told you to stop.  It had the effect of speeding up the slower shooters and they all liked that once they sped up and finished before 30 seconds.  We also did a lot of coaching.  We shot four strings on each stage and dropped the worst.  (most people only have 4 mags per gun)

 

We had a pretty disciplined crowd.  The on deck shooter stood 10' behind the box with gun in bag or holster ready to step up after all clear.  We also did not paint after every shooter- no more than twice per stage.    So everything moved quickly and there were no long waits between your turns to shoot.

 

These were evening matches that started at 5 PM sharp.  The elders and those that got off work early would show up, shoot the stages and leave.  Those that got off at 5 showed up when they could any were squaded.   You could show up at 6:15 and be done shooting by 7:30.  I was fine with that, because we always had enough people to tear down and stow.  Ten minutes after the match was over the ranges were clear and turned over to the target shooters.

Edited by zzt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, zzt said:

 

2.5 hours.  Any longer than that and people got bored.  We ran them through quickly, without rushing anyone.  I limited each string to 30 seconds.  If you took much longer than that I told you to stop.  It had the effect of speeding up the slower shooters and they all liked that once they sped up and finished before 30 seconds.  We also did a lot of coaching.  We shot four strings on each stage and dropped the worst.  (most people only have 4 mags per gun)

 

We had a pretty disciplined crowd.  The on deck shooter stood 10' behind the box with gun in bag or holster ready to step up after all clear.  We also did not paint after every shooter- no more than twice per stage.    So everything moved quickly and there were no long waits between your turns to shoot.

 

These were evening matches that started at 5 PM sharp.  The elders and those that got off work early would show up, shoot the stages and leave.  Those that got off at 5 showed up when they could any were squaded.   You could show up at 6:15 and be done shooting by 7:30.  I was fine with that, because we always had enough people to tear down and stow.  Ten minutes after the match was over the ranges were clear and turned over to the target shooters.

Thanks for the information.  Very helpful.  Did you say earlier how many stages typically?

 

I am becoming more convinced that 8 targets set up with good planning can offer  plenty for the speedsters to burn down a stage while still offering a good balance for all others with various skills and type of equipment.  There needs to be a mixture of challenge and fun.  I guarantee that if folks don't get some element of enjoyment from the match they won't be back.  Some folks are already intimidated by having only Alpha's and Mike's.  And it's no fun to run your gun dry in a steel match.  8 x 4 runs = 32 shots per stage x 5 stages is 160 round count without misses........that seems like a well balanced stage arrangement and a fast paced match......for everyone.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My former club has monthly steel matches similar to the one described by Hoops. When I started shooting them a year and a half ago they averaged 15- 20 shooters. By the time I stopped going it was down to 3-5. We typically had one large stage with as many as 20 targets or more and a smaller one(maybe) with 5 or so. Fee was only $10 and if only a few people showed up there was no charge. Round count was 180-200. I enjoyed it at first, but it quickly became boring which led me to Steel Challenge. I'd rather have multiple stages with fewer targets than one big stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few seconds Steel Challenge or Shoot-Off style is a rush. Keeping it up for a minute - not so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, perttime said:

A few seconds Steel Challenge or Shoot-Off style is a rush. Keeping it up for a minute - not so much.

I agree, the genius behind Steel Challenge is the rush.......how fast can I go and still hit the plates........whether you are a first time shooter or a speedster.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Hoops said:

Our location does not host a Steel Challenge match.  Usual drive to one is hour fifteen minutes.  We do have Outlaw Steel matches.  Single shooters box similar to SCSA.  Over the past couple of years we have seen a shift to more targets per stage (5 bays).  Poppers, plate racks, stars and knockoffs.  Up to 40 targets in a bay.  3 hour matches for 5 bays.   Who doesn't like to mow down a sea of steel...right?   But over the last 6 months we have had a steady decline in participation......especially newer, younger shooters.  Discussing this amoung ourselves, we believe that we have made the matches too difficult and losing single stack, revolver and out of the box stock pistol shooters who get frustrated with several reloads per stage etc.  The question is where is the balance between challenging but fun enough to encourage new shooters to want to come back?

 

 (We are discussing an official Steel Challenge match but nothing firm yet).   

 

3 hours of shooting and resetting steel?  No thanks.  Waaaayyy too long.

