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The Spruce Grove Gun Club was home to several hours of entertaining action on Sunday, June 24th, as the Wild Rose Action Shooters held its first Steel Challenge of the year. Not only was there were over 80 entries crammed into a six hour window of shooting on the range, but to make things even more difficult, it started pouring rain halfway through the match! Of course, that did not deter the eager shooters who had signed up for the competition, as combined, they shot over 16,000 rounds throughout the memorable day.

If you’re not familiar with the Steel Challenge, it’s a competition that involves shooting at an array of five steel plates, one of which is the stop plate and has to be hit last. Each stage of the competition is shot five times and the shooter’s slowest time is thrown out. The exception, however, is “outer limits”, where you shoot four strings and count your best three. Outer limits is also the only stage where the shooter moves during the string, making it one of the more dynamic and challenging stages of the competition.

It was no surprise to anyone in attendance Sunday that Ken Kupsch had the lowest time in the match. Before the match even started Ken noted “ there is nobody here that shoots enough steel right now to really put in good scores, but of course, that can change quickly.”

“I’ve shot steel since I was a kid and probably shot about 15 world championship matches,” the veteran shooter added. “What’s funny is, nobody thinks I can shoot a gun without optics because I seldom shoot those guns, but in Steel Challenge, I usually shoot several stages better with a standard gun than open.”

In shooting competitions, the term ‘standard’ typically refers to a gun that is not equipped with a scope or compensator, while ‘open’ indicates that competitors can use any kind of gun, modified with a scope or not, during the stage.


Shooter Jeff Cheng at his first Steel Challenge

Sunday’s event marked the Steel Challenge debut of new shooter Jeff Cheng, who placed a very respectable 4th in his first run at the challenging event.

“I thought it was fantastic to shoot, challenging, but so rewarding when you get that nice “ting”,” said Jeff, who just got his possession and acquisition license (PAL) in November and shot his first IPSC match in March. “The instant gratification of it is both a source of frustration and exhilaration, since the very nice rhythm of “bang – ting!” is sometimes interrupted by the lack of the latter sound…”

“I think Steel Challenge is one of the premier shooting events, well suited for experienced and novice shooters alike,” Jeff added. “The skills that it develops for experienced shooters are beneficial in any other practical shooting sports, and the instant feedback makes the event a great way to get novices hooked on the shooting sports!”

In the last couple of decades, Steel Challenge has continued to grow in scope and popularity to become one of North America’s most popular shooting events.

“Being a newer shooter myself, it was awesome watching both the masters like Ken shoot his blazing runs, as well as watching the novices improve markedly across progressive strings,” said Jeff. “It is definitely something that I will be doing much more of, and will be bringing my friends out to.”


King of the Cage Canadian Bantamweight Champion Josh Machan shoots his first Steel Challenge

Sunday’s event also featured two new competitors from another challenging and exciting sport, mixed-martial-arts. First time shooter and King of the Cage Canadian Bantamweight Champion Josh Machan beat his older brother and fellow newcomer Ryan, who is also an accomplished MMA fighter.

“I had a great time competing at the Steel Challenge,” said Josh, who has been fighting professionally since 2006. “I am hooked now!”

“What I liked the most about the matches was the challenge,” Josh noted. “You compete to beat your own time but you’re always trying to be faster than everyone else in your group. I was a little nervous and not really sure what to expect. As soon as we arrived everyone was very friendly and helpful. I was surprised to see the diversity of the people competing; there was everyone from teenage girls to the elderly.”

Match winners from the Steel Challenge included Ken Kupsch in both open and standard, Travis LaFayette in production, Josh Silverthorne in rimfire open, and Marek Razniak for rimfire iron.

Other winners from Sunday included Lindsay Greene, who won the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) stock match, and Massino Novati, who was victorious in the IDPA enhanced competition. Flora Kupsch was the top lady of the day.

Full stats for the June 24thmatch will be available at the Wild Rose Action Shooters website ( shortly.


Travis LaFayette (left) and Ken Kupsch (right) present Blaine Bertsch with a custom AR-15 rifle from the Wild West Shooting Centre

The winner of the awe inspiring, custom AR-15 rifle from Edmonton’s Wild West Shooting Center was a very happy Blaine Bertsch.

“Thanks to Ken and everyone at Wild West for their generosity and especially their support of action shooting in Alberta,” Blaine said. “It was an unbelievable feeling to win an ultra-cool AR-15 at the latest WRAS match! I was so surprised that my name was drawn that it took a few seconds to register. I don’t think I’ve won a draw in my life but I’m glad I waited for this one!”

“I can’t wait to get my new rig out to the range and get some rounds through it. I’m looking forward to a great summer of shooting and I can’t wait for the 3-Gun Provincials in August. Thanks again Wild West and WRAS for creating such a great series of matches for Alberta!”

Upcoming matches in Alberta include the ISPC Provincials from June 30th through July 1st, at Sibbald Flats near Calgary, and on Saturday, July 7th, there will be another Wild Rose 3 Gun match at the Spruce Grove Gun Club.


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