Question of the Day: What Target Do You Use At the Range?

Sr. Yeager is right: it doesn’t really matter what kind of target you shoot at. That said, if you’re shooting for self-defense, make sure to check your group size (rather than ultimate accuracy). If your group is smaller than your hand you’re not shooting fast enough. If it’s bigger than your hand you’re shooting too fast. More than that, have someone call out a part of your target. Moving from target to target (no shoots are vital) improves your gunfighting abilities a hundred times more than itty bit groups. Now then, what targets do you use when you’re at a square and/or outdoor range?


  1. avatar C says:

    Old pizza boxes with sharpie on the bottom.

  2. avatar Charles5 says:

    I shoot at sticky notes. Really cheap and can be stuck/taped to all kinds of target surfaces. If I can hit a sticky note, I should be good..

    1. avatar jimmy says:

      I take 2″ wide masking tape and rip 2″ squares off the roll. I put 20 of these on as diamonds, 3″ apart, on 24″ x 36″ targets. I save my bucks for ammo 🙂

  3. avatar Jeh says:

    Indoor used human silhouettes and outdoor used metal resets.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      ^ I like this answer. I will expand that on occasion, such as zeroing a new weapon, I use a standard bull or an MOA target. Once zeroed I think the “train as you fight” concept is important and so I shoot at silhouettes. For long-range the positive response of a metal “clang” is a whole lot better than waiting forever and then walking down to the target to check accuracy.

      I believe that if you are training to respond to a human target then you should be shooting at least a rough approximation of a human target. A mannequin in a T-shirt with blood squibs would be ideal, but other shooters tend to look at you funny.

    2. avatar Roscoe says:

      I too use full size silhouettes at varying distances between about six and twenty five yards. Once center mass has been obliterated, unless I’m point shooting, I call out different body locations in my mind to concentrate my fire, starting with the head.

      Bad guys don’t wear ringed targets (though the head is kind’a like a “ringed” target).

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        Perhaps we should make that a condition of parole?

        “Yes, we will let you go home under these specific conditions, and by the way, you must always wear a shirt or jacket with a large bulls-eye printed on the front.

        Never mind, too much like a pink or yellow star.

  4. avatar Dracon1201 says:

    I shoot at aliens, zombies, and any other cool larger targets I find.

  5. Because I run my own business, I get a LOT of boxes shipped to my house. I like to break them down and then draw my own targets using whatever character fits my mood at the time (I’m a comic book artist by profession). So every range trip tends to be a different target experience.

    1. avatar David PA/NJ says:

      That’s cool

      1. Thanks. The people I bring, often first time shooters typically enjoy it. Sometimes I tailor the target to the shooter.

        1. avatar lolinski says:

          That ain’t a bad idea, I am pretty decent at drawing myself. Should try it.

  6. avatar Semper Why says:

    Lots of Dirty Bird zombie rats. There was a sale.

  7. avatar A-Rod says:

    Ever since that story broke of the DHS using targets of lil’ ol’ ladies, children with cap guns and other regular people for range practice I have started printing Google Images of Police Officers and taking those to the range. I mean… fair is fair, right?

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      I hope you are highlighting the chest area (center mass) generally covered by the issue vest so you know where NOT to shoot.

      Elsewhere people have commented that law enforcement should have their “privilege” to carry guns taken away. I think this is a very bad idea, since the majority of cops are out there trying to do good for the community and it is the minority of rogues that are the actual problem. Perhaps the solution is that for every time an officer is suspended for misconduct he be required to patrol for an equivalent time following the suspension without his vest on. The increased vulnerability might temper his bravado just a bit.

      1. avatar Roscoe says:

        @ Cliff

        Or make him more likely to go off in a flash.

        1. avatar Cliff H says:

          Well, there is that.

    2. avatar Roscoe says:

      @ A-Rod

  8. Yeager puts photographers down range, I really don’t think that is the best target, but … who am I to question such an expert?


    1. avatar Stop complaining already says:

      Have you seen his “DO feed the trolls!” video?

      1. Yes, absolutely correct.

    2. avatar Nicks87 says:

      Yeah Yeager is an idiot. He may be a good businessman but I dont think much of him as an instructor. I attended one of his carbine courses and it was mostly just egos and ass-holes. I didnt learn much, it was mostly a fashion show for the gucci gear wearing, my-optic-is-more-expensive-then-yours type people.

      1. Did you ask for your money back? He has a standard offer: If you didn’t like the course, and will articulate what you didn’t like in front of the class, he will refund every cent of your money.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          That’s not an offer, it’s more like a threat.

