Shooting their Grayguns-tuned SIG SAUER P320s at the 2016 East Coast Steel Challenge Championship, A.J. Stuart and Annette Evans finished first and tenth respectively in the popular Production division. Billed as the largest Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA) match ever, more than 260 shooters submitted more than 400 entries for the three-day event in late September.
Steel Challenge is a speed shooting event consisting of eight standard stages with non-moving steel targets of various sizes. The steel plates are placed at different distances and angles from the shooter’s position. Each shooter shoots each stage five times for a timed score, with the slowest time for each stage excluded. Each stage consists of five steel plates. Although the shooter may shoot the plates in any order, the last plate shot must be the designated “Stop Plate.”
For the East Coast Steel Challenge, competitors can bring multiple guns and shoot in different divisions. Some competitors shot in four divisions during the weekend, and there was certainly plenty of options to choose from. This year’s match included two rimfire pistol divisions (Open and Iron Sights), seven center fire pistol divisions (Open, Limited, Production, Carry Optics, Single Stack and Optics Revolver, Iron Sight Revolver), and three rifle divisions (Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics, Rimfire Rifle Iron Sights and Rimfire Rifle Iron Sights). Sixty shooters competed in the Production division with Stuart and Evans.
“I had a great time shooting the match,” said Stuart. “A couple of junior shooters were on my squad, and they were fun to shoot with.”
For Stuart’s first place finish in Production, he completed the five stages with a time of 110.4 seconds, more than 12 seconds faster than the second place shooter Paddy Sullivan, and more than 21 seconds faster than the third place finisher. Stuart finished first in six of eight stages.
“During the first part of the day, I was not following my own best-practice of aiming for a specific spot on the plate,” said Stuart. “I always want to aim for the bottom third of the first plate, and the leading one-third of the following plates. After a couple of stages, I smoothed things out a bit to meet my goal of a Production win.”
For Evans, she had two top five stages and three top 10 stages to finish 10th in Production. She was also High Lady for the main match (centerfire pistols with and without optics). “Although I don’t shoot a lot of steel, it’s hard to resist a regional championship nearly in my backyard,” said Evans. “I’m always glad when I make the trip to shoot this match.”
Evans and Stuart mostly focus on shooting a different competitive discipline – United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) – which incorporates movement, reloads, and props, along with moving and partial targets. “I was happy to see how well my skills translated even without the benefit of specific training,” said Evans.
“The match has gained popularity during the last three years,” Evans commented. “Match Director David Snyder works very hard to run a smooth match with great volunteers. “A generous prize table, raffles, side matches, on-site food and vendors makes for a great weekend.”
You can follow Annette Evans and AJ Stuart on their Facebook competitive shooting pages.