Skip to main content

Students of Steel

Students of Steel

An ambitious, innovative new effort to recruit handgun shooters.

A new effort from the Steel Challenge Shooting Association aims to get more youths involved in pistol competition.

Taking a page from the success of NSSF's Scholastic Clay Target Program, the Steel Challenge Shooting Association has developed a new effort to attract young people to competitive handgun shooting: the Scholastic Steel Challenge.

SSC provides young people ages 12 through 20 the chance to participate in steel-plate competition, the format for which is based on the Steel Challenge. The program recently held its first event, a demonstration shoot in Tennessee that drew more than 400 young shooters.


"The response to the SSC was tremendous, and this first event was a huge success, confirming that America's young adults are eager for the opportunity to compete in the sport of speed shooting," says Scott Moore, SSC's director.


Moore previously worked for NSSF and developed that organization's hugely popular Scholastic Clay Target Program.

"His projections are that this program will surpass SCTP in terms of participation," SSC's Dave Thomas told Handguns. And that's no small aim, considering that SCTP grew from 700 competitors eight years ago to more than 10,000 today.


SSC has come up with an innovative approach to building its program. Thomas walked us through the process of putting a team together, all the information for which is found at the SSC website (scholasticsteelchal lenge.com).


Basically, to form a team—which can comprise any number of four-shooter squads—all you need are participants and an instructor certified by either the NRA or the National Range Officers Institute (nroi.org). Clubs and ranges that host teams must be members of Steel Challenge Shooting Association; shooters have to join the association as well.

In addition to providing support for coaches, clubs and competitors, SSC furnishes a scoring program. Scores are uploaded to the Steel Challenge website, allowing teams and individuals across the country—and, eventually, the world—to compete against each other in what amounts to one huge, electronic postal match.

Competition is offered in two divisions: Junior for 12- to 16-year-olds and Senior for 17- to 20-year-olds. Beginning in 2010, the top Junior and Senior squads will earn free entry fees to the Steel Challenge in California.

A number of key industry players were quick to realize what a program such as SSC could mean for the future of the shooting sports—particularly handgun competition, which has long suffered from a relative lack of grass roots youth development. The NSSF, for example, contributed $50,000 to help kick-start the initiative.

"Developing new target shooters through programs that teach safe and responsible handling of firearms is a priority of the National Shooting Sports Foundation," says NSSF president Steve Sanetti. "And we're proud to help a program get off the ground that holds so much potential for introducing new shooters to a lifetime sport."

Handgun makers were quick to get on board as well. Smith & Wesson has committed to donating 30 M&P pistols, valued at more than $20,000. Glock has donated 60 pistols—models 17 and 19, with four magazines each, valued at nearly $42,000—to help new teams get their start. Both companies will also offer special pricing on guns for SSC teams.

Action Target has signed on to become the SSC's official target supplier, with special discounted target packages for teams and participating ranges, and outdoor news service Outdoor Wire is donating $36,000 in advertising.

"I've been around shooting a long time, and this is the single most exciting thing I've worked on in my life," says Thomas.

We here at Handguns second that. For more information, visit the SSC website and click on the "Teams" tab in the lower right corner.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball's Headache

The Hardball's Headache pistol drill is very similar to the El Presidente drill with a higher level of difficulty due to two added twists.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A look at eight optics-ready pistols for just about any application or budget, including offerings from CZ-USA, Springfield, Smith & Wesson and more.8 Great Red-Dot-Ready Pistols Sights

8 Great Red-Dot-Ready Pistols

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 01, 2020

A look at eight optics-ready pistols for just about any application or budget, including...

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit againstJudge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law 2nd Amendment

Judge Postpones Oral Arguments to Stop California Microstamping Law

Handguns Online Staff - May 07, 2014

According to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a lawsuit...

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the P17 is definitely an option for you.KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot Rimfire

KelTec P17 22LR Pistol – Feature Packed, Accurate & Fun to Shoot

Handguns Staff - August 14, 2020

If you're in the market for a 17-round, compact .22LR pistol that's feature packed, then the...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability.Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

See More Trending Articles

More Training

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil mitigation, and sight picture and trigger control.Improving Draw Speed and Target Transitions Training

Improving Draw Speed and Target Transitions

Josh Froelich - August 01, 2019

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil...

For many shooters, the hardest thing to master with a handgun is combining speed with accuracy. The Frank Garcia Dot Drill works on combining the two.Frank Garcia Dot Drill — Skills Drill Training

Frank Garcia Dot Drill — Skills Drill

J. Scott Rupp - September 23, 2020

For many shooters, the hardest thing to master with a handgun is combining speed with...

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters Training

Shooting a Handgun - Stance Matters

Eve Flanigan - June 14, 2018

Good stance capitalizes on posture and joints to minimize the effects of recoil.

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one.The 5x5x5 Drill Training

The 5x5x5 Drill

J. Scott Rupp - October 18, 2018

The best drills are the simplest, and it doesn't get any simpler than this one.

See More Training

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Handguns App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now