Let’s talk about Classification!

I get a lot of questions about the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) Classification System. My intention is to try to simplify the Steel Challenge Classification System and answer any questions you may have.  The Steel Challenge Classification System overview is located at the following link:




The full classification policy is listed below:





Common Questions:


Q: Do I have to be a member of USPSA to be classified?

A: Yes. You need to have a USPSA # for you to be classified.


Q: If I am classified in USPSA as an A Class, what is my classification in SCSA?

A: Your classification in USPSA has no bearing on your classification in SCSA or vice versa.


Q: Do I need to be a member of USPSA to participate in a level II match or Higher?

A: Yes. You need to be a member to participate in these events.  At this time, Level I matches do not require you to be a USPSA member, but it is highly encouraged . As of January 2019 Level II matches or higher require membership.


Q: What is your opinion of the benefit of the Steel Challenge Classification System.

A: There are two main benefits of the classification system. #1 – you can track your performance as a shooter.  This helps in goal setting and the self-motivation process.  #2- If the required number of entries is reached for recognition at Steel Challenge Matches there will be awards given.

Tier 1 (club) minimum of 3 but I don’t know of any one that gives out awards at club matches.

Tier 2 (state) minimum of 5 is recommended but Match Director can use any schedule they choose.

Tier 3 (area or higher) 10 or more per class.


Q: What is a category, division, classification?

A: A division is the type of equipment used in a match IE; Single Stack is a 1911 style gun with a set guidelines of magazine capacity, holster location etc. A Classification is the level of proficiency achieved in a division IE: GM = Grand Master and is the highest level of classification.  Category is meant for special recognition such as “Junior” where competitors are under the age of 18.


Q: How many stages do I need to shoot in order to be classified?

A: 4 stages need to be shot at a SCSA (Steel Challenge Shooting Association) affiliated event. Note: all 8 current Steel Challenge stages are ‘classifiers’ at even affiliated match.


Q: Why haven’t I seen the scores posted for my classification updated?

A: The classification system is updated once a week on Wednesday at 8AM EST .  If you shot a match on Saturday and it is Tuesday, you need to be patient and wait a day.  If it is the Wednesday after the match and you still have not seen your times updated, contact the match director.  Some common setbacks include the payment to SCSA has not been made for the scores to be posted .  If you see 0/0/00 by the match that means the activity fee hasn’t been paid yet and those results won’t be used for classification until they are.


Q: When do peak times change?

A: At a minimum the peak times are reviewed and evaluated once a year .  If a change needs to be made, there is no current limitation on when these changes can be made.  The initial classification system was implemented on July 4, 2016 and there have been (2) updates to peak times for certain divisions.  These updates are typically after the World Speed Shooting Championship.


Q: I still don’t understand the math for classification, can you explain it to me?

A: Let us use an example and we will assume this is our first match and we are not classified. We are going to focus on PCCO this year.  Below is a breakdown for all stages, classifications, and Classification times for each Classification, for PCCO;


SC 2


I shot my local SCSA match and they are affiliated with USPSA. My times are as follows:

Five to Go = 12.15 secs

Smoke and Hope = 8.02 secs

Outer Limits = 14.00 secs

Accelerator = 9.25 secs

The Pendulum = 10.54 secs

Roundabout = 9.12 secs


There are two different ways to look at classification 1- what is my classification on a stage and 2- what is my total classification for the division? Let’s walk through the First Example; In order to find your classification on a stage you take your Peak Time for the division and Stage and divide it by the time you shot.  In our example above you would take your time for Five to Go (12.15) and divide it by the Peak Time for the division and stage (11.00) to get your Classification % which would be (12.15/11.00) = 90.53%.  This Classification % is between 85% and less than 95% is MASTER Classification. Pro Tip – The stages you have a lower classification on are the ones you should practice.


SC 3


In order to determine your total classification you take the sum of all of the times you shot and divide by the peak time for the stages. In our example the total Peak time for the six stages shot is 59.00 seconds as illustrated above.  The total times I shot for the six stages in the match is 63.08 seconds.  My classification for this match is (59.00/63.08) = 93.53%.  This Classification % is between 85% and less than 95% is MASTER Classification.


After you shoot your next match your classification will update and keep the lowest time for every stage of each match for classification purposes. An example of my PCCO Classification is below:


SC 4


The Peak Time is 78.00 seconds. My total time for my best stages shot in competition is 64.38 seconds which is GM time.  In theory, if I shot my personal best times all in one match it would be a 64.38.  As a point of reference, my best total match time with PCCO was 67.59.  You can find your classifications at the following link: https://steelchallenge.com/steel-challenge-classification.php


Q: I am a Master in RFRO, how do I know how much time I need to take off my classification times to become a Grand Master?

A: After looking at your classification you need to drop 1.56 seconds! Here is the math below;


SC 5


In order for you to be a GM you have to shoot 95% or greater of the peak time.  The peak time is 76.00 seconds.  95% of 76.00 is actually (76*(1+(1-.95)) = 79.8 Seconds for a GM time.  This means you need to drop 81.36 (current classification time) – GM time 79.8 = 1.56 seconds somewhere and you will be a Grand Master.


Send me any questions you may have regarding the Steel Challenge Classification system and I will make sure they are answered for you.


See you out on the range soon!


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