Was it hot? Yes. Was it humid? Well, duh, of course it was—it was Kentucky, in the middle of August. Was it worth it? You bet. The new match record of 207 guns coming to compete at this year’s Steel Challenge speedfest is proof of that.
Gary McConnell finished 42nd in Rimfire Rifle Open division at the 2023 TACCOM Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship, held in Wilmore, Ky., August 11-12.
The 2023 TACCOM Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship took place at Blue Grass Sportmen’s League in Wilmore, Kentucky, August 11-12. Julie Hartley was at the helm as match director. Range Master Steve Wright, accompanied by his wife, Jan Power-Wright (Mrs. Indiana Hospitality), kept everything in check, and Tom Palmer took care of stats. Tom Mansfield, as Mr. Fixit, saw to it that each stage ran as smooth as silk, while Stan Collier and Traci Duncan on the people mover got everyone to the correct zone, shaving extra steps and providing a chance to relax and enjoy the ride. Lunch was superb, cooked on-site by Brady Barclay, Emma Daugherty and Alley Young.
Competitors representing 11 states traveled from as far away as Texas. Newbies to seasoned professionals enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones. In fact, three new Steel Challenge Shooting Association members made this their first steel competition.
One of my favorite new friends is Hunter Olsen—the boy who can fly. Not all stages are stand and deliver. Outer Limits requires competitors to move from one shooting position to another while on the clock. Most of us hurry with long strides and quick movement from the first box to the second. The camera caught 12-year-old Hunter in mid-air, flying to the next box.
My old friend Gary McConnell and his posse from East Tennessee planned their trip around dinner at Malones, a renowned local restaurant. “It was a great match and we all had fun. Plus, dinner was off the charts. We are already making plans to return next year,” Gary said.
Awards were held after the match Saturday. Adam Renno took the top honor in Rimfire Pistol Irons with a time of 67.21, beating his own first place winning time of 69.21 at this year’s World Speed Shooting Championship. Renno had his third consecutive first place win in Rimfire Pistol Optics at the Kentucky State Championship after winning in 2021, 2022 and 2023. This year, he also took first place in Carry Optics.
Lance Bratcher, Jr., had several stellar finishes as well. His first place Open and his first place Pistol-Caliber Carbine Optic wins were both repeats of his wins in those divisions in 2022. But it gets better—his first place wins in Rimfire Rifle Irons and Rimfire Rifle Optics were threepeats, as he won those divisions in 2021 and 2022 as well.
Randall Miller was once again won the High Overall Lady title, which was a repeat of her 2022 performance.
Robert Van Sickle had a threepeat with Pistol-Caliber Carbine Iron Sight wins in 2021, 2022 and 2023, and Joel Fox repeated his 2022 Limited win.
Other High Overall winners are Caleb Peterson-Junior, Brad Jeffers-Senior, Larry Duncan-Super Senior and Dennis Brumbaugh-Distinguished Senior.
There isn’t much that can be said about Steel Challenge stages—if you know you know. Forty white metal plates. Eight stages—always the same. No weak hand or unloaded starts. Nothing prone. No moving targets. The plates don’t even fall. Just hit the plate, anywhere on the plate. Five targets in each stage—shoot ‘em all as fast as you can. If you are good, I mean really good, you can shoot them all in less than a minute—for everyone else, two minutes or more. There are groups of 10 or 12 shooters, taking turns. By the time everyone shoots, you’ll spend three or four hours on the range and actually shoot for two minutes. Did you catch that? The match takes about four hours and your actually shooting time is around two minutes. But you’ll see old friends and make new ones. You’ll try to shoot fast—some will succeed. And at the Kentucky Steel Challenge Championship, not everyone will win, but most will keep coming back. And that sounds like a win to me.
See the full results of the 2023 Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship at the Practiscore website.
Article from the November/December 2023 issue of USPSA’s magazine.