Friday, June 2, 2023

Improvised Targets

In addition to grilling season, sport shooting season is also here. When shooting on private property, the choices available for targets may be more broadly interpreted. Sure, we can use commercial products like steel plates or Tannerite, but those are expensive. While I strongly advise against shooting things like glass bottles, ceramic dishes, car batteries, or other items that can leave harmful or dangerous residue, there are a number of more environmentally friendly targets available for the shooter on a budget.

First up is the ubiquitous paper plate. Available everywhere, generally at a very low cost, these simple white (or patterned) disks make great targets for both new and experienced shooters. Combine them with an indelible marker and we can create all sorts of combinations.

The tin can is a timeless and classic target. In fact, the term plinking purportedly comes from the sound made when using these metallic cylinders during informal target shooting sessions. For added excitement, fill them with water before shooting. Just make sure to gather up all the debris after shooting is done.

Crackers are an option that doesn't need to be cleaned up after use. Due to their smaller size, they can be a real test of accuracy, and after the range session is over and people have left the area, birds and other small animals will take care of any leftovers.

Another biodegradable option are fruits and vegetables. A range I used to belong to would buy crates of pumpkins after Halloween and make them available to the members for target practice. I've also used apples, though not in the William Tell manner. The only concern with this type of target is unexpected plants the following year.

Then there's candy, which is probably one of the more challenging improvised targets due to their size. Earlier this spring, a friend came over and brought a box of Peeps, the little puffed sugar chicks. We set them up in my home range and tried shooting them, starting with handguns in .22 Long Rifle and working our way up to 9mm pistols. We learned that if we hit them solidly, they'd just fall over. However, if we hit very close to them, but without a solid hit, the blast of clay from the backstop would launch them into the air. We joked that we should have been competing for height and distance instead of accuracy as the "yeet treats" went flying. They were also reusable even after taking several hits.

I'm sure our readers can come up with other improvised target options in addition to those listed here. Just keep in mind, whether at a public or private shooting range, we need to be responsible stewards and leave the area better than we found it by being considerate and cleaning up after ourselves.

Have fun, and safe shooting.

1 comment:

  1. I had a "Eco Target" plastic ice cube tray mold that would make target shaped ice cubes. They were a lot of fun to shoot because they were very reactive. The company is out of business now, but the silicone ice ball molds you can buy would probably make a fun target to shoot.

    Anyhow, I mainly use the paper plate and filing folder dots these days.



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