Steel Targets: How Close Can I Safely Shoot Them?
Firearm & Gun Forum - FireArmsTalk.com > General Firearms Forums > Training & Safety > Steel Targets: How Close Can I Safely Shoot Them?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-05-2010, 01:52 AM   #1
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
canebrake's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: 150 miles NE of Sloppy Joe's Bar
Posts: 21,941
Liked 1422 Times on 808 Posts
Likes Given: 1290

Default Steel Targets: How Close Can I Safely Shoot Them?

From The Shooting Wire for Wednesday, September 29

Steel Targets: How Close Can I Safely Shoot Them?

It's safe to say that I'm an addicted "bang-ding" shooter. That means I like shooting handguns and rifles on steel targets. The instant feedback tells me if I'm applying the correct techniques for sighting, pulling the trigger and holding my weapon. As I tell younger shooters when I'm working with them "If there's no ding, you missed the thing."

That also means I've had the occasion to pick pieces of bullets out of my clothing, hat and shooting gloves (if I'm using a rifle with a fore grip, I like the gloves to protect the back of my left hand). I've also had the occasional run-in with fragments on bare skin, but nothing that has ever broken the skin. It's more a product of dumb luck than preparation-sooner or later anyone shooting a lot of steel will have an encounter with a bullet jacket- unless you're shooting some of the new ultra-frangible rounds.

Last week, I had the occasion to get the answer to the question "How close can I shoot steel" from Mike Gibson, President of MGM Targets. Gibson says it's the most frequently asked question he gets. His answer is one that each of us might want to consider.

It's not a short answer, but when it comes to firearms safety, there seldom is a short answer beyond "all guns are loaded -all the time."

"I don't know anyone who has shot steel for any length of time, that hasn't bled," says Gibson, "I've only had one piece of jacket surgically removed, and I personally have not been witness to any injury that made the shooter stop shooting so they could go to the hospital."

Always be certain of the target you're shooting. This target might look fine at 50 yards, but it's capable of sending debris right back at you due to the damage it has sustained. Don't shoot dinged-up steel.
"Worst case, I know of a rifle shooter, shooting at a mild steel "gong" target at 200 yards. The gong had been cratered and damaged with every big bore rifle caliber known to man. A significant jacket fragment came back the full 200 yards, and stuck in the wall behind him with such force that he couldn't get it out, without a pair of pliers. Fortunately, nobody was standing right in front of the wall."

He's also seen what happens when you're wearing good safety equipment. "I have seen Oakley glasses with a piece of jacket stuck in them so far it couldn't be removed."

So, how do we minimize the chances of getting struck? That's the answer I found most interesting.

"The USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) states that competitors will not be allowed to shoot steel at a distance of less than 7 meters (22.96') (Rules, Jan 2004 edition, Para 2.1.3)," says Gibson, "This doesn't make it the law, but is only an official position by a reputable organization, whose members shoot a great deal of steel, on a very regular basis."

"Steel in NEW condition is 100% safe to shoot from relatively close range. This NEW steel condition can be described as steel that isn't marked. More specifically, when you run your hand across it, it is as flat as a table top. You don't feel or see any bumps, ridges, dimples, craters, cracks, or any other surface irregularities. It might be 15 years old, but depending on what was shot and from what distance, it could still be in NEW condition. If a person is shooting only 9mm and .45 ACP rounds at steel, it is a good bet that the steel will still be in excellent condition after years of use."

Residue from a good day at the steel range: empty moon clips and the assorted bullet fragments collected at the foot of the targets. That's one reason why minimum distances should always be clearly marked- and observed.
"Target design makes a difference in how safe steel is to shoot! If your range has relatively new steel on it, your shooters will occasionally have bullet fragments rain down on them. These will be low speed, small fragments that splattered up, (possibly from an adjacent range), and literally fell out of the sky. I have never seen them fall with any impact, but it could happen. When a shooter is getting frags back at him, from targets he is shooting at (and he is shooting at good steel), it is a pretty safe bet that the frags are deflecting from a secondary surface. More specifically, if the target has a base on it that is perpendicular to the target surface, bullet fragments (fragmented from the initial impact) deflect down, and then they deflect a second time, in a basically horizontal direction. Low bolts, such as on the MGM Pepper Poppers usually do not play a part in this because bullets that impact in the primary target area (the circle) deflect off the face, and hit the ground, rather than the head of the bolts. Low shots will fragment, and the fragments will hit the head of the bolts. You can confirm that because the top side of the bolts won't have any paint on them. You will also notice a line in the dirt, caused by the fragments that are deflected down. Nearly the same number of fragments are deflected up - hence the rain mentioned earlier."

"FRANGIBLE bullets bring a whole new dynamic to shooting steel. Out of a pistol, we've shot steel with frangible bullets at less than 5 yards. Because the bullets turn to dust on impact, there is no danger to the shooter. Rounds of .223 (5.56) frangible bullets are another story. These rounds, even at 15 yards, will mark the targets noticeably. While it shouldn't be an issue for the frangible bullets (that turn to dust), if someone should later shoot conventional pistol bullets (relatively close range) at those marked targets, they should expect to be hit with fragments."