 

PS, why would someone get frustrated by having to reload a few times during a stage?  Maybe that's an indication that they need to work on that skill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't shot a lot of steel matches. The latest was when the guy in charge of our (so far only) two "practical" bays needed some work done. So he sent a group mail: "Show up at xx:yy. We have a little work at the range, and then a Shoot-Off Match". I don't remember what the work was but the shooting was fun. 14 or 16 poppers, with the middle ones crossing (7 or 8 for each competitor). Everybody against everybody, twice so you get left and right. One point for one win. Reload required before shooting your finishing popper. Somebody showed up with a revolver and he was allowed one mini popper less to equalize things a bit.

Edited by perttime

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, perttime said:

I haven't shot a lot of steel matches. The latest was when the guy in charge of our (so far only) two "practical" bays needed some work done. So he sent a group mail: "Show up at xx:yy. We have a little work at the range, and then a Shoot-Off Match". I don't remember what the work was but the shooting was fun. 14 or 16 poppers, with the middle ones crossing (7 or 8 for each competitor). Everybody against everybody, twice so you get left and right. One point for one win. Reload required before shooting your finishing popper. Somebody showed up with a revolver and he was allowed one mini popper less to equalize things a bit.

That’s Man-on-Man or Head-to-Head events.  Increases the “rush” 😁

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, elguapo said:

 

3 hours of shooting and resetting steel?  No thanks.  Waaaayyy too long.

 

PS, why would someone get frustrated by having to reload a few times during a stage?  Maybe that's an indication that they need to work on that skill.

The official Steel Challenge is 8 stages consisting of 5 targets and 5 strings.  Good for Single Stack centerfire and rimfire pistols.  Great for Revolvers.  There is a saying in Steel Challenge, if you are reloading, you are behind.  When Outlaw stages get too large.....too many steel targets.....single stack and revolver shooters are at a real disadvantage to double stack, PCC and RFRO's.  A revolver shooter or 1911 shooter on a 30-40 target stage is doing several reloads so no matter his/her skill level and...…hence their frustration and no fun factor.  USPSA and/or IDPA where reloading skill is a major part of those games is totally different from Steel Matches.   We poke fun at our friends when they get hung up and reload during a stage in a Steel Challenge match....something like "your time sucked but that was an awesome reload" (gotta lighten the moment 😀).

 

But your comment about 3 hours and resetting a lot of steel per bay is on point to the original reason for this discussion.  Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Hoops said:

The official Steel Challenge is 8 stages consisting of 5 targets and 5 strings.  Good for Single Stack centerfire and rimfire pistols.  Great for Revolvers.  There is a saying in Steel Challenge, if you are reloading, you are behind.  When Outlaw stages get too large.....too many steel targets.....single stack and revolver shooters are at a real disadvantage to double stack, PCC and RFRO's.  A revolver shooter or 1911 shooter on a 30-40 target stage is doing several reloads so no matter his/her skill level and...…hence their frustration and no fun factor.  USPSA and/or IDPA where reloading skill is a major part of those games is totally different from Steel Matches.   We poke fun at our friends when they get hung up and reload during a stage in a Steel Challenge match....something like "your time sucked but that was an awesome reload" (gotta lighten the moment 😀).

 

But your comment about 3 hours and resetting a lot of steel per bay is on point to the original reason for this discussion.  Thanks.

 

I shoot Production and Revolver in USPSA.  I compete within my divisions.  I don't pay attention to the other divisions.

 

Is that not the case in Steel Challenge?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our out law matches run on monday evening 2X a month 20-30 shooters. Four stages four strings six rounds. Some stages have six plates some four plates but six rounds per string all stages. One will be a speed stage . One might have a mandatory reload. At least one will have six plates shot in a certain order that changes each string. A sitting start gun on the barrel back to firing line is not uncommon. Another will be strong hand one string weak hand one string free style two strings. They take about 2-2.5 hrs. We run all SC classes and a micro carry class a little something for every one. The only people we loose are the ones that can't hit anything and aren't interested in improving they shoot two matches and give up. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, elguapo said:

 

I shoot Production and Revolver in USPSA.  I compete within my divisions.  I don't pay attention to the other divisions.

 

Is that not the case in Steel Challenge?

 

Short answer is yes.  Multiple gun divisions similar to USPSA.  But that’s about the extent of where the two games are similar.

 

Steel matches or Outlaw matches are not Steel Challenge but are all steel and most of these matches follow similar gun divisions that are under USPSA.  Usually OL rules are dictated by the MD.

