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  #1  
Old 07-30-2020, 06:58 PM
GrassRun GrassRun is offline
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Steel Targets - School Me

Never shot steel, but have started researching/reading. Interested in pistol set ups. Seems thereís plenty of options - gong, silhouette; t-post, 2x4, and saw horse hangers; Multiple vendors.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:33 PM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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Shooting steel is a lot of fun and you’ll like it.

Material: Just make sure whatever you get is AR 500 steel. 3/8” AR500 will handle any pistol caliber for the most part and fairly heavy pounding from many rifle rounds. Silhouettes, plates, there’s all sorts of gadgetry depending on how much you want to spend.

Distance: always be at least 10 yards or more when shooting steel.

Stands: Theres many stand set ups to choose from. Ive used chain hangers, Shepard hooks, and am currently using a ground steel stand with a 2x4 vertical and plate hanger.
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:15 PM
Tenring1911 Tenring1911 is online now
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Good fun shooting steel, but splatter is real be aware of angles. My steel targets are tipped down a little (towards the shooter), so the splatter is directed to the ground. Freshen up with paint as desired and you can see impact points. Go for it you wont regret it, AR500 is not cheap though and I would not shoot anything but.
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  #4  
Old 07-30-2020, 08:27 PM
Cracked Brass Cracked Brass is offline
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Don't get suckered into buying the NewBold targets (unless your deaf.) They are cheap and safer than steel targets, but no sound when a bullet hits them. I found them to be very boring. The ding when the bullet hits the steel target makes all the difference.

Just my 3 cents.

Last edited by Cracked Brass; 07-30-2020 at 08:35 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:33 PM
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dsk dsk is offline
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The possibilities are endless regarding setups. Try and be imaginative. Also think about where you're going to be placing these targets and make it so they're relatively easy to take to the range, set up and take back down again. Building sawhorses out of 2x4s is a good start, as you can hang your targets off of those. They're also cheap to replace when you ultimately shoot them to pieces. Dueling trees are fun but they are often expensive.

You don't need AR500 steel for handgun rounds as long as you're not firing magnums, but definitely don't shoot mild steel with a rifle unless you want to put holes right through them. Angle the targets slightly so that any splashback or ricochet doesn't come straight back at you. As has been said position the targets at least 10 yards away.

Among my favorite steel targets are inexpensive spinners. I have a set for my .22 rimfire and another one for my cap n' ball revolvers. Having targets that react to being hit is more fun than simply hearing a loud "ping" noise when you hit them.

And no matter what you shoot... eventually they'll get beaten up badly enough that they'll have to be replaced.
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Old 07-30-2020, 08:50 PM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plantar5 View Post
Shooting steel is a lot of fun and youíll like it.

.
Distance: always be at least 10 yards or more when shooting steel.

.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dsk View Post
. Angle the targets slightly so that any splashback or ricochet doesn't come straight back at you. As has been said position the targets at least 10 yards away.

.And no matter what you shoot... eventually they'll get beaten up badly enough that they'll have to be replaced.
I thought the 10 yard distance was an accepted standard but it was challenged in another thread a few days ago. It was stated that the USPSA rules require 23 feet.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:02 PM
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tgt_usa tgt_usa is offline
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A safety issue to consider

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrassRun View Post
Never shot steel, but have started researching/reading. Interested in pistol set ups. Seems there’s plenty of options - gong, silhouette; t-post, 2x4, and saw horse hangers; Multiple vendors.

Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences.
*Design* of a steel target has a lot to do with safety as well. When our match director needed some time away, the stand-in director didn't seem to think multi-point attachment of plates was important:


Results described in the 2nd half of this post:
--
https://forums.1911forum.com/showthr...ot#post9274673


The whole thread might be worth a read as there are other safety considerations mentioned:
--
https://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?p=9274673
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:12 PM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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I thought the 10 yard distance was an accepted standard but it was challenged in another thread a few days ago. It was stated that the USPSA rules require 23 feet.
Could be. Iím not familiar with uspsa rules but have always used 10 yard minimum give or take just to be safe. (I just do 10 paces whatever that works out to be)

Also, never tighten the plate or silhouette target against whatever hanger its on to keep it reactive even if angled down which decreases comeback splatters.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:29 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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And they will STILL throw spatter at you. Wear your glasses ALL the time, and bring bandaids.
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Old 07-30-2020, 10:01 PM
flechero flechero is offline
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Hangfast is a sponsor here and a heck of a good product- and cost less than most. I have about a dozen targets and hangers from them and they are much better than the other brands I have tried. Simple practical and affordable. https://hangfasttargets.com/

Just knock in a couple T posts on your range and you are set for a long time.

