The Ultimate List of Gun Targets: Which One Should You Choose?

The Ultimate List of Gun Targets: Which One Should You Choose?


Shooting targets are essential tools for anyone looking to improve their firearms skills, whether for hunting, self-defense, or competitive shooting. The right target can help you improve your speed, accuracy, and overall shooting, while the wrong one can impede your progress. However, with such a wide range of targets available, it can be challenging to determine which one is best suited for your particular needs.

In this blog, we will delve into the world of shooting targets, discussing their importance, the various types available, and how to select the most suitable one. 


What Are Shooting Targets?


 stray bullets on a shooting target

Credit: Envato Elements/ Meganiq41


Shooting targets, also known as gun or firearm targets, are objects that are used as a visual reference point for shooters to gauge their accuracy and skill when using guns or other projectile weapons. They are usually set up at a distance from the shooter, and hitting specific areas on the target can indicate skill levels in marksmanship. The best part about shooting targets is that they are versatile and compatible with a variety of firearms, including pistols, rifles, shotguns, and airguns, making them a useful tool for anyone looking to improve their shooting abilities.


The Importance of Shooting Targets


There are several compelling reasons why shooting targets are essential tools in the gun world:


1) Improves Accuracy and Precision


 man shooting gun at outdoor shooting range

Credit: Envato Elements/ microgen


Shooting targets provide a clear visual representation of where a shooter is aiming, making it easier to identify and correct mistakes in aim and technique. By constantly aiming at shooting targets, the shooter will begin to develop muscle memory and improve their accuracy over time. This level of precision is particularly critical in situations where accuracy is essential, such as hunting or self-defense scenarios.


2) Ensures Safety


Shooting targets provide a safe and structured environment for firearms training, reducing the risk of accidental injuries. By using shooting targets, shooters can focus on their technique and improve their skills without worrying about damaging property or injuring bystanders. 


3) Develops Shooting Skills


 man shooting target at outdoor shooting range

Credit: Envato Elements/ StudioPeace


Shooting targets are an effective tool for developing and enhancing shooting skills, such as breath control and trigger control. These skills are essential for marksmanship, and practicing on shooting targets can help shooters to refine them. Additionally, shooting targets can be used to simulate different scenarios, allowing shooters to practice different shooting techniques and strategies.


4) Stress Management


Shooting targets can also serve as a stress management tool. For some individuals, the act of shooting can be a calming and therapeutic experience. Focusing on the target and the task at hand can help clear the mind and reduce stress levels.


Types of Gun Targets


Infographic showing the different types of gun targets


There are various types of gun targets available on the market, each designed to serve a specific purpose. Using the right target for your training or practice can make a significant difference in your marksmanship skills:


1) Paper Targets


 bullet holes in paper shooting target

Credit: Envato Elements/ Mint_Images


Paper targets or paper range targets are the most common type of target used in firearms training and competition. They are typically made of paper or cardboard and come in various shapes and sizes, from simple bullseyes to realistic silhouettes of people or animals. 

If you're searching for high-quality paper targets for your shooting sessions, consider the Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird Bullseye Targets or the Ascentor Silhouette Shooting Targets. Both of these targets have distinctive lines and marks that allow you to track your target shots effectively.


Here are some pros and cons of using paper targets for shooting:


Pros of Using Paper Shooting Targets

  • Affordability: Paper range targets are relatively inexpensive compared to other types of targets, such as steel or reactive targets.
  • Variety: Paper targets come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and designs, allowing shooters to choose the best target for their specific needs and preferences.
  • Portability: Paper range targets are lightweight and easy to transport, making them a popular target type for shooting ranges and competitions.
  • Easy to Score: Paper range targets are easy to score, as hits can be easily seen and marked on the paper surface. This allows shooters to track their progress and improve their accuracy over time.


Cons of Using Paper Shooting Targets

  • Lack of Durability: Paper range targets can be easily damaged by wind, rain, or other environmental factors, which can make them less reliable for long-term use.
  • Limited Reusability: Paper range targets can only be used a limited number of times before they need to be replaced, which can add up over time.
  • Lack of Safety: Paper range targets can pose a fire hazard if they are not disposed of properly or if they are placed too close to combustible materials.
  • Lack of Realism: Paper targets may not provide a realistic representation of real-life shooting scenarios or situations, which may limit their effectiveness in certain training scenarios.


2) Steel Targets


Steel shooting targets are a popular choice for experienced shooters and tactical training. They are made of high-grade steel and are designed to withstand the impact of bullets fired from a variety of firearms. For a long-lasting option, consider getting the FULLBOW AR500 Steel Targets. This comes as a DIY set, where all you need are some steel bars or poles, and the kit has everything sorted out for you.


