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2017: My Year in Competitive Shooting


I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at my performance in the various shooting disciplines in which I competed in 2017 – what worked, what didn’t, and what I intend to improve on for the 2018 season.  For the past 2 years, 3-Gun has been my primary shooting sport, and I’ve already written a 2017 retrospective article specific to 3-Gun since the regular 3-Gun Nation season pretty much wraps up at the end of August.  But besides 3-Gun, I also shoot USPSA (both Carry Optics and PCC divisions) as well as Steel Challenge (also in Carry Optics and PCC Optics divisions).  Additionally, a local indoor range called Sim-Trainer hosts an IPSC/USPSA-like league shoot on Tuesday nights that I shot after the 3-Gun/USPSA season ended.


I actually shot very little USPSA in 2017 – something I hope to change in 2018.  I joined USPSA in 2016 when they added the Carry Optics (CO) division, and shot my first match in that division in July of 2016.  Later in 2016 when I bought my SIG MPX, I shot my first USPSA match in the PCC division.  As compared to the dynamic stages found in 3-Gun, USPSA can be a bit more one-dimensional, with most stages shot in bays comprised almost entirely of paper targets.  Still, local club USPSA matches are a great way to get more stage planning experience and learn better footwork as well as target transitions.  So I tend to look at USPSA matches as good practice for 3-Gun.  I started the year shooting a local USPSA classifier match, only making “C” class in Carry Optics.  I then decided to shoot the USPSA Ohio State Championship Match – the “Buckeye Blast” at Briar Rabbit.  I was told it was a fun match, but I really didn’t particularly enjoy it – the one day format for about 12 stages which made for a very long and HOT day.  I would have much rather shot the match over 2 days.  Unfortunately, I performed poorly at the match (bottom third overall).

After the Buckeye Blast, I shot very little USPSA due to scheduling conflicts with other matches (mostly 3-Gun).  I made it to maybe 3 matches at my local range

I was extremely disappointed in my performance in the Buckeye Blast, and wanted more practice so in June I decided to commit to shooting a local Tuesday night Steel Challenge match, which was one of the best decsisions I would make in 2017. My first time coming out for the year, competing in pistol only I came in 4th place, but was the 3rd place pistol shooter (1st place went to a PCC shooter):

The next week (June 13th) I decided to join in the PCC fun and I shot in both piscol and PCC divisions. I was the top PCC shooter, and again came in 3rd place with pistol, taking 1st and 4th in the match:

You’ll note that we also ran a “spinner” stage to get some practice on one of the hardest targets you can shoot on in competitive shooting.

My placements in this match really drove me to practice hard with both PCC and pistol in dry fire. At the June 22nd match, I lost out the top spot in the PCC divsion to Phillip Iverson, one of the top 3-Gun shooters in the state of Ohio. I slipped to 5th among the pistol shooters that week, and 6th in the match.

Again, I upped my committment to dry fire practice the following week and trained with intensity. The training paid off at the June 27th Tuesday night Steel Challenge match, I would have my best finish:

I came in 1st among the PCC shooters, and 1st among the pistol shooters, going 1st and 2nd place respectively. It did wonders for my shooting self-esteem that had taken quite a beating earlier in the year.

After the July 4th holiday, the next Tuesday night Steel match would be on July 12th – it had a poor turn out, but I did get the opportunity to shoot against one of the best shooters in the state of Ohio. While Philip did beat me on pistol, I did manage a stage win on Stage 2:

The July 20th match had a better overall turnout, though unfortunately Philip did not make it. I repeated my performance from June 27th, and managed to again come in 1st place PCC and 1st place among pistol shooters (2nd overall):

Throughout the remainder of July and August, I maintained a top position every week at this Tuesday night Steel match, often going 1st and 2nd place (PCC and Open Pistol).  During this period I was dry firing an hour or more per day.

Given my strong performance and enjoyment of the format, I decided to seek legitimate/sanctioned Steel Challenge Shooting Association matches in which to compete.  While I did locate some SCSA clubs in my area, none were running sanctioned events and uploading classifiers.  I did find out that a club located a couple of hours South of me (Blue Grass Sportsmen’s League) was hosting the first ever Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship in November.

I shot a couple of classifier matches and got enough scores to get classified in both Carry Optics (C Class) and Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics (PCCO).

I was also able to shoot a local Steel Challenge event at the Greene County Fish & Game gun range in October.  I managed a 1st place finish out of the 25 local competitors:

I regret that I was unable to shoot this league match earlier in the year due to other conflicting shooting events – an oversight I will certainly correct in 2018 as this club will run official SCSA events with official classifiers begining next year.

In preparation for the Kentucky Steel Challenge Stage Championship match, I wanted to shoot competitively during the week in addition to any range practice or matches I shot on the weekend.  With the afore mentioned local range being closed due to their legal issues, I decided to “return to my roots” and shoot in a Tuesday night competitive shooting league at the local Sim-Trainer indoor range.  The league matches run in eight week cycles, with a winner in one of two different classes being awarded at the conclusion of eight weekly matches.  The best five of eight scores are considered – I missed the first three weeks of competition so I had to perform well for five consecutive weeks.  Fortunately, I was able to tie for 1st place with Jeff Pedro, owner of Sim-Trainer who is a retired Kettering Ohio Police Officer who did both Training and SWAT.

My first place (tied) win in the Sim-Trainer Master Class was a real highlight for my 2017 season.  When I decided I to take shooting seriously back in 2010, I took my CCW training class as well as several other training courses at Sim-Trainer, and later experienced my first competitive shooting at Sim-Trainer.  Being able to shoot there every Tuesday for the 5 weeks leading up to the Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship was also a big help for my training and preperation leading up to the match.

The 2017 competitive shooting season was quite long for me – per PractiScore, I shot 25 local, regional, and national level evens in 2017, begining in February and ending in November.  I also shot several mid-week matches that weren’t tracked in practiscore – at least 20.  I shot two National Level events (3GN Eastern Regional, Rockcastle Pro/AM 3-Gun Championship), three State level matches (Ohio State 3-Gun Championship, Ohio State USPSA Championship, and the Kentucky Steel Challenge State Championship). I went through about 15,000 rounds of 9mm, about 3,000 rounds of .223, and at least 1,500 rounds of birdshot.  I learned a great deal (I took 3 different training courses specific to competitive shooting) and met every single goal I set for myself for 2017.

Here’s looking forward to a fantastic 2018 competition season!

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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