Month: October 2021

Is There Ricochet When Shooting Steel Targets?

Many people have a common misconception about shooting steel targets: there is always a ricochet, and bullets end up flying everywhere. This fear is rooted in a general misunderstanding that non-gun owners have about bullets and steel targets. In reality, when used properly, steel targets have a very low ricochet risk.

There can be ricochet when shooting steel targets if the wrong ammo is used on the wrong target. With proper precautions, ricochets are extremely rare and not harmful. When shooting steel, you must use an undamaged armour steel target, the correct ammo, and stand a safe distance from your target. 

If you read the instructions accompanying your steel target and adhere to its guidelines, the risk of ricochet accidents is significantly reduced. In the article that follows, we will discuss more specifics about ricochets and steel targets. If you have questions about how to avoid these dangerous accidents, then continue reading to learn more. 

How to Avoid Ricochet When Shooting Steel Targets

Shooting steel targets has quickly become a prevalent form of target practice. While paper and cardboard targets are fun and shooting clay pigeons is a challenge, few things are more rewarding than the loud sound of a steel target being struck. 

The risk of being hit by a ricocheting bullet off a steel target is low, but it can happen. 

The number one rule to being safe when shooting steel is to follow directions and be careful. Unfortunately, most shooting accidents happen as a result of carelessness and disregard. 

Use the Right Ammo

Steel targets are designed to absorb the impact of a bullet and destroy it on impact. However, if you use the wrong ammo type, the steel may not be thick or strong enough to destroy the bullet.

Also, consider the solidity of your ammunition, as some bullets may be too hard to be fully absorbed by your steel target. 

Know What Your Steel Target Can Handle

Most steel targets are made of AR 500 or AR 550 steel. These are some of the best money can buy, will last longer, and absorb more bullets than other steel targets. 

For example, this Highwild 3/8″ AR500 12″ Classic Popper from provides high visibility and is suitable for “most pistols and rifle calibers.” It’s under $50, and it’s ready to go right out of the box.

It’s also important to know how thick your target is and what bullets it is rated for. 

Some targets are meant for handguns or shotguns, while others are capable of handling rifle impacts. 

These High Caliber AR500 Geometric Steel Targets come in a range of thicknesses from ¼ to ½ inches (6.35 – 12.7 mm), with the thickest option suited to everything from a classic 9mm to a 12-gauge slug buck.

Read the instructions that come with each target and if you’re still not sure, contact a firearms expert. They will be able to inform you as to the best way to use your target. 

Angle Your Steel Target Appropriately

angling your target in a downward direction is recommended to reduce splatter and extend life. This ensures that the only path the ricochet has to go when the bullet strikes is down into the ground. 

This is a helpful safety tip to remember. 

Factors That Can Reduce the Risk of Ricochet

The number one cause of ricochet accidents is people not knowing what they’re doing. If you use the wrong gun or ammo with the wrong target, you significantly increase your risk for an accident. 

If you adhere to the directions of your target and are still worried about ricochet, here are a few things you can do to ensure safety. 

Only Use Targets Certified As AR 500 or AR 550

Steel targets made of this steel will ensure that you have a high-quality target capable of handling multiple types of weapons and ammo.  

While you can use AR500 or AR550 targets for pistol shooting, the heavier AR550 plates are better suited for rifle practice and last longer without pitting or damaging a rifle range. 

ALWAYS Check Your Ammo

The best type of ammo to use for shooting steel targets is FMJ (full metal jacket). As a general rule, the softer the bullet is, the better. 

If your bullet is too hard, you risk dinging or denting the steel target, making it more of a liability. Avoid using armor-piercing rounds and steel rounds which are more likely to cause ricochets.  

Stand the Correct Distance Away From the Target

This is perhaps the most important rule to remember. If you stand far enough away from your steel target, you significantly reduce the risk of being hit by a stray ricochet. 

The distance you’ll want to maintain when shooting steel targets depends on what kind of gun you’re shooting with. For shotguns, stand at least 30 yards away. When shooting with rifles, stand at least 100 yards away.

Make Sure Your Target Is Not Damaged in Any Way

If your target is old and beat up, or if you use the wrong ammo and damage your target, stop using it. A damaged target is a recipe for disaster. 

