Monday, February 13, 2012

Shootin' Steel

It seems that everyone is shooting at steel these days.  I can't spend 5 minutes on youtube before finding somebody shooting at a steel plate with a rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc.  Seeing the videos makes me want a steel target so badly.  The instant feedback of that bullet pinging off the steel plate excites me, and I'm only watching it on a 4 1/2" screen!

I made up my mind to go looking for a steel target.  I soon discovered that a lot of people are wanting a lot of money for their targets, and even more for the stands to put them on.  After being very disappointed, I decided that I would just shoot paper and clay pigeons until the price of the targets come down considerably.  Steel targets, like anything else popular, are experiencing a price bubble, and many vendors are cashing in on the popularity of this shooting phenomenon.

To my surprise, I was able to find a local guy who is putting together steel target stands with an 8"x8" square sheet of 3/8" thick AR500 steel, which is the more common steel being used by shooters all over.  This man, like myself, wanted to shoot something with more immediate feedback and fun, but didn't want to pay outrageous prices in order to get a target to shoot at.  Armed with a welder and some steel he acquired, he set about making his own target stands and targets to shoot at.  After hitting the range a few times, he realized that there may be a market for high quality, low priced targets like this, and he decided to make some more and put them on a local classified forum called Seattleguns.net.  As I was browsing the board, I came upon the targets he was offering.

The price was right at $60, which includes a stand and the target square.  The target is held up by a simple, but effective 2x4, which is anchored in place with set screws that he provides.  The wooden 2x4 makes the stand rebuildable by replacing the wooden section, should you shoot it out.  The target area, which measures 8"x8", is  ideal for the kind of shooting that I do, which is a balance of speed and accuracy.  Of course, with the right gun, I can put one ragged hole in the middle of any target at a given range, but for self defense shooting, I prefer to shoot for a balance of speed and accuracy, ensuring as many accurate hits in a given amount of time.  I plan on purchasing a couple more of these targets, and after speaking with the gentleman who made them, we came up with an idea for another stand that will hold clay pigeons.  My days of shooting clay pigeons on the ground may be over.

This is the target stand as you buy it.  It includes the stand and the target square, all of which are durably welded up to withstand the shock of repeated shots from any weapon.  The seller claims that he can shoot the plate with a 300 Win Mag at 75 yards without damaging the steel, which he did provide pictures of with a test sample he acquired.

This is a stake pocket that the 2x4 fits into.  Notice it is welded and a drilled and tapped hole accepts a set screw to hold the wood in place.

On the back side of the target, another stake pocket is welded with another set screw to hold the target on the stand.

Your 2x4 goes in and gets secured in place.  I painted my 2x4 black using Duplicolor VHT black header paint.  For lack of better reasons, it is more visually striking for the camera.  As for the paint itself, it's what I had in my garage at the time.  Looks good!

The top of the stake pocket.  Notice the metal strap going across to keep the target from falling down, should the set screw shoot loose.

Please forgive the look on my face.  I wasn't exactly prepared for the camera to shoot so soon.  This picture is for reference to actual size.  I'm 6'2" tall and my SR9c is in front of the target square.  My 2x4 is 5ft tall.  You could get multiple targets and set them up at different ranges with different height 2x4's to serve the needs of your shooting setup any given day. Again, the 2x4 allows maximum versatility for shooters with different heights, damage from hitting the wood, and for travel by disassembling, making the target very compact.

Since I did not have an opportunity to take it out shooting with real guns yet, I took some pot shots at it with my BB gun from across the yard.  As you shoot it, you can easily reset it by repainting the target area or changing out stick on Shoot-n-see style targets.  Nevermind that really low shot.  The gun was only pumped 3 times for that one.  The rest were 5 pumps.

As more targets become available, and my friend's hobby becomes more of a business, I will have more information on how you can get one of these bad boys for yourself.

-James

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