Edited to add:
If you angle the downward you will get little to no splatter. The more angle to less of a chance. A target 90 degrees to the shooter will almost shoot back The hangfast targets are designed to hang on their bracket with a decent downward angle
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  #11  
Old 07-30-2020, 10:03 PM
Shark1007 Shark1007 is online now
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I go 15 paces with my steel targets and I donít recall being hit with splatter.
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2020, 10:46 PM
Tenring1911 Tenring1911 is online now
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Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
And they will STILL throw spatter at you. Wear your glasses ALL the time, and bring bandaids.
Words of wisdom right there.


I have had my AR500 steel targets for over 15 years now and they get blasted, the way they look now my kids will inherit them.

.
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  #13  
Old 07-30-2020, 10:52 PM
Benchrest1 Benchrest1 is offline
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The club I belong to sets the steel at 18-20 yards. Never closer than 15. This is for handguns only and no mag loads on steel. Eyes and ears always.
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Old 07-31-2020, 01:09 AM
L84CABO L84CABO is offline
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You will kick yourself for not buying steel targets sooner. They're much more fun than paper. And quality steel targets, properly cared for will last you a good long time. Maybe forever but it depends how much you shoot.

Class is in session...

Not all steel is the same. Stick with a quality MFG, known for using quality steel.

Heat in the production process matters. The more heat, the weaker the steel gets, generally speaking. Ask how they cut their steel. I believe laser cutting introduces the least amount of heat but laser cutters aren't cheap.

Welding brackets to the target can weaken the target (more heat). But using bolts can create an imperfect target face that may send spalling in the wrong direction. And bolt heads can become damaged and need replacing with repeated hits. It's all a tradeoff.

Targets that are angled downward to help direct the spalling downward are usually safer

Ideally you want a target that has some give to it to help absorb the impact, which increases the life of the target and improves the safety. This could a free hanging target on a chain (for example), or they could use a spring in the hanging system, or they may design some "give" into the hanger itself. The point is that "give" is better than having a totally rigid/immovable target. And "give" will usually help the target "ring" better.

Speed is what kills a steel target, not the size of the round. For this reason .223/5.56 is one of the hardest rounds on steel targets. AR500 steel is rated at 3000 fps. And many .223/5.56 rounds leave the barrel at 3200 fps. This means the target has to be far enough away so the round drops below 3000 fps before it hits. And the slower the round is going the better for the steel. This is the reason you want to go with a high quality MFG...and especially if you're intending on shooting it with .223/5.56 in the 50-100 yard range. Note, however, that most target makers will recommend not shooting their targets with rifles at less than 100 yards. You may get some pitting if you do. So if you're intending to do this, I would fire one round at the target and then inspect it to see how it holds up. A heavily angled target can help too if you're intending to shoot it with rifles under 100 yards. Some MFG's make a 45 degree angled target specifically for this use.

A minimum of 3/8ths thickness is generally recommended for most rifles. .50 cal and the big stuff needs 1/2" steel

Pay attention to the hanging system and how the target packs down for travel. Some designs are better than others...unless you're just going to leave it setup at a range. Then it doesn't matter so much.

Targets that can be turned around may be a worthwhile feature. A target may begin to warp some with heavy use. If the target can be turned around, this can help mitigate the warpage.

It goes without saying there is an inherent risk to shooting steel. EVERYONE in the vicinity should be wearing quality eye pro...not just the shooters but spectators too.

Last edited by L84CABO; 07-31-2020 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 07-31-2020, 06:00 AM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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For the sake of completeness and dependent on one’s budget, Wilson combat came out with their scoreable steel target system. It’s not cheap, but I’ve probably spent totally as much with different setups combined. I haven’t got this yet, but know some forum members have it so maybe they’ll chime in. It looks great, but is a bit pricey especially if youre just getting going.

https://shopwilsoncombat.com/Miscell.../products/276/

I transport my steel to the range, so portability counts. Ive gotten away from some methods because it becomes a PIA. If youre doing a backyard’ setup, its not that important.

