Why shoot steel? Because punching holes in paper is boring! There is nothing else like the satisfying ring of lead on steel. With steel targets you get the visual and sound feedback for every hit.
Steel targets are available in a wide variety of styles and shapes. Fixed or Static targets do not move when hit but will ring loudly. These type include IDPA/IPSC Torso targets, Cowboy Action shapes or basic circles and squares mounted to a static stand.
Reactive targets will move when hit. The movement provides additional feedback of the hit and makes shooting a little more interesting when you can see reaction. These type of targets include Dueling Trees, Gongs, Swingers, Hostage targets, Poppers and many more. Most reactive targets are auto-resetting. You do not need to leave the firing line to manually reset the target, so you have more time shooting!
Knock-over targets are reactive in that they fall over when hit. You definitely know you’ve hit it, but you have to walk down to pick it up again.
Challenging for Competition
While it’s fun to plink away at steel targets, the real challenge is in head to head competition. Here is where steel targets really shine. A great example is the Dueling Tree. This has 6 targets mounted to a common vertical post. The targets flip from side to side when hit. Setup with 3 on each side, two shooters try to flip the targets to the opponents side. At first it seems easy, but just as you’re about to clear your side, here come the targets back at you.
This is great training for target acquisition, trigger control, sight picture, and even magazine changes.
The most popular shooting competitions today use a wide variety of steel targets in the matches. A 3-Gun match may have many stages using different styles of steel targets. It is possible for an individual competitor to setup practice stages with just a few targets. Now you can practice with the same type of targets you will see in competition.
Who’s Shooting Steel?
Steel targets are great for anyone that likes to shoot. Individuals can get steel targets for their own enjoyment or to practice for matches. Families teach young shooters with targets designed specifically for rim fire 22, and then can grow into the center fire versions.
Clubs and Ranges use steel targets for organized matches or to provide their members with interesting shooting experiences.
Law Enforcement and Military train extensively with steel targets. From basic marksmanship to tactical drills, steel targets are preferred for training.
Steel Target Safety
There are just a few safety guidelines to remember when using steel targets. The most important aspect is to use the right steel! All high quality steel targets are made from AR500 hardened steel. This is steel that has been heat treated to 500 Brinnell hardness through the entire thickness.
AR500 steel is rated for handguns at 15 yards or more and for most rifles at 100 yards or more. The velocity at impact should be less than 3000 ft/sec at impact to prevent damage to the steel targets. Do not use steel core or armor piercing ammunition with steel targets.
When used within these recommended limits, AR500 steel targets will remain smooth and flat with very little surface damage. Regular steel is too soft to be used for target material. Regular steel will get craters and holes in the material and is dangerous to shoot at.
With AR500 hardened steel targets, at impact the bullet will splatter into many tiny pieces. This splatter can be controlled with smooth, flat target surfaces and will not result in richocet even with jacketed bullets. With regular steel the surface will not be flat and bullet splatter and richocet is uncontrolled.
Just remember, only buy AR500 steel targets and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and you will have years of fun and excitement shooting steel.