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Old July 19, 2016, 12:18 PM   #1
fouled bore
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Minimum safe distance to shoot a gong

I am looking a getting an 8" gong for pistol shooting. I am looking at the AR500 round steel plates that are 3/8" thick. I understand when they are free swinging they are good for any pistol caliber and rifle cartridges under .30 caliber at 100yds. What is a safe minimum distance to shoot them with a pistol? I have heard stories of bullets coming back and hitting people on the firing line.
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Old July 19, 2016, 01:32 PM   #2
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I shoot full auto 9mm plated & HiTek coated and .22LR with rates of fire up to 1750 rpm and .300BLK 245g. cast lead from an AR15 at 1/4" AR500 plates at 25 yds from straight on. I have never felt or heard shrapnel coming back at me that far but the area on the ground within 2-3 ft. of the plates is completely plastered with fissured lead spray and shrapnel.

I always wear eye protection and would never fire FMJ rounds or supersonic high powered rifle into steel from that close.
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Old July 19, 2016, 02:02 PM   #3
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The standard rule is minimum 11 yards on armor steel targets, with handguns.
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Old July 19, 2016, 02:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam1911 View Post
The standard rule is minimum 11 yards on armor steel targets, with handguns.
Regardless of bullet type?
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Old July 19, 2016, 02:43 PM   #5
Sam1911
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Yes. At least all common bullet types used in handgun competition.

Actually, IDPA says 10 yards.
USPSA says 23 feet.
Those two would allow lead, jacketed, TMJ, hollowpoint ... whatever. (Of course not AP or something stupid like that that would damage the targets and be a risk to shooters.)


Actually SASS (Cowboy Action) says minimum of 7 yards, but maximum of 10! But they only use lead bullets.
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Old July 19, 2016, 03:00 PM   #6
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Hanging it at a slight angle to deflect bullets downwards can make things safer.
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Old July 19, 2016, 03:22 PM   #7
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We shoot steel spinners at 65 feet with lead bullets, all calibers, and have had a few pieces fly back to the line. But, as said, everybody wears eye and ear protection whether shooting or just spectating.
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Old July 19, 2016, 03:26 PM   #8
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You see the various distances, but I can tell you for sure that there is always a risk of bounce or spatter. Glasses are essential for shooting steel... or anything else.
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Old July 19, 2016, 03:53 PM   #9
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personally, i shoot it closer, because i wear eye pro and don't care if the rest of me gets a piece of shrapnel stuck in me or a welt. it's easy to pull out and heals as fast as welts from paintball or simunitions. the fact is it happens, and i've had stuff break the skin as far as 25 yards back so distance decreases but doesn't eliminate the risk and Jim Watson's advice is spot on.

however, for matches, I wouldn't ever do less than 10 yards and usually give it a little more room than that
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Old July 19, 2016, 05:04 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies. I definitely agree with always wearing safety glases. I have shot spinner targets for a long time and have always kept them back about 20 yards or more. I just wanted to make sure if l got a gong l was keeping it back far enough.

Last edited by fouled bore; July 19, 2016 at 08:04 PM.
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Old July 19, 2016, 09:26 PM   #11
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I've felt a bit of lead once get me in the face shooting .22 at a steel swinging target rated up to .44 magnum. Since it's a heavier plate, it wasn't swinging much and I could tell it was deflecting lead up into the branches above the target.

Anyhow, from about ten yards, one bit got me, but it did no damage and I had the appropriate eyes and ears.


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Old July 19, 2016, 09:53 PM   #12
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I don't like to shoot steel with handguns as close as 10 yards. I have done it, but don't like it and shoot it farther away 99% of the time. I am much more comfortable at 25+ yards.

Rifle at 100 yards, although some calibers will mark the steel that close. We sighted in my nephews 7MM Mag and it pock marked my 1/2" steel plate at 100 yards. Not bad, but there. It's about velocity at impact.
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Old July 19, 2016, 10:19 PM   #13
fouled bore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkalong View Post
I don't like to shoot steel with handguns as close as 10 yards. I have done it, but don't like it and shoot it farther away 99% of the time. I am much more comfortable at 25+ yards.

Rifle at 100 yards, although some calibers will mark the steel that close. We sighted in my nephews 7MM Mag and it pock marked my 1/2" steel plate at 100 yards. Not bad, but there. It's about velocity at impact.
Do you think a 3/8" plate will hold up to 223 FMJ at 100yds?
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Old July 19, 2016, 11:10 PM   #14
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not for long


btw, i should also clarify my previous post that i do not shoot any "hanging" steel that close. the steel is held at an angle and allowed to move about 15* back but that's all
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Old July 19, 2016, 11:54 PM   #15
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Do not shoot a plate like this at close range.

Avoid pock marked steel or keep it at 35 yards or more. [IMG][/IMG] Been using this for maybe 40 years. It a pipe flange, 1" thick. [IMG][/IMG] Used for 223, mag rifles and 357/44 mags. Only a 22 lr get my other 1/4" thick plate
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Old July 20, 2016, 12:04 AM   #16
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I was a volunteer RSO for pistol silhouette back in the day.
They stopped letting me volunteer when I started wearing my PASGT vest. The day after that, they wanted to know if they coud borrow my vest.
Mind, this was back when "everybody" knew the only way to win was to use RNL in a .41mag. Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, that those .41mag RNL are ell on those chickens. Especially as the angle opens between target and shooter across all ten.

