Texas State Steel Challenge Championship 2013

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I didn’t think I was going to be able to shoot this match, but with the Monster Match delayed to the weekend after Halloween I was able to swing it. Anyways the match is held at the Corpus Christi Pistol and Rifle club, and it is recognized as a level 2 match by the SCSA. Anyways unlike the Steel Nationals it isn’t open ahead of time for practice, so you have to approach it fairly cold with only a couple of practice sessions working on basic skills. And honestly I did quite well, with exception of Roundabout I set a string, or stage record.

I’m thinking about making some changes to my stage plans, and even tried a couple of them out at this match. Which prevented me from being as smooth as I have been in the past, and I even got a miss during Accelerator because of it. Also I really need to work on my misses they are once again killing me. Anyways score sheets below.

This weekend’s project…

This weekends project is working on the prototype of the ELS fork for the Ghost 360 magazine pouch. The first printing didn’t quite fit right, after fitting it, I’ve made some changes to the file, and sent it off for printing for the next prototype. But this one works enough that I can use it at some upcoming matches for testing. Though honestly the material seems like it will work well.

Anyways working on this project for two reasons, one because I recently purchased a Safariland ELS belt system and wanted to use my current favorite magaizne pouches. The other reason is because Ghost as discontinued the quick release belt clip that I liked so much. By creating a Safariland ELS fork I can use the ELS system plates to quickly remove and attach it to my belt. I can also use it with the Blade-tech Tek-lok to create a quick release belt clip without attaching it directly to the belt, like I did with the test setup in the pictures below.

AAR: Training with Robert Vogel and 10/11/2013 Range Log

Just completed two days of training with Bob Vogel. It was a nice small class with only eight students with only Bob doing the training. It was hosted at the CCCS in Cresson, TX.

I honestly don’t remember the exact sequence of things. But he started in the class room going over the basics of his grip, gear setup, and grip strength. Moving on to basics like trigger control and sight alignment, then to draws, and reloads. Moving further on to more complex topics like swingers, multiple targets, and finally some basics of stage planning.

Equipment wise I used my typical USPSA production setup which consists of my S&W M&P 9 Pro, Comp-tac the International DOH Holster, and my Ghost 360 magazine pouches. No issues with anything but the gun, which had a number of light strikes, which I believe was caused by improperly loaded Freedom Munition remanufactured ammo.

It was nice to get some practice on the swinger, and I learned Bob’s methods for one handed shooting which I will be working on to improve my weak handed shooting at during the Practical event. Beyond that I think I was practicing most of his opinion on grip, I only had to make a minor change to replicate his grip.

10/11/2013 Range Log

Getting ready for the Texas State Steel Challenge Championships. I worked on getting my draws on 15 yard targets, and transitions using the smaller IPSC C/B steel targets. I also did some strings of fire at 25 yards just to verify that the Atlanta Arms 147gr ammo hit fine at 25 yards, and that I can also do it. This was my second practice session at my new range, I got to say that I am really liking it, the bays are much bigger than the previous two I was a number of. It was also my second range trip with a camcorder on a tripod, I got to say it does allow me to see my trigger to see if I am prepping between targets which is a huge improvement. Anyways some pictures below.

Mass update…

A post over a month in the making. Frankly I get burnt out after Bianchi, the seriousness of a major match combined with the heat of summer wears me out. But with the Texas State Steel Challenge Championships coming up it is time to get back in the game. Thus in this post I have updates for three matches that I’ve shot recently.

August 2013 Steel Challenge Match

It is amazing that I come back from Bianchi fastest than I’ve ever shot before. I set personal stage and string records for all but Roundabout.

  • Roundabout – 16.88 – Best String: 3.80
  • Speed Option – 18.82 – Best String: 4.37
  • Accelerator – 19.26 – Best String: 4.19
  • Five to Go – 21.38 – Best String: 4.91

September 2013 Steel Challenge Match

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Not as good as last month, but I got some descent times. Honestly the misses are plaguing me. Something I need to work on before Texas state.

September 2013 Real Steel Match

I shot this match since I will be missing Octobers Steel Challenge match due to attending a Bob Vogel class. This match is a local outlaw steel challenge type match. This one takes the rules even further, adding start plates, limited shot count stages, overlaying plates on top of one another, and even adding a Texas star.

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  • Stage 5 – Pretty straight forward stage, like steel challenge the red stems indicate the stop plate.
  • Stage 1 – Another straight forward stage
  • Stage 2 – The two outer square plates are start plates you have to hit them first, before moving on to the other plates.
  • Stage 3 – This looks like a straight forward stage, but the stop plate is layered over the other normal plate, which can cause you to hit it prematurely, like I did in string 2.
  • Stage 4 – Probably the most complex stage of the match, each popper is a start plate for each of your five strings. Also the stage was limited to 5 shot per each string, and that is on top of the 18x24s being layered on top of one another.
  • Stage 6 – Each of the knock down plates is a start plate, with the standard star. This was a single string stage

This was my first match out with my GoPro HD Hero 3 Black Edition. I need to work on the editing settings, but overall I like this camera.

