Here’s a simple overview of how to shoot the Smoke & Hope (SC-103) in USPSA’s Steel Challenge.

First off, if you’re not familiar with Steel Challenges you should check consider trying it out. These are local matches across the U.S. that use a standardized setup of steel plates and allow you to track your performance within your division/class.

Out of the standard 6 to 8 USPSA Steel Challenge stages, everyone’s favorite is called “Smoke & Hope”. This stage includes larger 18″ steel plates, allowing you to shoot a little faster than the other stages.


Smoke & Hope (SC-103) Stage Overview

The simple run down is, each stage contains 5 steel plates, and one of them is the “stop-plate”. You must shoot each of the plates and shoot the stop-plate as the 5th (last one). You can choose the order in which you shoot the other 4. On this Smoke & Hope stage, the common route is left to right then hitting the stop-plate located in the center to end the time.


In this match I ran a Smith and Wesson “Victory” .22 with ALL the TANDEMKROSS upgrades. This pistol fits into the division of RFPO which is Rimfire Pistol Optics. I went with an 8 MOA C-more optic and a Volquartsen barrel. About a dozen other folks have run this pistol and every one of them has said they’ve loved it.

Many ranges throughout the U.S. will use a website called where you can search and register for upcoming matches. Otherwise just run a google search for Steel Challenge in your local area and check

So get out there and find a match!


By AJ Saulls

Aj is a veteran and COO of Meridian Systematics, a Virginia based Defense Analytics firm. He regularly supports America’s finest warfighters at home and abroad.. When he’s not deployed, Aj is engulfed in Northern Virginia shooting sports as well as being an avid fly angler. Even though he’s made his living in data analytics, he’s a firm believer that we need to be disconnected and outdoors. Aj is a writer and supports Spotter Up as a knowledge platform for us to become better at what we love.

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