Here are some pros and cons of using steel shooting targets:


Pros of Using Steel Shooting Targets

  • Durability: Steel targets are highly durable and can withstand the impact of bullets for thousands of rounds. They are less likely to get damaged or break compared to other types of targets.
  • Immediate Feedback: Steel targets provide immediate feedback to shooters, as the impact of the bullet creates a distinctive sound and visible movement of the target. This can help shooters adjust their aim and improve their accuracy.
  • Cost-Effective: Steel targets can be a cost-effective option for shooters, as they do not need to be replaced as frequently as other types of targets.
  • Versatility: Steel targets can be used with a wide range of firearms, from handguns to rifles, making them a versatile option for shooters.


Cons of Using Steel Shooting Targets

  • Safety Concerns: Steel targets can pose safety concerns if they are not set up correctly or if the shooter uses the wrong type of ammunition. The target should be set up at a safe distance and angle to prevent ricochets.
  • Noise Pollution: Steel targets can produce a loud noise when hit, which can be a nuisance for neighbors and others in the vicinity.
  • Requires Maintenance: Steel targets require regular maintenance to ensure their longevity. This includes removing lead buildup and painting the targets to prevent rust.
  • Environmental Concerns: Steel targets can leave behind lead residue, which can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.


3) Reactive Shooting Targets


 shooting targets outdoors

Credit: Gun Mart


Reactive shooting targets are designed to provide immediate feedback to the shooter when they hit the target. These target types are made from a variety of materials and are designed to move, fall, or react in some way when hit by a bullet.

If you're searching for reactive targets that can add an element of fun to your shooting sessions, consider getting the Birchwood Casey Poppers or the Caldwell Resetting Targets. Both of these targets are made from high-quality steel, ensuring long-lasting performance.


Here are some pros and cons of using reactive targets for shooting:


Pros of Using Reactive Shooting Targets

  • Immediate Feedback: Reactive targets provide instant feedback to the shooter, allowing them to adjust their aim and technique accordingly.
  • Increased Engagement: Reactive targets provide a more engaging shooting experience as shooters have to actively focus on hitting the target.
  • Better Training: Reactive targets provide a more realistic training experience, as they mimic real-life scenarios where targets may move or fall when hit.
  • Versatility: Reactive targets come in various forms, from simple rubber targets that fall when hit to more advanced targets that move, spin, or make noise when hit.


Cons of Using Reactive Shooting Targets

  • Not Reliable: Some reactive targets may not be as reliable as traditional targets, especially if they are poorly designed or made with low-quality materials.
  • Learning Curve: Reactive targets may require a bit of a learning curve, as shooters may need to adjust their technique or shooting style to effectively hit the target.
  • Limited Range: Some reactive targets may have a limited range or be more suitable for certain types of firearms, which can limit their versatility.
  • Noise Concerns: Reactive targets that make noise may be disruptive to nearby residents or wildlife, making them less suitable for certain shooting locations.


4) Clay Shooting Targets


Clay targets are small, round targets made of a mixture of clay and other natural materials, such as limestone, pitch, and chalk. They are typically used for target shooting sports, such as skeet shooting, sporting clays, and trap shooting, and are designed to break apart easily upon impact. A great option to consider is the White Flyer Blackout Trap and Skeet Targets. These targets are made from high-quality clay and come in a set of 90.


Here are some pros and cons of using clay targets for shooting:


Pros of Using Clay Shooting Targets

  • Eco-Friendly: Clay targets are made of natural materials and are biodegradable, which makes them a more environmentally friendly option compared to other shooting targets.
  • Variety: Clay targets are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors, which makes them suitable for various types of shooting activities, such as trap shooting, skeet shooting, and sporting clays.
  • Safety: Clay targets are designed to break apart easily upon impact, reducing the risk of ricochets and injuries to shooters and bystanders.
  • Skill-Building: Shooting clay targets requires a high level of accuracy, concentration, and timing, which can help improve a shooter's overall shooting skills.


Cons of Using Clay Shooting Targets

  • Cost: Clay targets can be more expensive than other types of shooting targets, especially if you shoot frequently.
  • Weather-Dependent: Clay targets can be affected by weather conditions such as wind, rain, and humidity, which can make them more challenging to hit and break.
  • Fragility: Clay targets can break easily, which means they need to be handled carefully during transport and storage.
  • Equipment Cost: Clay target shooting requires specialized equipment, such as shotguns and ammunition, which can be expensive.


5) Tannerite Shooting Targets


 man shooting at shooting targets outdoors

Credit: Mcumpston


Tannerite targets are a type of explosive target used for shooting practice and recreational shooting. They are typically sold in kit form and consist of two separate components: a small packet of ammonium nitrate and a larger packet of aluminum powder. When the two components are mixed together, they create a highly reactive substance that can be detonated by a high-velocity impact from a bullet.


