by Terry Duffy
Speed on steel aficionados, it's that time again.
The 2001 edition of Steel Challenge-the world speed shooting pistol championships of the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA)-gets under way this year on Thursday, Aug. 16, continuing through Sunday, Aug. 19, on the International Shootists Institute (ISI) ranges located in Piru, CA.
Now in its fifth year-the third under SCSA direction-the event offers the thrills of exciting speed on steel pistol shooting utilizing an assortment of firearms, calibers and models-from revolvers to service pistols, single actions to autoloaders. Shooters vie against each other and the clock, firing downrange on steel targets of different shapes and sizes placed at various distances. Open to pistol shooters of all ages, sexes and skill levels-from pre-teen to super senior-the Challenge offers more for fast-shooting pistoleros.
The sport was reborn in the mid-1990s by speed shooting enthusiasts Mike Dalton and Mike Fichman, and since then Steel Challenge has grown with expanded categories, new offerings and increased sponsorship. In 1999, SCSA became the lead organizer of the sanctioned shoots, offered at the state and regional level.
For 2001, the tourney brings an assortment of course changes, faster shooting times, plus a new side event, all to the returning slew of accomplished shooters and novices anxious to unseat that perpetual handgunning nemesis, two-time consecutive Steel Challenge champ Doug Koenig
A Look Back at 2000
Firing a Caspian Model 1911 in .38 Super with Leupold sights, Koenig continued his dominance at the 2000 Challenge, firing 77.06 to outpace Japan's Tetsuya Saki who shot 77.91 for second, and Frank Cruz Jr. who finished with 79.34 for third place overall.
Kay Clark Miculek, winner of the Oregon Trail division event, was named Top Woman at Steel Challenge 2000; Ralph Arredondo took Senior honors, while Ken Tapp won the Super Senior crown in Category events. And in Tasco Team vs. Team, the Cruz-Rob Leatham squad took top division honors.
Other big names from Steel Challenge 2000 included Stage winners: Everett Brunelle, Vihtavuori-Lapua Flying M 2000; Jerry Miculek, Beretta USA-Roundabout; Cruz, Bar-Sto Precision-Showdown; Miculek, Leupold-Five to Go; Sakai, Pro Load Ammunition-Speed Option; Kazahito Narita, Springfield Armory-Smoke & Hope, and Koenig, Winchester Ammunition-Outer Limits. For complete results on last year's event, see Gun Week, Oct. 1, 2000.
Now, on to Steel Challenge 2001-"The Ultimate Display of Speed and Accuracy," according to its organizers.
As noted, this year's Steel Challenge promises to be more exciting than ever. Leading off, SCSA organizers report that the Winchester "Outer Limits" event has been changed with targets now a little closer-set at ranges of 35, 20, and 18 yards, versus 40, 25, and 20 yards earlier-and the result should be better, faster-paced shooting.
Other changes include the Pro Load Ammunition "Speed Option" event, where the 25-yard option plate has been moved to 20 yards, and the Bar-Sto Precision "Showdown" match where the front plates were changed from 8 to 10 inches; distances remain the same in this event.
But that's not all. SCSA reports there's a new side event-The Zone-an optional rimfire match sponsored by Browning/PMC that employs a point system where three Buck Marks will be awarded to the daily winners and two more awarded by luck of the draw. Shooters will have a ticket placed in a draw each time they enter The Zone. Browning will be supplying the guns used in the match as well as furnishing the prize guns awarded to the winners, while PMC will supply the ammo.
Also new is a special plaque to be awarded to the Steel Master winner in the Tasco Team vs. Team shoot-off. Shooters who compete in all three possible events of Tasco Team will automatically have their scores compiled for an aggregate total score. Events include Rimfire, plus a double entry from the main tourney using optics or iron sights. The best aggregate score will be the Overall Tournament winner, called the Steel Master.
SCSA reports the following shooter levels are again in place for this year's Challenge: Revolver; Women; IDPA-Custom Stock Pistol; IDPA-Stock Service Pistol; IDPA-Enhanced Service Pistol; IDPA-Stock Service Revolver; Limited-USPSA Guidelines; Law Enforcement; Pre-teen (ages 10-12); Junior (ages 13-17); Single Action (Men's and Women's); Senior (ages 55-64), and Super Senior (ages 65 and up).
Stage events include: Vihtavuori-Lapua "Flying M 2000" (Stage 1); Blade Tech "Roundabout" (Stage 2); Bar-Sto Precision "Showdown" (Stage 3); Leupold "Five to Go" (Stage 4); Pro-Load Ammunition "Speed Option" (Stage 5); Para-Ordnance "Smoke & Hope" (Stage 6), and Winchester Ammunition "Outer Limits" (Stage 7).
And among the numerous divisional events are: SIG Arms/Hornady "The Gauntlet" (optional match); Browning/PMC "The Zone" (optional rimfire match); Smith & Wesson "Open Revolver;" Oregon Trail "Top Lady;" USPSA "Limited;" Brownells "IDPA Custom Defensive Pistol;" Glock "IDPA Stock Service Pistol;" Heckler & Koch "IDPA Enhanced Service Pistol;" Smith & Wesson-"Iron Sights Revolver;" Steel Challenge "Single Action;" and, Oregon Trail "Women."
