US Steel Nationals 2014 – A long overdue update

Probably thought I completely forgot about shooting since I haven’t posted anything shoot related since late last year. I haven’t stopped shooting, simply haven’t had time to get any new posts done.

US Steel Nationals 2014

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I spent a week and almost 5,000 rounds in Florida shooting. I first spent two days with Shannon Smith of Universal Shooting Academy, during this session we established realistic goal times for all the stages. I then spent the remainder of the week leading up to Saturday practicing. The match was fun I didn’t do as well as I was hoping, but I still walked away with 6th production which is 4 positions higher than last year. One bright spot, is though I was within a second of my time at the Texas State match, I only had 17 make up shots which is much much less than I did at Texas State.

Stage wise, I only set a personal best stage time during Smoke and Hope; and Roundabout both of the hoser stages. On the other hand even though my stage times were worse on other stages like Five to Go my times were more consistent. Since I know that I had shoot these stages faster, I just need to do it more consistently since my previous way of doing it often results in me crashing and burning. Now two things I noticed that I really need to work on is to reacting to the buzzer faster and prepping the trigger. I really need to get my hands moving at the first sound of the buzzer rather than waiting for the buzzer to complete. Also I noticed from watching the video (you didn’t think I did the video because it is cool?) that I was resetting the trigger after I got to the next target, I really need to do that between targets.


Smith and Wesson M&P 9 Pro 5″ – This was the first time that I’ve had a parts breakage at a major match. During practice on Thursday the left side slide lock lever broke off. It wasn’t a major issue since you are doing reloads in Steel Challenge, so I trucked on with my current gun rather than breaking out the back up. The only thing I had to do because of it, was use an empty magazine to lock the slide back. I called S&W and they said it was a factory only part so I would have to send the gun in to get a free replacement. I just bought a couple, and will be doing the replacement myself during the next spring replacement cycle.

Now I did have three stoppages, all three were with Freedom Munitions Remanufactured 9mm, and all three sounded like a squib with a stove pipe failure to eject. I had no issues with the Atlanta Arms and Ammo 9mm reloaded match ammo.

Safariland ELS Belt System – This was my first major match with the Safariland ELS belt. Overall I like the stiffness of the belt along with the convenience. Every time I put it on the mag pouches and holster are all in the same position. When I am eating lunch I can quickly slip off my QLS attached holster, and my ELS attached mag pouches. If I am going into town for lunch, I can simply take off the outer belt. And then there is the fact that even though the mounting platforms don’t change, I can easily change the exact attachments for the division that I am shooting. So for this match I had my Comp-tac International Holster for the M&P, and the Safariland 773 magnetic mag pouch. For Bianchi it will be the XDM version of the Comp-tac holster. For USPSA I will change the mag pouches. The list goes on.

Now I did have one issue with the belt system, somewhere during the week I lost one of the pegs that holds the belt together. I noticed it on Friday, and I didn’t have a back up belt so I had to keep on trucking (Safariland has said that a replacement peg is on the way). I also say people that didn’t secure their belt well lose the belt during stages like Outer Limits. I can see why Shannon Smith uses police style belt keepers with his competition belt system. If I have any issues I will likely be doing the same.


Bianchi Cup and Other Pistol Matches

I picked up my second XD(M) 9 5.25″ that I will be using as a back up gun for these season’s NRA Action Pistol matches and any in the future. It took a few hours but I got it configured the same way as my other XD(M), now I am just waiting on the backup holster from Comp-tac. Anyways I am signed up for the Crawfish Cup, World Action Pistol Championship, and the Bianchi Cup. I got my squading for Bianchi Cup, I request and got the same shooter number as my last two years, and I got all afternoon slots. I am definitely looking forward to shoot the new mover in Columbia, as they’ve upgraded it to an Action Target tracked mover. I am currently working on getting an extra day at the SWLA Rifle and Pistol Club range to practice the stages a little more.

Anyways on to the second half of my season, due to the World IPSC Championship being at USA this year, the Monster Match is cancelled. Since I enjoy shooting Shannon’s matches I’ve signed up for the US IPSC Nationals, which will be the same stages just a week or two after the world match. Should be a fun match, and since I am going to be shooting classic division this will be first time shooting a major match with a 1911. I need to get some stuff hammered out to get my STI Trojan ready for the match.

