Memorial Day Steel Match

Stage 4

As I’ve related before, on Memorial Day the Creekside Firing Range in Cartersville, Georgia, hosts an annual Memorial Day Fundraiser. Consisting of a pistol match, and auction, and a tactical rifle match, all proceeds from the match this year went to the widow and two children of a soldier from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, who was killed in Afghanistan this past year.

I shot in the morning Steel Challenge match, which attracted about 40 competitors. I didn’t stay around this year for the auction or the rifle match, mostly because I don’t own an AR-15 – yet. (More on this later.)

The shooters were split into two sqauds, and we shot 5 stages. 


Stage 1 was simple enough. The shooter started out seated at a table, with the gun loaded and lying on the table facing downrange. At the buzzer, we engaged five 4-inch targets at 20 yards, then moved to the second shooting area, where we engaged another five 4-inch targets at 20 yards.

Sounds simple, yes. Easy, no.

Four inch targets are small, very small at 20 yards. That’s the X ring on a NRA D1 target, or half the center “-0” ring on the IDPA target.

Couple that with being the first stage of the day, and it wasn’t pretty. I shot it in 32 seconds, and I was in the upper half of results if I had to guess. I bet I took 25 rounds.


Stage 2 was just Stage 1, reversed. Start standing, shoot with the opposite hand, and progress to the seated position.

Okay, I had practiced drawing with my right hand and moving the gun to the left hand, and I had done some dry firing left handed, but not enough. As I tweeted at the time, I found out that, shooting left handed, I flinch in a way totally different from how I flinch right handed.

All stages carried a 90 second par time, and I ran out of time on this one, with only 4 targets knocked down. Since each target missed added 10 seconds, my score was 140 seconds. Yuck.

The best way I can describe my performance on this stage is to compare it with a drunk Kid Shelleen in the movie Cat Ballou. Only, I wasn’t drunk.


Stage 3, for me, was a lot easier. From left to right there were two full size pepper poppers, then five groups of two smaller poppers, set in front of each other. The shooters were allowed to move along a fault line, set 20 yards from the targets, that ran the length of the targets. Some shooters moved along the line, Sundance style, while I prefered to stand and deliver.

I shot the stage in under 20 seconds, using fifteen shots. Now we’re talking.

One observation was that I was actually able to call my shots on this stage. Rather than wait until I saw the target fall, I knew when I broke the shot that my sights were aligned, so I trusted that the shot was made. I even knew when I had made the three misses.


Stage 4 is shown above, from a little left of the shooting area. It consisted of two Texas Stars and a popper. One plate on each Star was painted yellow, and the rules specified that these two plates had to be shot first, or there was a 10 second penalty. The problem was, the yellow plate on the back Star was in line with one of the plates on the front Star, so that you had to hit the yellow plate on the front Star first, and when the front Star started spinning, you had a shot at the back Star’s yellow plate.

Once the two yellow plates were down, you could then engage any plates you wanted, in any order. Of course, with a Texas Star, that’s is about a hundred times easier said than done.

I managed to clean the stage in under 70 seconds, although I did knock off a non-yellow plate from the front Star before I hit the yellow plate on the back Star, so I incurred a ten second penalty.


Stage 5 was a mix of twelve targets, 4 inch plates and poppers, all at about 15 yards. I kept things simple and engaged them left to right. Shot it clean, with a decent time, again calling my shots. On this one, I asked a fellow competitor to take some video.

Sorry for the crappy video quality, I left the HD camera at home. I’ve got to add that one to my checklist.

In all, I enjoyed the match, even if I didn’t shoot as well as I could on the first two stages. I like shooting steel matches because the feedback is definite, and the scoring is simple.

As soon as I know where I placed I will let you know.

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