Anyways as these were the last matches for me before Texas state, all I have left is practice sessions, and the usual prematch maintenance. Such as chamber checking all my match ammo, now all of the four hundred rounds that I will be taking to Corpus are checked. In the next couple of weeks I will clean my magazines, and clean my gun.

My off season project…

If you don’t shoot in the south you wouldn’t realize that many people here think of the summer as our off season, as we can shoot fall, spring, and much of winter, but the summer can be oppressively hot. So we tend to take it easy in the summer. For me it is doubly so, all the major matches I shoot run March through May, after that is practice, fun matches, and some local matches to round things out. This year for the off season I am going to work on a little project that will help me shoot better, and will help prove or disprove that hand strength is important to shooting.

After my chemo I let myself go, I haven’t worked out since I got cancer and my overall strength has diminished. I am going to change that, but in addition to the usual cardio, upper/lower body workouts I am going to work on my grip strength. To that end I picked up a three pack of the Captains of Crush Grips Strengtheners, that includes a Trainer, #1, and #2; I also picked up a bag of the Expand Your Hands bands, and will be picking up other tools as needed . Right now I can close the trainer with my strong hand 10% of the time, and need a ton of work on my weak hand. It is going to take some time for me to work things up, but my goal is to be able to close #2 pretty easily.

In an effort to track how the grip strength effects my shooting I am going to go a few simple drills. I will be doing the accuracy tests every six months, and will be testing the speed tests monthly (with exception of April and May due to Bianchi).

  • 25 Yards bullseye from prone
  • 10 yards weak hand only bullseye
  • Pistol-Training FAST Drill
  • Pistol-Training Dot Torture
  • El Presidentie

These drills should track the variety of skills that I need to work on, and will be working on during my off season. In addition to that I have a year of Steel Challenge scores, along with a year of NRA Action pistol scores. All of this should get me an accurate picture of how my shooting improves as my fitness and grip strength improves. I will mention that I won’t be doing the intial testing for at least another week or two as my calendar clears up, but I’ve already started using the CoC grip trainers.

Now granted this won’t be a scientific comparison as at the same time I will be practicing my weak shooting areas, and will be doing Mike Seeklander’s Competition Shooting program. But it will be some evidence on whether or not grip training helps or hurts your shooting.

Bianchi Cup 2013 and Flagler Cup 2013 AAR

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With the last shot fired at the Bianchi Cup marks the end of my major match shooting season, with exception of the Monster Match I have no major matches scheduled until next year. All though I enjoyed shooting the Bianchi Cup, I am disappointed with my mental errors, I practiced quite a lot on my weak areas, and though I felt I addressed them some what my score didn’t reflect that. But even saying that, at the Bianchi Cup I got a better score than last year, and I was within a point of my score at Flagler Cup.
Falling Plate Event

  • Flagler Cup 400 – 40x
  • Bianchi Cup 400 – 40x

This year is the first year that I went prone at 25 yards, I managed to get 9 plates at 25 yards during both matches, which is a much more consistent score than in the past, with a little work I think I can bring that up to clearing both runs fairly regularly. Unfortunately due to mental errors I dropped plates at shorter distances (including getting fragged at 10 yards during Flagler). I am also considering going prone at 20 yards, but that is something that I need to test on a shot timer.

Practical Event

  • Flagler Cup 443 – 14x
  • Bianchi Cup 413 – 18x

This event I made some major improvements, my Flagler Cup score is the highest practical score that I’ve gotten yet; and my Bianchi Cup score, though not stellar, is my second highest. I did this by working on eliminating my issues at 50 yards with dropping shots below the target, I also worked on my weak hand only string. Though I have some work to do to bring the score up even higher, this is one of the few parts of the match that I truly happy with how it turned out. Other than the usual tightening up the groups, the major thing I need to work on is weak hand only, though I am pretty sure that I got 8s or greater on most of those six shots, at that distance I really should be getting all 10s.

Moving Target Event

  • Flagler Cup 420 – 9x
  • Bianchi Cup 435 – 15x

Nothing to really report here, I did descent though not as well as last year. I think I need to spend some time working each distance, putting together more exact holds for leading the target.

Barricade Event

  • Flagler Cup 391 – 14x
  • Bianchi Cup 400 – 6x

This is probably my weakest event, I have a lot of work to do on this event to get it under control. Unlike the plates I am not quite sure exactly what is wrong. My best guess is that I am not letting my sights settle between shoots by shooting too fast. Using something to support myself with shooting isn’t something that I normally do. I guess I simply need to practice it.