I was hoping that the USPSA would move the World Speed Shooting Championship to fall at USA, but that didn’t quite work out. The date for the Texas State Steel Challenge Championship hasn’t been announced yet, but I am hoping that it will work out so I can shoot it in addition to the US IPSC Nationals. Either way, I am seriously thinking about going to the Georgia State Steel Challenge Championship next year.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Update after a bit time off…

Well a bit of an update, I had a bit of burn out combined with bad weather I haven’t made it to the range much. Also with the ammo crunch I am conserving my pistol ammo since I have just barely enough for all the matches I need to shoot for the next three months. So probably no local matches, and limited practice on the things that I really need help on.

Today I spent some time with my M&P 15-22 on the rimfire range. And then went to the pistol range to work on shooting from prone. During my last few matches I have been throwing too many shots from prone at 50 yards. The range doesn’t support 50 yards, so I did it from the maximum range of 35 yards. It went very well, nothing off the target, and a final score of (though not even remotely comparable to a stage score) of 472-14x out of a possible 500-50x.

Anyways I’ve been sitting on this, but here is the video from the December Steel Challenge Match at BAPS.

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IIRC I did some game stage times, but they weren’t the fastest single run times.

Two for one update this week: Steel Challenge and NRA Action Pistol

Yeah yeah, I was lazy and didn’t get around to publishing last weeks video, so here both videos in one post.

Steel Challenge at Bay Area Practical Shooters:
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I haven’t shot this in a while and it shows both in a good way and a bad way. It is good that I was more accurate, but it was bad that my movement from plate to plate was slow.

NRA Action Pistol at Southwest Lousiana Rifle and Pistol Club:
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A better score than I’ve gotten in a while, but still not that great. My barricade event pretty much carried me through the match.

BAPS Steel Challenge Sep 2012 + Quick Comp-tac International Followup

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Back to match shooting after nearly a month of a break. Another BAPS Steel Challenge, same stages as usual. I really think the fact that I haven’t had a real practice session in almost six months is screwing me up. But PCS is taking about 500 of the 800 people on the waiting list. With a little bit of luck my name will come up.

Anyways nothing spectacular, lots of misses, I took 117 shots. Found out that my way of doing Smoke & Hope last time was better, and will be going back to it.

Quick follow up on the Comp-tac International. In the match I had no issues, but the cross brace on the drop and offset piece was poking in my side the entire match. As you can see from the picture below, it is a pretty sharp edge. Also the new paddle design that I said held things secure, well I was right, it was not only very difficult to put on, but it was very hard to get off. Honestly if it weren’t for belt loops getting in the way I am almost better off using the belt attachments.

This weekend is NRA Action Pistol, I ordered an International for my XDM. I am hoping that it comes in. But this week I will have to spend quite a bit of time dry firing to get used to my XDM again. I don’t think I’ve shot it since Bianchi Cup.

BAPS: Steel Challenge August 2012

This time hoser cam is very true. Frankly I bombed the match exception Smoke and Hope. I was simply in too much of a hoser mode and didn’t get my hits. As such this weekend I will be hitting the range to do a little slow fire accuracy practice. Anyways here is the video for what little it is worth.

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Now one thing to note that on the hoser stage, Smoke and Hope, I got my fastest single run time, and my fastest total time on that stage.


WHSC: Fourth of July Steel Challenge Match

Yesterday I shot the Fourth of July Steel Challenge Match at West Houston Shooters Club. It was only their second Steel Challenge match, and their first four stage Steel Challenge Match.

The stages shot were:

  • Smoke & Hope
  • Speed Option
  • Roundabout
  • Five to Go

My total time was 83.02 which is about the same time I got at the BAPS June Steel Challenge match, but they run different stages. The two stages I could compare show a different story. I was over a second slower on Five to Go because of my misses, but I was a hundredth of a second faster on Smoke and Hope. Mainly I need to work on switching gears, Smoke and Hope was my first stage and set the tone for the match. I was much too fast on stages where I needed to slow down.

Placement wise I was 2nd out of 15 in Production, but honestly I had the benefit of experience so I can’t count on that in the future. Anyways I posted the video below.

Another learning experience here, the GoPro is annoying me as I have no way of checking level. The smartphone app can’t get here fast enough IMO. I did find a couple of issues that I need to address, I didn’t do the text on Five to Go at all, and I didn’t leave any of the stage text long enough. Primarily this is an issue with my computer, I can’t really preview any of the complex effects due to my slow computer. I could fix it, but that would be another 5-6 hours with processing time, and uploading to Youtube. I will just do my best to prevent it in future videos.