Female military personnel practice shooting at outdoor range.

Whether you're training beginners or experienced shooters, finding the right types of targets can improve accuracy, correcting stance, and training for any scenario.

Here we look at 5 helpful steps to assist you in choosing the best shooting targets for training and qualification—regardless of skill or experience level. 

Step 1: Evaluate the Material of Your Target.

Choosing your target's material is essential for maximizing (and measuring) accuracy. Paper targets for shooting are the most cost-effective choice and are easy to manage and keep track of each shooter's progress. They also allow you to easily switch shooting scenarios to challenge recruits and prepare them for lethal vs. non-legal threats (see step 5 for more details!).

However, if you want a longer-lasting option or you're training outdoors, consider steel targets. Alternately, self-healing foam targets are another great option, as they offer an impactful yet non-marking surface that returns to its original shape after being shot at.

For example, the M-RTS1 self-healing reactive target offers the perfect solution for indoor and outdoor ranges. In addition, it's used for rifle and handgun practices, law enforcement, and military training. 

In contrast, the C-27 Auto Reset Steel Target absorbs bullet impact without damage. Shooters will hit each of the targets up and then shoot the reset to drop all the targets at once! No ropes or manual reset is required.  

That means more time for practice and fewer interruptions!

Step 2: Choose the Appropriate Size for Your Shooting Range.

Understanding the size requirements of your shooting range is key to selecting safe targets and providing a better practice experience. 

If students are target shooting at a close range, such as within 25 yards, opt for a target with a smaller hit zone between 4-8 inches in diameter. For longer-distance shooting, choose a target with a larger hit zone for better visibility, typically 10-14 inches or higher. 

Step 3: Mind Your Target's Thickness and Durability.

The thickness and durability of your target will also impact the practice experience. When selecting a target, consider how you’d like to use it and how much time you expect it to last in this situation. 

For some targets, such as paper targets, thinness may be beneficial for better visibility when using a scope; however, paper targets are not meant to endure multiple shots. Conversely, steel plates can handle multiple shots but are thicker than other materials for less visibility.

Step 4: Think About Visibility and Contrast.

Choosing a target that contrasts with the background is another important factor. For example, when picking out a paper target, try selecting one with dark coloration that contrasts with the background for better visibility. 

Again, if you’re outdoors shooting, use bright colors like orange or yellow on white surfaces for contrast. 

Bright colors help you spot bullet holes more accurately and at greater distances, which can be beneficial during target practice.

Step 5: Make Sure It Simulates Realistic Scenarios. 

While practicing with various target shapes, sizes, and colors is essential, make sure your target simulates a scenario or environment you plan on shooting in. 

Many shooting ranges have life-size silhouette targets with dimples, bulls-eyes, and aiming points designed specifically for self-defense scenarios. However, if you’re training for hostage situations, you'll need to select targets that offer unique challenges focused on high-stakes scenarios.

At Qualification Targets, Inc., we offer a wide selection of critical response targets and target overlays to provide shooters with shoot, no shoot scenarios, and hostage situations. Each overlay, which can be applied in seconds, switches a life-threatening situation to a non-legal one and vice versa—challenging shooters to think first and shoot second. 

Shop Practice Targets Today

For all your training and qualification needs, shop Qualification Targets, Inc. today. We proudly offer the best U.S.-made paper, cardboard, or steel target, as well as professional safety equipment and gun accessories to support law enforcement, military branches, and other U.S. safety departments.

Contact us at 866-498-8228 for questions or to place your order!