Here at TTAG, we love shooting steel. Some TTAG writers have the luxury of owning rural property where they can simply leave their targets. Others, myself included, live in suburbia, and can only shoot at gun clubs or out on public lands (BLM, National Forest lands, etc.). So we need steel targets that are portable. Fortunately, Grizzly Targets of Tampa Florida has the answer: a set of stands and targets they call the “Build Your Own Range” (BYOR) System. Grizzly sent me some T&E samples, and I have since purchased additional pieces . . .
The heart of the system is the “BYOR stands” and the “Vertical T –Connectors.” When used in combination with 2x4s, a pair of these two parts form a frame from which you can hang dueling plates, 3 gun plates, or gongs. If you add the horizontal T-connector, you can also support the mini AR-500 IPSC target as well. In the photo below, you can see how the basic system works in conjunction with a gong:
Each BYOR stand is intended to be used in concert with three sections of wood 2×4 material. You can cut the 2x4s to whatever size you need depending on the type of shooting you are doing. When setting the system up for rifle shooting, I used two-foot long sections for the stands, as shown below:
This system works really well for shooting at hanging gongs at long range. Grizzly Targets makes a really nice 18 inch diameter, ½ inch thick AR 500 gong that is perfect for long range work (see photo above). For this set up, you need 4ea 2x4x8s. One 2×4 is cut into four two-foot long sections. Two additional 2x4s are cut to six feet. That gives you a total of 6ea two-foot long sections to use as legs for the two stands. The two six-foot sections become the vertical beams. The last eight foot section is used as the horizontal crossbeam. This set up keeps a lot of distance between the gong and the wood, which helps keep the wood away from errant rounds. Certainly, if you need to use shorter pieces of wood, you can do so – the system is very flexible in this regard.
In my neck of the Cascades, it can be difficult to find suitable public locations for long-range shooting. The Forest Service has enacted rules that, understandably, prohibit shooters from firing from – or over – a “road.” While prudent in theory, the rub is that they consider pretty much every minor logging trail to be a “road.” Combined with all the large trees in these forests, and options for long-range shooting can be very limited. We have found a few clear cuts that get us out to 1000-1200 yards. We also found a very remote, desolate roadless spot under some powerlines that gets us out to 800 yards. (We called and verified with the Forest Service LEOs that it is OK to shoot here). Highly variable swirling winds up at these high elevation locations can be a challenge. On this day last September, my buddy Ryan and I set up steel targets at 300 yards, 600 yards, and 800 yards. We painted the 2x4s yellow, so that everything would be visible in the photo below.
In the video below, you can see how the Grizzly BYOR system works for long range shooting. We have a Grizzly 18 inch, ½ inch thick AR-500 gong set up at 600 yards, and Ryan is ringin’ it with his Barrett 98B in .338 Lapua. Click on the “HD” button and you will be able to see the bullet trace as it flies downrange. Bullets fired at 19 sec, 57 sec. 1:19 sec, and 1:41 sec.
But long range is not the only thing the BYOR system can do. For a pistol arcade, 1-foot long 2x4s will suffice for the stands. Truth be told, on my last range trip I experienced vapor-lock of the cranial cavity (as my zoomie buds would say) and forgot to bring enough 2x4s for the stands. To improvise, I just used the stand by itself, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it worked fine for pistol shooting, as shown below:
In the photo above, I was using Caldwell 10-inch AR-500 plates and a self-healing “Big Gong Show” target from Do-All Outdoors. I used a series of eye-bolts to hang AR-500 steel plates. For safety reasons, you want to be a good distance away from hanging steel plates when shooting pistols, so I opted for larger plates. I will probably end up buying some smaller 6-inch or 8-inch plates as well, because the 10-inch plates were not all that challenging until you got really far back. The downside to smaller plates is that they react so violently to a hit that it takes them a while to settle back down.
Here is a more recent photo showing more-or-less the same set up, except this time I remembered the wood sections for the base. Note to self: white targets don’t show up well on snowy backgrounds.
For pistol shooting, you can also add dueling plates to the vertical 2 x 4s, or set them up as a stand-alone unit. The dueling plates are ¼ inch AR-500, and the target area is 5 inches in diameter. Spring tension mechanism allows for desired reaction to different calibers. The nut in the back holds the spring, and the more it is tightened, the harder the reaction. Loosen it up and the plate swings easier. This system works best if you have at least 5 or 6 of the dueling plates, so I will need to order a few more.
The 3-Gun Post Target is intended for competition use. It features a 6 inch diameter plate made from ¼ inch thick AR-0500. It is not an auto reset target, so you only get one hit before you have to manually reset the target. Grizzly makes a ground popper target that is similar to these 3-gun post targets, but it has a spring-loaded auto-reset feature as well. I have five of these on order, but they have not arrived yet.