Also, Safariland "Law Enforcement;" Bianchi International "Junior;" Bar-Sto Precision "Pre-Teen;" Oregon Trail "Single Action Women;" Para-Ordnance "Para-Challenge;" Wes Thompson Awards (3 prizes); and the "Cowboy Single Action Division."
Steel Challenge organizers note that in addition to the numerous dedicated volunteers needed to put on a successful event of this size, corporate support is a vital component. Cash sponsors for the various stages, divisions and categories include the following:
Tasco; Smith & Wesson; Winchester Ammunition; Leupold & Stevens Inc.; Pro-Load Ammunition; Vihtavuori-Lapua; Para-Ordnance Manufacturing Inc.; Brownells; Glock; USPSA; Heckler & Koch; Marvel Products; Oregon Trail Bullet Co.; Safariland; Bianchi International; Bar-Sto Precision; Pro-Ears by Ridgeline; SIG Arms; Browning; Alco Target Co.; Hogue Grips and John Daly Firearms.
Cash prizes vary per level of competition and place of finish, ranging from Tasco PROpoint "Team vs. Team" pay outs of $1,500 (1st), $1,000 (2nd) and $500 (3rd), to S&W Revolver, Oregon Trail Woman and USPSA Limited offering awards of $700 (1st), $500 (2nd), and $300 (3rd). Prize monies for Brownells IDPA Custom Service, Glock IDPA Stock Service, CZ-USA IDPA Enhanced Service and S&W Revolver Iron Sights are $500 (1st), $400 (2nd), $300 (3rd), $200 (4th) and $100 (5th) respectively. And cash awards for Steel Challenge "Single Action, Oregon Trail "SA Women," Safariland "Law Enforcement," and Bianchi International "Junior" are $300 (1st), $200 (2nd) and $100 (3rd) respectively.
Numerous other prizes, be they cash pay outs or product awards are also offered by an assortment of industry firms, SCSA organizers note.
Following shooter sign-ins on Wednesday, Aug. 15, competition gets underway Aug. 16 with the Marvel Products Rimfire Event. This one features two divisions-Optics and Open Sights-with shooting conducted on the same Steel Challenge ranges as the other events. Scoring will be calculated by sound, not impact, and the top 3 divisional winners will win a gun, with the remaining top 3 eligible for winning a gun by luck of the draw.
A special daily event throughout Steel Challenge is The Gauntlet, sponsored by SIG Arms with Hornady Cartridge Co providing the ammo. Competitors will fire SIG Pro 9mms with one being a double-action-only model; shooters have their choice of guns.
Actual shooting involves competitors entering a course with their gun drawn and ISI rested ready. Shooters will fire at the sound of an electric timer and engage five 8-inch targets placed 8 yards downrange. At day's end, the fastest 5 shooters who have knocked down all five targets will be deemed the daily winners; tiebreakers are determined by shoot-off the following day prior to the next round of competition.
SCSA notes the single fastest run for this event will win one of the aforementioned guns and a custom plaque for being the "Fastest SIG in the West." In addition two more guns will be awarded by luck of the draw. Prizes will be offered each day to the top 5 overall finishers, but only one SIG can be won by any one competitor.
And the competition gets hot and heated Aug. 17-18, with an assortment of divisional and category competition on tap. Shooting begins at 8 a.m. sharp; entrants need to note their shooting times.
Cowboy Action pistoleros will compete throughout the weekend in the Cowboy Action Single Action Division in an Open Class format and for cash awards. Entrants will be governed by Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) guidelines for allowable firearms and holsters; adjustable sights are allowed and western attire is encouraged.
Saving the best for last, there's the Tasco PROpoint championships which feature exciting "Team vs. Team" competition, with prize monies awarded to the top 3 finishers.
Tasco PROpoint involves the top 32 overall finishers through the Steel Challenge weekend paired into teams in an elimination format with shooting on Aug 19. Teams consist of first and second place finishers paired for team one; third and fourth place finishers matched for team two, etc., and this continues until all 32 slots are filled. Elimination rounds are conducted in a quarter- and semi-final setup, capped by the championship match.
Tasco PROpoint also features 7 stages of aforementioned industry-sponsored competition offering prizes of $700 (1st), $500 (2nd), and $300 (3rd). In addition there's $20,000 in cash awards for the Top 25 shooters overall in this category.
SCSA officials report that Steel Challenge 2001 is being dedicated to the late Gary Flynn of Oakhurst, CA. An avid fan of Steel Challenge who was looking forward to competing again at this year's event, Flynn lost his life to an armed robber on April 25, 2001. He is sorely missed.
Held at the ISI ranges adjacent to the Lake Piru Recreational Area north of Los Angeles, SCSA officials note there's a variety of lodging and entertainment available nearby for Steel Challenge participants and spectators. For full details on match requirements, sign-ups and other information, write SCSA at 23234 Via Barra, Dept. GWK, Valencia, CA 91355; phone: 818-892-2188; on-line: www.steel-challenge.com.
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