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Old June 27, 2013, 08:11 PM   #1
Cousin Pat
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shooting steel targets with .22LR - any experts out there?

In reviewing some of the threads, it seems that 25' or so is a minimum safe distance for shooting steel-plate targets with handguns. Lead-only bullets seem to be strongly prefered to jacketed ammo. My question is, what about "copper plated" 22 LR ammo? I dislike the fouling from lead-only bullets, so I would prefer to shoot the copper-plated stuff -- if it's not gonna come back at me! thanks for any knowledge on this topic.
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Old June 27, 2013, 08:22 PM   #2
musher
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22 copper plate is more like a copper wash. No structural integrity to it like a jacket. Best thing you can do is make sure you're not shooting pitted steel.
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Old June 27, 2013, 08:44 PM   #3
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you'll be fine, I've shot steel up to .357 (big dents) all of it was jacketed. most of the jacket is deflected into the ground.
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Old June 27, 2013, 08:46 PM   #4
allaroundhunter
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Re: shooting steel targets with .22LR - any experts out there?

As long as you are shooting a good steel (one suitable to take the impact) your should be good to go. With the max velocity of the .22 being just slightly over 1000 fps usually (out of a pistol), a good safe distance is about 10-15 yards minimum. Copper plated ammo is just fine as well. But please, wear safety glasses.

25 feet is a little on the close side. Push the target out a little bit further.

In competition I have shot steel that was barely inside of that "safe" distance and it most always gets me caught with shrapnel that usually breaks skin and draws some blood.
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Old June 27, 2013, 08:59 PM   #5
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Following this thread because I may have been endangering myself.
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Old June 27, 2013, 11:11 PM   #6
Dondor
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make sure the angle of your steel is not perpindicular to your bullet path...

ideally it (your steel) should face the ground (soft earth) by s few degrees or so, in order that when struck the bullet will deflect downward on impact.
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Old June 28, 2013, 07:06 AM   #7
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I've shot "steel" targets for about 25 years now. I've shot literally hundreds of thousands of rounds at steel targets in both rimfire and centerfire. I can tell you that I've witnessed some serious accidents where bullets have come back and hit the shooter or a spectator. In every case it was shooting at pitted/dimpled steel targets and/or rigid/fixed targets. I was at a match in Mass. several years ago and saw the RO being struck by a "returning" 38Super bullet and he was 35 yards behind the shooter. The bullet struck him in the center of his face and penetrated into his sinus cavity. He required surgery to remove the bullet fragment with partial jacket attached. Believe it or not, he was shot on a Friday and didn't have the surgery until Monday. When he got shot he went to the emergency room and they x-rayed it and told him it wasn't immediately dangerous and he came back bandaged up and finished the three day event! He was a much better man than me. I've seen eye injuries due to 22lr coming back at an angle to the target and hitting a spectator who wasn't wearing safety glasses (who says only the shooter needs them?). In Florida about ten years ago I was at a match and caught what looked like a bumble bee coming at me as I was standing behind the firing line. I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I leaned back to avoid being hit but didn't quite make it. A large chunk of bullet fragment hit me in the chest and cut through my shirt and lacerated my chest. Not deeply, but it was bleeding. No stitches required but had I not leaned back and only caught a glancing blow who knows how deep it would have gone. Steel targets need to fall or swing. They must never be dimpled or pitted. My own targets are all AR500 steel which haven't been dimpled by anything they've been hit with yet. Moral of this short narrative is always wear glasses even if you're just watching and if you're going to shoot steel targets make sure they are flat, no dimples and swing or fall freely. Be safe.
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Old June 28, 2013, 07:42 AM   #8
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you shouldn't have a problem if you are shooting a swinging target or something that has some give to it
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Old June 28, 2013, 08:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
you shouldn't have a problem if you are shooting a swinging target or something that has some give to it
Read my post. Every target I refer to is a drop away target made for the express purpose of shooting Sportsman's Team Challenge at registered matches and/or silhouette matches. I'm not guessing at what I'm saying, I've been there and seen the results. The OP asked if there were any "experts" out there. That would exclude guessing about what might work. I have over thirty years experience shooting "steel" and I've done a lot of it in that time. I also have experience as a range officer at steel matches and I spent most of my working career responsible for safety (as an engineer) for very large manufacturing industries. You are partially correct in stating something about the "some give" but it goes way beyond that to be safe. They need to move freely and have a flat, unblemished surface to guarantee safety.

