The first ever Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship was held at Brazosland Pistoleros Practical Shooting Club in Navasota, TX. There were 271 total guns that completed the 8-stage match, with a high number of junior and youth shooters which held 61 of the completed slots. I was able to ask the match director of Area 4, Cory Kay (Klemashevich), some questions about his personal experience with competitive shooting and what the process of running Area 4 was like for him.
Emily: When did you start competitive shooting and what is your favorite discipline?
Cory: I started competitive shooting in 2014 at a USPSA match. One of my friends in graduate school and I had been target shooting for a while and wanted to try something more exciting. We borrowed his dad’s Glock 17 since we only had 22’s, shotguns, and a revolver between us. Both of us enjoyed it, but I was addicted. I knew immediately I had found my lifetime sport. I shoot USPSA, Steel Challenge, Multi-gun, various other similar action shooting matches, Precision Rifles in both Centerfire and Rimfire matches. USPSA is by far my favorite and where I will be focusing the majority of my energy until the end of October. Watch out next April though, I’ll have plenty of time to prepare for WSSC 2022!
Emily: When did you first get the idea of being the Match Director of Area 4?
Cory: Around March I spoke to a few friends, got some commitments, and decided we could pull it off. I think around the same time I snuck into WSSC both to get an idea of a high level SCSA match and to shoot the match for fun.
The Brazosland Pistoleros club actually grew from buying a humble 20 targets second hand to hosting Area 4 in 2 years. That feat is entirely due to Jason Wilson and Josh Rizzo, two of the RO’s at Area 4 and our club SCSA Match Directors. Without those guys growing our club we would not have had the staff to run the match.
Emily: How does it feel to know that not only did you run the first-ever Area 4 Steel Challenge match, but that you ran it successfully with many satisfied competitors?
Cory: We were very happy to see so many competitors enjoying themselves over the weekend. Really the most satisfying part of the match was seeing the Youth participation as high as it was. We worked with Tom Davis at SSSF to promote and encourage junior shooters to try SCSA as both more practice and a continuation of their training beyond scholastic shooting. The 2021 Area 4 took 4 months to plan. Building the knowledge base of how to plan a good match took 4 years of being a match director and a competitor. I have shot amazing National events and I have shot very poor National events. I have been involved in hosting some of the highest-level Nationals Championships in the country in various disciplines. Everything I’ve seen boils down to 1 thing. Build the match of your dreams and people will have a great time. Once the first shots go down range, the machine is in motion and you’re just along for the ride. You might make a few steering corrections along the way but for the most part everything is done already. Follow the plan, trust your staff, delegate but don’t micromanage.
As an aside, this was only the first Area 4 match in a long time. Actually, one of the previous champions, Uncle Roy Stedman, not only came out to defend his title (he was soundly defeated), he brought his trophy. Incidentally the trophy will no longer be able to register as a junior next year.
Emily: What are your general thoughts on how the match went?
Cory: Overall, the match went well. Critically, I’d give this match an A-. Over the weekend we heard many compliments but more importantly, we solicited critical feedback. Our club member RO’s were instructed to ask what shooters two feedback questions. What would you change? What would you like to see added next year? Personally, I would absolutely have travelled to shoot this match.
Most of all I would like to thank Matt Hawes (Axl Advanced) who worked as my Co-Match Director as well as all the awesome match staff. This match wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our RO’s:
Larry Thomas and Preston Sidwell – Accelerator – Ben Stoeger Pro Shop
Jonathan Foo, William Conlan and helpers Ashlynne and Jennifer Thomas – Smoke and Hope – MGM Targets
Josh Rizzo, Jason Wilson and Ray Fishel – Speed Option – Hodgdon
Jason Armstrong and Thomas Rodriguez – Pendulum – JP Rifles
Kenzie Fitzpatrick and Sean Jennings – Outer Limits – Hunters HD
Danny Zlotnik and John Bacon – Roundabout – CZ USA
Patrick Hennessey and Jason Demel – 5 to Go – Tandemkross
Dennis Webb and Michael Fink – Showdown – Surefire
Youth Clinic Instructors:
Karl Rehn – KR Training
Travis Gibson – MGM Targets
Match Monkies (In Training):
Video Guy and Home Depot Rep: Tom Davis
Emily: Can you tell us about any info on what to expect at next year’s match? Match dates, plans, new expectations?
Cory: If you see the match video and share it, you will know the date. I’m sure you will make an appearance or two.
We took several pages of notes in our debrief but the most important thing I can tell you is we will be moving the match to early spring. We will definitely be adding to the event.
Emily: Have you thought of directing the Texas State Steel Challenge match at Brazosland?
Cory: Not really. I’m happy with hosting Area 4 for a while though.
By the end of 2021 I will have been involved in hosting 5 National level events including Area 4 and the PRS Rimfire Finale. My typical monthly match schedule involves shooting between 6 and 12 USPSA, PRS, PRS Rimfire, and Steel Challenge matches, most of which I am involved in match admin in some capacity.
Emily: What advice can you offer to those who haven’t been to a tier 2 or above match?
Cory: Travelling to matches gives you a different perspective in USPSA, Multigun and Precision Rifle. Steel Challenge stages are more or less all the same, but the events do vary significantly as far as I can tell. As a USPSA shooter, attending different matches will test skills other than what you are used to and expose deficiencies in your training. Every match has a different style, a different feel and set of skills being tested.
Emily: How did the junior training camps at Area 4 go? Who all held the classes? Would you consider them to be successful learning opportunities, and do you plan on holding more next year?
Cory: We heard very positive feedback from the Youth Clinics. I was quite pleased with both attendance and the feedback. These will definitely return in 2022 and both instructors have indicated they would like to return. I’ll do a bit more promotion on the instructor’s teaching history for next year. I would definitely like to increase the number of Youth Clinics to at least 4 although we have space in the schedule for up to 6 using the half day format.
Karl Rehn runs KR Training which is the oldest and largest firearm training school in Central Texas. Karl is an extremely accomplished shooter and instructor. He has also been coaching me off and on for about 5 years.
Travis Gibson of MGM Targets and the MGM Junior Camp might be the most experienced youth instructor for championship level shooting in the US. He is an accomplished Multigun, USPSA and Precision Rifle shooter as well.
Thank you to Cory for taking the time to do this with me, and to everyone who was a part of creating this match. The 2022 Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship will be held from April 1st to April 3rd, and we hope to see you there!