Shooting steel gives instant feedback to the shooter.
With the start of May, the local steel league that I have shot the last three years started back up for the season. It’s time once again for the ringing ping of steel plates, the sound of the buzzer in your ear and the machine gun staccato of some of the fastest shooters trying to better their times.
There is nothing more rewarding and gratifying than hearing the ping of the steel plate after being hit with a bullet. It is enough to make even the most experienced shooter smile brightly.
Shooting steel is probably the best form of competition or training for a shooter. You get instant feedback on whether you hit the target or not. Aim well and you get a ping. Aim poorly and you completely miss. In training, this instant feedback allows both the student and instructor to know right away whether the technique is working. Since you can also see the placement of the bullet on the steel, you can take some time to adjust point of aim.
When shooting steel for competition, it is some of the most fast-paced shooting around. The idea is to go as fast as you can while still getting hits on the steel. Miss and your time goes up since you have to come back and try again. The feedback from the steel lets you know you hit it and can move on faster.
Some steel shooters are blazing fast, being able to clear a stage in 2-4 seconds. And yes, that is even with drawing from the holster. There is even a whole national organization dedicated to steel shooting called the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA).
The SCSA is now a division of the USPSA, but instead of focusing on running around and shooting cardboard targets, the SCSA is dedicated to speed shooting steel. This is where shooters like Doug Koenig, KC Eusebio and Max Michel have shot their way to the national and international titles for speed shooting they have won.
There are different kinds of steel to shoot. There are the standard plates like in Steel Challenge that involve courses of fire where you have to shoot the plates in a certain pattern and possibly do a reload in there. There are falling plates where smaller steel plates are lined up in a rack and you need to knock down all the plates as fast as you can. There are even metallic silhouettes where you have to shoot at long distances and hit plates shaped like animals with large caliber handguns. There are so many different types of steel shooting to choose from, there is something for everyone.
Even if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to just the speed shooting sport, all of the practical shooting sports, which include USPSA, IDPA and the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF), all utilize steel targets to some degree in their stages and courses of fire.
If you get a chance, check out your local ranges and look for someplace to shoot steel. It will be some of the most rewarding shooting you will ever do.