  • Flagler Cup 1654 -77x
  • Bianchi Cup – 1648 – 79x


At Flagler I got third production, and second sharpshooter overall, winning me $50 and a plaque. At Bianchi I got 23rd production and third production sharpshooter, winning me $200. I am continuing the tradition of donating a dollar for every X-ring I shoot at Bianchi, along with 10% of any cash prizes from that match. So I will be donating $99 to the American Cancer Society, the better I do, the more money they get. It is win – win for both parties. I also achieved one of my shooting goals, I didn’t get a single mike on the AP-1 targets throughout the entire Bianchi Cup, so that goal has been revised to make it harder as noted by a earlier post.


Gun: Springfield XDM 9 5.25″ Competition – It is funny that this is the gun that I like the least, but it has won me the most money. Since I keep the magazines cleans it has been very reliable, and accurate. Beyond that there is nothing really to report as I’ve made no changes this year.

Holster: Comp-tac The International DOH Holster – I changed to this holster sometime late last year, it really works well. About the only issue I’ve had with it is sometimes not pulling the gun straight out. Also there was the pointy thing that I mentioned in my initial impressions review of the holster, but a few minutes with a Dremel took care of that. Anyways I highly recommend it.

Mag Pouch: Safariland Magnetic Competition Magazines Pouch – I’ve wanted this pouch since last Bianchi Cup when Rob Leatham showed me the prototype (which as a side note he neglected to mention that it was a prototype), Safariland finally released it. Through a little trading I was able to get one at the Bianchi Cup. I will have a more in depth review in the future, but I love this pouch.

Ammo: Atlanta Arms & Ammo 115gr Match/Practice Match – Thanks to the ammo panic it was very very hard to get the ammo I needed to shoot the matches. I was literally scrapping together every spare round to shoot my major matches. But beyond that the Atlanta Arms performed to expectations, chronoing well above power factor for both match lots that I was using. While having zero issues with the 1,705 rounds I fired. I also brought another 400 rounds of Federal white box range ammo, that I used to supplement my Atlanta Arms ammo, by shooting it during the shorter strings.

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Changes for the next Bianchi Cup

Other than the issues I noted above, one thing that I am going to do to bring things together is to practice by shooting group periodically. I hate shooting groups, but I think if I can buckle down with the fundamentals, that is the only way that I am going to tighten things up. I also need to work on developing a more evened pace through out my shooting. Watch someone like Rob shoot the match, and his pace between shots is practically the same since he lets his sights decide when he lets the shot off.

Equipment wise, I don’t see too many changes. Unlike last year I am going to work on the assumption that my M&Ps will not be back from Apex. If my M&Ps come in before I go to Florida for the Monster Match great, but I can’t rely on that happening. But other than doing a recoil spring replacement and a deep clean of the my current XDM I am probably not going to do much to the gun. Now one thing I will be changing is my ammo supply, I am going to switch to Zero Ammunition. I am not switching because I don’t have confidence in Atlanta Arms & Ammo, in fact quite the opposite I love their ammo and they’ve been good to me. But Zero allows me the option of placing an order today, with delivery at Bianchi next year, that way I am not running around like a headless chicken a few weeks before the match.

That about wraps things up, I will have the occasional local match report, along with range logs but it will be fairly quiet until next year.

Score sheets

Flagler Cup

Bianchi Cup

My plate score sheet went missing so here are the hits by distance and string

  • 10 Yards 5 – 6
  • 15 Yards 6 – 5
  • 20 Yards 5 – 4
  • 25 Yards 5 – 4


2013 Update of Shooting Goals

Ok last year I set some NRA Action Pistol long term goals, with the conclusion of the Bianchi Cup this year, I achieved the first NRA Action Pistol goal of “Shoot the AP-1 target events at a NRA Sanctioned match will all shots on the targets,” so it has been changed as you can see below.

NRA Action Pistol:

  1. Shoot the AP-1 target events at a NRA Sanctioned match will all shots within the 8 scoring zone or greater.
  2.  Achieve Expert Class
  3.  Shoot the practical with zero points down.

Also now that I got some experience shooting steel at a sanctioned match, I decided to set some Steel Challenge Goals.

Steel Challenge:

  1. Achieve a Steel Challenge Classification of Master
  2. At a State or higher level match shoot 90% of the strings One-for-One.
  3. Achieve a 20 second of less Outer Limits stage time, while moving box to box.

Like my NRA Action these goals are achievable, but they aren’t easy to get, so I will have to work at them.

Last practice session before Flagler and Bianchi Cup

Went to the range today for one last practice session. Unfortunately after seeing six rounds on target, I wasn’t feeling it. It just so happened that I also chose today to test my RX100’s video mode. Once I saw the video I saw why my shots all sucked, I was slapping the trigger rather than working it properly with a slow trigger press.