"While a person could continue the discussion ad infinitum, the bottom line is, everyone needs to make the safe distance call based on: 1) the condition of the steel, 2) the type and caliber of bullets being shot, 3) the yardage from the shooting line to the targets, 4) the potential liability issue related to a lawsuit from a disgruntled (and possibly bloody) shooter. At the risk of being redundant ALWAYS make sure that the shooters and the spectators are wearing glasses if anybody is shooting steel!"

__________________
http://i695.photobucket.com/albums/v...brake02jpg.jpg

http://i1060.photobucket.com/albums/...ps18cfbeae.jpg

Get her dirty, then clean her so she starts to respect you. When her trust is complete, she will serve you well for a lifetime!

"...if doves shot back, there wouldn't be a need for a bag limit."
- orangello
canebrake is offline  
 
Reply With Quote

Join FirearmsTalk.com Today - It's Free!

Are you a firearms enthusiast? Then we hope you will join the community. You will gain access to post, create threads, private message, upload images, join groups and more.

Firearms Talk is owned and operated by fellow firearms enthusiasts. We strive to offer a non-commercial community to learn and share information.

Join FirearmsTalk.com Today! - Click Here


Old 10-05-2010, 06:32 AM   #2
Retired
FTF_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
danf_fl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: LA (Lower Alabama),FL
Posts: 10,412
Liked 2986 Times on 1720 Posts
Likes Given: 1280

Default

We had to demonstrate to a USAF base Safety Officer the splatter pattern on steel targets we used. It was determined a range of 10 yards was the closest we we allowed to shoot during our USPSA matches.

__________________

Amendment II:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Life Member NRA
Life Member NAHC
Former President of the ECPT (Eifel Combat Pistol Team)

danf_fl is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2010, 10:48 AM   #3
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
zhuk's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Sydney, Aust
Posts: 2,031
Liked 5 Times on 4 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by canebrake View Post

"The USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) states that competitors will not be allowed to shoot steel at a distance of less than 7 meters (22.96') (Rules, Jan 2004 edition, Para 2.1.3)," says Gibson, "This doesn't make it the law, but is only an official position by a reputable organization, whose members shoot a great deal of steel, on a very regular basis."

The 7m-rule regarding steel is very strictly applied here...you could never get away with closer otherwise the wrath of the RO would come down swiftly! I've never seen a single issue with steel targets at this distance. And of course the fact no one is shooting anything greater than .38 here would also be significant in this.
__________________

Illigitimi Non Carborundum - Don't let the bastards grind you down

Quote:
Originally Posted by skullcrusher View Post
Yes, at WalMart, you can pick up a gun, ammo, ski mask and your antidepressants all in one trip. Darn convenient if you ask me...:D
zhuk is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2010, 09:17 PM   #4
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: huntingtown,maryland
Posts: 257
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhuk View Post
The 7m-rule regarding steel is very strictly applied here...you could never get away with closer otherwise the wrath of the RO would come down swiftly! I've never seen a single issue with steel targets at this distance. And of course the fact no one is shooting anything greater than .38 here would also be significant in this.
__________________
moneymaker17 is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2010, 02:23 PM   #5
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
pepprdog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 12
Default

We mount our steel targets from the backside on chains giving the target a downward angle blowing the "stuff" into the ground. Works very well at keeping splatter away from the firing line.
I also built the firing line on a dirt berm about 18 inches high adding to the safety.
20 feet is as close as I allow steel targets, handguns only.
ALWAYS wear eye protection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

__________________

"The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." - James Madison, author of the Second Amendment
NRA: Certified; Home Firearm Safety, Certified; Pistol, Certified; Refuse To Be A victim, Range Safety Officer, Ohio CCW Instructor.


Last edited by pepprdog; 11-04-2010 at 02:28 PM. Reason: forgot to mention distance....
pepprdog is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2012, 03:27 AM   #6
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1
Default I need help!

I was going to shoot steel targets with my .22 rifle (36 grain, Plated Hollow Points) at 7 yards. Is it safe, and if it is how close could I get to the target while using the proper safety equipment?

__________________
Jetta is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2012, 04:27 PM   #7
FTF_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
dango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 6,092
Liked 3333 Times on 1879 Posts
Likes Given: 18927

Default

There are two safe ways to set up steel targets. Set them at 15 degrees with the slant bottom faceing away from you or pivoting. the problem with pivoting is wich way , is the bottom angle faceing during second shot
so fixed 15 degrees would seem safer .

__________________
dango is offline  
 
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Firearms Forum Replies Last Post
WTS: Exploding Targets (1 & 2 lbs targets) Great stuff Randall Sponsor Display 0 12-30-2009 10:54 PM
? about making steel targets patm General Handgun Discussion 9 10-31-2009 12:17 PM
Here is how to shoot a shotgun in close combat. cpttango30 Training & Safety 10 10-11-2009 08:26 PM
S&W SSC Steel Plate Match & Poker Shoot dnthmn2004 Competition Shooting 0 01-17-2009 11:32 AM