Target shooting is a fun way to hone your shooting skills. Whether you’re in the great outdoors or inside at a shooting range, you can practice for upcoming competitions or improve your technique. With millions of Americans enjoying the sport each year, target shooting remains one of the most popular activities in the United States.
However, it’s important not to lose yourself entirely in the fun. Everyone needs to remember safety rules while shooting to keep yourself, the earth and those around you safe. Whether you’ve shot for years or are just starting to learn, it’s always good practice to refresh your safety knowledge.
Here is an overview of target shooting safety and more tips on staying protected.
Basics of Target Shooting Safety
There are some best practices you should know before you try target shooting. From understanding the importance of gun safety to knowing which clothes are best, these fundamentals will protect you. These basics can help you whether you’re practicing target shooting for fun or want to know more about hunter safety shooting targets.
Why Target Shooting Safety Is Important
Never let the exhilaration of shooting keep you from focusing on proper gun safety. It’s critical to balance your enjoyment of the sport with the right safety measures. Without proper usage, a firearm could harm nearby people and property and a fun sport could turn into a disaster all too quickly.
Here are more reasons why shooting safety is so crucial:
- It keeps the land safe: One of the biggest dangers of target shooting is the potential of causing a wildfire. If you shoot at vegetation, rocks or a target with the wrong consistency, the bullet remnants might spark a fire. Dry vegetation is an excellent conductor of flames and heat, and when an extremely hot bullet fragment makes contact with it, a wildfire could start. In turn, entire areas of greenery could be destroyed. You can reduce this risk by shooting only at designated targets and using other safety measures.
- It protects others: The misusage of a firearm might also result in someone getting harmed. Firearm accidents are unfortunately common, with most happening because of an absence of safety measures. If you hold a gun the wrong way or leave it loaded, these accidents are even more likely to occur. Remembering these safety rules will help you keep you and other users safe while enjoying the sport.
3 Fundamental Safety Rules
Everyone should follow basic safety protocols while engaging in target shooting. While the basics of gun safety are usually well-known by shooters, it’s always a good idea to review them. And if someone decides to try shooting for the first time, they should memorize these before using a gun.
These are three critical safety rules as outlined by the National Rifle Association (NRA):
- Keep the gun facing in a safe direction at all times: This is the most fundamental rule of gun safety. While a safe direction varies depending on your environment, you should never point the gun barrel at yourself or anyone nearby. When possible, keep the gun facing toward the target or ground.
- Don’t touch the trigger unless it’s time to shoot: You should never touch the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Instead, keep your pointer finger resting on the outer frame when holding a gun.
- Leave the gun unloaded: Lastly, you must always leave your gun empty until it’s time to use it. Never carry a loaded firearm unless you’re about to use it for practice.
If you’re ever uncertain about best gun practices, it’s always best to ask a more experienced shooter for help. Instead of trying to figure it out yourself, put the gun down and wait until you have more understanding.
Another important component of gun safety is your apparel. Every shooter should wear the correct gear during target shooting. Clothing might not be the first thing on your mind as you head to a gun range, but the right garments could be the difference between security and an accident.
All shooters should be equipped with safety gear. These pieces protect your body from firearm effects like noise and reverberation. In most cases, you can rent this gear at the shooting range, but many people prefer to buy their own.
Must-have safety accessories include:
- Hearing protection: An average gunshot can produce a sound between 140 and 165 decibels. Frequent exposure to high decibel levels could lead to permanent hearing loss, so protecting your ears is critical. All people practicing their target shooting should wear ear gear to protect themselves against loud noises. Most shooters use earplugs, earmuffs or other forms of electronic hearing protection. Be sure to wear any of those options before target shooting.
- Protective eyewear: Eyewear is essential during target practice. Gun accidents could occur at any time due to gun malfunction, a strong gust of wind or anything in between. Gunpowder could also blow back into your eyes and cause severe irritation. Because of these dangers, all shooters need a pair of protective glasses or goggles while shooting. Get a pair that fits securely around your face and allows for maximum vision even during adverse weather conditions to prevent eye-related accidents when shooting.
You should also consider clothing types for target practice. While there’s no set rule about what you need to wear, some clothes work better than others for your protection. Consider wearing:
- Long sleeves and pants: When possible, it’s best to wear long sleeves and pants when shooting. The more clothing you wear, the better protection you have against bullet remnants and other ejections. Options like cargo pants are great choices because they offer protection but are still comfortable and roomy.
- Hats: Most shooters also wear hats during their target practice. Hats protect you from sun rays, keep hair out of your eyes and act as another barrier between you and ejections.
6 Must-Follow Safety Tips for Target Shooting
After understanding the basics of gun safety, you’ll need to know additional tips that will help keep you safe. These practices can keep you, the environment and others safe while you hone your skills. By being mindful of these tips, you can enjoy your target practice to the fullest.
Here are six additional essential safety tips for target shooting.
1. Place Your Targets on Gravel or Rock
While shooting outside, target shooters should do anything possible to prevent wildfires. Bullet fragments are extremely hot, and when they eject, they could land in nearby vegetation. Shrubs, bushes and other dry vegetation can catch fire easily, and the right conditions will cause the flames to spread quickly. Before you know it, an entire forest fire could erupt.
