Shooting Drills: Hostile behind cover targets

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When at the range we often fall into the trap of using a simple circular 'bulls eye' style target, a normal steel plate, or a standing silhouette style target for our practice. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that type of shooting, you are cheating yourself if this is all you are doing.

A simple improvement that can work wonders for your reactionary skills as well as your marksmanship is the so-called hostile behind cover target.

What is it?

Simply put, this type of target is one where you have to hit only a portion of the target, which is typically off-centered, rather than firing at a designated bull's-eye in the geographic center of the paper (or plate). What this does is provide a shoot/don't-shoot element to your drills. This simulates a hostile who is taking cover (or concealment) behind a structure, person, or thing, therefore only exposing a small part of himself to you.

(These types of targets have been in use by law enforcement and security for years. Photo credit: Speedwell)

The easy version

Besides getting a box of these targets from a dealer, you can make your own that are extremely efficient and easy to use, not to mention cheap. All you need is a stack of paper plates (better for the environment than polystyrene, think about all those little bits of Styrofoam all over your range for centuries), and a Post-it note pad.

Just apply a note to the plate, and you are good to go. Of course you can use vastly different colored Post Its to better make them stand out against the paper plate, but what's the fun in that?

Of course, you can modify the target as much as you want with the help of a marker.

And further modify it from there if you like.

It's all up to you.

Working with steel plates

There are also steel versions of this, with a red, hinged popper about 3x3-inches over the shoulder of a 3x2-foot standing target. Once hitting the red plate, it will swing on the hinge from side to side over the shoulder. If you just tip it instead of hitting it center-on, it will ring and bounce but not swing, which is an instant translation of how you hit.

(The black painted standing plate lets you know if you missed and can be repainted after each session if you like. As you can tell, it often gets a work out of its own.)

I love working one of these with both a handgun at ranges between 7-25 yards (no closer or you risk ricochets)...

...and with rifles out to 50-100 yards.

A student working the plate from about 15 yards with a Walther P4. Note the hinged plate got stuck half way and we had to give the main plate some love to 'unstick it.' In the real world, it wouldn't be the best idea to fire at the cover to get the hostile to reappear. Just saying.

It's a blast and gives you a good workout on both your reaction times, marksmanship, and immediate sight realignment on a moving target.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start varying it up.

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