Guidelines for shooting steel


PDA






LoneStarWings
September 11, 2009, 10:42 PM
Hi,

I'm a fairly new shooter and I've got some questions about shooting steel targets.

Some of the ranges I go to allow shooting steel targets, but I'm somewhat paranoid every time I do it because of some ricochet videos I've seen on the internet.

I took a defensive shotgun course and we shot steel with birdshot as close as 10 yards, and we definitely got peppered when shooting at that distances. We weren't allowed to shoot buckshot or slugs at the steel from any distance.

Is there a chart anywhere that says at what distances it's "safe" to shoot various calibers at steel?

If you enjoyed reading about "Guidelines for shooting steel" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
twofifty
September 11, 2009, 11:04 PM
In IPSC, the rules call for a minimum of 7 meters between the shooter and a steel target. USPSA probably has the same or similar rule.

The stages are therefore designed with a forward fault line (FFL) set a 8 meters. This way, if you step beyond the FFL, the RO has enough time to call a STOP before you get much closer than 7 meters.

A good way to avoid ricochet is to slightly angle the steel in such a way that incoming rounds are deflected toward the ground, or to the side toward a side berm. Avoid shooting at steel that is overly dished or heavily pock marked by rifle round impacts.

Finally, lead bullets are slightly less prone to bounce back than jacketed ones.

Boba Fett
September 11, 2009, 11:07 PM
Finally, all lead bullets are slightly less prone to bounce back than jacketed ones.


Beware ricochets/bounce back....they can travel a very long distance...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABGIJwiGBc

DR505
September 12, 2009, 10:42 AM
My department mandates a distance of 10 yards using service or ball ammo. We also used frangible ammo for a time when a ricochet caught a trainee between the front two teeth (jacketed base of the bullet, looked like a tiny buzz saw or jagged-edged frisbee).

SASS#23149
September 12, 2009, 11:31 AM
even lead bullets can bounce back something fierce.at a cas match I was at the loading table and a chunk hit me hard in the upper liip. I really think it would have cracked a tooth if it had hit just a tad lower !

JMusic
September 12, 2009, 11:48 AM
I have tried chained targets that will move and I have seen a neet pair of silihets that had a hole in the middle of the target. A large spring is placed over the bolt and fastened but allows free movement. I have seen lead splash on the hood of a truck 50 yards away no mater what you use.

Side note: I had just purchased a new Kimber and was going to shoot it into some large logs. I had bibs on and in my front pocked I kept a flask. I shot several times and all the sudden got knocked on my a$$. I felt around my chest and I could feel liquid. Come to find out a slug had bounced off the log and hit my flask enough to rupture. You never know.


Jim

Japle
September 12, 2009, 01:37 PM
The range for the 2009 Steel Challenge Nationals was very safe, but when you're shooting steel, ricochets are a fact of life. I lost count of the number of times I was hit (over 20 for sure) and have a permanent scar on my left forearm where I had to dig out the base of a jacketed bullet.

Usually, the hits were from an adjacent stage. Bullet fragments will fly a lot further than you'd think. That's why we all wear eye protection.

berettaprofessor
September 13, 2009, 09:15 AM
Shooting steel is playing the odds; the farther away, the less likely to get hit with something that hurts. The closer, the more daring.

And no steel for me; shooting at targets hung on "T-posts" from 10 yards with a 22 got me a permanent scar on the forehead. Just not willing to take the chance anymore.

belus
September 13, 2009, 12:31 PM
Rule of thumb for steel:
>7 yards away
>750 fps so the bullet disintegrates on impact

You'll still get hit with splatter so make extra sure you're wearing eye protection. It also helps to angle the plates towards you so they direct the splatter downwards.

edit:
Why you want it going fast - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgn7MUp6UxA

mustang_steve
September 13, 2009, 03:24 PM
yep, if it doesn't blow a hole through the steel (which it shouldn't...don't use rounds that powerful....), then there's a chance of ricochet.

I learned that as a boy with a red ryder bb gun, i was shooting at a cardboard box in the back yard....a ricochet hit me in the face around the 20th or so shot. Hurt like the dickens. I turned around to go inside, and there was about 10 pockmarks around the doorframe of the house's back door. My dad was rather angry, to say the least. He expected me to realize on the seconds or third shot if there was any ricochets. I was simply too inexperienced to know about those things at the time.

Point being....if it can't penetrate, it can ricochet. Be safe out there.

LoneStarWings
September 13, 2009, 05:23 PM
What about shooting steel with a rifle? 200 yards minimum? 300 yards for "magnums"?

What about magnum revolver loads? I often see steel pistol shooting lanes posted "no magnum rounds".

Zak Smith
September 13, 2009, 09:08 PM
It is imperative that the steel face is smooth and does not have craters. Craters will throw lead and debris back and is dangerous. I wouldn't shoot a cratered steel face unless it was a hundred yards away.

For rifle, use AR500 armor plate. 5/8 AR500 can withstand .223 at 25 yards but very small pock marks will occur (approx 1-2mm diameter, depth barely perceptible by touch). Impact velocity, not overall power, kills steel. We have shot 5/8 AR500 at 75 yards with a .338 LM with no damage.

