I think it would be safe to say the majority of us enjoy shooting steel targets. On the other side of the coin there are those who don’t shoot steel and to be honest not without good reasons.
There are several factors involved in shooting steel and being safe doing so. The primary consideration is the type and thickness of the steel used. Following this is the angle of the target in relationship to the weapon used. Next is the distance and type of rounds being fired. A 90 degree angle to the shooter is best, however a slight forward tilt at the top of the target works well and directs splatter into the ground directly in front of the target.
When choosing the type of steel for your targets never use T-1 steel targets or any with a Brinell of less than 400.
With these criteria in mind I’ve been using steel targets from Jumping Targets. I’ve had them for several months to give them a good workout and to test the quality of the AR500 steel (3/8th inches thickness). There were several things I was looking for. How much damage would they show after a significant number of rounds fired with everything from 9mm up to .308. In the rifle calibers and 12 ga slugs I used the recommended firing distances of no closer than 50 yards with .308’s.
Jumping targets sells a full line of targets and accessories. You can check their website for a complete list of products. For this long test I used their IPSC silhouette, which comes with a complete stand, made of the same steel as the target. This target also has a hostage target attached to the rear of the silhouette. This small target swings from one side to the other when struck. This is placed about shoulder high.
I’ve been impressed with this target. There are features built in I don’t often see in this type of target. From the base of the silhouette down a couple of feet there is a V shaped piece of AR500 attached to the vertical support pole. The V shape has the point towards the shooter. What this does is direct any bullet 20 degrees to the side or splits the bullet with each half going 20 degrees to each side.
The entire target with base and stand weighs 28 pounds, which isn’t at all difficult to transport back and forth to the range. The three base legs fold together to form one piece for easy carry. The support pole and target transport together. The small hostage circle detaches for separate carry.
Like any other steel target you can spray paint it in the target area. Jumping targets also makes orange stick on circles of various sizes.
After these last few months of shooting hundreds of rounds I can see where rounds have scuffed the finish but there are absolutely no indentations or damage that would be a safety concern. The price of this IPSC target is $269.00, which is less than most steel targets I’ve seen online.
The real fun begins with the second test target. This target is also where the company got its name. These are the “Jumping Targets” and jump they do. The shape you see in the photo below is the same in all three sizes. The sizes are chosen depending on the round fired. The larger the round the larger the target needs to be. If you notice each arm of the target is angled to one side which serves to make the target safer ideally by deflecting any splatter or rounds to the side and not straight back towards the shooter.
Using this target is as simple as tossing it downrange and opening fire. The goal is to shoot the top most circle which makes the target jump and roll giving you a moving target or one you can shoot for accuracy if you increase the distance and allow it to come to a stop. No resetting just firing until you run out of space and move it back and start over again. A good feature for this target is you can shoot it with any type of gun you want.
We set up a little game among several of us. We spray painted each target a different color. The shooters pick a color and everyone starts firing. The shooter with the greatest number of hits on their color wins. On the honor system if a shooter hits another persons target points are deducted. It’s just plain fun!
The video below shows several shooters having some fun with the Jumper as we called it.
Sizes come in a 2.5, 3.5 and 4.75 inches for each round target on the jumpers. They use the same steel as the silhouette target. Thickness varies from ¼ to ½ inch. Prices from the smallest to largest are $39.99, $49.99 and $59.99. An entire set of three sells for $135.00. Also each of these targets are made of AR500 steel.
You know full size paper targets can get somewhat expensive over time. Steel targets can pay for themselves if you invest in good ones. I just encourage users to read the manufacturer’s instructions and you’ll be perfectly safe. It’s a lot more fun than shooting paper and you sure start to enjoy that sound of bullet on steel!