I posted this in another thread regarding steel targets and ricochet... I think its appropriate here too.
My kids and I shoot at steel targets all the time.
I have lightweight spinners set up at 25 and 50 yards for the little ones and their .22 rifles. I then have heavier weight (1/2" thick AR500 gongs) at 100 and 200 yds for those of us shooting centerfire rifles. I also set up those same types of gongs at 25yds for handgun practice. I don't use the rifle gongs for handguns.
Never had a ricochet with rifles or .22lr yet. Maybe in the future but not so far. The key believe it or not is high velocity. At high velocity the bullet strikes the target and simply shatters. I HAVE had handgun rounds come back though... I learned the hard way although it wasn't too painful, just scary. I figured I'd save money and hang the rifle gongs (which get dented and cratered from rifle fire) and hang them at 25yds to shoot handguns at. One fateful day I shot at a gong (and by the looks of the gong) the fmj .45 bullet struck a crater that had been made by a rifle bullet and pulled a U turn. It buzzed past my head and I almost soiled myself.
With clean faces on the gongs the handgun ammo tends to ricochet into the ground or strike, expand and fall. The slower the round the more chances there will be of a ricochet.
There are a couple of guys here who have it right about steel targets - they can be safe if used properly... well as safe as any action involving lobbing high velocity projectiles at a target. Basically if you use good steel targets, hang and handle them properly and use appropriate weapons/ammo with them you're in no more danger than if you were shooting at paper targets in front of a berm. Start getting reckless and well any time someone gets reckless with anything regarding firearms things get hairy.