          How many people are going to be willing to do that? I could understand having a personal conversation about the dissatisfaction, one-to-one, but nobody in his right mind wants to stand up in front of the instructor and everyone else and make himself into a giant target by telling them all that they’ve wasted their money.

          If that’s really how his refund policy works, then he’s earned his negative reputation.

        2. avatar paultmccain says:

          Further evidence that Yeager is total and complete idiotic jerk.

          I’ve spoken to several people who took a class from him. One of the guys said that as they went to the line to start shooting he noticed a guy on the ground by the targets with a camera so he yelled out, “cease fire!”

          Yeager asked him what was wrong. He said, “There’s a guy down range in front of us!” Yeager said, “Oh, don’t worry, he is a profesional. He knows what he is doing”

        3. avatar Nicks87 says:

          I didnt really feel ripped off, just disappointed. Too many people wanted to tell unsubstantiated stories about their individual prowess and it just got old real fast. It wasnt totally Yeager’s fault but I think his tough guy attitude brings out one-upmanship in his students and takes away from the training aspect of the course. Good instructors know how to stay on task and not let personal stuff take away from what is being taught. If I want to hear bullshit combat stories I can sit in the waiting room at the local veterans hospital and get plenty of that for free.

        4. avatar William Burke says:

          That seems like a very valid criticism. Did you or anyone else try to steer the conversation back on course? Worth a try, I’d think…

    3. avatar Don says:

      what a damned fool. Anything from a faulty copper jacket breaking loose to a medical seizure or vertigo could ruin that guy’s day or life.

    4. avatar Roscoe says:

      “‘Get down on your knees’…ready, aim…fire.”

      Probably not the muscle memory conditioning you would want to encourage.

    5. avatar Henry Bowman says:

      Paul, are you sure you don’t just have a serious man-crush on Yeager? It seems like every time his name comes up, you turn into the little school boy pulling pigtails on the playground.

    6. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Never miss a chance to play the same fucking song again, do you Paul?

      Seriously, there is abso-fucking-lutely nothing wrong with anything he says in the video above, but you’re going to shit on it simply because it was him that said it?

      Do you have a problem with anything he said in that video, or did you even watch it before rushing down here to post this video yet again?

      I’m not a Yeager fanboy, before you accuse me of it. I’m just irritated that you would (again) derail a perfectly legitimate post by (again) bringing up this same old shit which has (again) nothing whatsoever to do with the point of the post.

      1. avatar Nicks87 says:

        I think a lot of us are just sick of people using Yeager as a reference for firearms related material. Whether the information is good or not, his personality is too polarizing to be effective to a large audience. People either love him or hate him (mostly hate) and it detracts from what is being said. Every time he is mentioned the comments section turns into a pro Yeager vs con Yeager flame fest so maybe he should just be avoided all together IMO.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          Or those people could exercise a little self-control and not go on an anti-Yeager rant every time he’s mentioned, especially if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand, like in this case. The pro vs anti-Yeager fight wouldn’t start if the antis didn’t insist on starting it every time they see his face. Y’know, they could act like adults. I realize this is the internet and I’m asking a lot.

        2. avatar William Burke says:

          I, for one, don’t think being an adult about it is too much to ask. As Rick Nelson said, “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve gotta please yourself.” I think maybe I already quoted that this month, so promise – no more this month!

        3. avatar William Burke says:

          Funny, I’m pretty much in the middle in my views of Yeager. He certainly doesn’t bother me, like it seems to always do with others. Not enough to impose a moratorium on him as a subject here.

          If you don’t like him, or even if you despise him, I don’t see any good reasons to expunge him from mention at TTAG. If you dislike him, don’t read the article or watch the video. Simple as that. I don’t understand why he’s polarizing. I’ll generally watch the videos, or read the article.

          I think it’s stupid to pretend he doesn’t exist. No… not stupid. Childish.

        4. Well said, and we certainly don’t need Matt in FL resorting to a bunch of childish profanity either to make a point. That’s not what TTAG is about either, right?

        5. avatar William Burke says:

          LOL. What happened, Paul? Did Yeager spurn your advances, or what?

        6. avatar Matt in FL says:

          That’s it, right there. You got me. Because if you can’t attack the message (that you’re fixated on this dude), you attack the messenger.

      2. Why does TTAG keep featuring James Yeager who has been well proven to be a complete idiot, a detriment to the “cause” and stupid enough to put live people right next to targets as STUDENTS blast away at them.

        What part of that don’t you, or can’t you, understand Matt?

        What’s with the TTAG Fanboy love for Yeager? I don’t get it.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          “Featuring”? Man, the guy really gets your goat, doesn’t he?

