Once you shoot steel you’ll not want to stop. Steel is a great training aide, and some very valuable training for the street can only be done with it. Here’s the pros:
- You get instant feedback as to whether you hit or missed. No more taking your eyes off the sights (or whatever the training situation dictates you look at) in order to look at the target.
- Past 7 yards or so, you have a hard time seeing your bullet holes on many targets, anyway
- No more walking down to the target to assess
- No more taping
- It is WAY more fun than shooting paper
- It’s the only way to tell if you’ve hit multiple targets at speed
- Targets are not expensive
Here’s the cons:
- If you are shooting a large steel target, you can’t tell where its been hit, so you may get sloppy with accuracy. On the other hand, you can get steel targets of almost any size, including quite small ones.
- 7 yards is the closest safe distance because shards do come back and hit you. Because not every day is California here in Massachusetts, if the temperature is above 60 and the sun is out I’m likely to be shooting in shorts and without a shirt (sorry to ruin your dinner). Most steel sessions leave me with a little blood from a nick. Eye pro, dude.
- Just as your hits are instantly apparent so are your misses, and it can get really frustrating when you keep missing. Overcoming that is actually a good thing for your mental training though.
Bottom line: the pros outweigh the cons.
Lest you think that buying steel targets is expensive, consider what we did at our club. We asked anyone who wanted to shoot steel to throw in $20. We had a couple/few dozen takers. That bought a good supply, and each contributor got a key to the locked steel storage shed on the range. New “steel club” members’ contributions keep funding a variety of new steel, and we were able to afford a plate rack (actually, two) and a dueling tree. Plate rack drills are one of the staples of competitive training and most instructors I know consider them to also be a staple of street-relevant skill building.
Our club bought their stash of steel from Karl at GT Targets. Easy to to business with and very reasonable prices. I once wanted a special size target and he ginned it up and shipped it to me for a very reasonable price.
Finally: I hit this point often and hard because it’s the part of self-defense that most people foolishly omit. If you carry a gun for self-defense, you have to know the law. Invest the money you’d spend on shaving a tenth of a second off your splits with Andrew Branca’s book or seminars — it’ll pay far greater dividends. Visit this link to learn more, and use the discount code “streetstandards” for a 10% discount.