We were honoured to host the first ever Schmeisser Steel Challenge here at Silverstone Shooting Centre and delighted to say the event and competition went perfectly. There are a variety of steel shooting competitions ranging from precision shooting to pure speed events and for the most part they tend to use semi auto firearms that reflect the speed nature of the competitions and as such in the UK we have tended to use .22 calibre guns as that is the maximum size we can have in semi auto form. So when Edgar Brothers, the distributors of the Schmeisser range of rifles called asking about us hosting a speed steel competition but using straight pull 9mm guns we were a little circumspect.

There were two issues, firstly a 9mm round has a higher risk factor for ricochet so we would need to design a target system and course of fire that minimised that and in our experience a straight pull style rifle really isn’t the best choice of firearm for a speed steel style competition as they are prone to jamming, especially if used by shooters not experienced in the action.

Edgar Brothers were convinced it wouldnt be an issue so we got to work putting together a competition that would be safe, fun to shoot, and perhaps open up some minds to steel shooting generally. However the other issue with speed steels is that once you’ve done it once or twice its actually a bit dull, the courses of fire dont change from one competition to another so it becomes an exercise in muscle memory and burning ammo, its no wonder they tend to be sponsored by ammo companies! However this was set as a one off day so repetition wasnt an issue.

The net result was 5 stages, each comprising 5 steel plates, mounted inside tyres that caught all the bullet splatter, all with sand backstops so no ricochet and with targets placed from 15m to 25m away from the shooter, each shooter got 5 goes and each stage with the best score to count. At the end of the day we decided to add a man v man shootout because they are such great fun and its rarely done in the UK (the last one was here in the Hawke Mini Rifle Championships a few years ago).

Edgar Brothers and Schmeisser pulled out all the stops on this, as well as only charging the bare minimum of £50 per shooter they laid on all the guns, all the ammo, a monster prize table and a hog roast, which, assuming the guns all worked, is a huge investment into the sport and (in our opinion) was a  risky way to show off a gun. Well, we were wrong. The Schmeissers didnt put a foot wrong all day, the few jams I witnessed were 100% due to shooters ‘short stroking’ the action where they dont pull back sharply enough or try and ‘help’ the action forward, not once did I see a failed gun, we were very very impressed, considering 30 odd shooters, 125 rounds per shooter, plus man v man thats over 5,000 rounds of 9mm shot in a day without issue.

At the end of the day there has to be a winner and it was Mike Harvey from Frome Pistol Club who took first visit to the prize table and got himself a lovely Falke optic for his efforts but Edgar Brothers did a blinder and everyone who attended got a trip to the table which was a nice touch. Here is a great video of the day which sums it all up

So, will we hold another one? Is there a potential new style of speed steels emerging? Well, we think so but are still deciding. Certainly the Schmeisser 9mm impressed, never seen a straight pull style gun have so few issues being shot by people with limited experience of the action but we cant help think that it would be even more fun with a semi auto style gun seeing as speed is the central concept.

However, there is still the issue of the repetitive nature of the shooting, so one idea we are mulling over is a competition where the courses of fire change from round to round and we stretch the courses of fire to wider and longer distances, so we could have a steel plate 10m away and another at 100m away, would certainly create a challenging competition for semi auto and straight pull style rifles alike.

For the moment we have to thank the folks at Edgar Brothers and Schmeisser for their efforts to put the event together, its a true demonstration of investment into our sport from one of the UK’s largest shooting companies so should be congratulated, thanks of course to our range crew and to the competitors who again showed that an individual sport such as shooting can be approached with a warm and supportive mentality so that everyone has fun, thank you.