Friday, March 25, 2016

Are Your Targets On Target?

In the many years that I’ve been shooting I can pinpoint the type of shooter I was at different times in my life. When I was young I was introduced to rifle shooting and hunting by my cousins from working on their ranch and hunting in the mountains of Arizona. I got my first deer at age 10. After a few years of that I turned my attention to basketball and girls. Shooting was what we did in the desert on the weekend after riding motorcycles and mini-bikes.
In my young adult life in the military shooting became a tactical more precise thing. That is also when I became an instructor. Shooting in the military was surviving in combat and competition.
Now for the last several years it has been all defense, all the time.
In this time I’ve learned to practice in different ways according to what I was doing at the time. When I was young we’d sight in the hunting rifles and really never touch them again until we used them to hunt. What we shot often were the .22’s. We’d “plink” but really this was practice for what we did with guns at that time. We’d hone our hunting skills with .22 rifles on the ranch. Sometimes it was plinking, other times it was hunting rabbits or killing predators around the chicken coup. We spent a lot of time with .22’s shooting a brick (500 rounds) at a time. That’s a lot of trigger time and it helped us to be very good with a rifle.
When I was in the military I worked on getting the marksmanship ribbon every time I qualified. I also became good with the tools of our trade, that being an M-16 and M-60 and the 9mm pistol. I didn’t need to shoot expert for my job, but wanted to shoot expert for myself and of course for bragging rights. We competed a lot during those years and I think it made us better instructors.
Now I try to keep it real and shoot so that if I ever need to defend myself of my family, I’ll be successful.
I didn’t start shooting on a range until my military days. I don’t think I knew what a shooting range looked like before the military.
When you go to the range you should determine what your purpose for shooting is. Is it recreational? Are you preparing to compete? Are you trying to stay sharp for defense? Each of these reasons require different ways to practice.
As you access your reasons for shooting, plan your shooting sessions. As you plan these sessions you will see the need for different equipment. Especially your targets. Targets can range from paper to soda cans.
Fun, Games and Zombies
Many unconventional targets provide a challenge, requiring precision shooting and concentration. Personally, I like Birchwood Casey’s Dirty Bird targets. These types of targets are good for new shooters, youth, date night, friendly competition between friends or when you just want to kick back and plink. If you like zombies, there are plenty of zombie targets choices.
There are many “games” targets to have fun with.
I like Dirty Bird targets because of their splatter feature which makes each bullet hole easy to see from a distance.
You may have never thought there were such a wide variety of different targets. Not only are there traditional bullseye, but also sight-in targets and even bleeding zombies. It might be overwhelming for the brand new shooter to decide which target to buy. You might start by price; however, picking the cheapest target on the page might not be the best target for your application. Not all targets are created equal.
Targets can be divided between paper and reactive. Paper targets are targets printed on paper and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some paper targets will splatter a different color upon the bullet’s impact, while others will not. Reactive targets are targets that spin, pop back up, or otherwise move in some way. These targets are generally made of steel or self-healing material. Another reactive target is the relatively new Zombie Industries 3D “bleeding” targets.
Besides traditional bullseye, there is silhouette and oval, sight-in, competition-specific, hunting, fun and games, and NRA-standard targets. Though you can shoot up any target you want, each type meets a specific need.
Paper Targets
Paper bullseye targets come in sizes ranging from small 1-inch bullseyes to large 24-inch bullseyes for long-range shooting. Bullseye targets are good for precision shooting, learning how to sight properly, and practicing accuracy. There are also bullseye targets for competition. The standard competition bullseye size is 5.5 and 8 inches. Caldwell’s basic 5.5 inches Orange Peel targets are perfect for pistol shooting in an indoor range. The bullet impact explodes neon green inside the bullseye and neon orange outside the bullseye. Generally, larger bullseyes, like a 12-inch or 24-inch are for long-range rifle shooting.
Silhouette and Oval
Silhouettes and ovals are geared toward defensive target shooting and training. Some silhouette targets mimic the human form, while others are simply oval shaped. The most popular silhouette is the B27 target. B27 targets are the standard for concealed carry classes and law enforcement qualifications. The shape of a silhouette or oval is especially good for practicing self-defense shooting. The shape represents a person’s chest area.
Sight-In: Target made specifically for sighting in your riflescope
Sight-in targets are usually square or diamond-shaped as opposed to round like a bullseye; however, there are a few round sight-in targets. Made specifically for sighting in your riflescope, many of them have a crosshair pattern while others just have squares. You can determine a sight-in target by the grid pattern in the foreground. Some sight-in targets include one large central target with four smaller targets. The smaller targets you see in each corner is to fine-tune your groups once you have your scope sighted in.
There are so many different types of shooting sport competitions it would be exhausting to list them here. However, to be good in competition, you must practice and most shooting sport games have rules and regulations when it comes to their target specifications. For example, the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) has strict rules on what types of targets are competition-approved. 3-Gun, the International Shooting Sport Federation and NRA—to name a few all have different targets and scoring requirements.

Many unconventional targets provide a challenge, requiring precision shooting and concentration.
Animal targets such as deer, prairie dog, squirrel, and waterfowl help the hunter get ready for hunting season. You can practice hitting the sweet spot with life-sized replicas of game. Some targets have detailed outlines of critical vital zones. Waterfowl and turkey targets also show you how your hunting shotgun is patterning.

Reactive targets are targets that spin, pop back up, or otherwise move in some way.
Reactive targets come in all different types and configurations from multiple target spinning wheels to single target spinners. Some targets move side to side, while others pop back up once hit. These targets are caliber-specific. Some reactive targets can only handle .22 Long Rifle, while others can withstand larger calibers. Reactive targets are fun for youth, friendly competition, and steel competition practice to hone your speed and accuracy. Before purchasing a reactive target, make sure your local range allows you to use one.

Correction target
Supposedly, the target can diagnose why you aren’t hitting the center of your target
To an extent, it’s true. But it’s important to understand what the target is and isn’t intended to do.
To get value from the target, you must:
1. Shoot one handed
2. Use the appropriate target (right or left handed)
3. Shoot slowly
4. Have a perfect sight picture for every shot
Why? Because the target does not take into account anything you might do to upset your sight alignment with your support hand, nor does it account for any misalignment in your sights.
So is it useless?
Absolutely not. But you need to remember that it is just a sheet of paper. It isn’t watching you shoot. It’s not able to tell if you are blinking, or looking at the target instead of your sights, or anticipating recoil. It can’t see how you’re holding the gun, how you’re standing, or whether you’re paying attention.
There was a shooter at the range next to me today who was using one of these targets for all of his shooting, paying close attention to where his shots landed and trying to make corrections based on it. But his problem wasn’t one that was being identified by the target. Instead, he kept trying to correct subtle things when he clearly had a serious flinching issue. He also had what appeared from casual observation to be a habit of tightening the fingers of his support hand as he fired the gun. None of that is identified in the target. Be sure to pay attention to everything you’re doing. If you hit a plateau and can’t get past it, find a qualified instructor who can watch you shoot and perform some real shooting diagnosis.
Diagnosing a shooting problem can sometimes be a tricky thing. Don’t depend on a target for this type of training.
Semper Paratus
Check 6