Many marksmen prefer steel shooting targets to traditional paper targets as the use of a steel target gives instant feedback. However, due to the hardness of steel there is a greater danger of ricochet than with the typical B27 target. With steel targets, bullet fragments spread out after impact in a potentially dangerous splatter pattern. If the proper precautions are taken, shooting with steel targets can be a safe and fun experience.
The most important way to ensure safety while using steel shooting targets is positioning the target properly. Targets should never be angled straight ahead, but should be pointed slightly downward. This will ensure that the fragments do not spread towards the shooter. They should not be placed on a hard material as a downward angled steel target will cause the ammunition to simply bounce off hard surfaces like concrete. Multiple targets should be arranged so the fragments that ricochet off of one target are not able to bounce off an adjoining target. Targets should be placed at least 10 yards away from the shooter.
Safety gear is vital when shooting at steel targets. Safety goggles are a must as stray bullet fragments can potentially blind the unwary shooter. Short-sleeved shirts and shorts do not provide enough protection from ricochets. Long sleeved shirts and pants with closed toed shoes are a much safer option. As with any target practice, earplugs or earmuffs should also be worn. Also, hats can be worn to protect the head.
Good equipment is a key component in ensuring a positive shooting experience. Low quality steel targets will be more likely to bend and chip than harder steel (see more steel shooting boards). If a target is already damaged in some way, it is best to use a new one rather than risk injury. Steel clad and steel core ammunition are too dangerous to use with a steel target. Never use armor-piercing rounds with a steel target.
For careless marksmen, it’s better to stay home and browse clpg.net than risk injury. Neglecting to take proper safety precautions is foolhardy, while responsible practice with steel targets can lead to hours of fun.