If a bullet should hit the steel target in a damaged area, the steel may be too compromised to absorb the bullet’s impact. 

Additionally, dings or dents could send a ricochet in an unpredictable direction, further putting yourself and anyone with you at risk. 

Following directions, being cautious, and using the above safety techniques will help you avoid nearly all ricochet accidents. 

Weapon Guidelines for Avoiding Ricochet 

Every gun is made differently and uses different ammo calibers, but listed below are general guidelines to remember when shooting steel targets. 

Handgun Guidelines

When shooting steel targets with a handgun, a minimum distance of 25 yards (22.86 m) should be kept between you and your target. 

This may vary depending on the type of gun and steel target you use, though, so always check before pulling the trigger.

Shotgun Guidelines

A minimum distance of 25 yards (22.86 m) should be maintained between the shooter and their steel target when using shotguns. 

Once again, this may vary from target to target and from gun to gun, but 25 yards (22.86 m) is an excellent standard to have.

Rifle Guidelines

When it comes to shooting steel targets with rifles, more caution is necessary. 

Rifles are often more potent than shotguns and handguns and use larger bullets. Therefore, a minimum distance of 100 yards (91.44 m) should be kept between you and your target when using a rifle. 

Contact Action Target Today

Shooting steel targets is a great and fun way to hone your firearm skills. As long as you are aware of the risks that accompany this activity and how to mitigate them, shooting steel targets is relatively safe. 

Remember to use the right ammo, have a high-quality AR material and undamaged target, and stand a safe distance away. If you follow each of these steps in conjunction with your steel targets instructions, then you should be able to enjoy an accident-free day at the range!

With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here


The HVAC System in Your Shooting Range

Because air quality needs to be one of your highest priorities, an efficient and quality HVAC system in your shooting range is essential.

Visiting the local gun range is a great and exciting way for your clients to practice their aim, perfect their shot, and improve their skills. But without a decent HVAC system installed in your firing range, the air quality can be harmful to your customers’ health. Air quality is paramount when building an indoor shooting range.

Learn more about the importance of an effective and efficient HVAC system in your indoor firing range below.

Things To Look Out For When Buying an HVAC System in Your Shooting Range

There are many claims made by HVAC suppliers stating they can supply your indoor range with 200 to 400% more fresh air than other systems on the market. Sure, that is doable, but it’ll cost you! Make sure that you ask your provider for all data and documentation supporting and confirming you are getting what they say they are supplying.

In standard Recirculation systems, you can expect 25% of the total Range Supply Air to be fresh, outside air, which is typical if you are trying to get 50-75 fpm airflow at the shooter and downrange. Fresh, outdoor air is necessary to control the carbon monoxide levels inside the range. Recirculating the same air without incorporating some new, fresh air will put range employees and patrons at a considerable risk of breathing in toxic air.

To have 200 to 400% “more” fresh air than a typical Recirculation system, the following would be necessary and/or occur:

  • Operational and energy costs would increase as the system efficiencies would decrease.
  • The system’s ability to control humidity would be lost unless a much larger unit with the necessary cooling capacity is put in place.
  • Equipment size would need to increase to match the increased cooling demands.

Can HVAC Purge Systems Really Generate 200 to 400% “More” Fresh Air?

Guidelines set by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) require airflow from behind the shooter downrange at 75 fpm. In a Purge system, 100% of the total Range Supply Air is fresh, outdoor air. Using mechanical cooling with Purge systems would require equipment with three times the amount of cooling capacity and operational costs. This results from 100% of the Range Supply Air being conditioned from the outside temps and humidity levels down to the indoor range conditions you desire. Once the conditioned air flows down the range, 100% of it is put into the atmosphere. This process recaptures none of the energy put into the Range Supply Air, making it a much less efficient system. Dryer climates have greater success using evaporative cooling with Purge systems. They use far less energy than mechanical cooling systems while adding moisture to dry air.

To achieve 200 to 400% “more” fresh air than a typical Purge system, the following would be necessary and would occur:

  • Fans with 200 to 400% greater capacity.
  • Fan energy consumption instantly increases to accommodate 200 to 400% greater capacity.
  • Equipment costs would increase as a result of the 200 to 400% increase in equipment size.
  • The Velocity of air going through the range would be 200 to 400%, which is much higher than the NIOSH recommendations.
  • The volume of air moving down the range would be 200 to 400% greater.

