"Hitting the Mark: A Guide to Choosing the Right Shooting Targets"

"Hitting the Mark: A Guide to Choosing the Right Shooting Targets"

"Hitting the Mark: A Guide to Choosing the Right Shooting Targets"


Selecting the right targets is a crucial element that can help you hone in your shooting skills. Whether you're a seasoned marksman or a novice, understanding the various options available will enable you to get the most out of your shooting experience. In this post, we'll explore what you’ll need to consider when choosing shooting targets. Materials, target types, finish options, and the performance advantages of CNC cut laser parts over plasma cut, we will help you understand what to look for when you are out there shopping.

Material Matters

AR500 Steel – The Audible Choice

What is AR500 you ask? It is a grade of steel that has been hardened to give it the ability to withstand high-impact applications & contains abrasion resistance properties. When it comes to durability and longevity, AR500 steel stands out as a top choice for shooting targets. AR500 steel is TOUGH, capable of withstanding repeated impacts from various calibers. This material provides satisfying audible feedback, helping shooters gauge accuracy from a distance. Before purchasing any target, it's essential to verify that it's made from high quality AR500 steel so you can be sure your targets will be able to handle what you are throwing at it. Will AR500 dent or wear? Yes, you can expect to see the location of your bullets impact on AR500 steel targets. You will obviously see bullet spray on the target but may see slight indentation at the impact points. The amount of impact and damage to the target will vary on the caliber, distance & load/grain of the shell. Please review our Ammo Caliber Chart for guidelines on proper use of steel targets. FMJ, ball ammo, or frangible (preferred) ammo are the only bullet types that can be used with steel targets. Remember, these aren’t indestructible but utilized properly should last indefinitely.  

Paper Targets – Versatile and Cost-Effective

Paper targets remain a classic and versatile option for shooters of all levels. They are cost-effective but do come with a lot of waste in each session. Paper targets are available in various designs, including bullseyes, silhouettes, and specialty shapes, catering to different training objectives. While they lack the durability of steel, they do provide valuable visual feedback on shot placement. This can be advantageous to helping you sight that new gun of yours in.

The bottom line is both paper and steel targets have their place. The choice is purely shooter preference, and we can see the benefits of having both options in your range.

Target Types

Gongs and Silhouettes - Practice Makes Perfect

Steel gongs and silhouettes offer a unique shooting experience. The audible "ping" when hitting steel provides immediate feedback, enhancing the engagement factor. You will typically see gongs offered in multiple sizes. If you’re new to shooting, then we would suggest getting at least 2-3 sizes, small, medium, & large so you can begin to work on improving your accuracy. The smaller the gong the harder it will be to consistently hit, especially if you are shooting with pistols or longer distances with rifles. For avid shooters, you guys probably already have a preference on sizing and understand your capabilities at multiple distances.

Silhouettes are meant to mimic real-life scenarios, adding an element of realism to your training. These targets are particularly popular in competitive shooting and tactical training due to their lifelike nature. Having several sizes in your range will help you get you weapons sighted in and test your shooting accuracy. Sizing on silhouettes is similar to gongs, you will likely want a size or two at multiple distances to test accuracy and repeatability of your shot. A lot of the time you will find silhouettes are mounted at a more lifelike height than gongs. This provides a more genuine shooting experience. Check out what Double Tap Ind. offers. Shop Now


Reactive Targets - Adding Realism to Training

For those seeking a more dynamic experience, this is where reactive targets come into play. These targets move, pop up, or change position when hit, simulating real-life scenarios. This type of target enhances decision-making and target acquisition skills, making it ideal for law enforcement and military style training. A reactive target can mean several things. In the market you will find Dueling Trees, Torsos, Texas Stars, Plate Racks, and Poppers all available. If you are shooting at a distance, be sure to look for targets that automatically reset, that can be reset from a distance, or that are easily accessible. Lots of poppers automatically return to the starting position via the spring in the hinge point of the target. For dueling trees and torsos simply re-shoot the paddle a second time (from the open position), this enables it to return to the starting position. The wonderful thing here is that this allows for continued shooting without the need to go out and reset targets. A great element of reactive targets is the chance for competition. You can race your buddy on the dueling tree, getting all paddles to their side or count the shots it takes on a reactive torso to flip all the targets out. Either one is a great way to gain bragging rights and give your friends hell. Even if your are out there shooting solo these styles of targets are a fantastic way to get your practice in and improve your shooting skills. Want to see what Double Tap Ind. offers? Shop Now

Finish Options - Unpainted vs. Powder Coated

The finish of a target is more about preference more than anything. Steel will not have problems even when exposed to environmental elements. While unpainted/raw steel will rust, some shooters prefer it due to the fact that paint will eventually flake. Choosing a raw target also allows shooters the flexibility to paint it themselves with their preferred color. Powder-coated targets, on the other hand, offer superior protection against rust, while also improving visibility. Many choose to keep spray paint handy in order to touch up targets after shooting, it’s just a part of range maintenance. By doing this, it helps improve the target visibility and helps you gauge your shot accuracy.

Manufacturing - CNC Laser Cut Parts vs. Plasma Cut

The method used to cut the steel impacts the overall quality of the target. CNC laser cut parts offer superior precision compared to plasma cutting. Laser-cut targets typically have smoother edges, ensuring consistency in size and shape. This precision not only enhances the target's performance but also contributes to a safer shooting experience. CNC laser cut steel targets offers a more impactful benefit than just appearance alone. Laser cutting steel reduces the amount of surface area affected by the heat that is applied to the steel in the manufacturing process. Plasma cutting heats a much more significant area of the part, reducing the performance of the target.  Heat applied to steel, both from weld & plasma cutting, can cause the parts to have embrittled/anneal surface areas that will be more prone to deform or break when shot. Pay attention when shopping to be sure you are getting the best quality you can. Intelligent manufacturers will use bolts to mount targets to stands or hangers. Don’t forget to pay attention to the grade of hardware sent in the products you choose. Low grade hardware will not be able to withstand getting shot. We personally suggest Grade 8 bolts and hardware.


Choosing the right shooting target involves considering factors like material, target type, finish, and manufacturing style. Whether you opt for the durability of AR500 steel, the versatility of paper targets, or the realistic reactive targets, selecting the right combination will enhance your shooting skills and make your training sessions more effective and enjoyable. To check out all of the targets (gongs, silhouettes & reactive), stands, and hangers Double Tap Industries offers, Shop Here. Good Luck & Shoot Straight!