A Guide to Safely Using Steel Shooting Targets

Shooters must practice several safety issues when using steel shooting targets. Jumping Targets recommends the following safety advice when using metal shooting targets.

- Ammunition above 1,500 feet per second (fps) is ideal for a pistol grade target.
- Ammunition above 3,000 fps is a rifle grade target.
- Hardened metal cores, ammunition with steel and armor-piercing ammunition are never safe to use with AR500 steel targets.
- Ammunition that rates at 750 fps or below, which includes mid-range, low velocity, BB’s, target-type ammunition, air gun pellets and other types of ammunition will not have enough force to disintegrate when striking a steel shooting target.
- Upright steel plate targets that feature no angles cannot bear the force of rifled slugs. Rifle slugs are only for use with high power targets.

When using steel shooting targets, there are several tips that shooters should practice.

- Both shooters and bystanders should stay within the appropriate safety zone when shooting. The first rule of shooting is always safety first.
- Wearing appropriate ear and eye protection at all times helps reduce any stray fragments from damaging the eyes and loud noises that may contribute to hearing loss.
- The target’s AR500 steel should correspond with the appropriate caliber and distance, as recommended by Jumping Targets
- Shooters should always practice the recommended setback distances.
- Follow all safety and guide information provided by the manufacturer, Jumping Targets.

When using an area for regular target practice, it is important that the area be outdoors or in a large indoor area that offers sufficient ventilation. Backstops are necessary to stop all stray rounds and bullet fragments.

When bullets hit a steel plate at a 90-degree angle, the fragments disperse at 20-degree angles. This means the bullet splatter pattern extends in all directions, including upwards and downwards. The danger area depends on the caliber and the precise impact angle. Ammunition generally can splatter for distances up to 25 to 30 yards and some high power ammunition can disperse at 100 yards or more. This is why it is imperative that people have a sufficient safety zone around targets, which can help prevent accidental shootings.

An appropriate safety barrier is continuous throughout the splatter zone and does not have any gaps or breaks. The barrier should be far enough in front of the targets – in all directions – and high enough to shield any splattering debris.

Jumping Target specifically recommends necessary shooting distances based on rimfire, handgun and high power ammunition. Some ammunition, such as .22, can be fired at distances of 25 or more yards. Other, more powerful ammunition, such as .223 or .30-06, are required to be shot at 50 or more yards.

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