Last edited by NoSecondBest; June 28, 2013 at 08:36 AM.
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Old June 28, 2013, 08:36 AM   #10
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I used to manufacture steel targets and did testing. What has been said is correct. The targets must be able to move. A ridig target is very dangerous. My club regularly had Man-O-Mano matches using swinging targets at close range. Never a ricochet or splatter back. But my tests with rigid targets guaranteed splatter back. I have a scar on my elbow as a reminder.
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Old June 29, 2013, 11:59 PM   #11
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Two terrific posts by NoSecondBest right there. Love the real-world story about the range officer.

Compared to that expert opinion, I have much less experience, but I have enough of it to wholeheartedly agree with what he said. A buddy and I made some "steel targets" that were not strong enough to be proper shooting targets and when that became apparent, we shot them to near destruction from 100 yards with center fire rifles.

At the time, I didn't realize that pocked-up steel was "dangerous", I simply thought they weren't going to last and they looked like hell.

Well, when my very good friend shot himself in the belly with a 180gr FMJ slug from my carry gun, and picked two parts of the single slug from two places out of his gut, with all the expected blood involved, it was a very nice example of how dangerous pocked-up steel can be. The bullet left my pistol at around 1,050 FPS and hit the target 15 yards away. Not sure how fast the two pieces were going when they went in to my buddies' gut, but it's a "funny" story we tell (often) and he just loves to refer to my carry gun as "the gun you SHOT me with!" (and I correct him each time, as he was the shooter)
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:18 AM   #12
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I would suspect that the pocked up steel to be the most dangerous.

I've experimented a good bit with some homemade steel targets. One thing I've done is hanging steel plates inside of cardboard boxes. The splattered bits of repeated shots make a halo pattern in the cardboard on the exact plane of the face of the plate. I can see where pits in the plate face could change this by boomeranging bits back in the direction of the shooter.
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:33 AM   #13
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25' is too close to be safe.
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:44 AM   #14
Bill DeShivs
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What ever happened to paper targets?
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Old June 30, 2013, 06:32 AM   #15
Old Stony
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Paper targets just aren't as much fun. I can attest to the dangers of shooting steel also. I have seen lots of problems shooting the pistol silhouette game, and you don't shoot anything closer than 25 meters. The harder the steel the better as it doesn't dent as easily. I have pulled many small pieces of jacket material from me in the past. Occasionally you just feel like you got a bee sting.
I once saw a windshield cracked in a vehicle that was probably 40 yds behind the shooting line.
I took a hit from a .223 one time and the target was close to 50 yds away. It went through a layer of clothing and hit a zipper over a place where you really don't want to get hit. I was hesitant to even check for damage as it hurt like the dickens! I still have that pair of pants and can't look at them without thinking of that incident. Thank god for zippers.
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Old June 30, 2013, 08:17 AM   #16
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Quote:
25' is too close to be safe.
Yeah, I believe the common wisdom is 25 yards, not feet.

You can actually be MUCH closer with targets angled AWAY from you such that the ricochets and splatter go off to the left, right, or down (assuming you don't have other folks off to the left and right).
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Old June 30, 2013, 09:42 AM   #17
SteelChickenShooter
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25 feet for something like a shoulder-height rack of steel plates is not so safe.
My gun club has that even farther out than 25 feet and we have had fragments bounce back hitting faces from time to time. Certainly if you shoot at ground mounted swinging targets it's more safe. Steel plates designed for larger calibers are not the best choice for a rimfire.
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Old June 30, 2013, 09:52 AM   #18
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"The R.O was 35 yards BEHIND THE SHOOTER"? He's either very trusting, scared, or not very effective.
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Old June 30, 2013, 10:07 AM   #19
Dragline45
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Quote:
What ever happened to paper targets?
Shooting paper loses it's appeal fast.

