The most effective way to increase your speed while shooting Steel Challenge or any shooting discipline is to take your time to be accurate first, and then the speed will come. There is a point of what I call ‘the edge’. As you shoot faster and push yourself, your accuracy starts to decline. You go over ‘the edge’ when your level of accuracy declines. This is where you can’t “see what you need to see” so that when you pull the trigger, you start to miss. In most cases you are pulling the trigger while looking at the target and you are either not looking at your ‘dot’ or front sight to have a satisfactory sight picture. Some call this ‘out pacing the gun’. You may see the target and pull the trigger, but the gun and sight(s) are not there yet or they are not aligned on the target to get a hit. For me, with a pistol, my front sight has not settled, and I have a tendency to shoot ½” high on a 15 yard target. When you practice pushing ‘the edge’ and gaining consistency, ‘the edge’ starts to get faster and faster. If you don’t practice or shoot for that matter, ‘the edge’ can slip back slowly or quickly depending on your experience level. So, how long does it take for your sight picture and being able to shoot against the “Edge” take to really decline? I am a proponent of shooting once a week. You don’t have to shoot many rounds down range to maintain your current standard, perhaps just as little as 50-100 rounds once or twice a week.
Steel Challenge is about speed, but you will never be fast if you miss. It is not uncommon for a Grand Master to shoot an entire match and not to have a string where they have to carry a pick-up shot. I really believe the difference between a Master shooter and a Grand Master shooter often times comes down to making your hits or as some people call it consistency. It is OK to have a miss and have to make-up in a string, but you need to try to limit this to one of the five strings per stage.
As soon as you can shoot accurately, you now have the ability to shoot fast. I have always been a numbers person, so I keep a log of my progress for every division and every stage for matches as well as practice sessions. It was soon evident the delta between my match times and practice were misses. The great part of Steel Challenge is you have the same target presentation whether you are shooting a match in Georgia or California. I am still not as fast during my matches as I am in practice, but the gap has closed significantly.
Until next time, see you out on the range soon!