not sure what kind of steel target the OP was shooting, but the club i shoot at has regulations reguarding what steel targets are allowed.
the biggest rule (aside from using the proper steel vs projectile) is all teagets must have a 10 degeree minimum forward cant (top edge leads the bottom). i have a ar500 steel idpa target from Arntzen
it has such an angle built into the design. all my spawl goes down and to the sides .... after a while there is a huge line cut in the ground paralle to the target face. i have never had one comback at me yet.
that being said, i would still wear proper eye and ear protection. the club also recommends wearling long sleves and long pants when shooting steel.