Field practice target ideas?


July 9, 2009, 06:08 PM
There's some BLM land near my house, where I can shoot in the field. This makes for some good practice for hunting. I can place targets around, hike away from them and shoot at them from various distances and in various positions.

Yesterday, I tried clay pigeons. They're a good practice target at 100 yards, but hitting a clay pigeon that's already not straight-on, from 300 yards in a field position isn't all that easy to do. Without the scope, I can't even see them.

What do you use?

The only criteria really are that I'd like to know if I hit something without having to walk back or use a spotting scope, and that it's about the right size to be relevant to big game hunting.

A knockdown target, or something that clangs, would be ideal. Cheap, relatively light, and easy enough to carry several in a Jeep.

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July 9, 2009, 06:20 PM
Might try getting some old used disk harrow disks from a farm impliment dealer.
They sometimes have a pile of them in the scrap iron heap they will sell for scrap iron prices.

Not too heavy to carry several, and will clang & swing when strung from a bush on a wire. Spray paint them white or orange so you can see them a ways off.

They won't last long as bullets punch right through them though.
And they won't do anything at all if you are really accurate and put the bullets through the center axle hole!


July 9, 2009, 06:28 PM
I've heard that, but, not knowing squat about large-scale farming, I didn't remember what the things were called.


July 9, 2009, 08:52 PM
You could always use paper plates too, as they are about the right size as a deer's vitals. Also, using claybirds and a .22 would be fun.

July 9, 2009, 09:40 PM
I use scrap steel plates in various sizes from 8-18" pick up pieces at scrap yards and fab shops. Paint them white and you can see impact splatter in the paint at a mile (with a 20X scope). Great fun, usually hang them from a fence or drive 2 t-posts in the ground and string them up. Walk away from them and keep on walking...get set up and range them, read your wind and make the shot...then start walking away again. Do this till you run out of adjustment on your scope.
Nothing more satisfying than hearing a clank (like someone hitting a cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon) 5 sec after the shot. Great way to find arrow heads too!

July 9, 2009, 11:09 PM
What caliber rifle are you shooting and whats the magnification of your scope?

July 10, 2009, 11:15 AM
Generic as all generic!

.30-06 with a 3-9x40mm.

I generally leave it at 6X because I have a drop reticle that is set for 6X.

July 10, 2009, 03:32 PM
at 9x you should be able to see a clay pigeon at 300yds. Maybe, like others suggested, you should put it against a darker back drop, like black paper. Shoot it at 6x and then increase the magnification to 9x to see if you hit it.

Depending on the hearing protection, you might not be able to hear a "ping" at 300yds. If you take your hearing protection off, your ears might still ring from the .30-06 and you wont hear it hit metal.

If you head down pleasant valley road, go past kuna mora road and head into the shooting area. You will see some power lines down there. You could turn down that, find a nice flat spot 20-30yds alongside the road, shoot parallel to the road and then travel up the road by vehicle to see if your targets were hit. Just trying to think of some options that wont cost alot of money.

July 10, 2009, 03:42 PM
Just make sure you pick up all your targets after you have shot them. Leave the area in better shape than when you found it.

Just my .02,

July 10, 2009, 04:46 PM
I have a really nice takedown gong target in the shape of a buffalo, made for me by someone who wanted a couple of old Mec reloaders I had. I just don't want to punch a bunch of holes in it.:D So I use it for .22s, black powder, etc.

The clays are perfectly visible through the scope at 6X, or a rangefinder with 4X magnification. They're not always visible to the naked eye at 300 yards, though.:) They're too small to be realistic targets, though.

I don't leave crap lying around where I shoot; hell I've been bringing garbage bags to pick up crap left by others. Usually use regular targets and a portable bench for sighting in, gongs for general practice.

In this case, I'm just looking to replicate antelope hunting to make sure I can shoot well enough in the real world, at longer distances and in suboptimal positions.

Thanks for the ideas!

July 11, 2009, 11:52 AM
Do a google for Las Vegas Steel Targets. AR500 armor plating cut into most any shape you want with a variety of mounting/hanging options.

Pick up a few of the 8" circles is about your best bet for mimic'ing the size and shape of an antelope's vitals. Hang them from chains and they should bounce pretty good for a visible hit marker.

Chuck Dye
July 12, 2009, 01:10 AM
We used to saw small diameter (3"-6") logs into one diameter lengths, "whitewash" the chunks in a slurry of flour, and scatter them in a small valley on BLM land. We then walked the slopes taking random range and random elevation shots, spotting for each other. The log segments generally moved when hit. We would make a fair effort to retrieve our targets when done but did not worry much about those we missed as they were biodegradable and not much of an eyesore even when fresh.

July 12, 2009, 12:28 PM
One of the things my boys and I enjoy shooting are water balloons. We fill 'em at home, tie a length of string on them and take them to the field in a cooler. They can be filled to different sizes to vary the challenge, are relatively cheap, are easy to tell when hit and are easy to pick up at the end of the day cause they are still tied up. We prefer them to be about the size of a baseball. Ranges depend on whether we are shooting handgun or long guns. If there are no trees to hang them from, cheap shepherd's hooks work well or they can be placed on the ground or on the berm. We have a piece of electrical conduit with two elbows and removable 4' legs on them. The legs are pushed into the ground and we can hang a dozen or more balloons from it at one time.

