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Old February 27, 2006, 02:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: February 15, 2006
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Shot my first match (steel challenge); help me improve.

Well, yesterday I shot my first match -- a steel challenge match. Two things that I need to remember next time:

1. Wear a hat and use sun block. Right now the back of my neck hurts a lot from sun burn; also my face hurts. This is my 2nd time ever shooting outdoors (the first time lasted ~30min), so I completely failed to prepare in this area.

2. Bring water. The range had no water and I was there from 9:30AM to 1PM. Got really thursty and to make things worse, the range is in the middle of nowhere. It took maybe 10 minutes driving before I find a place to buy something to drink.

Other than my pain right now, the match was really fun. I was shooting an HK P2000 and was expecting to come in last but didn't. People were friendly and took time out to show me the course setup and safety rules. If I knew how fun/easy it is to attend a shooting match, I'd have done it earlier; hey, better late than never.

Interestingly, I think I can vastly improve my time because I was so nervous that I'm missing shots that I normally don't miss. I.e. those plates were pretty big and not too far, if I take a little bit more time to aim, it can drastically lower my time. I find myself many times not aiming at all and just kept pulling the trigger. (Shot dry a magazine once and had to change mags.)

Towards the end, also (I think) the harder parts of the match where plates are more varied in locations, I was very tired and thursty. Frankly, at that time I just wanted the match to be over. I shot 172 shots that day, it is the most I've every shot in any session, and I can tell my aim is getting worse. I'll have to do more dry fire and work on endurance. Also, just standing around for those hours is tiring. Maybe bring a chair to the next match (although nobody brought one).

So, I'd appreciate any suggestions to improve my steel times. Mainly how to practice at an indoor range for the steel challenge where targets are pretty much straight down range.

Right now, I don't think I'm ready buy new equipment, so I'd like to stay with using either the DA/SA HK P200 or Glock 19. I 'm considering taking the Glock to the next steel match.

Also, thanks for all the help regarding my IDPA posting, especially Jim Watson. I'll be attending that match this coming Sunday.
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Old February 27, 2006, 04:56 PM   #2
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I'd say by just going there you are doing well...


I'd say by just going there and competing, you are doing well. I have never done it, but I am watching it on the Outdoor Channel as I write this "Steel Challenge 2: The 72 Second Challenge". Now, I'm pretty good with an iron, but I can't even think as fast as these guys are shooting!!! If you are competing anywhere near this level, you are doing well already!

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Old February 27, 2006, 07:51 PM   #3
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I'm not an expert but I do pretty decently on steel targets.

THE most important thing with steel is DON'T MISS!! However long it takes you to get a good sight picture and a quality shot off is how long you should take on each and every target, no two ways about that. If you think about it, no matter how fast you go getting there and missing a shot or two, eventually you will have to get a solid sight picture and break the shot without disturbing the sight picture. Do that the first time every time and you will be a LOT faster.

Second most important is once you break that quality shot, and before you hear the clang, is to snap your eyes to the next plate letting the gun come to your eyes as fast as it can. Your eyes will be a lot faster than your gun, no worries about that. Just get your eyes on the next plate as fast as you can, then sight picture, break the shot, snap the eyes, repeat as necessary. If you break the shot with the sights aligned and without disturbing that sight alignment there is NO reason to wait around for a clang or a visible impact, get to the next target!!!
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Old February 28, 2006, 09:54 PM   #4
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sunblock! , hat and a pair of shaded shooting glasses.

take your time shooting the plates....dont rush. Speed will come with practice and more competition.
Have a nice day at the range

NRA Life Member
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Old March 5, 2006, 11:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for your words of wisdom!

Yes, HSmith, you are right. I've been following my sights w/ my eyes when I move from target to target. I tried your suggestion of looking at the target then aligning my sights during a dry fire test, and I feel much faster.

I'm looking forward to the next steel match in 2 weeks. (Although if I drive 2 hours down to San Antonio, I can probably attend one next week... hmm, tempting..)

