The Best Shooting Targets

What’s the Best Shooting Target?

The simple answer is one that makes you better.

The exploding tactical market nowadays is flooded with professional shooters with impressive resumes who serve as trainers. Many of us don’t have the time (or in some cases, the cash), so we must improvise based on our experiences and what resources we have on hand. The trick during any range trip is to maximize your limited time and limited ammo. The best way to do that is with a good target and a range plan.

Instant feedback, shot placement indications, ease of transport, and the ability to use it more than once are all traits we look for when setting up our targets. For the discerning gunfighter, targets that make you think can really up the ante… and your quick decision making abilities. Target discrimination is a key attribute for any shooter, whether it be LEO, MIL, or civilians. In his book “Delta Force,” Charlie Beckwith realized that he didn’t need to test his fledgling, and now famous, unit on if they would shoot. He needed to train them when not to shoot. Below are a list of targets that can help you with everything from bullseye accuracy, speed, and the ever important target discrimination.

The Top 5 Paper Targets

  1. Essentials Target: 

The Essentials Target is designed to give you an essential set of drills that will maintain your current proficiency level. The drill takes 150 rounds to complete and covers multiple aspects of pistol marksmanship to include slow aimed fire, weak and and off hand shooting, target transition, trigger speed changes, drawing, magazine reloads and controlled multiple shot groups.

  • Measures: 23″ x 35″
  • Unlimited amount of shooting combinations
  • Designed to maximize range time
  • Made in the USA

This product is designed to be used specifically with our Essentials Shooting Guide. 

2. IQ Target:

 

 

Rifle

The IQ Target is designed to create thinking among shooters. The infinite combination of shapes, colors, numbers and letters allows an instructor or student to create a wide variety of shooting problems. Students can be given simple commands such as “shoot all the triangles” or more complex scenarios such as “shoot at the squares and triangles that contain a number.”

The idea is it forces the shooter used to thinking and shooting rather than punching holes in paper. The 3 in. shapes make the target suitable for close in pistol work or long range shots. The larger 5 in. shapes are suitable for close quarters and short range rifle drills.

  • Measures: 23 x 35 in.
  • Unlimited amount of shooting combinations
  • Pistol targets: 3 in. shapes
  • Rifle targets: 5 in. shapes
  • Made in the USA

3. Kill Zone Target:


The Kill Zone Target comes with an overlay of the basic human anatomy. This collaborative target with Max Ordinate Academy is designed to give shooters the ability to see how their rounds would affect the human body.

  • Measures: 23″ x  35″
  • Standard human anatomy design
  • Made in the USA

4. Human Resources Target: 

The Human Resources Target was developed at the request of a Special Operations unit, in order to provide an endless supply of drills that include flat range work, as well as shoot-house/CQB training.  

Each of the five individual targets is designed with a different shape, color, letter, and number combination. All targets have a head, chest, and thoracic cavity zone, based on the average human height and width of each area.

By establishing a diverse set of targets that vary in combination, instructors and shooters can easily develop an infinite number of drills that are focused around their specific type of shooting. Advanced shooters can rehearse specific tactical scenarios, while beginners can work through basic fundamentals of shooting. 

  • Measures 23 x 35″
  • Infinite number of shooting combinations
  • Anatomically correct “Kill Zones”
  • Made in the USA

5. Hitman Target: 


The Hitman Target is designed to offer long range shooters a comprehensive zeroing and engagement system for precision marksmanship. Printed with a grid overlay system in both Metric and US/Imperial measurements, shooters can see their impact offset and be adjusted onto different zeroing squares. The squares have been sized 1-3″ for maintaining a 1 MOA zero at 100, 200, and 300 yards with precision aiming points at their centers. They have also been colored to contrast with red and black reticles for improved sight picture. Lastly, the target can be rotated 90º for MILDOT measurements for wind call adjustments.

  • Measures: 23″ x 35″
  • Metric and US/Imperial units of measure
  • Grid overlay system
  • Made in the USA

 

The Best Paper Targets for Shooting

While we have our recommended paper targets for shooting, at the end of the day you need to find a target that can fully optimize your range time.  If your target is a simple bullseye you will find it hard to conduct multiple drills.  Choose a target that’s going to give you plenty of different options for drills.  We recommend looking at your end goal such as getting faster, shooting more accurately or both and then selecting a target that best suits your needs.

The Best Range Targets

 

When going to the range, try to find targets that will keep you from wasting ammo and will maximize your time.  Using the RE Factor Tactical Essentials and IQ Targets allow you to go to the range without having to spend a bunch of time planning out your training. We like to use “The Essential Shooting Guide” to give our range trips a little structure. It also allows us to tailor our limited training time to what we need to work on for the day, such as precision pistol at 25m or quick rifle transitions with a modified El Presidente drill. Both of these targets also allow us to set up and take down fairly quickly, which leaves us more time to focus on shooting. The Essentials Target, when used in conjunction with The Essential Shooting Guide, allows you to track my progress through gated assessments as well. This is perfect for anyone looking to really work on specific parts of their shooting.  