AR400 is OK past about 350 for most normal rifle cartridges; it should not take damage.

The magnum revolver rule you refer to is most likely because the plates are not armor. Most IPSC pistol plates are AR400 or less.

GRIZ22
September 13, 2009, 09:42 PM
My department mandates a distance of 10 yards using service or ball ammo. We also used frangible ammo for a time when a ricochet caught a trainee between the front two teeth (jacketed base of the bullet, looked like a tiny buzz saw or jagged-edged frisbee).


This is pretty good advice for handgun ammo. We would use frangible ammo (the all green bullet kind made in Canada I think) right up to the target with only what felt like someone throwing sand in your face. The frangible ammo that has a jacket can still throw a piece of the jacket back at you.

I got hit with a piece of jacket material that went through my shirt and hit me in the stomach and was able to dig it out myself. This was service ammo and the steel target was 25 yards away.

Eye proyection is even more important if you are anywhere near someone shooting steel not just on the firing line.

Otahyoni
September 14, 2009, 07:14 PM
Would shooting a cylinder be safe? My dad has a damaged acetylene cylinder i haven't put much thought into shooting because i didn't know how safe it was. Any input?

Obviously i will be very sure there is not a trace of gas left in or near it.

mustang_steve
September 14, 2009, 10:58 PM
it's likely to ricochet back if it hits a dent, or deflect to either side if hit off-center.

Honestly, I'd flatten the shooting surface and angle it towards the ground.

Otahyoni
September 14, 2009, 11:08 PM
Fair enough. After reading through the thread, I think i'll just refrain from shooting steel intentionally.

mustang_steve
September 14, 2009, 11:22 PM
Well, if you do want to shoot steel, hanging steels work nicely. Just make sure they are angled down slightly to redirect ricochets into the ground. hanging steels tend to sway enough to deflect most ricochets.

Wear mil-spec eye protection just to be sure. Good mil-spec lenses can take a rather horriffic pounding before anything gets through....given, they are goggles only.

catfish101
September 14, 2009, 11:58 PM
Mustang +1 on the angle. I have some steel targets at my house. Steel in fine but you need to hang the targets so that they are at about a 45 deg. angle. I use 1/4" thick round targets that are about 15" in diameter. I welded a piece on them at an angle so they won't hang straight up and down. The angle deflects the bullets into the ground. I shoot my pistol rounds at them. Rifles fly right through them.

BBQJOE
September 15, 2009, 03:36 PM
It's also important to use the right caliber of bullet compared to the weight of the steel target.
For example you wouldn't want to shoot a target for magnum handguns with a .22

Zak Smith
September 15, 2009, 03:40 PM
It's also important to use the right caliber of bullet compared to the weight of the steel target.
For example you wouldn't want to shoot a target for magnum handguns with a .22
Please explain. I don't see how this makes any sense.

I have a bunch of 5/8 AR500 armor plates and have shot them with everything from .22 subsonics up to .50 BMG. Certainly you get less audible feedback of a hit with small calibers, but there is no safety issue.

jad0110
September 15, 2009, 09:47 PM
Avoid shooting at steel that is overly dished or heavily pock marked by rifle round impacts.

Yep, I learned this lesson first hand. I was shooting a pocked steel target with a 22 revolver from about 20 yds at a 15 degree angle and still got pinged in the forehead by an intact bullet; it actually fell into my shirt pocket! It was deformed, but mostly whole. I shoulda kept it as a reminder, I've been wary of steel targets ever since.

My father is the same way; he had fired at a similar steel target with either his 9mm or my 12 ga loaded with 00 buck and we heard something metallic hit is truck, which was parked at about a 35 degree angle and 40 yards from the target. Never found a dent, so I can't be certain.

I've just decided that hanging aluminum cans from thin tree branches using a simple string is just as satisfying and much less likey to result in a ricochet.

Slim Pickens
September 17, 2009, 10:21 AM
As BBQJOE pointed out, it is very important to use a correctly weighted target for the bullet mass and velocity. Think about conservation of momentum - when a heavy bullet impacts a lightweight steel target, the target moves out of the way and the bullet continues down range with reduced velocity. When a lightweight bullet hits a heavy steel target, the target does not move as much and the bullet is more likely to ricochet torward the shooter.

The most dangerous thing you can do is shoot a very heavy steel target with a 22 rimfire. Use targets designed for the caliber you are shooting, and you will probably be okay.

The old gas cylinder sounds like a bad idea.

Black Dime
September 17, 2009, 07:02 PM
I shot SASS for eight years, every Saturday and Sunday. Tens of thousands of rounds (mine) and tens of thousands of rounds (theirs) and I have never spilt blood on the range. Been stung a few times.

We hang steel at a slight angle and loose so they clang. Unless you do something to the ground, you will still get splash.

we shoot cast lead 32s to 45s under 1000fps.

Eyes and ears, eyes and ears.

If you enjoyed reading about "Guidelines for shooting steel" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!