        2. avatar Matt in FL says:

          Because the fact that he’s in the video above, nor the subject of the video itself, have nothing whatsoever to do with the photographer thing, that you insist on bringing up every. single. time. his name is mentioned. Do you have a Google Alert set up for him, so you can run in and bring that up every time he’s mentioned anywhere on the internet, or is it just here?

        3. avatar Matt in FL says:

          You misunderstand. It’s not that we love Yeager, it’s that we dislike your habit of bringing the same old shit up every time he’s mentioned, whether it’s germane to the subject or not.

          It’s this kind of stupid shit that’s seen you banned from a half-dozen other gun boards. Get a hobby, ffs.

    7. avatar Cliff H says:

      How can that photographer crouch like that with such big balls?

      This was an incredibly stupid idea, but I would respect it maybe just a little if Yeager were crouched between the two targets next over from the photographer.

      Four rules? What four rules? Those are for amateurs.

      1. avatar Henry Bowman says:

        What? Which of the 4 rules is broken by someone being downrange? I’m not saying it’s not without inherent risks, but there is nothing in the 4 rules that forbids shooting when there are “non-targets” in the vicinity of “targets.” Good thing, too, since then it’d be pretty hard to defend yourself in the real world… you know, since the real world is not a square range.

        1. “Henry Bowman” once more demonstrates just how stupid the Yeager Fanboys are willing to act in defending their great hero. Geesh. Get a room you two.

        2. avatar William Burke says:

          What? You’re asking him to make you jealous? Haven’t seen that one before.

  9. avatar gbo says:

    Squirrels. They don’t fight back much but the result is very satisfying….

  10. avatar Aaronw says:

    I reverse the standard NRA targets and draw small circles in black magic marker. I shoot at those and also at the staples holding them to the target backer. At 25 yards it makes for challenging iron sighted rifle shooting.

  11. avatar Taylor Tx says:

    My wife and I made a Giant Jenga Set, and the first run was a flop, so I have like 75+ pieces of 8ish inch 2×4. We painted a 1/3 red and a 1/3 blue and left the remaining 1/3 blank, these have been GREAT reactive pistol targets and with a training buddy, having someone to call out what to shoot is great. Between the 2x4s and clay pigeons, we use some 24inch square targets for longer shots so that there is a little room to see where the rounds land. I would love to get some Tac Strike steel on sale for christmas this year, but so far, the 2x4s are like poor mans steel for me 😀

  12. avatar Nomad says:

    8.5X11 piece of white paper. it’s way cheaper than pretty much any other target you can get, it’s easy to see where your shots land, there’s no “clutter” to aim at (so you can concentrate on group size exclusively), and it’s roughly the size of where you should be shooting on a human torso. I’ve been known to shoot at paper plates for a similar reason. This is all at an indoor pistol range btw. YMMV

    1. 6″ pie plates are a human relevant size.

  13. avatar IdahoPete says:

    At the range, our club has a scope-friendly sight-in target with a grid of thin red lines, vertical and horizontal, spaced at one-inch intervals, and a large central red aim point plus four smaller ones in the quadrants. The target is about 2′ by 3′, so you have multiple aiming options after you get your initial sight-in. For “drive out of town 5 minutes to the gravel pit” shooting, I have an old real estate sign frame with some added pieces of aluminum angle iron to form a channel for large pieces of cardboard boxes. I use a staple gun to put targets on the cardboard – lately, I have been using the Dirty Bird splatter targets – the smaller bullet holes show up better.

    .22 plinking – those self-sealing yellow/orange plastic targets that bounce along the ground when you hit them.

  14. avatar ThayneT says:

    Black silhouettes with my defensive handguns. If everything is in the “9” I’m happy.

    A variety of sizes of reactive splatter type targets for rifle and target pistol.

    Just about anything paper for my single action revolvers.

  15. avatar "lee n. field" says:

    cat food cans.

    1. avatar JoelT says:

      LOL! Does it make for an interesting target?

      I work at a grocery store and often have to stock ~75 different varieties, of tiny catfood cans in a single facing, going back about two feet into the shelf. The gap to stick your hand in to stock/fix the shelf is like 4 inches tall Trying to fix that shelf after a customer or another employee destroys it is one of the most frustrating things about my job. After one particularly frustrating session where I had to strip every can from the shelf and restock it from scratch after another employee destroyed it, I almost bought a dozen cans of catfood to take to the gun range.

  16. avatar tdiinva says:

    Standard silhouettes for pistols and buckshot, and cute little animals or classic circular targets for rifles and other shot shells.