Also, definitely I think everyone is using your other advise of moving onto the next target before confirming their previous hits. I didn't do this because I was missing a lot, but I'll do so on the next match. The distance and plate size should give me no problems (i.e. I should be able to hit them on the first shoot), but I'm missing them because I 'm finding myself not aligning my sights and just fired when my front sight is on target.

Also, to the folks who suggested hat and sun block: thank you. Although I kind of figured that one out from my sun burns already But a word to anyone going to his/her first outdoors match:

1. hat
2. sun block (I would apply before leaving the house)
3. water
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Old March 5, 2006, 10:46 PM   #6
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Thanks j, glad I was able to help.

My answers were basic but I figured it never hurts to reinforce the basics.

Keep going. The sky is the limit as the only thing between you and being known as a local steel eating monster is you and your work ethic. It is out there to be taken if you have the desire.
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Old March 18, 2006, 10:12 PM   #7
Ken O
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Most ranges have water, but I always take a canteen just in case. I also pack a small lunch, you never know how long its going to take. I shoot ISPC, IDPA and Steel Challenge. The SC is my favorite, it moves right along, with no targets to paste or steel to set, just a couple guys spray painting the steel. I usually shoot three guns, unless a large showup. Shoot all the competitions you can, whats ever available.
No concern about sunburn in this area yet, we still have ice fishing going on, and I took what might be my last snowmobile trip of the season yesterday. It was in the single digits this morning.
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Old March 21, 2006, 03:08 AM   #8
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Having competed in several Steel Challenges and thousands of IPSC matches,
JS here are some things that will help.
1. Lose the ideas of a. "confirming your hits" b. switching your eyes to the next target before you transition your sight(s). If you are watching your sight, you will know where your shots hit. It is physics, it can't happen any other way. The weak link is the human one. If you are using iron sights, focus on the front sight/ optics: on the target. Learn to call your shots. My splits (time between 2 shots on the same target, 10 m) average .13, I can tell you where each of the shots went. You should strive to reach that level. Transitioning your eyes before you transistion your sights is a bad habit to get into for several reasons - foremost is that you lose and have to re-acquire your sight picture. A better technique is to learn to track your sight. This involves maintaining a proper sight picture all the time. Transitioning from one target to the next is easy if you learn how to use a hammer. Watch a layman use a hammer to drive a nail. His wrist and forearm will be rigid and he will look like a robot. Watch a journeyman use a hammer and you will see that the hammer does all of the work. His wrist and forearm will be relaxed and guide the hammer to the nail. Your pistol should be your hammer. Let the pistol do the work. It don't matter what anyone tells you, no matter how strong you are you cannot overcome recoil. You have to learn to make it work for you. As the shot breaks, the pistol is going to rise, maintain your sight picture and guide it to the next target. Let your mind guide it and your sights will stop on the next target automatically. It will take a lot of practice, but it is an easy skill to master. I don't want to have a 60k word dissertation here, but if you can grasp those concepts and practice them you will improve dramatically. The two most important things to remember are
1. Speed = economy of motion
2. Shooting is 98% mental

The biggest temptation when shooting reactive targets is to watch the target, avoid it. WATCH YOUR SIGHT PICTURE! If you want to see steel fall, watch the other guys shoot for a while. Sunblock, chapstick, an extra hat, powerbar and water should be standard items in your shooting bag.

As far as practicing indoors goes, use paper plates, draw two circles or whatever to simulate 2 plates. Every shot you fire will be one of four: An initial (first shot), a follow-up (anything after the first in a string), a transition (after moving to the next target) or a reload. Learn to master thouse individually, it doesn't matter if it is a 2 shot string or a 200 shot string. Every follow-up shot is the same. So is every transition shot. Practice 1 shot on the first target, then move to 2 shots on the first target. Then 2 on the first, 1 on the second, then 2 on each. Do this until you are consistently hittng 90%. When you reach that point, then push yourself again. Push the envelope in practice, shoot consistently in the match.

Finally, your Glock is probably the better choice for steel. If you get more into it, you can start using lighter loads and lighter springs in your gun just for shooting steel.
Good luck

P.S. Expect my bill in the mail
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