Obtaining Laminar Flow to Move Lead and Toxic Fumes Away from the Shooter

Laminar airflow is a critical part of all range ventilation system designs. The amount and severity of toxic fumes are greatly reduced when the airflow approaching and passing the shooter is laminar. Turbulent airflow can cause lead dust and hazardous fumes right to the shooter. Systems that are property designed provide laminar airflow for standing, kneeling, and prone shooting positions. Some businesses will market that by angling the stalls or removing diffusers, you’ll meet OSHA standards. However, the engineering does not lie — directing air around and over the shooter is crucial for keeping them safe. 

Check your system for laminar flow with smoke test kits to ensure air is moving in the desired direction. Make sure to check the airflow from behind the firing line. Start the smoke test on the floor, move up toward the ceiling at a consistent rate, and ensure that air moves constantly, from the bottom to the top, ensuring proper 50 to 75 feet per minute. You shouldn’t experience any swirling before getting to the shooter.

Carbon Monoxide Monitoring and the HVAC System in Your HVAC Company

Many inexperienced HVAC companies do not provide carbon monoxide monitoring to shooting ranges, which is a direct violation of OSHA requirements. You’ll find that is especially common for companies that are not familiar with managing lead dust and other toxic fumes produced by firearms. 

It is essential for ranges to have the necessary equipment to monitor CO levels. Monitoring carbon monoxide levels in the Range Supply Air is crucial for providing a safe and comfortable environment for range employees and customers. Alarms need to sound when monitored CO levels reach a predesignated concentration (that is well below harmful CO levels) to protect all occupants.

Ventilation systems need to expel a certain percentage of indoor air to the atmosphere and replace it with fresh, outdoor air to exhaust CO from inside a gun range. All systems need to have a damper control at the exhaust to increase flow when CO levels rise because of heavy range use. If you have a standard Recirculation system, always monitor carbon monoxide levels so you can control how much air is being exhausted, the amount of air being recirculated, and how much fresh air is being brought into the range. Of course, standard Purge systems require no carbon monoxide monitoring and no MAU Bypass because all of the Range Supple Air is fresh air.

Regardless of the ventilation system your range has, Recirculation or Purge, NIOSH recommends that the 10% greater airflow be expelled from the range envelope than what is being supplied into it. This produces a negative pressure in the range relative to the space outside of the range envelope. This is a crucial design component and ensures that lead dust and other toxic fumes are not introduced into spaces next to the range envelope.

The Importance of Intuitive Smart HVAC Controls

Having control systems that are easy to use, understand, diagnose, and adjust is essential when running a gun range. Settling for a basic start and stop system just won’t do. Instead, utilize available technology that ensures you are properly serving your system when necessary. Find a control display with the following options:

  • ON/OFF
  • Mode (Fan, Heating, Cooling)
  • Safe to Shoot 
  • Alarms/Faults
  • Range Temperature
  • Range Humidity (for Recirculation systems)
  • Filter Status/Life
  • Equipment Service Information

Need an HVAC System in Your Shooting Range? Contact Action Target Today!

For the best HVAC system in your shooting range, contact the experts at Action Target. We provide the industry’s best ventilation systems for new range installations and existing ranges in Provo, Utah, that exceed all environmental standards. We offer a complete package of air filters, controls, and maintenance to ensure that your customers, employees, and the surrounding area are protected from the health hazards associated with lead exposure and other air-borne toxins found in indoor shooting ranges. Our innovative ventilation system designs exceed NIOSH, EPA, and OSHA air quality standards and are customizable to your particular range installation. Contact Action Target to learn more today.

Why Can’t You Shoot Green Tip Ammo at Shooting Ranges?

If you are familiar with the rules of shooting ranges, then you know the mystery surrounding green tip ammo. Not only is this ammo controversial when it comes to shooting, but it is also not welcome in almost all shooting ranges. This consistent rule makes people wonder why the rule exists at all. 

You can’t shoot green tip ammo at most shooting ranges because it’s made to penetrate steel, and most indoor shooting ranges use steel to catch bullets. While the steel backdrop would likely still stop a green tip bullet, it would incur a lot of damage, costing the range a lot of money. 

Let’s go into more detail about green tip ammo and why ranges decided not to allow it. 

