There’s a whole world beyond the paper target out there, but even that classic paper target is evolving as shooters look for greater challenges, immediate gratification when making hits and targets that can be used on multiple range trips. When we asked the experts, there were some surprises. “It seems like today, all shooters have less time than ever before,” explained Champion Traps & Targets Public Relations Manager Jake Edson. “So, whatever we can do to save them time and increase the fun at the range is what works. That’s why we’ve really focused on reactive targets like our new Center Mass Steel, VisiColor paper and the DuraSeal line.”
Birchwood Casey Brand Manager Eric Miller agrees target preference is universal. “We do not see a large difference in generations of shooters, but it is more about shooters who want to shoot year-round and want a target that is not just a bullseye or traditional style sight-in target,” he said. “Shooters are looking for interactive and reactionary targets. Our Shoot-N-C, Dirty Bird and steel targets give the shooter instant feedback via sound or by visual halos on the targets.”
Options seemingly increase every month. In February—as this issue was being assembled—FAB Defense introduced Reactive Target Systems (RTS) targets. Versions available can be used to hone CQB skills or stretch the distance to 300 yards. The spinners, knockdowns and stationary options are all made of non-ricochet components that make them ideal for plinking, gun ranges and law enforcement practice. The self-healing polymer can take thousands of rounds and minimizes the chances of splashback, too.
The same month, Champion Traps & Targets expanded its VisiColor line with the new Real Life, Reflex, Training Silhouette and Fun Games series of reactive paper targets. “Interactivity is key to fun on the range today,” said Will Hemeyer, product manager for the company. “Shooters want to have fun and improve their skills with immediate feedback. With VisiColor, visual confirmation is immediate and lets you know how you’re doing.”
“Paper is still king, because of price and you can shoot it anywhere,” Edson said. “Steel is really taking off, as more and more shooters are setting steel in locations where feasible. Our new Center Mass targets are some of the first AR500 steel targets available at merchants such as Cabela’s. Previously, finding steel targets was a localized game because of shipping costs.”
As for the future, Edson explains, “Again, I go back to reactive targets and targets that make shooting an interactive experience that can be shared. Today’s consumer likes to shoot with friends and anything you can do to allow interaction, whether that’s competitive or just plain fun, is really what we’re focusing on.”
The experts agree: There’s no generation gap widening on the firing line. If anything, it’s closing. Shooters of all ages appreciate the convenience and time savings provided by modern targets. The satisfying ping with every hit that comes with steel doesn’t discriminate by age.