Steel Challenge is one of the most exciting action shooting sports in the world. In addition to the competitive nature of the sport, an added bonus is the whole family can come along and get involved for a reasonable amount of money. The barrier to entry into the sport is fairly low. Let’s spend a few moments and walk through where to find your first Steel Challenge match and what you will need to participate.
The Steel Challenge Shooting Association released a new web page in 2019 at SCSA.org. In order to find a local match or any of the major matches, go to the website and click “Matches” in the top right hand corner of the website. From there you will see the below:
You can click on either “View List” or “View Calendar”. For the purposes of our discussion, click on “View List”. You will then see a list of all sanctioned level I or what we commonly refer to as “local” Steel Challenge Matches as you can see below.
If you would like more information about a match, go ahead and click on the “Match Name”. You will find the date, time, Location of the event, contact information for the match director of the match and typically you will see the cost of the match as show below:
You may have heard a lot of people shoot more than one division (or gun) in a match, as a new shooter I recommend shooting one division. In our example we will need to bring $25 for the Veterans 3 Gun Team 1100 match located at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park.
Now that I know where I need to go, what do I need to bring? Let’s start off with the two key essentials. You may be thinking gun and ammunition, no, not yet, we will get to that in a few moments. You need to bring:
- Eye Protection
- Hearing Protection
When you arrive to the shooting event, always make sure you have your Eye Protection on before you exit your vehicle. These events are held at gun ranges with active shooting going on, you only get two eyes let’s be diligent in keeping them. Next, make sure you have your hearing protection in your hand in case of shooting in the area. Most times “check in” is at a clubhouse, but every range is different. When shopping for your safety glasses look for a pair that is tested to an ANZI Z87.1 2015 standard. This means eye protection of a .25” steel ball traveling at 150 FPS. These can be purchased for as low as $20. When you purchase hearing protection you will want a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of at least 25. With a proper fit, foam ear plugs can offer a NRR of 32. If shooting larger caliber guns, inner ear and over ear combinations are recommended. For shooting Rimfire, foam ear plugs are a great start and these can be found for as low as $1/pair.
Your next question should be, what kind of gun do you need to bring? I would recommend to bring what you have. Most outdoors enthusiasts have or know someone with a Ruger 10/22 or 22/45 in the safe or maybe a Glock 17. If you don’t, email the match director of the Steel Challenge match and ask them if they know of someone in the club who has equipment for you to borrow. Worst case scenario, you can purchase a Ruger 10/22 or 22/45 Mark IV or similar setup for $300 or less if you shop around. To start with, I recommend starting from the ‘low-ready’ and not drawing from a holster. When asking to borrow equipment see if they have 5 magazines to use during your first match. If you are hooked the way I was, you will want your own equipment and having 5 magazines helps the shooting squads move along quicker. When you borrow or purchase a gun for the match make sure you have a bag to bring it to and from the firing line in an unloaded and safe condition. Make sure when the “Make Ready” command is given the muzzle or end of the gun is pointed down range. If shooting a rifle you will need a chamber flag which more than likely will come with the gun, if not a simple zip tie will get your through your first match.
The only thing left you need for a match is to make sure you have enough ammunition. To be on the safe side bring 500 rounds. For Rimfire, you can find ammunition on sale for $.05/round to get started for a total of $25.
To recap the costs of getting started if you are able to borrow a gun and magazines is;
- Eye Protection $20
- Ear Protection $1
- Ammunition $25
- Match Fee $25
You should have ammunition to come home and your Eye and Ear protection is reusable if you take care of them. If you want to purchase a gun I would add ~$300 and a bag for $10 = $310 plus tax. Most guns come with 2 magazines so you will want to buy 3 more for ~$20 each for $60. Your own setup will be less than $400 to get started and you can upgrade with time.
It may seem a bit daunting, but I recommend reading the Rules of Steel Challenge located here: Steel Challenge Rulebook . You do not need to be an expert, there will be Ranger Officers administrating your squad and they will be able to answer any questions you may have.
We all started at the same exact starting point. Don’t be nervous. Get to the range, Be Safe, and Have Fun!
See you out on the range soon!