Potential Damage Caused by Green Tip Ammo at Shooting Ranges

Green tip ammo can do a lot of damage at indoor shooting ranges that rely on steel. Not only could this ammo penetrate the steel and possibly continue traveling along its path of trajectory, but it would also do a lot of damage to backdrops, requiring that they be replaced. 

Because this ammo was created to penetrate armor, that means it can penetrate steel and sometimes continue traveling along its path of trajectory. This poses a huge threat to indoor shooting ranges that use steel to catch bullets. Shots on target might not be a big deal for green tip ammo, but any missed shots could travel through the backing and cause injuries. 

If you are familiar with green tip ammo, then you know this may not happen. It depends on the velocity of the shot as well as what is being shot at. But that doesn’t completely remove the risk. 

Gun ranges are made for safety, and green tip ammo may put the safety of others at risk. So, most ranges do not want to lose their license over safety concerns. This is why many places ban these bullets. 

Another reason these bullets tend to be banned is because of the damage they can do to backdrops. Steel backdrops are made to last through a lot of shooting before they need to be replaced. However, because green tip ammo is made to penetrate this material, it can cause a lot of damage, wearing down of the steel from just a few bullets. 

This damage doesn’t always make the range unsafe, but it certainly means that the backdrops will need to be replaced more often after being hit with green tip bullets. This can get very expensive for a range, considering shooting ranges don’t normally need to change them very often. 

Some indoor ranges will still allow this ammo despite the costs that come with it. For them, the damage done to the backdrop or targets is worth it to keep those customers happy.

Typically, you’ll find this ammo allowed more commonly in ranges that require a higher price to get in. This price increase can help the trade-off of allowing this ammo and replacing the backdrops more often. 

Indoor ranges that allow these bullets also need to heavily consider how well they are made. There are quite a few regulations that must be met before an indoor shooting range opens, and this type of ammo can draw attention to any regulations that may not have been followed. 

This type of dangerous ammo means that rules need to be followed very closely to ensure that no one is mistakenly harmed when using it. So, the ranges that do allow these bullets to be used tend to have stricter rules about who is allowed in the range at any given time. 

Why Green Tip Ammo Is so Controversial

Green tip ammo is made to penetrate steel, which makes it very strong. The damage it can do is what makes it controversial for civilian use. This superior ammo was originally created to penetrate armor. It’s considered dangerous by many, but nonetheless is legal to own in the United States. 

Green tip ammo came about in the 1970s, and ten years later, it was adopted by the US military. During this time, they painted the tip green, which was meant to show that it could penetrate armor. To this day, it is sold and contains those green tips that make it stand out. 

Over the years, these bullets have been shown to penetrate through steel armor which makes it controversial in terms of safety. Many are concerned because it could penetrate bullet-proof vests and other protective gear. 

Since these bullets can penetrate steel, they are considered very dangerous as a stray shot could do a lot more damage than an ordinary bullet. Thinking in terms of self-defense, green tip ammo can cause many issues if you miss a shot or the shot goes through the target and into something else. 

These bullets can travel through steel, so a wooden wall wouldn’t be much of a challenge. 

Over recent years, the ATF has attempted to impose regulations on these bullets for fear that they are putting the lives of law enforcement in danger as it can penetrate their vests. These attempts fell short when it became clear that it would violate the Second Amendment.

Green tip ammo is commonly not allowed at indoor shooting ranges. It can do a lot of costly damage and could be considered a safety concern if it penetrates backdrops. Because of this, most shooting ranges do not allow it to be used in their facilities. 

If you are frustrated with a range for not allowing this ammo, remember that it is done for safety and cost reasons. 

Contact Action Target

With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here


How Close Can You Safely Shoot Steel Targets?

For gun enthusiasts everywhere, steel targets have become a prevalent form of target practice, and for good reason. 

Steel targets are specifically designed to be used for target practice and engineered to maximize use and minimize risks. Many people who don’t fully understand steel targets often wonder how safe they are for shooting. 

You can safely shoot steel targets as close as 15 yards with handguns and 100 yards with rifles, which is a standard operating procedure. However, the weapon’s caliber, the target quality, and other factors, all play roles in the risks involved with shooting steel targets and must be considered. 