To prevent this, place your target in areas with little or no vegetation. It’s best to set your target in gravel or by rocks. Use a target stand to place your target securely. If you are only around areas with abundant plant life, maybe choose an indoor shooting range instead. It’s better to stay safe than to risk a wildfire.
2. Use Properly Constructed Targets
Next, another critical safety tip is to use the right targets. You want to make sure you practice with durable and safe targets. Appropriate targets won’t let bullets fly long distances and potentially hurt others after hitting the surface.
Many shooters use steel targets for practice. Shooting steel targets is an excellent option for honing your skills, as they give you direct visual and auditory acknowledgment of your shot. You can see where your bullet landed on a steel surface, and it emits a clear noise signaling when it hit. This feedback is perfect for shooters who want to improve their performance.
If you’re wondering how to shoot steel targets safely, be sure to follow this advice:
- Use high-quality steel: Steel is one of the best options for target practice. Stay safe while shooting steel targets by avoiding targets with soft steel. Hard steel offers a safer and more durable surface. Its strength will prevent bullets from damaging the target and will also keep you safer. Most experts recommend only using steel with a Brinell number of 500 or higher. Options like AR500 steel targets are a good choice.
- Ensure the surface is completely flat: You should also check that your target surface is free of holes, dents or other debris before using it. Double-check the angle of your target and ensure it’s in the correct position. Always take the time to study your target before you start shooting.
This advice can help you maintain safety when shooting metal targets.
3. Make Sure Your Gun Is Working Correctly
Always set aside time to inspect your gun before you get started. Like any other tool, your gun requires the proper cleaning and maintenance procedures to work correctly. You should never use a firearm if something seems off or if you have any questions about its condition. Ask a trusted professional or more experienced shooter if you notice anything off about your gun.
Before you head out for target practice, make sure your gun is unloaded and check for these things:
- Barrel obstructions: Check the barrel of your gun and ensure you can see light at the other end. If you can’t, something might be obstructing your barrel. Whether it’s grease, dust or something larger, it’s critical to remove it with a cleaning patch before using your gun. And if you can’t remove it yourself, ask a professional for help.
- Correct movements: Ensure all the gun components work smoothly and with the correct motions. Examine the bolt, handle, safety and other essential gun parts.
- Rust or cracking: Lastly, you should always inspect your gun for rust, cracks or other damages. These conditions can make it unsafe for you to shoot, so it’s crucial to check before heading out to the range.
4. Use the Right Ammunition
Using the correct type of ammunition is crucial for gun safety. All firearms are designed for a specific style of ammunition, and it’s critical that you only load your gun with the correct type. Most guns list their ammunition type on the barrel, but if you can’t find it, ask for help. Never shoot until you’re certain you have the correct cartridges inside.
Additionally, don’t use incendiary ammo that would make fires more likely. Some ammunition types, such as solid copper, are more explosive and increase the risk of a wildfire.
5. Bring Water or Other Backups
Next, it’s always good to have emergency materials just in case something goes wrong. Outdoor target practice could cause fires or other emergencies, but having the right supplies can stop these.
Consider bringing materials like:
- Water: It’s always good practice to have water on hand in the case of a fire. Many shooters bring water but only in small amounts that wouldn’t successfully stop flames. Try to bring at least five gallons of water.
- A shovel: Many experts recommend using a shovel to dig a hole before shooting. You can place your targets in the hole to keep potential sparks contained.
- Fire extinguishers: Fire extinguishers are also crucial tools for fire prevention. Sometimes, your water supply might not be enough to stop flames, so you need a fire extinguisher as a backup. You can keep one in your car in case of emergencies and grab it when needed.
6. Clean Your Gun Regularly
Lastly, proper gun maintenance and storage are crucial for your safety. Make sure to clean your gun frequently and check for the signs mentioned above. Most guns come with a user manual that explains cleaning procedures in more detail.
Most users use cleaning rods, cleaning patches and other chemicals to clean their firearms. Ensure that you clean:
- The barrel and chamber
- The action
- The outside of the gun
You can also visit local shops and ask for assistance when necessary. Try cleaning your gun often. The cleaner your firearm is, the more reliable it will be when you practice.
Additionally, store your gun in a secure location that others can’t reach easily. The ideal place will differ based on your circumstances, but be sure to lock your firearm securely in a storage device. It’s critical to keep the gun away from those that don’t know how to use it properly, such as young children. You can prevent accidents by storing your firearm securely.
Browse Shooting Targets From Falcata Company
At Falcata Company, we understand how crucial it is to stay safe during target practice. As a leading shooting target manufacturer, we have provided high-quality shooting targets for over 30 years. Our AR500 steel targets are one of the most secure options on the market. With half-inch thick steel and intense energy absorption, our targets can help you maintain target shooting safety.
Falcata Company targets are available in many sizes and shapes, so you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Additionally, our targets work for shooters of all skill levels. Our top priority is customer satisfaction, and we’re happy to help you through the entire buying process.