It is hard to believe it has been almost a year ago since the last change of the Peak Stage Times (PST) for Steel Challenge. As anticipated, there will be some changes to the PSTs in some of the fastest and growing divisions in the sport. With more competitors participating in the sport, the competition is getting faster and faster. I was able to see this first hand at the 2019 Alabama Steel Challenge Championship at the CMP Range in Talladega Alabama. Team Steel Target Paint competitor, Chris Barrett was able to penetrate the elusive 60 second mark shooting in the Rimfire Rifle Open (RFRO) division. Needless to say, the new PSTs are below which outline changes to just seven of the 13 Steel Challenge Divisions with total time difference in five divisions:
With times starting to normalize, increments of adjustments are now at the quarter second time interval and this is the first time in Steel Challenge where less than one second changes have been made. As illustrated above, the big news is in the four rifle divisions. Let’s start with Pistol Caliber Carbine Iron Sights. With a total PST decrease of 3 full seconds it seems the division is growing and becoming more competitive. I speculate this is due to the fact the iron sight options for PCCI have expanded in the past 6-12 months. Striplin Custom Gunworks released a fiber optic front sight for the AR platform making a marked improvement in sight acquisition. We have also seen a recent offering from TANDEMKROSS with a fiber optic front sight for the entry level Ruger PCC with the same impact.
The next division seeing one of the largest decreases is Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics (PCCO). A decrease of four total seconds is over a 5% reduction. We have the top shooters consistently shooting in the mid 60’s. With a 70 second PST, to become a GM you have to have a classification time of 73.68 (95% of the PST). Based on results in top matches around the country, this change feels in line.
Rimfire Rifle Iron Sight (RFRI) division is seeing the largest adjustment in PST of 5.5 seconds. This is a growing division in the sport. It is my belief this is a result of the cross over shooters from Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP). At the recent World Rimfire Championships, there were 80 of the 246 competitors shooting iron sight guns. Three of the top six total times were shot by iron sight competitors who regularly compete in Rimfire Challenge and SASP events. The competition is picking up the front sight quicker in the past 12 months!
The last major change is in the popular Rimfire Rifle Open (RFRO) division. At the majority of major matches I have participated across the country, RFRO is one if not the largest divisions. As with all of the rifle divisions, the barrier to entry is low shooting a rifle. You can get into the divisions being discussed at a reasonable price and, it is my opinion, it is easier to shoot a rifle compared to a handgun. As we have discussed on the Steel Target Paint Podcast, it was not that long ago when the top shooters in the country were breaking the 70 second barrier. At the 2019 World Speed Shooting Championship, the top 9 competitors in this division were all under 70 seconds. At the 2017 World Speed Shooting Championship we did not see a single competitor in RFRO breaking the 70 second barrier. You will now have to shoot 95% of 68 seconds to classify as a Grand Master which is 71.58 seconds.
After the team at USPSA conducted the analysis Optical Sight Revolver (OSR), and Single Stack (SS) had stage time increases with offsetting decreases. Iron Sight Revolver (ISR) was the only division where a total PST for the division increased. Yes, there are no changes at all in Production, Limited, Open, Carry Optics, Rimfire Pistol Open or Rimfire Pistol Iron.
The bar has been raised. Time to get out there and train!
See you out on the range soon!