 

For this topic USPSA/IPSC is not a factor or considered.  Steel only and when is too much steel over the line and no longer fun is my question.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SCSA matches can be grueling.  For example, the East Coast Steel Challenge Series has all eight stages.  Hammer down at 9 AM, 15 guns per squad, and finish between 3:30 and 4.  I shot two guns, RO's and painted when I was not reloading mags.  Super tiring.  I was seriously debating not going next year, but they changed back to morning and afternoon shoots.

 

The idea with outlaw matches is to keep them simple and short.  When I first became MD I initially followed the pattern previously set.  It was slow, and a shooter could wai around for over an hour before they had a chance to shoot again.  Same thing with Hostage Pin and 2x4 shoots.

 

In hostage pin the old procedure was to shoot an elimination round to get a winner, then have a Losers round as a consolation.  Participation was not that great.  Who wants to show up for a match, fire five shots and lose to a better shooter.  If they were willing to wait until the Losers match started, that was a long wait.  Fewer and fewer people were willing to do that.

 

I changed the format.  We had four sets of pins set up so the second duel followed the first immediately.  Then the range was called clear and all the pins were reset.  I also had the first two flights be 'practice' rounds where you could not be eliminated.  So everyone had a chance to compete three times at least before facing elimination.  I dropped the Losers match.  It attracted enough people that I had to split it into two matches back to back.  Then I split it again into 22 and centerfire matches.

 

2x4 matches:  instead of running teams consecutively, I divided up all who signed up into four teams of however many shooters.  Four 2x4s were placed in front of each team.  Every gun in the team was placed on the firing bench, unloaded with slide locked back.  All the competitors were 15 yards back behind a foul line.  A the start signal, the first shooter ran forward loaded his gun and fired a max of ten rounds.  The he took the mag out, locked the slide back if needed and tabled the gun.  The he runs back and tags the next shooter, and so on and so on until one team cuts the 2x4 off below the mark.  It was a hoot.  It was also hilarious to watch.  It is even more humorous if there are only four shooters on each team.   Much more running back and forth and mag loading.  Since the match was over in 15 minutes, you could run as many as you had 2x4s.

 

As far as I'm concerned, the best matches offer a shooter numerous opportunities to shoot, with as little a wait between as possible, in a short match.  2.5 hours is the max IMO, and shorter is better.  With a 9:15 hammer down time I could hold two back to back Hostage Pin matches plus at least one 2x4 match in before I had to give the range back at 1 PM.  So you could show up early shoot one match, then go shot at another of the ranges.  Or come at 10:30 and sign up for the second match.

 

The proof of the pudding is after three years as MD, I said enough.  The old MD took over and changed everything back to the way he had previously done it.  Participation dwindled and now we are lucky to have 12 people show up for a shoot.  Sad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Hoops said:

Did you say earlier how many stages typically?

 

Typically four stages.  I had time constraints.  No shot was allowed to be fired after 'dusk'. So in May and August that meant the last shot had to be fired before 7:30.  So I modified the COF and the number of strings depending on how many people I expected.  If there were a lot of shooters I'd allow four strings on 5 target stages and only three on eight target stages.  On the occasional hoser stage I'd allow two.  It was always a bit of guess work, because I knew many shooters could not get there until 6 or 6:30.  Everyone always got to shoot, even if we occasionally pushed the definition of 'dusk' a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, zzt said:

 

Typically four stages.  I had time constraints.  No shot was allowed to be fired after 'dusk'. So in May and August that meant the last shot had to be fired before 7:30.  So I modified the COF and the number of strings depending on how many people I expected.  If there were a lot of shooters I'd allow four strings on 5 target stages and only three on eight target stages.  On the occasional hoser stage I'd allow two.  It was always a bit of guess work, because I knew many shooters could not get there until 6 or 6:30.  Everyone always got to shoot, even if we occasionally pushed the definition of 'dusk' a little.

Thanks for the good comparisons.  It is interesting to me that while responses have been focused on Outlaw matches, they have highlighted (to me anyway) why Steel Challenge is popular.  Simple yet complex.....challenging yet all skill levels can shoot......set up for any type of approved gun from 22LR to 45 acp.....fast matches typically.....provides that “rush” we get trying to go faster and faster.  Conversely, Outlaw matches similar to the ones we shoot with Chaos stages have not been favorable commented on in this forum/topic.

 

If someone would rather shoot 5 stages with a lot of steel please chime in.  I would like to hear from you and why you support it.  Conversely, I would like for someone to offer comments that support official Steel Challenge over Outlaw matches.  

 

Keep the comments coming......excellent observations.  I’m getting what I asked for and more from you guys.  Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...