Skip to main content

Tips for Shooting Steel Targets

Tips for Shooting Steel Targets

The heart of the Evil Roy stand is the pivot plate where the legs and target attach. Grabbing the handle and lifting the target off the ground will collapse the legs into a small, portable package.

There's a right way and a wrong way to shoot steel targets.

steel-targets-1Shooting at paper is probably what the majority of us spend our time doing at the range. Paper is cheap, easily transported and allows us to readily record group sizes. It's also a pain to replace if others want to continue shooting and can become a little onerous after a while.

Steel is my favorite target to shoot because it can be set up and shot at until we're out of ammo or lose interest. That ever-welcome tink tells us when we're on our game. Yeah, it's heavier than paper, and we can't fold it up and stuff it in our pocket when we're done, but steel is never boring, and good steel targets don't wear out.


I've spent some time shooting steel targets from Action Target, a company that specializes in (not surprisingly) steel targets for personal and public use. The two models I tested were the Evil Roy and the PT Tactical Torso.


The face and chest plates lift out of their carriers for a quick paint job. Pelvic Hit Zone plates attach in seconds and add two 4-inch circles to the Tactical Torso. The stand works well with the heavy torso and has an angled front to protect it.

I've never found an easier steel target to transport than the Evil Roy. It has a three-legged folding stand that sets up in seconds and collapses down into a small, 6-inch-by-3-foot package that I can easily throw in the back of my car.

Different-size heads are available for the Evil Roy, ranging from 6-inch to 12-inch circles, as are rectangles and reduced IPSC silhouettes.

The beauty of Evil Roy steel targets is that the head attaches by way of two shielded carriage bolts and a couple of wing nuts that take no time to put in place. Head sizes and shapes can be swapped out to accommodate engagement distances, shooter ability or desired level of difficulty.


One of my favorite drills is to put the 6-inch circle out at 100 yards and shoot off-hand. It's a great drill to test trigger control and really helps us focus on the basics without shooting a ton of ammo.

steel-targets-3The PT Tactical Torso is quite a bit larger and heavier, yet it gives us a ton of shooting options. We can put it at 100 yards, and it's plenty big for young shooters to hit, while the smaller face and chest plates provide an additional challenge for more-skilled shooters.

The smaller steel target plates also allow us to work on positional shooting by providing appropriately sized steel targets for sitting and kneeling positions at 100 yards. The face and chest plates are removable without tools for a quick repainting when needed.


Both targets I tested were made from AR550 steel, the only safe material to shoot with a rifle at distances of 100 yards or farther. It is possible to make AR550 rifle-rated targets safe to shoot at 50 yards if the target face is angled at about 45 degrees. Steel handgun targets can be made of AR500, which is a slightly softer armor steel that is safe to shoot with handguns as close as 10 yards.

steel-targets-4There are a lot of misconceptions about shooting steel. Not all steel targets are created equal; anything softer than AR500 and AR550 can deform with repeated impact. AR500 and AR550 retain their flat shape even after heavy use. The flat shape is vital to ensure that bullets fragment completely and the fragments get uniformly dispersed.

Never shoot green-tip or bi-metal bullets at steel targets of any kind because they will dimple and deform the target, radically increasing the likelihood of a ricochet. Plus, these "penetrator" projectiles will wreak havoc on your target.

Shooting at scrap steel targets or anything other than AR500 or AR550 can yield unpredictable results. It's not uncommon for cupped or concave steel to send bullets right back toward the firing line.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout cartridge was developed to provide greater effectiveness than a 9mm at short and medium ranges when fired from a short-barreled suppressed firearm. Just because the cartridge wasn't designed to go long doesn't mean Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand won't take it there, using a large-format pistol, no less. Armed with SIG Sauer's 9-inch-barreled MCX Virtus Pistol loaded with Black Hills' 125-grain TMK ammunition, Beckstrand attempts to ring steel at 600 yards with help from Hornady's 4DOF ballistic calculator in this segment of “Long Range Tech.”

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the result of years of engineering, testing and evaluation, combined with premium grade components found on rifles costing thousands of dollars more.First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle Rifles

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 29, 2020

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the...

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps.How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a 6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment.Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look Tactical

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Jeremy Stafford - September 10, 2020

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light...

See More Trending Articles

More Accessories

XS Sights is changing the name of its popular 3-Dot RAM Night Sights to R3D Night Sights due to a trademark issue.XS Sights Renames Popular Night Sights, Introduces New Line Additions Accessories

XS Sights Renames Popular Night Sights, Introduces New Line Additions

Guns & Ammo Staff - November 10, 2020

XS Sights is changing the name of its popular 3-Dot RAM Night Sights to R3D Night Sights due...

The Lockdown Puck is a compact monitoring and security device that can be used to safeguard valuables, regardless of where they are stored. Beyond gun safes, the Puck is ideal for monitoring wine cellars, liquor cabinets, humidors and just about anything else with a door.Lockdown Puck Security Device Review Accessories

Lockdown Puck Security Device Review

Richard Nance - July 30, 2020

The Lockdown Puck is a compact monitoring and security device that can be used to safeguard...

Designed to fit and protect all sorts of rifles and shotguns up to 42 inches long, the MTM Tactical Rifle Case features the durable molded construction we've come to expect from the company. It comes with four rugged snap clasps — one on each end and two on the side — and locking points.MTM Tactical Rifle Case Accessories

MTM Tactical Rifle Case

Jim Angell - September 28, 2020

Designed to fit and protect all sorts of rifles and shotguns up to 42 inches long, the MTM...

Apex Tactical Specialties announced the introduction and upcoming release of its new Action Enhancement Trigger for the Springfield Hellcat pistol.Apex Hellcat Trigger – First Look Accessories

Apex Hellcat Trigger – First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - August 10, 2020

Apex Tactical Specialties announced the introduction and upcoming release of its new Action...

See More Accessories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now