Steel Challenge

We are planning on holding Steel Challenge practice sessions on Wednesday evenings in WSC’s Action Bays facility in the Spring of 2024. Planning and preparation work is underway now. Additional details will be provided as they become available…

What is Steel Challenge?

Steel Challenge is a speed shooting competition governed by the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (SCSA). Competitors are scored solely by the time it takes them to complete each stage.

Steel Challenge consists of eight standardized stages with steel targets in three sizes: small circular 10″, large circular 12″, and rectangular 18×24″. The special “stop plate” must be shot last to stop the timer.

Competitors are scored solely by the time it takes them to complete each stage, and the match winner is the competitor with the lowest overall time.



There are 8 Official stages with 5 steel targets on each. Shooters get five runs on each stage. Each competitor shoots each stage five times, with their slowest run dropped, excluding the stage Outer Limits where only four runs are shot and the top three counted. The counting times are totaled for their stage score, and the eight-stage scores are added together to establish the competitor’s match score.

For each run, one hit per target is required, with an unlimited number of rounds. The last target to be shot is known as the “stop plate”, which stops the timer. Any primary target hits made after the stop plate has been struck will be scored with a 3-second penalty each. The maximum time permitted for a run is 30 seconds and a competitor will be stopped and asked to reload if they reach the 30-second limit.

The Steel Challenge comprises eight courses of fire called ‘stages’, which are:

  1. Five To Go
  2. Showdown
  3. Smoke & Hope
  4. Outer Limits
  5. Accelerator
  6. Pendulum
  7. Speed Option
  8. Roundabout

Each stage has competitors firing from a square box called the Shooter Box. The shooter box has side lengths of 3 ft, except for the stage Outer Limits where the boxes’ sides are 4 ft.

Showdown has two boxes and requires the competitor to make the first two runs from one of the boxes, and the two following runs from the other box. On the fifth and final run, the competitor can choose which box to shoot from. There is no movement, so each run is to be shot from one box only. The competitor can choose whether to make the two first runs from the left or right box.

Outer Limits has the longest shots in the match and is also the only stage with movement. Contrary to the other stages, Outer Limits only has four runs (instead of five), which with one throwaway run makes for three counting runs in the aggregate score. The shooting boxes on Outer Limits are larger than those on the other stages. The stage has three boxes, and the competitor starts on their weak hand side. For example, for a right-handed shooter, the procedure is to start in the leftmost box from where they are to engage the leftmost 12in plate at 20yd and the leftmost 18×24in plate at 35 yards. Thereafter the shooter is to move to the center box and engage the two similar plates on their strong hand side, before engaging the stop plate.

Outlaw Stages

Some local matches may include “outlaw” stages in their match. Outlaw stages have a target layout which does not conform to one of the eight sanctioned Steel Challenge stages. They can be fun to shoot, however they do not count toward SCSA classification. They will, however, count towards your overall score in a Level I match.



  • Open (OPN)
  • Limited (LTD)
  • Production (PROD)
  • Single Stack (SS)
  • Iron Sight Revolver (ISR)
  • Open Revolver (OSR)
  • Carry Optics (CO)
  • Rimfire Pistol Irons (RFPI)
  • Rimfire Pistol Open (RFPO)

Long guns

  • Rimfire Rifle Irons (RFRI)
  • Rimfire Rifle Open (RFRO)
  • Pistol Caliber Carbine Irons (PCCI)
  • Pistol Caliber Carbine Open (PCCO)


Once you determine what firearm you will use, here is a list of other equipment you will need:

Hearing and Eye Protection

Anyone who owns and shoots a firearm should already have effective ear and eye protection which is required.

Bag and/or Flag

When it is your turn to shoot you will need to be able to safely bring your unloaded firearm to the firing line to shoot.

Rimfire pistol shooters usually come to the firing line with their rimfire pistol safely contained in a zippered pistol bag.

Rimfire rifles and PCC’s shooters will use a rifle bag to transport their rifle to the firing line. They must also have some form of a chamber flag in their rifle to demonstrate its safe condition.

After the stage is complete, the unloaded firearm is returned to its safe condition (re-holstered, flagged, and/or bagged) prior to leaving the shooting area.

Pistol Holster and Belt

Centerfire pistol shooters will need an appropriate holster and belt for the holster. Regular competitors in Steel Challenge will use special belts and holsters designed for competition, but belts and OWB holsters you already may work just fine.


We recommend that, no matter what gun you’re shooting, you bring at least five magazines. That way you can shoot one magazine per string on each stage without having to reload.

If you have less than five magazines, chances are you’ll have to reload magazines at least once during your turn. This really slows down the match.

It is also a good idea to have a 6th magazine, so you have a spare in case an issue is encountered or say you accidentally drop a magazine in sand.


All of the stages have 5 steel targets you must shoot. For all but one stage, you shoot 5 strings at each stage.

The match or practice announcement should disclose the number of stages in the match, so you can do some math to determine the minimum number of rounds to bring for the match.

For example, if the match has 4 stages, you can count on a minimum of 100 rounds fired (five strings times five shots each time with 4 stages equals 100 rounds). This is the minimum number of rounds required if you don’t miss any shots or have any malfunctions.

We recommend you bring double the calculated amount of ammo with you for your first match just in case. You can take home any ammo you do not use.


Here are the current SCSA Competition Rules.