I regularly shoot 3/8" thick AR500 steel plates with .22's at distances as close as 25ft but I have mine on swinging chain so there is some give to it when the bullet hits, also my target stands I bring to the range are only about 4ft high tops which helps. I have fired thousands of rounds from .22lr, .380, 9mm, .38 special, and .357 magnum at these plates at distances as close as 25ft and have not had a single ricochet. Even the .22 pistol knocks that plate back swinging on the chain a good amount. Wear proper eye protection, shoot proper steel, and have a proper setup, and I see no reason to be worried.
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Old July 1, 2013, 03:32 AM   #20
Sevens
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Quote:
What ever happened to paper targets?
I spent the bulk of my shooting life shooting at paper targets and I'm quite certain that it's a large part of where my skill for accurate, aimed fire was developed. Living where I do, shooting outdoors is miserable for at least a couple months out of the year and it's those cold, rotten months where I go back to an indoor range and shoot -NOTHING- but small groups on paper targets. I thoroughly enjoy the change of pace and I consider these sessions to be "serious" where I spend more time trying to refine my skill at accurate shooting because you can't cheat the paper, the evidence remains.

However, shooting at steel targets -- especially when you have a huge array of them, especially when they are all different shapes, sizes and in different places, especially when you have a friend with you who is attempting to take them down at the same time as you are... introduces a laundry list of new skills to try and develop.

I shot for two decades and NEVER started my shooting from a holster draw, NEVER did a pressure reload, NEVER transitioned from target to target quickly, NEVER had to "choose" a target at speed and avoid another. The hits you make are pass or fail, you either take it down or you don't. If you aren't running a caliber/load with steam to spare, you need the hit in a better spot. However, if you are running a cannon that drops plates with even a slight fraction of a hit, transitioning quickly is an awful lot more difficult as you try to get your front sight back down from the clouds and on to a target. If you hope to take down a number of targets quickly, you better get out of the habit of patting yourself on the back for a good shot... and transition to the next target.

Shooting paper targets is terrific, but your post seems a bit lost in this thread.
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Old July 1, 2013, 07:29 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSecondBest
They need to move freely and have a flat, unblemished surface to guarantee safety.
You were a safety engineer and you believe that you can guarantee someone's safety if they shoot a lead projectile at over 1000 FPS at smooth, flat, swinging steel?

I'm glad you weren't in my group.
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Old July 1, 2013, 07:43 AM   #22
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Quote:
What ever happened to paper targets?
I use them for sighting in but shooting paper bores me to tears. If all I could shoot was paper I just wouldn't shoot at all.
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Old July 1, 2013, 07:47 AM   #23
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25 ft is not too close, if certain criteria are met...

1st... the plate should be angled towards the ground... plates that tip over, direct the bouncing bullet upwards, if you are shooting knock over or reactive steel, you should back up...

2nd... the steel should ideally be ( AR ) abrasion resistant ( 500 seems to be the right number ) or be replaced as soon as the surface gets dented, or cratered... ( a 22 LR, as stated by the OP, is likely fine with a good thick piece of regular steel ) if the bullet strikes the bottom of an existing crater, it can direct the bullet upwards, back at the shooter... if it strikes the side of the crater, it can bounce them back at a sideways angle

3rd... ideally soft lead bullets should only be used when shooting steel... IMO, plated bullets, in center fire, & copper washed 22 bullets are usually fine... hard alloy cast bullets, & jacketed bullets should be avoided...

4th...eye protection with side shields should always be worn when shooting steel...

5th... reduced loads should be used when shooting close range steel... the extra power is not needed to get the bullet to 25 ft, & the plates will last longer... for semi autos, loads should be kept to a minimum that will reliably cycle the gun...

I've shot a lot of CAS stages, often at as short a distance as 10ft... directing the bullets down, in combination with lighter loadings in CAS revolvers, I've never witnessed a serious injury... I have seen big old hunks of lead roll out of shooting stages before, the ones I've witnessed, I'd suspect were hard cast, & at least 2 of the incidences I can think of, were shot out of black powder guns, where lighter loads are not often practical... I can't tell you how many times I've been hit by lead shot, bounced off of a shotgun knock down target, because of the shot being directed upwards, during the plate's falling down... if you angle that plate towards the ground, it'll greatly reduce bullet bounce back

if these certain safety tips aren't adhered to, the chance for injuries is greatly increased... I remember seeing a video of a guy shooting a 50 Browning, at some unremembered long distance range, that was hit by a ricochet, & that was at least several 100 yards away
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Old July 1, 2013, 11:01 AM   #24
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^^Like I said, 25' is too close.^^
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Old July 1, 2013, 01:54 PM   #25
Bill DeShivs
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My point was that shooting paper is not dangerous with the proper backstop.
Shooting steel targets can be.
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