Here’s some ‘cons’ from what I’ve experienced:

T posts get shot up and bent and prevent assembly or disassembly. So you need a hammer, channel locks hammer the thing in the ground, and to bend back the bent T post to remove the hanger, which is specific for T posts.


The wooden saw horse with chains is ok but is bulky to carry around and setup. To me its more of a permanent type of set up vs being very portable.

Solid Steel shepherd hooks (plant hangers) are fast, portable and easy but will get shot up eventualy requiring repair or replacement. Plates hanging from chain also let the plates move a lot, so theyre not great for fast follow up shots. I use several of these across the range and at different distances. (6”-8” round pates)

The flat ground stand has been working the best for me lately. No tools, Fast setup , portable And when the vertical 2x4 eventually gets shot up, its a quick replace.
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Old 07-31-2020, 06:45 AM
GrassRun GrassRun is offline
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Thanks so much for the replies folks! Great information and definitely helps me on my steel target journey.
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Old 07-31-2020, 07:29 AM
M-Peltier M-Peltier is offline
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A few years back I wanted to make a bunch of targets for my home range as I didn't want to spend thousands on pre made steel targets. My use was for non-magnum handguns and 22LR, so I decided on a sheet of 1/4" medium hard steel that my local fab shop recommended for a good compromise between workability and toughness against bullets. For about $800.00 He cut the whole sheet for me into as many 6"x6", 4"x4" and 2"x2" squares as he could nest into the sheet. I told him how many of each I had hoped for based on how I was going to use each piece. He got pretty close and all told I was able to make about a hundred targets of varying designs. I welded the 2x2 squares to most of the 6x6 for falling targets with stands that were simply a piece of threaded rod with a 2x2 welded to it. I also welded some 4x4 and 2x2 together to make sort of a mini IPSC falling target, and I welded I think 10 of the 6x6's together for a full sized steel IPSC target, that is welded to a piece of rebar and is secured semi permanently on my range.

My fab shop used a water-jet for all cutting he claimed it was the coolest way to cut a sheet of pre hardened steel.

After many years and thousands of rounds all of it has held up perfectly. The only target that shows any issues is the full size IPSC. It has cupped a bit from repeated hits and I should rework it by turning it around to let it cup the other direction. The welds are probably responsible as I'm sure they softened the area a little although the welds are not damaged from taking direct hits. The only real damage to it is from a full power shotgun slug my son shot at it many years ago that hit right on the corner of the neck. Put a big dent there. Teenagers sometimes don't listen. Lol
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Last edited by M-Peltier; 07-31-2020 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:50 AM
borderboss1 borderboss1 is offline
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I thought the 10 yard distance was an accepted standard but it was challenged in another thread a few days ago. It was stated that the USPSA rules require 23 feet.
When I shot USPSA 20-something years ago, the minimum distance was always 10 yards. The clubs I shot at would use that standard. Even then, it was common to get hit with splatter.

To the OP, one thing to keep in mind that a target that gets any sort of cratering spots needs to be replaced immediately. If a shot hits that crater edge, there's no telling where that ricochet is going to go.

It's pretty odd shooting steel in the bright sunlight and seeing flattened copper disks flying around.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:10 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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I think at one time the minimum range was 10 meters, nearly 11 yards.

Back then there was not the selection of hard steel targets carefully mounted; we had a set of Pepper Poppers from the scrap yard. On the other hand we had a pair of plates so hard nothing would mark them and so heavy nothing but a shotgun would knock them down.

I donated a pair of real certified armor plate gongs to the range. They didn't last long. When you shoot a quarter inch pistol target with a rifle or walk down and shoot a rifle target from about 50 feet, it doesn't matter much what it is made out of, it will crater or penetrate depending on caliber. Vandalism by club members with range keys.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:35 AM
flechero flechero is offline
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Hereís some Ďconsí from what Iíve experienced:

T posts get shot up and bent and prevent assembly or disassembly. So you need a hammer, channel locks hammer the thing in the ground, and to bend back the bent T post to remove the hanger, which is specific for T posts.
Really? I haven't bent any, but I don't use the portable stand brackets, mine are all in the ground and hold hangfast brackets.