How to Build a Target Stand

Several different methods for building target stands exist, but this plan is inexpensive, mobile, and easily constructed. After quick trip to your local hardware store, head back to your garage, crack a cold one, crank up the Iron Maiden (Texas country is also acceptable), and assemble your target stand in a matter of minutes.

Equipment required:

Item

Amount

2”x4”x24”

4

1”x4”x48” furring strips

3

3” deck screws

10

Staple gun & staples

1 & 8

24”x36” cardboard backing

1

Directions:

  1. Begin by assembling your supplies
  2. Place 2×4 “A” on the ground, with the 4” side upright
  3. Using a pencil, measure 11 ½” from each end. Ensure to mark on the top and side of the 2×4.
  4. Drill two pilot holes at the 11 ½” mark on the 4” side of the 2×4.
  5. Place 2×4 “B” perpendicular to “A” and line it up with one set of 11 ½” pilot holes.
  6. Use two of the 3” deck screws and attach “A” and “B” using the pilot holes.
  7. Repeat this step and attach “C” to “A”.
  8. You should now have one 2×4 attached to two 2x4s with a 1” gap in the middle of “B” and “C.”
  9. Cut one of your 1”x4” furring stips down to 16”.
  10. Slide the 16” furring strip between “B” and “C” so that there are 4” of clearance between your furring strip and “A.”
  11. Repeat steps 3-6 with 2×4 “D.”
  12. Take the two remaining deck screws and affix “C”, “D”, and the furring strip together 3” from the end of each side of the furring strip.
  13. Staple the 24”x36” piece of cardboard to the remaining 4” face of the two remaining furring strips.
  14. Place the cardboard and furring strips into the stand made from pieces “A-D”.
  15. Place sandbags or weights on the target stand in high winds.

Best Shooting Target Games

Competition breeds success in everything, not just sports. In the eternal words of Saint George S. Patton Jr. “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” The classic end of the week beer shoot off in team rooms everywhere are sacred for a couple of reasons: it’s an easy and effective way to test your skill man to man, it adds a little simulated pressure to jack up your heart rate and force you to focus, and (my personal favorite) bragging rights over your teammates or buddies in the form of the loser buys the libations. I highly encourage everyone to end their day with a quick bout of “mano y mano” with your buddy in some good natured fun. Try these games to have some fun and measure your skill against someone else and not just the clock:

Human Resources Target: The Hammer Drill

The shooter stands at the 7m line.  At the buzzer the shooter fires 1 round to the T box, 2 rounds to the chest and 3 rounds to the pelvic triangle.  These are performed using our Human Resources Target. 

IQ Target: Numbers Game

Engage all COLORED shapes with a number inside of it. The number in the middle determines the amount of rounds that object receives. The shooter with the best time wins. A 1 second penalty is added for each miss or improper round count.  These are performed using our IQ Targets. 

Kill Zone Target: 5 x 5 Drill

The shooter stands at the 5m line.  At the sound of go the shooter fires 5 rounds to the A Zone, reloads and then fires 5 rounds to the B Zone.  These are performed using our Kill Zone Target.

Hitman Target: 1-2-3 Drill

Fire 1 round into the 1” target, 2 rounds into the 2” target, and 3 rounds into the 3” target. Fastest time wins.

Dartboard Target: 

Exactly like cricket in darts, but with bullets. We recommend using one target per team to help keep score. If you need a quick refresher on how to play, here’s a link to an easy to understand cricket breakdown, though the instructions are also on the bottom of the target: https://www.darting.com/Darts-Rules/Cricket/

Once you feel comfortable with your skills, we encourage you to try out some local competition with your friends. Go with the mindset of having fun and improving. Don’t get intimidated by the rules or fancy guns you see there, you’ll likely impress yourself with how you’ve progressed.

International Defensive Pistol Association: http://www.idpa.com/

United States Practical Pistol Association: https://uspsa.org/

3 Gun Nation: https://www.3gunnation.com/

Best Long Range Target

Zeroing your rifle without a spotter is fairly tough, especially at longer distances. For that purpose, we prefer the Hitman Target. Just grab a spotting scope and use the handy measuring feature running the length or height of the target to measure from the bench. My favorite feature is that it’s hashed for MOA and MILs, which allows for every shooter to use this regardless of their preference for MOA or MIL. It’s also nice to get your Data On Previous Engagement (DOPE) by confirming your zero out to 300m using the 1”, 2”, and 3” targets. This worked particularly well when re-zeroing my Mk12 build. The color contrast actually did help, especially with an illuminated TMR reticle.