  17. avatar Thatrugerguy says:

    I’m cheap and use paper plates. Works great !

    1. avatar Chad says:

      $2.50 for a pack of 50. that’s what I buy as well.

    2. avatar Jim R says:

      Ditto on the paper plates. Just the right size, and dirt cheap to boot. I staple 2 to a piece of cardboard. A full size plate for torso, a “saucer” plate for headshots.

  18. avatar doesky2 says:

    I use the 2012 electoral map and shoot out the blue parts.

    1. avatar Adub says:


    2. avatar Cliff H says:

      This unfortunately leaves the majority of the center of the target a no-shoot zone. Do you deduct points for “flyers” that hit the red states?

      How about increasing the challenge and finding the red/blue county maps?

  19. avatar Nick says:

    Pumpkins filled with water, watermelons, shaving cream, 24 packs of Dr. Thunder from walmart, 2 liters, etc.

    I can’t remember the last time I shot a paper target.

    1. avatar A-Rod says:

      Is that you Hickcock45?

  20. avatar Jonathan -- Houston says:

    Depends on who I’m with. Newbies, anti’s, or on-the-fencees, usually something silly and fun like a toxic waste zombie rat or something to keep it light and entertaining. If it’s just the two of us or I’m alone, then the more basic B-27 target. I prefer something not too busy graphically, so that I can more easily see from a distance where shots land as fired.

  21. avatar Ralph says:

    Indoors, whatever paper targets I have handy. Outdoors, I prefer “reactive” targets like cans, plastic bottles and steel, but paper is okay too, especially for sighting in.

  22. avatar Mark says:

    ugh, good info, bad teacher. Less Yeager please, unless it’s about him lying about the Resûme or getting his permit pulled

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Do you actually have a problem with anything he said in that video?

  23. avatar Jeff says:

    I usually print off targets from

    costs me virtually nothing on a high yield laser printer, the toner and paper is all a work expense for me.

    check them out. lots of good targets for printing.

  24. Travon or pig targets

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Keep it classy, Leonard.

      1. The question was asked. Sometimes the pigs are all dressed up classy like, other times they are covered in mud. Mostly in mud though.

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          Self-deleted. Wrong reply location.

          Still a classy answer, though.

  25. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Those round Obama/Biden 2012 magnets make great targets but it’s getting hard to find people obtuse enough to still have them on their cars.

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      Hey Gov, we’re talking about RANGE targets, not moving Pri-i. (Damn it’s hard to make Prius plural. I used the cactus/octopus model.)

      1. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

        That’s the beauty of the magnets, you just pull it off as you walk by in the parking lot. No need to take the whole car to the range or waste hours scraping like you have to with bumper stickers.

        1. avatar Cliff H says:

          Hadn’t thought of that. Maybe we could get the NRA to make there membership labels as magnets instead of stickers? When you pull off the Obama circle you replace it with the NRA magnet – see how long it takes them to notice and freak! (/sat)

        2. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

          That or if you look around I bet you could find a bunch of McCain/Palin bumper stickers you could slap down in their place. Palin drives them even more insane than the NRA.

          And why make it easy for them to remove?

  26. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Really like my 1/2 size IPSC steel plates. I’ve been gonging them for over 20 years. Instant reaction for fast pistol work.

  27. avatar Alpo says:

    A- Quantico Silhouette target for defensive pistol (ahem, revolver)
    B- Reactive paper (Shoot-N-C, GlowShot) for target/longer distance

    A- Steel when possible
    B- Cardboard boxes w/ paper, tape, marker, etc as aimpoint
    C- Reactive paper for sighting in

    1. avatar Cliff H says:

      On this point, Lowes and Home Depot now have whole racks of Duct Tape in various very bright colors. I’ve seen it at Walmart as well.

  28. avatar Jay says:

    I liked Yeager’s video. The versatility of that target and ability to get the thinking factor is especially cool. At the range, I most often tack a paper plate and make a dot with a bingo marker. Of course, it’s very soul satisfying to ding steel.

  29. avatar Don says:

    Most often I use a 1 inch dot drawn with an extra fat shaprie on a piece of cheap drawing paper from a drawing pad I got for the range. At 100 yards with irons I draw an + sign the size of the whole paper because I can’t see where they cross.

    Sometimes I draw an IDPA target shape on it. Or I print target centers for standard NRA targets on my computer.

  30. avatar jwm says:

    Human silhouete targets with a shootnc stuck to it center mass.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I’ve done that a few times also. The indoor range I go to (the only one around here) isn’t all that well lit, and the ShootNCs are really useful, with the silhouette giving you a good visual reference for COM

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Instead of replacing targets you replace shootnc’s. And any round off the shootnc is a miss. When we go to the rifle range my son will usually bring the squiirel shootnc’s. At fifty yards head shots are fun with iron sights and my bifocals. If it was too easy it wouldn’t be fun.