Here are some pros and cons of using Tannerite targets for shooting:


Pros of Using Tannerite Shooting Targets

  • Fun and Exciting: Tannerite targets can be a fun and exciting way to add an extra level of excitement to target shooting. The loud explosion and resulting smoke can be very satisfying for shooters.
  • Non-Flammable: Unlike some other types of explosives, Tannerite targets are non-flammable and cannot be ignited by a flame or heat source. They can only be ignited by a high-velocity bullet. This makes them safer to transport and store.
  • Versatile: Tannerite targets can be used with a wide variety of firearms, including rifles, handguns, and shotguns.
  • Easy to Use: Tannerite targets are relatively easy to use. They typically come in pre-measured packets that can be easily mixed together, and they can be set up in a matter of minutes.


Cons of Using Tannerite Shooting Targets

  • Loud: Tannerite targets are very loud when detonated, which can be a problem for people who live near shooting ranges or other areas where they are commonly used.
  • Risk of Injury: While Tannerite targets are generally considered to be safe when used properly, there is always a risk of injury when using explosive materials. Shooters should always follow proper safety procedures and use protective gear when shooting Tannerite targets.
  • Environmental Impact: Tannerite targets can have a negative impact on the environment. They produce a significant amount of smoke and debris when detonated, which can be harmful to wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem.
  • Legal Issues: The use of Tannerite targets is regulated in some areas, and there may be restrictions on where and how they can be used. Since different states and countries have different rules, it is important to check local laws and regulations before using Tannerite targets.


6) Polymer Shooting Targets


Polymer targets for shooting are becoming increasingly popular due to their durability and resistance to damage from bullets. These targets are made from materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene.

For self-healing polymer targets that can withstand multiple shooting sessions, consider opting for the Caldwell Duramax Heavy Duty Targets. These targets are available in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to choose the ideal one for your range practice.


Here are some more pros and cons of using polymer targets for shooting:


Pros of Using Polymer Shooting Targets

  • Durability: Polymer targets are extremely durable and can withstand many rounds of ammunition without showing significant signs of wear and tear. 
  • Low Maintenance: Polymer targets require minimal maintenance and can be easily cleaned with a hose or pressure washer. 
  • Suitable for Outdoor Use: Polymer targets can withstand harsh weather conditions, such as rain or extreme temperatures, which makes them suitable for outdoor shooting ranges.
  • Resistance to Damage: Polymer targets are resistant to damage from bullets, which means they don't develop holes or deform as quickly as traditional targets. This makes them a safer option for shooters, as there is less chance of ricochets or bullet fragments flying back toward the shooter.


Cons of Using Polymer Shooting Targets

  • Cost: Polymer targets are generally more expensive than traditional targets, which may make them less accessible to individuals with a limited budget.
  • Environmental Impact: Polymer targets are made from synthetic materials that can take hundreds of years to decompose, which may have a negative impact on the environment if not disposed of properly.
  • Heat Resistance: Polymer targets can melt or deform under high-temperature conditions, which may limit their use in certain shooting situations.
  • Weight: Polymer targets are often heavier than traditional targets, which can make them difficult to transport and set up, especially for individuals that need to move them frequently.


Which Shooting Target Should You Choose?


 man holding gun pointing down at shooting range outdoors

Credit: Envato Elements/ halfpoint


The choice of shooting target depends on several factors, including the type of firearm, the purpose of the shooting session, and the shooting environment.

If you're planning a celebratory event or a special occasion, Tannerite targets can add an exciting and explosive element to the experience. However, they may not be appropriate for regular target practice. For everyday practice, paper shooting targets are an affordable and versatile option that can be used with all guns. They are ideal for indoor shooting ranges or outdoor areas with adequate backstops.

If you're an experienced shooter and want a more challenging and long-lasting option, reactive, steel, or polymer targets are great choices. For those looking for an environmentally friendly option for outdoor shooting, clay targets are a good choice. They are biodegradable and can be used for shotgun and rifle shooting.

No matter which target you choose, it's essential to follow proper range safety procedures and select targets that are appropriate for your firearm and shooting environment




Selecting the right shooting target is crucial for achieving effective firearms training and skill development. With a vast array of targets available, it is important to research each type of target thoroughly to ensure that you make an informed decision. By taking the time to select the right shooting target, you can achieve the desired results and hone your shooting skills.

For an excellent option, consider using EasyShot paper targets for shooting. Made from high-quality paper, these targets are affordable and easy to use. Shop with us today to experience the benefits of our paper shooting targets and take your marksmanship skills to the next level.


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