The practice of shooting, either for sport or for proficiency, is deeply ingrained in the tradition of countless cultures across the globe. From hunting to competitive shooting, having a reliable target to aim at is paramount. In this blog, we'll be covering the ins and outs of crafting homemade steel shooting targets, providing a step-by-step guide to ensure a secure, sturdy, and satisfying product.
The Benefits of Using Steel Targets
So why opt for steel targets? Scroll down below to discover the benefits of using these targets:
1) Exceptional Durability
One of the most prominent advantages of steel or metal targets is their exceptional durability. Unlike paper or cardboard targets that can quickly deteriorate after a few shots, steel targets are built to withstand prolonged use.
2) Immediate and Clear Feedback
Feedback is an invaluable tool for improving your shooting accuracy, and steel targets deliver immediate and clear feedback like no other. When a bullet strikes a steel target, you receive instant visual and auditory cues, allowing you to assess your shot placement with precision.
3) Weather Resistance
Another advantage of steel targets is their resilience to weather conditions. Unlike paper targets that can be rendered useless in wet or windy environments, steel targets hold up well against the elements.
4) Versatility in Shooting Disciplines
Steel targets offer versatility in catering to different shooting disciplines. Whether you're practicing with handguns or rifles, steel targets can accommodate a wide range of firearms.
Are Steel Targets Suitable for Beginners?
Credit: Envato Elements/ Pressmaster
While steel targets can indeed offer many benefits, they may not be the best fit for beginners. For those just starting their journey into shooting, paper targets are a better option.
Paper targets allow new shooters to clearly see where their bullets are hitting, providing a visible record of each shot fired. This can be crucial when honing basic shooting skills, as it allows for easy tracking of progress and adjustments of aim. Additionally, paper targets offer a variety of printed target types, such as bullseyes and silhouettes, enabling beginners to practice different shooting styles and techniques. Lastly, they also have a reduced risk of ricochets, making them safer for beginners who may have a higher tendency to miss the target.
How to Make Homemade Steel Shooting Targets
To make your own homemade steel shooting targets, follow the step below:
Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Steel
To begin constructing your DIY steel shooting target, it is essential to have a good understanding of the materials involved. When constructing steel targets, it is crucial to use high-quality steel such as AR500 and AR550 hardened steel. These particular types of steel possess a Brinell hardness number (BHN) that enables them to withstand multiple impacts from different calibers. You can typically find these materials at your local hardware store.
Step 2: Design Your Target
Next, you'll need to decide on the shape and size of your target. Typical designs range from simple circles and squares to more complex silhouettes. The size will depend on your shooting distance and purpose. A general guideline is that for every 100 yards of shooting distance, your target should be approximately 1 inch in size. For instance, a 10-inch target would be suitable for shooting at 1000 yards.
Step 3: Create Your Target
Once you have selected the type of steel and the design of your target, it's time to cut the steel. You can use a plasma cutter or water jet to do this. Avoid methods that produce excessive heat, like a torch or a standard grinder, as they can potentially weaken the steel’s edges. Remember, safety is paramount in this step, so ensure you're wearing the appropriate protective gear.
After cutting the steel, the next step is to smoothen out the edges using an angle grinder. Be patient and meticulous in this step as smooth edges not only improve the aesthetic of your target but also reduce the risk of injury from sharp edges. After smoothening, apply a coat of paint. This will improve visibility and also protects the steel from corrosion. Use a bright color like white, orange, or yellow for maximum contrast.
Step 4: Mount Your Target
Next comes the mounting process. To allow your target to ring loudly and clearly when struck, you'll need to hang it at a slight angle. This ensures that any bullet fragments are safely deflected toward the ground. A popular method of achieving this is by using a steel target stand and some chains or fire hoses.
Start by drilling holes in the top corners of your target away from the target's center to avoid direct hits. Drill holes of appropriate size that will accommodate the mounting hardware. Then, attach two chains or pieces of fire hose to these holes. On the other side of the chain or hose, attach hooks or bolts that will connect to your stand.
Credit: Envato Elements/ YuriArcursPeopleImages
Safety should always be a top priority when using steel shooting targets. Follow these essential guidelines to ensure a safe shooting experience:
1) Maintain a Safe Distance
Maintaining a safe distance from the target is crucial to avoid being hit by the bullet. When utilizing a rifle, it is advisable to maintain a minimum distance of 100 yards. On the other hand, if you're using a handgun, it is recommended to start with a minimum distance of 10 yards. It is important to note that these distances can vary based on factors such as caliber, ammunition type, and shooting discipline.
2) Select Suitable Ammunition
Choosing the right ammunition is vital when shooting steel targets. Never shoot a steel target with armor-piercing or steel-core ammunition since they can cause damage to the targets and increase the risk of dangerous ricochets. Opt for ammunition that is specifically designed for shooting steel targets, such as full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets or lead ammunition.
3) Regularly Inspect Targets
Before each shooting session, thoroughly inspect your steel targets for any signs of damage or wear. Look for pitting, deformation, or cracks on the surface. If you notice any damage, replace or repair the target before shooting.
4) Use Proper Eye and Ear Protection
Protecting your eyes and ears is crucial during shooting sessions. Always wear appropriate eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles, to shield your eyes from potential bullet fragments, debris, or other hazards. Additionally, use ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, to safeguard your hearing from the loud noise generated by firearms.
Building your own steel shooting targets can be an incredibly rewarding project. Not only does it provide a reliable and reusable target, but it also reduces the cost that would be spent on buying one.
Looking for convenient and versatile shooting targets for your shooting practice? Check out EasyShot Paper Shooting Targets! Designed for beginners and experienced shooters, these targets offer clear and immediate feedback, helping you improve your accuracy with every shot. Shop with us today.