    2. avatar WayneMHK says:

      I’ve made a couple of these that I use when shooting silhouettes gets old.

  31. avatar Muleskinner says:

    Paper targets out to 100 yards. 200 to 500 yards clay pigeons glued to paper plates.

  32. avatar Jay Williams says:

    Paper plates. A jumbo marker gives me a black dot in the middle. Cheap and it works.

  33. avatar Paul W says:

    I just use the range targets, but I may start doing the paper plate idea or something. That sounds instructive.

  34. avatar Nagurski says:

    I print out M16 zero targets. It gives me a small target to aim at and helps if any sights aren’t zeroed.

  35. avatar Graybeard says:

    Defensive practice:
    I’ll cut old cardboard boxes in the shape of silhouette targets. There’s a 8′ deep wash on my property with lots of twists, turns and branches. I’ll set them up in some random-ish pattern (not the same places every time) walk down-stream a few yards, then return trying to take a couple of shots at each one as they become visible.

    With the grandkids:
    Whatever we have that’s fun to shoot. Old DVDs, paper plates, milk-jugs full of water (that’s especially fun with a .50 Kentucky) and cheap 50′ .22 targets.

  36. avatar Cknarf says:

    I shoot at whatever I happen to grab from the range. Doesn’t really matter to me.

  37. avatar Mike says:

    To start, some large target that the range has on hand, depending on mood. Once it’s been hit a bunch of times we start taping some smaller “visible shot” targets to it (lately some GlowShot targets I got off Amazon) – gives more area than just using the hanger, and it gives each person their own spot to aim at.

    I’ve also got a steel spinner for .22’s that I got as a rebate award a couple months ago, but no outdoor ranges around here (that I’ve heard of) so it sits in a corner… still pristine…

  38. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Since Id rather spend my money on bullets.
    I print up a 3 inch circle on just plain old copier paper.

  39. avatar William Burke says:

    I just use the little green fluorescent green, peel-and-sticks. Except one time at an Isaak Walton range in West Virginia, I used a printed photo of Arnold Schwartzenegger.

  40. avatar Adub says:

    I use paper silhouettes but my uncle made shapes of people and animals out of plates of iron. You knew when you hit those.

  41. avatar GS650G says:

    I made a hanging can target for outdoors.
    Fashion a u shaped frame from small gauge pipe and hang cans from string off the top. the cans move and provide a variety of targets.
    Indoors standard bullseyes with shoot and see

  42. avatar Brian Parker says:

    After elections, I go around and grab campaign signs. The plastic ones work really well to staple paper plates on. Sometimes I’ll put target dots on them. Highly visible, good contrast. My favorites were Obama/Biden signs but they’re all gone now.

  43. avatar VSN says:

    Green B27s. I need big targets so that I can see how badly I’m missing.

  44. avatar Matt in FL says:

    I actually like that target in the video, if you were going with a friend or two. As James said, I like the idea of having someone call targets that make you think while you shoot. Sure, you could “designate your own target” and do something similar, but I like the surprise that comes from having someone else do it.

    Battleship targets are fun if you’re going with a friend, as well.

  45. avatar Chris E says:

    Yeager could tell me the sky is blue and I would have doubts. His Style is obnoxious to put it nicely.

  46. avatar Joe says:

    Plain peice of paper 8×11- 24×24″ with a 2×2″ black square in the center.

  47. avatar g says:

    Glowshots, paper plates, and if I’m feeling fancy… these targets are awesome from SHM that feature a silhouette + vitals:

    The Team Snakehound Machine store is currently down, but when it goes back up, I’m sure they’ll have the targets for sale.

  48. avatar Anonymous says:

    I shoot a piece of cardboard with a dot on it drawn with a sharpie. Sometimes I’ll make more than one dot. Sometimes I shoot glass bottles. I never spend money on targets… ever.

  49. I make “Decision Making Targets” out of 9″ paper plates. Take some spray paint and put a green dot on one, red dot on another, and so on…. then use spray glue (3M) and stick to a 25×45 poster board or particle board. Have someone call out a color and then see how close you come that that color. You can also use the spray paint to paint a number or shape. Then have someone call out a color, number, or shape, before you fire.

    Add in a figure 8 drill and you have a really good decision making target setup.

  50. avatar Splat says:

    I use old newspapers and aim for a specific spot on a photo on each page. Cheap and gets the job done.

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