In the foothills of Southern California, multiple national and world champion pistol shooters, such as Dave Sevigny (above), face the “Showdown” stage of “The Steel Challenge.”

For the last 30 years, the fastest shooters in the world have gathered at Piru, California for the World Speed Shooting Championships, better known as the “Steel Challenge.” In 2011, Steel Challenge brought over 300 amateur and professional competitors out for a shot at trophies and cash or gear prizes.

The Game
Steel Challenge is unique to the action sports in that there are no paper targets. Every stage consists of five steel targets of varying shapes and sizes, from 10-inch round plates up to 18×24 inch rectangular plates. Targets are as close as 10 yards on some stages and as distant as 35 yards. Like Bianchi Cup, Steel Challenge uses fixed stages, meaning that the courses of fire will be the same year in and year out. With eight stages at a full match, you can expect to use 200-250 rounds of ammo to complete all the stages, (assuming you don’t miss much).

Good ammo makes a huge difference, and this 100-grain 9mm frangible ammo from SBR is a perfect match for Steel Challenge.

The rules of Steel Challenge are simple. Each stage is fired in strings of five, with the one exception being Outer Limits, which has only four strings of fire. Times are recorded for each string of fire, and then the slowest time is discarded. The remaining strings of fire are added up, and that’s your score for the stage. After adding the scores for all the stages, the shooter with the fastest time is the winner.

The author posted a personal record on the “Outer Limits” stage with a Springfield XDM 5.25 9mm, beating his previous best by 5 seconds.

The Gear
Speaking of the guns, Steel Challenge is the most welcoming sport in terms of what kind of equipment is allowed. The list of the official divisions recognized at the 2011 World Championship includes:

• Open
• Iron Sight Pistol
(similar to USPSA Limited)
• USPSA Production
• IDPA CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol)
• IDPA ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol)
• IDPA SSP (Stock Service Pistol)
• Iron Sight Revolver
• Optical Sight Revolver
• Rimfire Open
• Rimfire Iron Sight

Up Next


In the foothills of Southern California, multiple national and world champion pistol shooters, such…