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Spice Things Up with New Shooting TargetsWords by Sean Utley
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Shooting with friends can be tons of fun. In fact, there’s rarely anything more entertaining than getting together with a group of family and friends and sending some lead downrange. But many times the average plinking session can become, well — a little stale.
We typically shoot at paper targets, stopping occasionally to tape them up so that we can actually see where our hits are. Often it’s one person on the firing line at a time while everyone else just watches. As fun as shooting is, it has the potential to become mundane. How do we overcome the blasting blues?
How to have a Blast
Try adding some new targets and interactive pieces to the mix. Nowadays, companies like Champion Target offer reactive targets, target holders and steel — a perfect mixture for any shooting gathering. With some Champion targets in hand, we rounded up a group of shooters and headed to a friend’s backyard shooting range. Add a grill and music, and it was officially a Backyard Blast! As a seasoned shooter, my shooting tends to be task oriented. But my friends had a much different mindset. Instead of recording technical data and results, they want to feel the kick and watch the impact after they’ve pulled the trigger. Ultimately, that’s what shooting is all about — fun.
Aside from the usual safety briefing and rules, there were only two other requirements: Have loads of fun and shoot up lots of ammo. Keep in mind that many of the reactive targets, especially those made of metal, are limited to being shot with .22-caliber firearms. A few friends brought Savage’s bigger bore rifles, which are meant to be used on specific targets.
Many new shooters start shooting at paper. Paper targets allow us to see if we are hitting exactly where we are aiming and to check for consistency of aiming or grouping. Paper targets are necessary and great for many applications. Companies offer a dizzying array of designs with everything from old-style shooting gallery scenes to dinosaurs, and there’s even one where the shooter takes aim at coins to tally up points.
In addition to interactive targets, we set up some paper targets for paper-punching pleasure. VisiColor targets added some extra flavor and spice to punching paper. When you hit the target in different zones, each zone displays a different color. The targets come in all shapes and sizes (including deer and turkey targets for hunters). What sets them apart is their impact visibility; shooters can easily identify impacts even from increased distances. When a projectile hits a VisiColor target, it produces a bright fluorescent color that highlights the impact area.
Make it interesting. Measure whose groups are the tightest in the bunch. Have a contest to see who can hit the bullseye the most. Games are a great way to improve accuracy and aiming in an engaging and social way. The first person to hit the bullseye gets the last soda. Whoever shoots the best group gets to pick the next game.
Keep it Popping
Want more reaction than punching paper? There’s nothing quite like staring down the scope and sending a DuraSeal target sky high or ringing a swinging target. Everyone spent the majority of their time shooting various spinning and pop-up targets. They provide immediate feedback to the shooter — just the thing for a fun afternoon gathering.
A popular hit at our barbecue were the .22 pop-up style targets in the shape of bowling pins, diamonds, pigs and dinosaurs. Their ability to swing, fall back and reset when hit made them a Backyard Blast favorite. With the targets resting on the ground and small spikes securing them, they endured an intense small-bore barrage.
Without a doubt one of the most entertaining targets for everyone was the .22 Double Reaction Metal Spinner. Friends chuckled and smiled as .17 HMR bullets found their mark on the center of the target, making the smaller diameter inner wheel spin, while leaving the outer, larger diameter spinner in complete stillness. For planning your Backyard Blast, they’re a must-have item. Some of the attendees had never shot a rifle, and they grinned from ear-to-ear as the targets spun wildly from repeated hits. Set them up in a scattered manner and get the watches ready. It’ll improve accuracy and make you a faster shot.
Resembling Skittles, the brightly colored DuraSeal targets littered the ground, ready for action. These spinning, self-resetting targets come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and colors. They’re as much fun to watch fly across the ground with a resounding crack as they are to shoot. They’ve taken interactive shooting to a whole new level. Grab a bag of Skittles, set up a lawn chair and make yourself comfortable as your friends plink away at the rainbow. Made of a self-healing polymer, they allow the bullet to pass through, and then basically close back up. They last hundreds of rounds.
Make it a Competition
Who doesn’t love a friendly competition?
Increase the challenge by adding VisiChalk Target Wheels to the range. The targets spin wildly upon impact, and plumes of smoke indicate the disk that’s been hit. Even experienced shooters found them a serious challenge. The good times and competition continued with DuraSeal Wobble targets. It was fun to watch people go head-to-head, seeing who could consecutively hit it the most.
Start Your Planning
There’s no better recipe for fun than combining food, friendship, games and shooting into one event. Grab some targets and begin turning your backyard into the perfect meeting spot for friends and family. Utilizing the various targets will bring a competitive air to the gathering and allow the good times to roll without having to repeatedly pause to reset targets.