Not always as good as it seems…

Recently, I posted a video shooting my JP rifles GMR 15 with the Lightweight sleeved barrel, Vortex Razor 6MOA, with MD Ammunitions 115gr 950FPS fueled by Western Powders Competition Powder on the Steel Challenge Stage Speed Option.  My total time was 7.91 (the aggregate of the four fastest times).  This video sparked some discussion on the shooting order for the first two shots.  I will breakdown my thoughts, analysis, and summary with some data.


In order to do some analysis we have to make some assumptions.  The assumptions I am making are as follows;

  • Let’s assume the club where you are shooting has the start position to the maximum allowable distance per rule; 5.2.3 and for the sake of this discussion will be 12 total feet (10 feet out and 2 feet up).
    • In the Rimfire pistol, Rimfire rifle, and pistol caliber carbine matches, there will be an aiming point (marker, cone,flag,or sign) centered downrange directly in front of each shooting box 10’ away and a maximum of 2’ high.’
  • The next assumption is the stage is setup level to the shooter’s eye and the gun moves laterally from target to target.


With these assumptions in place, below is a diagram of the stage with the plates named in order from left to right without counting the stop plate.

Speed Option Dia.png

The question attempted to be answered; Is it faster to shoot plate #3 first or plate #4 first?  Let’s apply some mathematics to the scenarios in hopes of answering this question. I have applied the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse or distance from the start position to either of the first plate options.  The table below for option #1 is to engage target 3 first and then target 4.  The calculated distance from the start position to the 3rd target at 13.6 feet, the distance from the 3rd to 4th Plate at 14.5’ and then back from the 4th to 3rd plate.  The total gun movement in this shooting order is 42.6 feet.



The table below for option #2 is to engage target 4 first and then target 3.  The calculated distance from the start position to the 4th  target at 39.1 feet, the distance from the 4th  to 3rd  Plate at 14.5’. The total gun movement in this shooting order is 53.6 feet.




So, what does this tell us?  Option #1 has less gun movement by 11 total feet and in theory could be quicker.  Let’s apply some more math to calculate a theoretical time savings based on distance and speed.  After 20 samples, shooting my PCCO, the mean or average transitions from Target 4 to Target 3 is .25seconds.  I calculated this to be 58 feet per second and then converted to Miles Per Hour.  The result is I am moving the gun at 39.5MPH between the time the gun is shot between these two plates.  If we applied the extra 11 feet it should equate to roughly .189 seconds saved as outlined in the table below.




After conducting the analysis above I tried to replicate the results.  My average string time with option #2 with my PCCO was 1.98 seconds.  When trying option #1 my average string time after 20 runs was 2.08 seconds. Why was my time slower if the total distance traveled is less?  Here are my theories;

  1. I have shot the plate order of option #2 countless times over the years and through repetition it is faster.
  2. The assumption of the speed of my gun moving at 39.5MPH is over-inflated due to the start and stop nature of option #1.
    1. Option #2 is a brief pause on Target 3 seems more of a calculated change of directions in option #1 and is taking more time for me.

In summary, what I have taught over the years remains true.  If a particular stage order feels more comfortable, you will shoot it better.  Practice the order you have determined is best for you.  There are some stages in Steel Challenge where the order ‘makes sense’ and this one appears to be in the personal preference category.  With some practice


See you out on the range soon!


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