Steel Challenge Training Tips: How to Get Better at Shooting Sports

Steel Challenge Training Tips: How to Get Better at Shooting Sports

Posted by Jeff Jones on 8th Mar 2018

I’ve been asked that question over and over and the answer is in the cartoon above. I could end this post now, but that wouldn’t be me- I like to share.

Rules of Practice

We all know what practice is, but are you doing it well?Here are some of my rules of practice:

Rule 1 - Practice is not a match.

Rule 2 - Misses don’t count (but know where/why you missed).

Rule 3 - Nobody is looking or keeping track.

Rule 4 – Push yourself.

For Steel Challenge, I rarely shoot all 5 plates until the end of practicing that stage. Stages like Outer Limits, Speed Option and Accelerator I tend to practice just that stage. Showdown and Roundabout go nicely together as do Pendulum and 5 to Go. I only practice Smoke and Hope occasionally; those 18x24 plates are heavy. I don’t like to practice more than 2 guns at a time, more than that makes the practice less efficient.

I break each stage down into arrays and work on each array separately. Most of the stages have 2 arrays and then the stop plate. Some of the stages have the stop plate in the third array. There are 24 ways each stage can be shot, although most are not reasonable (ex. 1, 4, 2, 3, S on Smoke and Hope). You will have to look at how you shoot the stage and determine how you can break it down into arrays.

I also keep notes on what worked and what didn’t work. Keeping notes allows you to go back and review to see where you’ve been. They don’t have to be elaborate, but something that you can go back and review to remind you of the practice. My notes tend to be things like “smooth to the first shot,” “snap to the stop plate,” “don’t forget a good grip.”

How I Practice

So how do I practice? The first magazine is for the first array, match speed. The second magazine is for the same array, with a 15-20% increase in speed and I don’t worry about misses but I watch where the misses are. I adjust accordingly to try and get the hits at the increased speed. The third magazine is for the second array, match speed and the fourth magazine the second array at the 15-20% increase. The last magazine is for the stop plate, 5 at match speed and 5 at the speed increase. For the second array and stop plate, the start pointing is the last plate of the previous array.

If you’ve done the math, you’ve now put 50 rounds down range and you haven’t shot an entire string. The next 5 magazine will be full strings, and we won’t be picking up misses. Many of you may be saying “Why?" The answer is because misses happen in a match, and this isn’t a match. We are practicing what we want to happen, and that’s hits. If we don’t get a hit, we want to know why and then correct that action (shot too soon, too late, bad trigger press, bad grip, etc) .

The first magazine will be 2 runs at match speed. The next magazine is 2 runs at 15-20% speed increase. The third magazine is what I call “The Wild Thing”. Go as fast as you can, pointing at the plates, not worrying about hits or where you missed. This is going to train your body and your eyes to go faster. The last 2 magazines are match speed. Review your notes quick, check where you were missing and set yourself up for 4 great runs.

At this point with 1 gun, you’ve shot 100 rounds and have put quality rounds downrange. You can see why I only do this with a maximum of 2 guns. You may be able to do more, and if so, go for it. I find that my practice becomes sloppy after 200 rounds and I don’t want to practice bad habits.

Going to the Next Level

I’ll finish this with a question I had from a fellow shooter: “If all it takes is practice, why doesn’t everyone just shoot a stock gun?”

The answer is simple, stock guns can take you only so far, and that’s where TANDEMKROSS comes in. Once you’ve established good practice habits, adding enhanced parts can get you to that next level. Want a lighter trigger pull, add the “Victory Trigger”. Want a crisper break of your hammer, upgrade to a new sear. Want to go all out, get one of the TANDEMKROSS “Race Gun” Kits. When you combine good practice habits and TANDEMKROSS upgrades, that GM classification is just a matter of time.

Until next time, remember, One Shot, One Steel.

Jeff Jones is a 3-way GM in Steel Challenge and 2017 Florida State Champion in RFPO. He easy to find, look for the black safari hat with the Steel Challenge logo on the back and the TK logo on the front. He’s always happy to talk about shooting and TANDEMKROSS. If you see him at a match, stop over, introduce yourself and ask him your question.