My First Steel Challenge Match

A few months ago I started shooting competitively “for real,” signing up as a member of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) – the U.S. arm of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) – so I could track my progress (called a classification in USPSA parlance) and start setting goals to better my skills.

Shooting competitively isn’t a cheap endeavor.  Aside from the fixed costs of handgun, magazines, holster and gear there are the costs of ammunition for practice and competition and match fees ranging from $20 for local matches to more than $100 for larger, regional and state-level matches.

USPSA rules require a .38 caliber (9mm) or larger handgun to compete.  A typical match requires around 150 rounds, give or take.  If you’re shooting .45 ACP, ammo runs around 30 cents/round.  For 9mm, it’s about 20 ¢/rd.  That’s an additional $30-$50 per match just for the ammo.

Enter Steel Challenge.  The Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) is affiliated with USPSA, but SCSA includes divisions for .22LR rimfire pistols.  .22LR ammunition runs about 6-8 ¢/rd for regular ammunition (“match grade” ammunition may cost more but isn’t necessary for short-range competitions), meaning it’s $9-$12 worth of ammo per match.

While USPSA matches are against a mix of paper and steel targets and may involve lots of movement, SCSA matches are all steel targets of varying sizes and involve shooting five different courses four or five times each.  Every attempt is from the same position, the goal being getting faster while staying accurate each time.  Targets are of varying sizes and at different distances, with one shot designated the “stop plate” that must be shot last.  Every miss on a target requires another shot – taking more time – so accuracy matters.

I shot my first SCSA match tonight with a brand new S&W Victory .22LR handgun using the fiber-optic sights that ship with this pistol.  The match fee was $15 and I used approximately $12 of ammo to do so (150 rounds).  We had five courses of fire and overall I placed 11th out of 24 shooters (note: I’m erroneously listed as Mark Reed in the results).  I’m not upset with that at all considering it was my first SCSA match, my first time shooting the Victory and a rather embarrassing set of actions on the fifth stage – I forgot to reload between strings and ran out of ammunition and had to manually reload – on the clock – twice.  On Stage 4, I actually came in 3rd place overall – a nice testament to my ability to shoot well once in a while (now I just need better consistency).

Because I’m a USPSA member I’m automatically an SCSA member and will be working toward my SCSA classification (my current competitive classifications can be found on my About Me page).

I’m looking forward to posting my continuing progress towards SCSA classification as I shoot more matches and would love to hear your tips, tricks, comments and feedback as I go!

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