This past weekend provided perfect weather for the East Coast Steel Challenge Championship shoot-out held at Ontelaunee Fish & Game Associations’ firearms ranges.
The four-day event in New Tripoli drew 310 shooters from 25 states with one coming as far as California. Shooters ranged in age from 7 to 70 and had pro’s like Smith & Wesson pro shooter and Hamburg resident Doug Koenig who was one of the competitors.
The purse of $13,000 was delved out to the top shooters over the timed eight stages of fire with such names as Accelerator, Pendulum, Roundabout, Smoke & Hope, Showdown, Outer Limits and Speed Option. There were also two Outlaw stages one of which was the Falling Plates where the shooter has to knock down the four, in-line steel plates in the fastest time possible.
Target distances varied up to 25 yards and shooters are timed with the quickest to hit all the plates of the eight stages is considered the top-gun per class. And because of the great numbers of shooters, competition was broken down into morning and afternoon sessions.
There are different categories of shooters depending on their firearms of choice such as those using revolvers, pistols and rifles. And with the younger set, there’s a junior class that this year featured several tweens plus 7-year old Venice Oliver from Georgia who said she’s been shooting, along with her father Tom Oliver, since she was five. She was an inspiration to adult shooters as she shot her Smith & Wesson .22LR pistol with red dot sight, extremely accurately. Of this young group was Bradley Koenig, seventh grader at Hamburg Elementary School and the son of pro shooter Doug Koenig. The elder Koenig offered his son shooting tips for the specific steel targets such as which ones to shoot first then swing to the second and so on.
As a pro shooter and 17 time Bianchi Cup Champ, Koenig was the only shooter who was noticeably stretching and practicing his draw prior to shooting the course. Evidently that’s what makes him a champion shooter over the years.
For those unfamiliar with steel plate shooting, the plates are exactly what their name implies. A round steel plate with a few few rectangular plates mixed in that get sprayed with white marking paint prior to each contestant shooting at them. Plate shots are seen and heard as the bullet puts a black mark on the target to show it has been hit and the sound of the bullet hitting the targets sound like someone banging a steel pan with a metal spoon.
In addition to the prize money, firearm manufacturers donate gear, accessories and promotional items to entrants so even the slowest shooters get to take home a prize of sorts. And the list includes major donors such as Colt, Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig, Cabela’s, Crimson Trace and many others.
To see the scores and winners of the Challenge go to email@example.com, and from there click on the organizations Facebook page and look for Practiscope Results where you can peruse the winners and their scores.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.