7 to 10 yards, as noted above, is probably good. Setting the gong at a sight angle probably not a terrible idea. Just 5 to te shooting line is a 2.5 reciprocal back towards you. 2.5 is 150 MPA for perspective. Except that bullets sometime refuse to follow rules.
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Old July 20, 2016, 07:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 243winxb
Avoid pock marked steel or keep it at 35 yards or more.
My personal experience with stupidly shooting pock-marked steel at 100 yards with M2 .30-06 (black tip) armor piercing ammo out of a Garand is that it will cause you to think that your gun exploded when you pull the trigger. I just wanted to see if it would penetrate the badly pock-marked 1.5" thick mild steel plate. The plate looked just like the one in the pic that 243winxb posted above, hanging from chains at 100 yards.

When the core bounces back it will enter your wrist and stop in your elbow, knocking your trigger hand off the gun and straight out behind you. My initial thought was that the op rod had broken and came back and hit my arm.

It leaves about an inch long scar on your wrist where they use arthroscopic surgery to go in through the original wound in your wrist and fish the bullet out of your elbow.

If it had been a couple of inches higher and a couple of inches to the left it would have been in my eye instead of my wrist. I doubt if my safety glasses would have stopped it.

I still shoot a LOT of steel, at distances as close as 10 yards with a pistol, and 50 yards with rifles. But it's smooth plates and lead bullets only!

Last edited by 45_auto; July 20, 2016 at 07:36 AM.
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Old July 20, 2016, 09:25 AM   #18
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Not a fan of the idea of bounced back materials hitting me, my truck (which is commonly behind me) or anyone else on the firing line. We just shoot in the woods, and not at a range.

None the less, I've been debating building my own gong targets with heavy duty materials. 1" plates would probably last me a lifetime. I would like to shoot it with my 460 though, so obviously longer distances are required for safety.

Cabela's sells a $100 Caldwell gong supposedly rated for 308, but it looks kind of flimsy to me.
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Old July 20, 2016, 09:49 AM   #19
fouled bore
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I want to avoid it getting any marks in it as l know that is unsafe. I have heard that the best plate to use is the AR500, I guess that is armor plate and is less prone to marking than other plate material. It looks like the 3/8" thick AR500 plate will hold up to a .308 at 100 yards ok. I also want to make sure i don't shoot it with anything I shouldn't.

45_auto was very lucky, that could have been a lot worse and I don't want it to happen to me or anyone else shooting it.

Many years ago I made one for .22 that was made from 1/4" mild steel. It was good for .22 but one day I thought I would hit it with .223 FMJ. No noise and no swing, just one nice little hole through it.

Amazon has 8" 3/8" thick AR500 gongs for $30. These are the ones I am looking at.
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Old July 20, 2016, 10:21 AM   #20
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I've got about 35 pieces of steel on my place, all but 1 are made of AR500.

Like taliv, I actually shoot a pistols a lot closer than the prescribed min safety distance, but wear safety glasses and don't sweat an occasional cut. The key I've found is to angle those plates backward to direct the splash down, allow for movement, and use perfectly faced steel. Once steel is dimpled or cratered you'll start getting a significant amount of splashback.

The steel that cannot be angled back due to how it's mounted, gets shot at greater distances.

In this picture you can see one of my plates angled backward on an Arntzen portable stand:


I actually get less splashback from these than my freestanding knockdowns (AR500 Bowling pins and animals) and spring mounted TGTs.

My 8" "lolly pops" are mounted using springs, so they have some give and the stands rock a little:


So in my experience it depends on the quality of your steel, how you mount it, and how much fragmentation you're willing to accept........

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Old July 20, 2016, 12:25 PM   #21
fouled bore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck R. View Post
I've got about 35 pieces of steel on my place, all but 1 are made of AR500.

Like taliv, I actually shoot a pistols a lot closer than the prescribed min safety distance, but wear safety glasses and don't sweat an occasional cut. The key I've found is to angle those plates backward to direct the splash down, allow for movement, and use perfectly faced steel. Once steel is dimpled or cratered you'll start getting a significant amount of splashback.

The steel that cannot be angled back due to how it's mounted, gets shot at greater distances.

In this picture you can see one of my plates angled backward on an Arntzen portable stand:


I actually get less splashback from these than my freestanding knockdowns (AR500 Bowling pins and animals) and spring mounted TGTs.

My 8" "lolly pops" are mounted using springs, so they have some give and the stands rock a little:


So in my experience it depends on the quality of your steel, how you mount it, and how much fragmentation you're willing to accept........

Chuck
Nice set up Chuck. I have see a lot of them with the top tilted forward like you have. If it is free swinging from a chain does it matter?
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Old July 20, 2016, 01:56 PM   #22
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My rifle swingers that are mounted on chains, use spaces between the chain and the target that provide the same backwards angle. I don't shoot them up close though. I think for the TGTs used for closer work, you're better off with a fixed or semi-fixed target angled backwards that aims the majority of the fragments downward. I think the fixed TGT causes or assists with the fragmentation.

For instance, I shoot this pig (which is one of my 300 meter rifle targets) a lot with handguns, but because it sits against my berm the distance is usually over 35-50' so no problems. I have seen it move enough to absorb energy and leave a bullet pretty much intact.



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Old July 20, 2016, 02:15 PM   #23
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10 meters, wear eye pro. You may get an occasional "bee sting". Suck it up and drive on.
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Old July 20, 2016, 02:29 PM   #24
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I got hit in the leg with a bit of lead splash back last week shooting my 10 inch AR 500 steel gong with a 38 special wad-cutter from about 25 yards. It didn't draw blood but it smarted and reminded me of why we should wear eye protection.
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Old July 20, 2016, 10:39 PM   #25
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I shoot steel one night a week with 9mm. We have the closest targets at 15yds and they angle slightly down. Never had any problems with 9mm or 45 auto.
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