Shooting steel targets can be the safest and most enjoyable way to engage in target practice. Steel targets provide an audible ring once they’ve been struck that gives you the immediate and satisfying knowledge that your goal has been achieved. But, shooting steel targets is not as easy as grabbing scrap steel and setting it up on your firing range. It’s important to understand how your ammunition will react to the targets being used. Softer steel will inevitably prematurely buckle if you are using higher caliber rounds. That’s why we only use AR100 steel for our rimfire targets and AR500 for all of our targets rated for higher calibers. This ensures that bullet fragments will not penetrate our targets, which allows for increased control over where ricochets are directed. We’ve put together the most important tips for shooting steel targets in an effort to help keep our fans safe while on the range.
- Proper Target Angle – Always angle steel target stands slightly forward to ensure all bullet fragments are directed into the ground. When using AR500 steel for your targets, the bullet will fragment upon impact. The forward angle will not stop bullet fragmentation, but will make sure that the fragments strike the ground and do not cause serious injury. A 20 Degree angle is considered by most to be the proper angle for shooting steel targets.
- Maintain Safe Distance – When shooting AR500 steel targets, it’s important to maintain a distance of at least 12 yards for all pistols and a minimum of 100 yards for rifles. Even with your targets angled slightly forward, ricochets will be an issue. Maintaining a safe distance will ensure that even with a dangerous ricochet, the chance of an injury is greatly reduced. If you are using a less durable grade of steel, a much greater distance will need to be maintained due to the unreliable nature of weaker grades of steel.
- Only Shoot Real Targets – We do not recommend shooting scrap metals and other objects, especially when affordable steel targets are so readily available on our website! Shooting soft steel targets and other metals will send uncontrollable fragments of ammunition and metal in every direction no matter how safely targets are set up. While your local welder may offer to cut metal in the shape of a standard target, they may not understand the changes multiple impacts will have on a particular type of metal. Even at long distances, scrap metal “targets” can produce ricochets that can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
- Keep Target Stands Relaxed – Steel target stands should be set up to be a bit loose, which will allow for the absorption of the rounds in order to reduce ricochets and the need for constant resetting. AR500 steel targets are able to fragment bullets upon impact, which will aid in keeping dangerous ricochets to a minimum. The target should also be surrounded by sand or soft objects that can safely absorb missed shots and ricochets.
Following these tips is sure to help you get started safely setting up and shooting steel targets. What are your favorite tips for shooting steel targets? Share your thoughts below!