In the photo below, we used three AR-500 dueling plates and a 3-Gun Post Target in concert with a 3-slot galvanized combo stand.
Also, you have to really have a firm set up if you want the 3-gun plate to work in tandem with the dueling plates. If the set-up has any wobble at all, the 3-gun plate will fall over when the dueling plates are hit. Having said that, the “BYOR stand” is inherently more stable than the “Three Slot Galvanized Combo Stand” I used in these photos because it only has three points of contact. You can use ground stakes with the later, however, which helps a lot. In either case, sandbags or large rocks can also be used to keep things stable. I like using large rocks when shooting rifles at long range because the rocks provide extra protection from errant rounds.
When I first tried to set up the dueling trees, I had a brain fart and thought that I needed to cut a separate piece of wood for each plate. Turns out, the exact opposite is true: you have to use one solid 2×4. If you try to use multiple sections of 2×4 like I did, the tree will lean to one side or the other:
Derp. Set up properly, it should look like this:
Here’s a video showing how the system works. In this case, we were lazy and did not stake down the stand so there was some wobble. That is easily remedied with stakes if it becomes a problem.
Best of all, the BYOR system is very portable. I just toss all of the metal parts into a Rubbermaid tub and throw it in the back of the SUV. Be sure to bring a cover for the tub, as well as some hand wipes to help get lead off your hands – steel targets get covered in fine lead dust.
Longer pieces of wood are tied to my roof rack. I found a rubberized bag that is intended to carry U.S. Army camo net poles that is perfect for the shorter (< 6 foot) wood sections. I like transporting the wood in a bag because the wood sections do tend to absorb a lot of shrapnel:
Also, I have been caching 2x4s at my favorite shooting spots so that I don’t have to haul the wood every time I shoot at those locations.
I’ve also been experimenting with what type of material to use to hang the gongs. While chain works, it is susceptible to being cut by errant rounds. Not that I ever shoot any errant rounds, but…. OK, it happens. BTW, 550 cord will also work in a pinch, as will duct-tape. However, nylon or cotton webbing seems to be the most durable material. I found a roll of cotton webbing at my local army surplus store for $8, and at the rate I’m going, this may be a lifetime supply.
So what about durability? Well, I’ve made 5 trips to the range with this set up, and so far, so good. The 18 inch ½ thick gong is bombproof – even .50 BMG does not make a dent at 600 yards.
The BYOR stand and the vertical T-Connectors will get scratched up due to shrapnel. No big deal; you can re-paint them if you are worried about rust. The dueling tree plates look a little worse for wear in the area where errand 9mm rounds have hit the armored “V” plate. That part of the target is not AR-500, but the angle really helps prevent penetration. I am estimating that the dueling plates will take hundreds of hits in that area before they outright fail.
The round AR-500 target plate itself was unphased by hits from 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 acp, .357 Magnum, and .380 auto.
The ¼ inch thick plates are not rated for rifles, so if you if you shoot them with an AR-15 loaded with M855 or 12-Gauge slugs, you will dent them and make them unsafe.
I have also bought a package deal of 4ea AR-500 3/8 thick IPSC targets and stands when they were on sale. I’ve been really happy with these targets. The 3/8 inch thick AR-500 stood up well to .338 Lapua. In the photo below, you can see how a .338 Lapua hit at 600 yards only scratches off some of the paint but otherwise does nothing to the steel plate. Over time, these targets have developed 20+ layers of paint.
I’ve been working on the assumption that .50 BMG will damage 3/8 inch thick AR-500, so I have not shot the IPSC plates with these big rounds.
So if you have thinking about upgrading to steel targets, check out Grizzly Target’s website and order your own. They have a great deal on shipping right now, so its a good time to make the move. .
BYOR Base: 11 lbs / $49.99
Vertical T-Connector: 6 lbs. / not available separately
5 inch Dueling Plate (1/4 inch thick AR-500): 7 lbs / $89.99
6 inch 3-Gun Competition Plate (1/4 inch thick AR 500): 8 lbs. / $69.99
18 inch 1/2-inch thick AR 500 Gong: 39 lbs. / $200 (on sale right now for $139.99)
Quality: * * * * *
Grizzly’s AR-500 steel is top shelf.
Durability: * * *
While the AR-500 plate itself is good to go, I might thicken up the “V” plates on the dueling plates. Other than that, I have no complaints.
Portability: * * * * *
Let’s face it, most serious steel is heavy, and the logistics of getting to and from the range can be a PITA. Grizzly Targets has a viable solution for those of us that don’t own rural property.
Value: * * * * * *
Grizzly sells their steel at very fair prices, and they don’t kill you on shipping. Also, be sure to track their website and Facebook page: Grizzly has periodic sales which will make you think you are really stealing their steel.