What are you shooting them with? (must be rifles?) I still have the first 3 t posts in the range that I bought years ago when I bought my first set of hangfast brackets... all 3 still there, been shot 100's of time with 9, 38Super and 45acp... other than striping off the thin edges, the posts remain and still function. Maybe that's what you mean... the thin edges can peel back, requiring a pair of channel locks to bend them back into line to remove a lower target.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:56 AM
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I’ve had very good luck with steel from shootingtargets7. I have three silhouettes and plates from them. A month or two ago I did get the scoreable silhouette and stand from Wilson. The silhouette is held at a greater angle and I have not experienced any splash back with it. My grandsons even shot it with their BB gun last week. The Wilson target is expensive but is the best one I have.

I’ve been shooting steel since the 80’s and have certainly had to pull out “pieces” from my arms and face. Especially in the earlier days shooting almost 90 degree steel and pretty close with .223 during training. The angle of the steel really is important. Steel that has developed craters or holes with throw stuff back at you.

Wish I had my own place where I could permanently set up some steel but I never will. I actually do more shooting/training on my target stands with IDPA targets but the steel is nice, also. Shot my Wilson target with two IDPA targets yesterday.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:46 AM
Tenring1911 Tenring1911 is online now
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Originally Posted by L84CABO View Post

Targets that can be turned around may be a worthwhile feature. A target may begin to warp some with heavy use. If the target can be turned around, this can help mitigate the warpage.

EVERYONE in the vicinity should be wearing quality eye pro...not just the shooters but spectators too.
Being able to turn the targets is a great feature and really should be standard, when mine start to get a little warped I just turn them around.

"Everyone" sized for emphases, I have caught splatter 3 or 4 stages away, stage designers sometimes...well don't get me started.

.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:50 AM
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I thought the 10 yard distance was an accepted standard but it was challenged in another thread a few days ago. It was stated that the USPSA rules require 23 feet.
Several years ago somebody at the local range had a steel plate at 7 yards, and a piece of the bullet came back and smacked my flip phone that was clipped to my belt, breaking it. After that the range required steel to be placed at least 10 yards away.

Ricochets and splash-back are always a hazard when shooting. If you're not firing at steel a large rock hidden in the ground can cause the same thing. Never shoot at any surface unless it's far enough away to lessen the danger of pinging something back at you.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:31 AM
M-Peltier M-Peltier is offline
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Since we're talking steel and safety, I would like to mention condition of the steel as well. I have seen some very poorly maintained steel over the years, but non so bad as a Florida Sunshine Games 3-gun tournament I was at a few years back. If you shoot certain steels with some high power rounds it can leave serious pock marks and craters. These can be very very dangerous. On one particular stage a shooter had a bullet ricochet very much in tact and hit him in the forearm and travel up his forearm. He was bleeding so severely he had to be taken to the hospital for treatment. The police were called by the responding emergency personal and closed the match down for a few hours as they investigated. The offending piece of steel was replaced and we resumed. At the close of the games when reviewing scores I got to examine the plate, and It had such a deep large very obvious crater, I was surprised the stage crew set it up in the first place. From what I understand the injured competitor made a full recovery with a heck of a story and scar to go with it.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:40 AM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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Really? I haven't bent any, but I don't use the portable stand brackets, mine are all in the ground and hold hangfast brackets.

What are you shooting them with? (must be rifles?) I still have the first 3 t posts in the range that I bought years ago when I bought my first set of hangfast brackets... all 3 still there, been shot 100's of time with 9, 38Super and 45acp... other than striping off the thin edges, the posts remain and still function. Maybe that's what you mean... the thin edges can peel back, requiring a pair of channel locks to bend them back into line to remove a lower target.
I do mean the thin portion (edges). The problem comes when i let other people at the range shoot my steel...I tend to hit the plates...

For me, the tops of the posts get deformed from hammering them into the ground far enough to support the plates/silhouettes making it harder to disassemble. Like I said, for me, Iíve found that ground stands with a vertical edge 2x4 are faster and easier.
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