Discussion in 'XDTalk Chatter Box' started by 18436572, Feb 17, 2011.
Are steel targets dangerous? I am a newbie to range shooting and I was just curious.
They can be if they are too close to the shooter. Ricochets have been known to cause injuries.
Thanks, how close is too close with a .40 cal ? I was going to ask about ricochets but I didn't know how to spell it.
Depends, it is a lot to do with physics. I can't say what a safe distance is myself but I usually don't get closer than 10 ft. Sometimes it is not ricocheting bullets, but fragments that can bounce back at the shooter depending on certain rounds.
I've shot 9mm and .45acp at 9-11 yds, no fragments came back at me. Your mileage may vary.
Usually about 10 yards is recommended. You can shoot steel closer if you have the targets leaning forward at 45 degrees to the ground. You still see almost all the target and the rounds are deflected down and away from your shooting position. Just remember that the closer you push the more vulnerable you become. Always wear safety glasses.
Make sure the target is directly facing you and not at an angle. That will help prevent ricochets. Based on the local Steel Shoots you will still get some flattened lead flying around.
Nice Nick, by the way. You into Mopars?
I've been hit more than once by .45 rounds coming back, at 7-30 ft. You feel it, but it doesn't hurt.
I just built a swing style target set up that I can change out to different size targets....My targets are made of 1/4 steel.I have shot as close as about 10 feet.
The stand is amongst some cross ties and a couple of stumps...above it is a tree that the limbs hang over ....with that said I have shot approx 80 rounds and I have fragged the H*ll outta everything around it. I have knocked off limbs above also.
My rounds ,all which are FMJ 180 grain always flatten but I do see alot of splatter .
I have heard some horror stories of ricochet but I would be more concerned with fragments.
Safety is key....follow your instincts!!
Generally, I would avoid shooting steel and anything less than 15 yards. I've been hit with fragments at 25 yard indoor ranges when a neighboring shooter hit the edge of the bullet trap. No real damage done but it's a good reinforcement for wearing eye protection.
I am into all fast cars but Chevys are my favorite.
Thanks for the input everyone. I built my own steel target with a slight lean forward and I shoot at 25 to 30 yards. Safety glasses are a very good idea.
IDPA rule book
Steel targets should not be shot at distances closer than ten (10) yards (30 feet).
USPSA rule book
CHAPTER 10: Penalties
A shot fired at a metal target from a distance of less than 23 feet (7.6 yards), measured from the face of the target to the nearest part of the competitors body in contact with the ground
Just for some reference
It would be interesting to see the velocity of a ricochet at different distances from the point of impact. Anyone seen any data like that?
August 31, 2003
Steel reactive targets: Safety and use
From The FBI Training Bulletin
There are presently a variety of steel targets on the market allowing a wide range of firearms training techniques. However, many of these targets do not provide adequate protection from bullet splatter (the bullet fragments that are reflected when a target is hit), so accidents can occur. It is important, therefore, that the user know what factors make training on steel targets as safe and effective as possible.
When shooting steel targets, a "splatter zone" appears. This zone is the area in which the great majority of bullet fragments eventually wind up. The total amount of splatter in this zone is primarily dependent on the following four key issues: 1) Angle of deflection, 2) Target hardness, 3) Bullet design and 4) Target placement.
Angle of Deflection
The type and design of a steel target determines the angle of deflection. Testing for angle of deflection is done by shooting a steel plate target surrounded by a plywood box. After shooting numerous rounds, the path of the bullet fragments is assessed by examining the marks left on the plywood. As the bullet shatters on impact, the majority of the fragments spread out at 20-degree angles from the plate surface. This area, which forms thin triangular shapes to the left and right of the target, is referred to as the "splatter zone." It is not a safe place to be as a full 95% of all bullet fragments can end up here. The remaining area, including the shooter, is referred to as the "safety zone," and receives only a small portion of bullet fragments. Although the safety zone is not absolutely safe, with proper protection, normal training can be carried on without undue risk.
The hardness, or tensile strength, of a target measures the amount of force that can be applied to the steel before deformation or damage occurs. Hardness is most commonly measured by a Brinell number ranging from 150 on the soft side, up to 700 on the hard extreme. While the average target is made of the cheaper steel with a Brinell number of 265, some targets have a Brinell number over 500 and can withstand repeated .308 rounds without deformation or damage. Intuitively, it is apparent that a harder steel target will last longer. More importantly, a harder steel target is actually safer. In repeated testing, hard targets produced very consistent splatter patterns and returned little or no bullet material back to the shooter. Softer targets deformed sooner and often resulted in extremely unpredictable splatter patterns. Specifically, many fragments were larger and traveled in virtually every direction, effectively rendering the safety zone non-existent. It is recommended, therefore, that steel targets be made of the harder steel. Initially they will be more expensive, but, based on longevity and safety, they will be more cost effective in the end.
A high quality, higher power factored ammunition is essential to reduce splatter. Simply stated, to minimize the size and pattern of splatter, drive the projectile harder. Consequently, a lead bullet with a low velocity is the worst option for steel target training. For safe training, it is recommended that only higher power factored bullets be used. A desirable round to produce consistent splatter is a jacketed hollow-point with a velocity of 1225 fps. Another issue is the "correlation factor." This generally refers to how well a bullet holds together to give controlled expansion and penetration. In the case of steel target training, the best bullet is a frangible style round. The high velocity, frangible design of such bullets creates a predictable shattering effect on impact.
Even with the best targets and bullets, training can be dangerous if targets are placed incorrectly. Metal targets should not be placed parallel to each other with out a barrier between them. Splatter from one target could ricochet off another target (secondary splatter), and return to the shooter. Metal targets that are used in a grouping pattern should be staggered so as not to be in the 20 degree angle of deflection splatter zone of another target. Placing plywood to the sides of each target easily solves both of these problems. Because the wood is soft, it will absorb the splatter and not cause dangerous secondary splatter. The wood will, however, need to be replaced frequently to be an effective barrier. Another cause of secondary splatter can be large rocks or concrete. The best surfaces are made of sand or fine gravel. If concrete is used, it should be covered by wood or pea gravel.
Other Safety Issues
Since splatter can only be minimized and never totally eliminated, proper eye protection must be mandatory on all firing ranges. Eye protection should be OSHA tested and have side protection built in. Long sleeves and hats are optional but recommended. Instructors and observers should stand behind the shooter and obey all safety precautions as well. In short, training on steel targets can be safe if done properly. Buy your targets from a reputable manufacturer, use high velocity, frangible ammunition, place targets correctly, and take proper safety precautions.
i've been hit by a .22 ricochet in the forehead. Stung like hell.
We have an extensive set of steel plate targets set up at the family ranch.
When we set these things up, we were told by many to angle the targets, where the top was angled towards the shooter by about 10-15 degrees. That way, the rounds will ricochet but be driven into the soft soil right in front of the targets.
I have noticed that most deflected centerfire stuff DOES go right down into the soft sand right in front of the targets.
We made these targets out of 3/8" carbon steel plate and most are angled but one rack of 4 round plates is a swinging set up, that is mounted on a rod.
We have never been hit by ricochets, but mostly we hit these targets with 22 rimfires, 38 Special lead bullets and maybe 9mm and 45. I have never hit them with the AK, Mini-14 or other "hotter" rounds. I think, maybe once or twice, I have hit them with the Marlin 44 lever action, but I was shooting 44 Special cowboy loads and was at least 30-40yds away.
We also are at least 15yds away when shooting the handguns and usually 25-50 yds away with the rimfire rifles.
So if the targets have a slight angle downwards and you stay at least 10-15yds back....you should not have a problem.
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