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Old March 27, 2020, 01:17 PM   #43
RedHoundTargets
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Join Date: January 7, 2018
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 36
To answer the OP: the recommended min distances should indeed be followed, though many don't without issue. It is more for shooter and bystander safety than for target health.

There is always an element of risk involved but if hung correctly at at least a 20 degree angle, the most likely thing to send spall back at you is a secondary ricochet. That being a fragment deflecting off the target, and then hitting another surface that sends it off in an unexpected direction. That could be mounting hardware, the side of a pit in the target, a rock on the ground, etc. I've found that mounting with round bolt heads like on carriage bolts leave the least likelihood of this since they're about as low profile as you can find. I would avoid hanging on shepherd's hooks because then you have a big protrusion out the front off of which to deflect.

Secondary deflection is also why it's important to avoid pitting (caused by higher velocity - like 5.56 has - more than mass since in the energy equation velocity gets squared). Spall can deflect off the sides of the pit/crater and head back towards the shooter.

All that said, if hung and maintained correctly steel targets of the right material (AR500, AR550, etc) can be quite safe. Many, many people use them regularly without issue. If you're interested in learning more about why angling is recommended, swinging, hardness, I wrote an article.

Stay safe, have fun.
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