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Anyways video is really helpful for diagnosing issues, as it sees things that many are incapable of seeing while competing or practicing. They aren’t as good as having a instructor, and high level training partner watching you, but they work well if you plan things out. Which means that I will be spending the next week dry firing the shit out of the trigger.

AAR: The Crawfish Cup 2013

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I really enjoy going to Lake Charles for the matches at the Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club, it is a great facility with a great crew running the matches there. This time it was for the annual regional tournament that they hold, the Crawfish Cup. Since it is a regional level match, it attracts competitors both regionally and even from those nationally. Like most NRA Action Pistol matches there was a practice day the day before the match, but I wasn’t feeling well so I only got a short amount of time thus this almost was a cold match for me.

Even with that issue I still managed to scrap together a 1611 – 83X, which is my best score since Bianchi, which was high enough to get me high Sharpshooter, and 3rd in production. With my practice at home for the practical I got my best practical score yet by tackling my mike problem at 50 yards, I only had one mike on the entire practical event. On the barricade event it seems that I am still incapable of counting, as it seems that I fired seven shots at 25 yards on one side of the barricade which netted me a penalty. My mover was descent, but nothing to write home about, and my plates were horrible at 10 and 15 yards, but I got the most hits ever at 25 yards. But since I didn’t get a chance to practice I wasn’t able to work on going prone for the plates. I am hoping during the week leading up to Bianchi I can work on that.

  • Practical Event 405 – 22X
  • Barricade Event – 389 – 13X
  • Falling Plate Event – 390 – 39X
  • Moving Target Event – 427 – 9X

Equipment wise I am using the same Springfield Army XD(M) 9 5.25″ that I used for Bianchi, I’ve made no changes since then. As I mentioned earlier I switched to the Comp-tac The International, like with the one I use with the M&P 9 Pro series, it gave me no issues. Ammo wise I was shooting Atlanta Arms & Ammo remanufactured 9mm with the 115gr Zero JHP. I had enough of the AA&A new ammo which has the Hornandy XTP, but since I didn’t get a good practice session I decided not to waste it. I honestly didn’t fell held back with the reloaded ammo, but I haven’t had a chance to shoot any groups with it.

Anyways except maybe a range log, this will likely be my last update until after Bianchi. With a little bit of luck I should be able to scrap the money and ammo to go to those matches. My score sheets will be in a gallery below.

AAR: US Steel Nationals 2013

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This is my first sanctioned Steel Challenge match, and my first time shooting all eight of the Steel Challenge stages. I had a very good time, and achieved a personal best on either string time, and/or on the stage times. The best thing about going to a major match like this one is the practice time at most local clubs the steel is pulled out for the match and then put away, you don’t have time to test stage plans on the timer, nor setup stages that aren’t part of the match. While at the Steel Nationals I got to shoot all the stages for the better part of a week. You can also work with people better than you, who can spot issues in your technique.

Equipment wise I was using my S&W M&P 9 Pro Series 5″ which has Warren Tactical sights and Apex parts, in my Comp-tac The International DOH paddle holster. Ammo wise I used Federal Premium white box 115gr ammo, as I knew it was fairly accurate and reliable in my gun. I had no gun issues during the 249 rounds fired at the match. And I only had two failures to fire during the 2,500 rounds of mixed ammo shot during the practice session leading up to the match.

Anyways I came out 10th in Production and 94th overall. I got descent prize package off the prize table. It included a NRA Magnatip Screwdriver set, a Magnatip Glock set, a Brownells aluminum 1911 bushing wrench a Brownells pistol rug, a Benchmade Hk knife, and a Blackhawk water bottle. For those that haven’t owned a Magnatip screwdriver set, they are very well made, in particular their flat heads which are hallow ground so they fit well in the slot, they also make many gun specific bits like the Glock front sight bit included with the Glock set. Well that is about it, the video is above, and the and my stage times are below, no scores sheets as I seemed to have lost them.

Time to put my M&Ps away and get back to practicing for Bianchi, my next match is the Crawfish cup at the end of April. I want to get the practical pretty much down before I go there. Now if I only could get ammo…

  • Speed Option 22.92s stage time – 5.13s best string Personal best string time.
  • Roundabout 16.37s stage time – 3.54s best string Personal best string and stage time.
  • Pendulum 23.34s stage time – 4.79s best string Personal best string time.
  • Outer Limits 19.57s stage time – 5.09s best string First time shooting this stage. I chose to take the stage penalty rather than move from box to box. I am going to practice up to figure out a way that I can compete evenly on this event while moving box to box.
  • Showdown 16.44s stage time – 3.74s best string First time shooting this stage.
  • Smoke and Hope 14.24s stage time – 3.16s best string Personal best string and stage time.
  • Five to Go 21.49s stage time – 4.95s best string Personal best stage time.
  • Accelerator 19.26s stage time – 4.19s best string Personal best string and stage time.