While we recommend training with paper the majority of the time, there are some very good use cases for utilizing steel on the range for training efficiency. This is the steel target that we have been using now for quite a while; I think around five years. This is the TA Targets Reduced A-DAP C Zone. This is AR550. This is the half-inch variety.
Benefits of a Swinging Steel Target (00:21)
This is on a swinging post so that it can absorb the impact and direct the frag more into the ground. And I say that because I've shot a lot of steel targets in the past that would still frag me to some extent. They didn't swing enough, or maybe it was just a static steel like this and didn't move at all. And that was resulting in a lot of frag—it's not really spall, it is considered frag—coming back and hitting me, especially if I'm offset from a shooter. But with these targets right here, they can swing, as you can see, quite a lot. Whether you're shooting them with a larger caliber to absorb all of that energy or, you know, 5.56, or pistol calibers, you're really not going to have a big issue with frag, although always wear eye protection.
C Zone vs. Reduced C Zone (01:00)
So I want to show you guys, just for size comparison, this is a full-sized USPSA target. So steel companies generally say "C zone steel," which will be this entire thing. Or if they say "reduced C zone"… Oh geez. I forget how small these are. You will see this is not at all a C zone target. This is very much reduced. And as far as having a high standard of accuracy and marksmanship this is more or less just the A zone of the target. I still have a small headbox, which is great, but for the most part, I am just going to end up shooting the A zone of the target. Now you might wonder, "Well, why don't you just shoot in A zone target?" because TA Targets also makes a sliver of A zone. And part of the reason for that is I still like to have a little bit of Charlie exposed because, hey, shots over here on the sides, perfectly acceptable. It's not a problem. I'm not always just shooting for A's. If all I'm getting is A's on paper, that means I need to speed up and I need to be getting at least one or two Charlies (so 95%).
When to Train with Paper (02:05)
A big thing that I talk about with steel is I'm a huge proponent of paper. I train with paper about 90% of the time. I train with steel about 10% of the time. And the reason for that is paper doesn't lie. Steel does lie, especially if you're shooting a large target. You'll get the ping, you'll get the audible that you've just, you know, you shot the gun properly, you pulled the trigger properly—or maybe you just did it improperly and it was just a lucky shot. But you don't actually know where your shot is landing unless you're constantly repainting your steel. Which, let's face it, people aren't doing that. So what I like to do is I shoot paper if I am really tracking my marksmanship; I'm really tracking my groups; I'm tracking my target transitions to see if I'm dragging rounds on or off target.
When to Train with Steel (02:45)
And then if I just have to work training efficiency, if I just need to work reps in, and I don't want to walk up and constantly be pasting a target, that's when I utilize steel. Or if I have a target that's a little bit further away, say 100 meters, 200, 300 meters, something like that with carbine, then I will shoot steel. But I still come back and shoot paper 90% of the time. And I highly recommend you do that, especially if you're a newer shooter and you're not able to call your shots super effectively. And that's one of the issues of shooting. Cause a lot of people say, "Oh, well, if you're concerned about marksmanship, just shoot a smaller piece of steel." Well, the problem with that is if I shoot, say just a sliver of A zone, and I end up missing, you know, one inch off to the right, unless I have impeccable shot calling and I'm absolutely perfect at shot calling, I'm not going to know that I only missed by an inch or that I missed by five inches. That's why I like shooting, you know, a full USPSA target, going for the Alphas. But then I can actually track where my hits are, you know, in the Charlie, in the Delta, and see what's actually going on with my pistol or what's going on with my rifle. So that whole argument, "Oh, just shoot a smaller piece of steel." It's like, well, you still aren't going to know where your shots are. You're not going to know where your misses are. And most of the training value that comes into shooting is knowing where you're missing and how you're missing.
