Steel Challenge Competition

“Founded in 1981, the first Steel Challenge saw just 70 shooters step into the shooting boxes of its now famous all steel stages. It was John Shaw who claimed the first title of ‘World’s Fastest Shooter’ along with his share of the $20,000 in cash and prizes. Since those early days the number of shooters has grown and the firearms industry has taken notice. Every major manufacturer participates in the Steel Challenge and the key to the success of the match can be found in the philosophy of its creators.

Mike Dalton and Mike Fichman, both accomplished competitive shooters, dreamt up the idea for the Steel Challenge as a way to expand the shooting sports.

Their match design called for simple stages, or courses of fire, made up of just five steel plates. The steel plates would be of differing sizes and placed at various distances and angles to create a variety of challenges. The shooter would assume his or her position in the shooting box and, upon the beep of the timer, draw their pistol and shoot each plate with the fifth being a stop plate synchronized to the timer. “

Q: How is the match shot?

  • Each shooter will shoot the stage five times with the slowest time dropped. The score would be the combined time of the best four runs and that time added to the combined times of the other stages for a final match score  

Q: How is the match scored?

  • Competitors are timed electronically, from their draw in reaction to the audible start signal to their last shot on each string of fire. The competitor’s fastest four times out of five attempts on each stage (three out of four on Outer Limits) are added together for an aggregate score. The lowest total score for all eight stages in each division wins.  

Q: What calibers are used?

  • To create a level playing field, 9mm /.38 Special is the minimum caliber permitted for all divisions except for the .22 rimfire events.  

Q: What about MOVEMENT?

  • USPSA rules will apply for shots fired while moving into the second shooting box in Outer Limits. If the contestant fires and leaves Box A and then realizes they missed and/or hit the targets out of sequence and returns to Box A and continues to shoot, there will be no procedural penalty (Keep the muzzle down range while returning to Box A). Any target(s) struck in the incorrect order (A vs. B) WILL be judged as a miss. If any shots are fired after having begun to move forward out of the box, there WILL be a procedural penalty. (For ease of judging, both feet must be touching down while firing in Box A in the Weak Side Box in the Outer Limits.) Upon reaching Box B, the contestant may begin to fire when one foot is in the box and the trailing foot is either in the box or in the air. Remember, if targets are engaged out of order without corrective shots being taken, there will be a procedural penalty, plus a miss scored on each target struck out of turn. The shooter may not leave the initial box until AFTER the first two targets are engaged. Upon entering the second box, the competitor may begin to engage the targets when the trailing foot is off the runway. It is the shooter’s choice as to whether they should have the trailing foot down or in the air before firing.    


  • The audible timer start will be proceeded by the commands “Load and make ready.” After a short time is taken, the shooter shall indicate that he or she is ready. The commands will be “Shooter ready?- Stand by.” There will then be a hesitation of one half to one and one half seconds before the start signal will sound. Creeping or jumping is expressly prohibited! Hands must remain motionless after the “Stand by” command. A 3 second penalty WILL BE ASSESSED for creeping, premature start, hand movement or bouncing of any kind. Please do not test the officials.  

Q: What is the HAND POSITION?

  • Hands are to be held in the “Surrender Position”, which is shoulder high, with the wrists and full hands visible from behind. The Range Officer will stop the count down and give one warning and one warning ONLY if they see that the competitor is setting up too low or starting to creep or “bounce”. Failure to comply will result in a three second penalty for each occurrence.  


  • The following violations, any one of which may, and any two of which shall, result in disqualification:
    • Pointing an unloaded pistol up range (break the 180 degree line).
    • Dropping of an unloaded firearm.
    • Leaving the line with a loaded pistol.
    • Any grossly uncontrolled shot or accidental discharge.
    • Picking up a dropped firearm without the direction of a match official.

The following violations shall result in automatic disqualification from the tournament.

    • Pointing a loaded firearm up range.
    • Dropping a loaded firearm.
    • Any shot fired into the holster or into the ground within six feet of the contestant.
    • Unsafe handling of a loaded firearm.
    • Contestants under the influence of a controlled substance. (Alcohol or drugs)
    • Any behavior or action in violation of sportsmanship codes, or that which directly and/or adversely affects the performance of another competitor.
    • Any disrespectful words and/or gestures to or towards a match official.