Steel targets have become widespread target practice, but some safety rules need to be followed. These guidelines help to avoid ricochet accidents, which can be dangerous. Using the right ammo and staying safe from your steel target can prevent ricochet accidents. In addition, angling your targets when shooting helps dissipate energy and prolongs the life of the steel.
Steel targets are safe to shoot if you follow safety rules and train properly. Whether shooting for fun or a competition, you must follow the safety guidelines to avoid injury and damage to the target. First, choose a quality steel target made of AR500 targets. These are heat-treated and hardened to a specific hardness rating, which helps absorb the force of higher velocity rounds. Second, use the correct ammunition on your target. The soft point, hollow point, and other types of bullets can fragment on impact, resulting in ricochets that could cause severe injuries to the shooter. Also, never shoot Armor Piercing (AP), green tip, or steel core ammo at any steel plate. These ammo types can damage steel targets and increase the chance of ricochets and shrapnel.
Caliber and Bullet Type
Steel targets are an excellent training tool that can improve your shooting skill and make it fun. They provide instant acoustic feedback when your rifle or handgun hits the target and are also great for visually confirming hits by seeing the bullet pulverized, leaving a mark on the paint, moving/knocking down the target, etc. The type of caliber and bullet used at a steel target can impact how safe it is. Generally speaking, faster rounds punch through a steel target much faster than slower ones. Using frangible bullets with hardened steel targets reduces the risk of ricochets because the metal particles are pulverized in the impact. Traditional full metal jacket (FMJ) shots can be shot safely at steel targets, but they pose a greater risk of injury.
While steel targets are an excellent training tool, they should not be shot at too close of a distance. It is because the target may not absorb the impact of a bullet fully and can cause ricochets. A minimum of 25 yards is recommended when using 1/4 inch thick steel targets and a minimum of 100 yards for 3/8 – 1/2 inch thick targets. It is to ensure the target’s safety and prolong its life. The angle of the target is also a factor in reducing ricochets. Angling the mark in vertical and horizontal directions allows a ricochet to strike away from the shooter, preventing injury.
Angle of Engagement
Many factors can determine how many hits you’ll get for a steel target. Knowing what kind of ammunition you are using and your distance from the target is essential. You should also be aware of the dangers associated with ricocheting rounds. One of the best ways to avoid this is to hang your target in the correct position with the appropriate angle. The most common technique is to suspend your target from a beam or other suitable support structure. The bungee cord should be large enough to allow you to swing the target back and forth without causing any damage. It would be best to consider a metal or wood stand to hold the mark up and prevent it from moving around.
The best way to hang steel targets is by using a stable mounting bracket and bolts. These are inexpensive and ensure your target is securely fastened to a horizontal or vertical post.
The angling of your target is also essential to safety. Fixed or swinging targets should be angled downward to push the bullet splatter into the ground. Gongs and reactive targets can be hung straight down. Several hanging options are available to hang your steel targets, including chains and straps. Chains give your targets a small degree of freedom, while straps provide a firm hold and can absorb stray shots without skipping a beat.