Using the Target System (03:54)
So with all that said, I want to show you guys a few drills that we incorporate here at the range when we are using this steel. This is sold as a set with this awesome steel base. The cool thing with this base is—again, another one of my favorites—it has two slots right here for standard furring strips that you can get at a place like Lowe's or Home Depot, depending on who you want to support based on who they support, as far as other organizations. But you can drop the furring strips in here. This is going to give you the width of a standard USPSA target or other targets out there on the market. And then in the back or the front, depending on, you know, where you put it, you have your 2x4 slot. That's going to slot right in. You have two screws here that you can do a little bit of twisty action. That's going to prevent this from coming out. Then you take your C zone steel and then you just drop that right on top.
And the cool thing—and this is generally how I have it—I have all the weight leaning forward into the base. These do not fall over as you're shooting them. Now, if you like go full auto .308 on it or something, and it's not balanced to begin with, you will end up dropping this. Is the 2x4 included? Absolutely not. Again, you can buy those at Lowe's or Home Depot then you can chop them to the right height or whatever you want to do. We end up shooting through the boards. The frag is going to hit. It is going to spall down. And is going to eat your 2x4's. If you suck at shooting, you're also going to drag rounds down and you're gonna hit the 2x4. So this is absolutely a replaceable part.
There is one thing to note. On occasion as these splinter and as these break, they will sometimes get stuck or a little bit stuck inside of the mounting section of the target stand here. And you may have to get like a drill or kind of chip away at it. Or if you replace the 2x4, a little bit more often, you can kind of help prevent that from happening. You also want to be careful not to shoot—again, if you suck or just based on backdrop—you do not want to be shooting these with rounds. You are then not going to be able to get a furring strip to fit. Same goes for the mount right here. If you end up sending a round off to the side, with like a 9mm or a 5.56 or something like that, you're going to have big problems when it comes to mounting your boards and stuff like that. So with all that said, let's go ahead and shoot some stuff.
Frist Drill: Two Close Paper, One Far Steel (06:17)
Alright. So this is one of my favorite drills to run with steel. I have two paper up close. I put the steel further away, and this allows me to get quite a bit of data with good efficiency. I can check my papers up close and see what's going on. I can see if I'm dragging rounds off the target as I'm transitioning or onto the target as I'm transitioning onto the target. I can do both papers, then throttle control the steel. I can do steel and then both papers. I can do close fast, you know, a little bit slower on the steel, then come over and shoot close fast again. So again, working throttle control. But this steel will allow me to shoot this a little more efficiently because I don't have to constantly walk up to the front and see what's going on. So right here I can see, I did kind of swing over the target as I arrived. That was my first shot. And then I brought the EOTECH over and took both of these. So I have some data and that's what I'm looking for by shooting paper.
Second Drill: Long Range (08:16)
Probably the most useful place to be using steel targets is going to be shooting at long range. And this is where you see PRS shooters and, you know, ranges that have 500 plus meters and stuff like that have lots of steel. Or if you go out west just steel, littered all over the place. And that's just for training efficiency, so guys don't have to constantly go down and check their hits and check paper and whatnot. Now I like to shoot paper every once in a while and, you know, take the time to go down and actually see what's going on. But if you have the steel set up properly with a good berm right behind it, you will be able to see splash at distance, especially if you're using a larger caliber, like .308 or something like that. And then you can actually know like, "Oh wow, I'm, you know, left quite a bit," or "I'm high, low," you know, whatever it is. And then you can adjust and go for your hits just fine.
So the way we're using steel this direction, we've got steel all the way out to 500. Again, we're using the reduced C zone for a higher standard of marksmanship. We have piles of dirt right behind that so we can see our splash and still see where we're missing, or if we're not calculating our wind well enough. So that's one area to use them. We also like to use them when we're shooting drills at like a hundred meters with carbines, kind of like I showed the VTAC barricade. Just again, for training efficiency, we will still supplement paper and then walk up and actually see what our groups look like. But those are the best cases to be using steel. If you need efficiency in, you know, the reps that you are doing, or you just want efficiency in not having to walk up all the time, which is ultimately gonna play into the first one. If you have any other questions about these steel targets or other targets on the market, or just how to train with steel targets or what you should be doing, or what you should be prioritizing, go ahead and shoot us an email at [email protected].