While at the USCCA Expo this year, I paid a visit to the Newbold Targets booth. The booth was incredibly busy the entire Expo, but I was able to make my way over to some really cool targets that I had to try out and review for you all.
The reason why I was drawn to these targets is that I love shooting steel targets. The instant feedback that comes when the target drops or you hear the ‘ping' from the round impacting is beneficial. The reason it helps is that when you receive instant feedback of a good hit, your mind can take a snapshot of what fundamentals you were applying as you pulled the trigger, making it easier to reinforce good technique.
As great as steel targets are, there are some inherent drawbacks that come with them. These targets are made of a shoot-through, self-healing material that eliminates many of the drawbacks associated with steel.
Comparing Steel and Polymer Targets:
- First, steel targets are heavy. The polymer targets are 7 times lighter than steel, making set up and transportation much easier.
- Unless you're using frangible ammunition, shooting steel targets at close distances is dangerous due to spawling and fragmenting bullet material. The polymer targets allow the bullet to pass through, eliminating standoff requirements.
- Because of liability reasons, many ranges won't allow steel target shooting. Not only can you use these targets at an outdoor range, you can use them at an indoor range without any concern for injury or property damage.
- Both steel and polymer targets have a lifespan, and will eventually have to be replaced. As long as you are shooting FMJ ammunition, these targets will last one thousand + rounds.
The targets are made for various applications, and each series comes in many different colors, sizes, and shapes. Each series is designed to react differently to bullet strikes.
- L Series/L Series Center Hit: These targets can be screwed in place, so when reacting to a hit, they tilt back and spring back up. Alternatively, they can be set up on their own, and when shot, simply fall over. The Center Hit version has a removable center, which would allow you to indicate a center hit, versus a hit anywhere on the target.
- K-D Pivot/K-D Pivot Center Hit: similar to the L Series, the K-D targets react by falling down. The difference is that the K-D targets are used with a base that allows them to fall over and stay down. They also can be reset manually or from the firing line by attaching a string to them. The Center Hit variety is just the same as the standard, but again has a center portion that provides separate feedback for a center hit.
- Hang Tuff: Just like those hanging ‘gong' type targets, the Hang Tuff series is designed to hang below a cross beam and swing back and forth when impacted.
- Pepper-Popper: These are pretty sweet, in that they are more of a silhouette target. Coming in 22″ and 44″ varieties, these are designed to fall down when struck. The targets can be automatically or manually reset depending on the options you choose.
- Alpha Stands: what good are the targets if you have nothing to mount them to, or what you have is bulky and cumbersome? The Alpha Stands to allow you to create a ‘sawhorse' style target stand easily by sliding a few 2×4 lengths of wood into the stands. The brackets are made from the same lightweight, passthrough material as the targets so you don't have to worry about any bullet splatter.
- K-D Series Target Bases: The bases are to be used with the K-D series targets. The targets easily pop into the base and can be removed without any tools or effort. The bases are made from the same material as the targets themselves, so no problem with ricochets.
The targets I used in the evaluation came from the Plate Rack Kit that Newbold offers. The kit comes with (6) 6″ K-D Series circle targets, (6) K-D Series target bases, (2) Alpha Stand brackets, and the wood screws needed to fasten the target bases to a 2×4.
I will let you know, I absolutely despise unnecessary product packaging. So often you get a product only to be annoyed with plastic bags, and heat formed clam shell packaging that is a pain to open. Plus all this packaging gets thrown away, so why fill up the landfills with stuff we don't need to? So I really appreciate the ‘Easy Peasy Packaging' concept that Newbold uses.
They don't spend time and money on excessive packaging. Just toss the product in the box, slap a fancy company sticker on it, and ship it to the customer. What this means is less hassle, lower prices for the consumer and less garbage to bury in a landfill. For example, my entire plate rack system, minus the 2×4's was shipped to me in a 12″x12″x12″ box that weighed a whopping 10 lbs.
I grabbed a few 2×4's I had in my garage and screwed each of the 6 target bases to a board around 6 feet long. The targets and Alpha Stands were left in the small box. Because it is so lightweight, I was able to put all of it in the trunk of my Honda Accord. Once I got out to the range, I was able to put it all together by myself literally in less than 5 minutes. All you have to do is slide 4 shorter 2×4's of equal length into the ‘leg' slots of the stands and then slide the cross member that holds the bases into the remaining slot on the alpha stand.
Using the Targets:
Depending on the distance you are shooting from, and the caliber of round, you will have to set the sensitivity of the targets. This is done by simply turning the knob in the target base. The more the target is tilted back the more sensitive to strikes it will be. I used .22LR through 45ACP and the target fell over like it was supposed to. I did need to tune up the targets slightly to allow the .22LR round to knock it over, but once I did that, all functioned perfectly.
I used the plate rack in my recent concealed carry class. The students competed against one another in a friendly competition. All of the students thought it was fun, and several remarked how they liked shooting the plates and getting the instant feedback. I put several dozen rounds through the targets myself from various distances. I did notice that when I got closer while shooting .45 the target had a tendency to bounce back up. This can be solved by adjusting the sensitivity to be less sensitive.
So the lesson is, depending on the caliber and distance, you need to adjust the targets so they function how you want them to, no different than steel.
One thing I noticed is that because the targets are lighter than steel they are subject to strong winds. This has to do a lot with the fact that there were 15 mph winds and really no berms to buffer any of that direct wind. Once again, adjusting the sensitivity and changing the angle of the targets in relation to the wind helped. However, mother nature could not be completely defeated. This probably won't be the case for you, but I wanted to comment on it.
I really like these targets and think they are better than shooting paper and a great alternative to steel. I imagine that in the not so distant future, Newbold will come up with a way to run these plates as a dueling tree. If the system could get better, having a plate rack and dueling tree would be it.
Paper, steel, and polymer targets all have their place, their application as well as pros and cons. Whether you want to set up some plates to compete on, some Pepper-Poppers for human silhouette shooting, or have some fun with the L Series and Hang Tuff targets, you really can customize your range exactly how you want it. I am definitely going to be implementing these targets in my training classes, and practice sessions.
You can find Newbold Targets here.