This article will go more in-depth about all the dos and don’ts of shooting steel targets. We will discuss what type of steel is best for target practice and the appropriate weapon and which ammunition can be used. Every circumstance is different, and we’ve done our best to cover each scenario. 

Why You Should Use Steel Targets

When it comes to guns and shooting, with all of the other options out there for target practice, some people wonder why they should even bother with steel targets. There are paper targets, clay pigeons, cardboard cutouts, and so much more, so what’s so unique about steel? 

The main reason gun enthusiasts love steel targets so much is that they’re very user-friendly. 

When practicing with a rifle at a long distance, it’s often difficult to determine if you have hit your mark or not. This is never a question with steel targets as you will be greeted with a loud dinging sound. 

Steel targets are also reusable. With paper and cardboard targets, you’re constantly having to replace them and change them out. On the other hand, steel targets are meant to last much longer and be much more durable than the alternatives. 

Quality of the Steel Makes a Big Difference

The quality and thickness of the steel target you’re using make a big difference in safety distance. A good steel target is designed to destroy the target upon the first impact, deterring the possibility of a ricochet accident. A well-made steel target should be composed of AR 500 or AR 550 grade steel. 

Steel targets should always specify the steel type and minimum safe shooting distance for each caliber of weapon. If the instructions say the minimum distance for handguns is 10 yards (9.14 m), then listen to the instructions. If the instructions say 20 yards (18.2 m), then the minimum safe distance is 20 yards (18.2 m). 

Most shooting accidents occur because of carelessness and not following best safety practices. If you show responsibility and respect around guns, nearly all accidents are avoidable. 

There may be the occasional errant ricochet to no fault of the shooter, but these incidents are few and far between. 

General Guidelines and Safety Standards

Here are a few general rules to keep in mind when using steel targets: 

  • The thicker the steel is, the closer you can be to the target 
  • The softer the bullet is, the closer you can be to the target 
  • The larger the caliber, the further away you should be 

Every gun and situation is unique, but there are best practices to be followed. Assuming you’re following the specific instructions for each steel target and paying close attention to the thickness of the target, you can have a good idea of minimum safe distances. 


The absolute minimum recommended distance for handguns, depending on the ammo, is 15 yards (9.14 m).  If you’re using a high-caliber pistol or high-velocity ammunition, 15 to 25 yards (13.72 to 22.86 m) is recommended to avoid ricochets or fragment wounds.


Rifles are much more powerful than handguns, and the minimum distance is therefore greater. 100 yards (91.44 m) is usually the minimum distance allowed for shooting a steel target with a rifle. 

Not all rifles have the same firepower, so this may not always be necessary, but if you’re not sure about the quality of the target, 100 yards (91.44 m) should be the minimum. 


To be on the safe side with shotguns, you should keep a minimum distance of 25 yards (22.86 it ism) between you and your steel target. You should also make sure to examine the target closely after every shot to make sure the steel isn’t getting dimpled.

Dimples or dents in the target can lead to unpredictable ricochets and fragment spreads in use. 

Angle and Integrity of the Steel Target Matters

Using a steel target that is angled downward can also decrease the risk of ricochet accidents. The target should absorb most of the bullets’ impact, but there’s always a small risk involved with firearms and steel. 

Angling the target is not one-size-fits-all, however. Ensure you know the proper angle for every kind of bullet used. 

If you notice the steel target you’re using has started to develop dings and dents or cracks, immediately cease using the target. 

A steel target that has been compromised will only increase the risk of accidental ricochets. A damaged steel target will also be less likely to absorb the impact of a bullet fully. Be smart and use caution anytime you’re discharging a firearm. 

Your steel target should be smooth and free of any surface damage. A good rule of thumb is that the softer the target, the safer it is. The steel used to make a good target is often the same material that the gun is made of. 

No matter how excellent or thick the steel is, however, if you use the wrong ammunition with the wrong target, you increase your chances of an accident. 

Contact Action Target

The most important thing to remember when shooting steel targets is that you should always veer on the side of caution. 

Guns are powerful weapons and must be respected to be appropriately used. If you have any doubts about the quality or integrity of your steel target, then change it out for a newer one. 

If you’re afraid the bullets you’re using are too soft or hard for a specific target, then use a different bullet or get another target. Carelessness and nonchalance are the leading causes of accidents involving steel targets. 

With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here