The Dollar store is a good place for cheap fun targets also......especially those plastic garden gnomes.

July 12, 2009, 01:38 PM
I'd use scrap steel, the range here (vernal ut) has steel targets and I can hear the elk at 660yd ring when I shoot it with a 22, and I can here the ram ring at 300 when I shoot it with a 45-70, all with the regular foam ear protection.

I can hear my 06 ring as well, but I generally shoot paper with it since its my precision rifle.

July 12, 2009, 03:14 PM
What about a balloon? Set it up somewhere and then hike to the top of a ridge all out of breath and shoot it.

July 12, 2009, 06:00 PM
I thought about balloons. Maybe I'll do that.:)

Water balloons sound like fun -- and the dollar store could be a treasure trove!

I like the idea of flour-whitened logs. Unlike plastic, they're not really litter if you blow them to little bits.

Thanks again, all.

July 22, 2009, 01:45 PM
Works great, Jeff!

I bought a bag of decent-quality balloons, thick enough not to pop all by themselves at Walgreens. I secured each one to a rock with a small square of duct tape, after I found that the vegetation would pop balloons that were blown by the breeze.

They made perfect targets. Went out to about 325 yards today. They're visible with the naked eye, but small enough to be meaningful for practice. I can tell right away when I hit them.:)

July 23, 2009, 09:29 AM
If you want to know for sure that you hit it or have targets that make more noise and are much lighter than steel. I wouldn't use them on BLM land though.

July 23, 2009, 11:33 AM
Balloons are a lot cheaper...

I've shot a USMC training grenade. That was fun, too. Again, not exactly economical for extensive practice.:)

July 24, 2009, 01:25 PM
Darn it armedbear you beat me to it!

A can of helium and some balloons would make some cheap targets.

July 24, 2009, 01:30 PM
These were just filled with air, and taped to rocks.:)

Helium/hydrogen and a string, tied to rocks, would be good, too.

In this case, my backstop was a low hillside, so having them close to the ground wasn't a problem, since I could put them up the slope a bit where I could see them. This also kept them low enough to use the backstop safely.

July 25, 2009, 11:13 PM
AB, r u sure u hit the balloon and not the rock...?

Here's what i use for a cheap steel system. Call the local brickyard and see if they have some cinder block molds. These r some sort of super-hard steel that takes a bullet strike like nothing short of expensive steel plate. They'll probably give u some, as they throw it out when it gets out of spec. U'll have to burn holes in it for suspending, as no drill bit will touch it. Now get 3 pieces of rebar or some scrap rod steel, and 2 galvanized plumbing T's. Pound 2 rebar into the ground, set the T's on top and slide the 3rd rebar thru parallel to the ground. Hang the steel plate with S-hooks or some of those heavy duty S-hooks that r closed on 1 end that r on utility tie downs (i find these on the road all the time.)

July 27, 2009, 10:43 PM
There is an approach my father taught me growing up. Here is how it went. The first step was to take metal silhoutte targets. Some painted black with a white dot and some white with a black dot. Then then the first guy would take the truck from the starting point place the targets between 25 an 1000 yards hill sides, washes etc. The shooter would be waiting down the road out of site. About 1/4 mile out. He would be called on the radio to come the starting point. The shooter would walk in then start by scouting the targets. He knew how many targets to spot. Once spotted a shot was to be taken standing, prone an kneeling. Since we were practicing to hunt no target was to be taking more then 400 yrds out. So you had to walk in position for a shot. This helped learn to spot targets, position for a shot, shoot when tired an learn how to sneak up on a target. The non shooter watched at a distance to see if he could hear or see the shooter during the exercise. Right after that a practice of skeet shooting would take place to help work on moving targets. This approach is very effective.

July 27, 2009, 10:51 PM
AB, r u sure u hit the balloon and not the rock...?

Yes. I went back to clean up the duct tape, and it was still on the rock. The rocks remained unharmed.:)

August 3, 2009, 05:07 PM
To address all but the "known hit"--a little walk won't kill you--I take the 12 pack cardboard containers that beer or pop comes in and randomly stash them on sage brush. Then I walk back, load my magazine (5), turn around and start shooting. Distance may range from 20 yards to as far as you want, I rarely go much beyond 150 yards, because beyond that I'll generally find a rest to take a shot, then there's not to much question about hitting and it really doesn't need practice. Back to the boxes--my drill is to shoot as quickly as possible, but take enough time to assure a hit. I generally put out 5 boxes at a time, i.e. 1 box per shell, only one shot per box. After 5 shots, I like the barrel to cool anyway, so I can then use that cooling time for a look see. A piece of masking tape takes care of the hole for the next go round. I started this when preparing for my first trip to Africa for Buffalo, thinking I had to really be prepared for fast, accurate shooting. Well, it turned out to be such a good training drill that I still use it--and it's fun. I shoot for the box center, but consider a hit a hit. The boxes are good because they are free and easily disposed of, but paper plates would work, except you would have to be careful that they weren't turned edgeways (and they ain't free). The boxes can just be randomly stuck on bushes, never a problem with edge. Works for me! Want more challenge? Try using empty shotshell boxes, they're also free and a lot smaller! Might try it. Oh--it is considered improper and naughty to measure the random distances before shooting. Have fun!

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