Custom Shooting Target

 

RE Factor Tactical can customize any target needed.  We have designed several targets for various law enforcement agencies as well as Special Operations units.  We can either take your existing design and print it or customize a design based off the needs of your individual unit or agency.  If you would like us to customize a target for you, please contact govsales@refactortactical.com

Best Hostage Target

We have literally been shooting at the “hostage target” since our dads first started taking us to the range. The type was the standard, “shady looking bad guy holding a gun to a hostage’s head” which meant that only a small portion of the target itself was usable. Those were great for the John McClane reenactments we all love, but not so great for usability after that. The Human Resources Target though offers much, much more. The “T” box, or the area that has a high probability of immediately incapacitating a threat, is prominently displayed along with corresponding chest and thoracic cavity zones. These targets were actually specifically requested by a Special Operations Force (SOF) unit to provide any number of scenarios to test operators’ ability to get good hits quickly. If you’re lucky and you have access to a range with a shoot-house, you can set these up throughout the house with specific rules of engagement to stress the importance of target discrimination. “Only shoot green shapes” or “Numbers are non-threats” are simple scenarios designed to test your thought process and in the end make you think before you shoot.

Best Targets for the Tactical Shooter

For the tactical style shooters, particularly the MIL and LEOs out there, take a hard look at the Kill Zone target. It’s great because it gives you a real look at exactly what your rounds are affecting within the human body. On this target, the human body is overlaid against a standard-sized IDPA target for the competitors out there too. The Essentials Shooting Guide, used in conjunction with the Essentials Target, is a fantastic resource for everyone from beginners to master-level competitors to tactical shooters. A timer is required for several of the drills, but as previously stated, you can download a free shot timer from your smart phone.

Targets that make you a become a more accurate shooter

We started this rodeo with a simple question: what makes a great target? This is the answer: a great target enables you to get accurate hits in a shorter amount of time. Any range trip where you don’t improve one modicum of your skill set is wasted potential. Luckily, a few assets can help ensure we reach out potential after each range visit. The Essential Shooting Guide, from start to finish, is a fantastic resource to hone your skill set. Consisting of 11 chapters, the guide will improve your shooting with incremental assessments. Each chapter details another aspect of your pistol and/ or rifle shooting, laying out drills to improve general marksmanship, bullseye, draws, transitions (rifle to pistol and between targets), trigger manipulation, and facing movements. Our favorite part of each drill is that the guide tells you exactly what you’re trying to achieve. The “End Game” in the rifle to pistol transition states:

“Here you are practicing your transition from rifle to pistol. You are also building the muscle memory to plus up your weapon systems after both have gone dry in a manner that helps keep you partially in the fight. You should avoid holstering your pistol dry and then conducting a magazine reload. The reason for this is because your rifle may have gone dry from a malfunction or from running out of ammunition. You should always have at least 1 weapon system back up and ready for the fight before fixing the next.”

Anyone who’s been in the military can tell you that the “so what” of the training, the real reason for doing it, is pivotal to buy in from everyone from the lowest ranking Joe to the NCO actually tasked with conducting the training to whichever officer will rave about it in the summary to the commander.

You can accomplish every drill in the book as long as you can pace out 25m, but to really maximize the lessons you need the Essentials and Kill Zone Targets.

The IQ Target makes you search for the right target, focus on the fundamentals to maintain accuracy, and remember your engagement criteria. Along with the IQ Target as a useful range tool, is the Dead Man’s Hand deck. You can pick them up in either rifle or pistol variants. Each deck has 52 drills that are used in conjunction with the IQ Targets. The drills vary by difficulty, distance, and starting position. All of the drills are fun and include different aspects of your shooting skills.

For example, the 7 of Clubs for the rifle deck has the shooter starting from the 3 yard line in the high ready. At “GO,” the shooter engages 1 round to green circle B, 2 rounds to blue square 1, 3 rounds to red square 2, 2 rounds to blue square 1, and 1 round to green circle B. These drills are a lot of fun to end the range trip on, especially with a friend. My range buddies and I like to perform 10 pushups or 15 air squats before each round to get the heart rate up and really focus on the basics (breathing, gradual trigger squeeze, feeling the reset, etc).

Range Safety

  1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
  3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
  4. Always know your target and what is beyond.
  5. Know how to operate a gun safely.

These are fairly standard range rules. If you stick to these, you will be safe and keep other safe as well. Our advice is to never take your gun or your skills for granted. Overconfidence causes a lot of accidents, so don’t be the guy who has an accidental discharge with your .44 magnum while trying to show off. Some ranges allow you to maneuver around so long as you maintain good muzzle awareness. Some ranges won’t even allow you to shoot faster than a 1 round per 1 second cadence. If your home range is more restrictive, be respectful and follow the rules. Modify your drills if you have to or ask permission. If you’re new, follow the rules and go with someone you trust to show you the ropes. If you happen to be one of the folks who someone else is relying on, be extra careful and harp on the details of range safety. We’ve grown up around firearms our entire lives and now we work with them on a daily basis, but we are still as unbending as an iron rod for safety. Another rule that we grew up with to really etch the gravity of firearm safety is this: never point a gun, unloaded or not, at anything you’re not willing to destroy.

Despite what the “let’s eat Tide Pods” generation says, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is actually a great resource for gun safety. Follow this link to learn more about firearms safety: https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org/

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