Shooting Steel – Up Close and Safe

Todd Fletcher

For years, firearms instructors and officers have enjoyed the benefits of training with steel targets. The immediate feedback from steel indicates the successful application of marksmanship and it is one of the best features of training with steel targets.

However, it doesn’t take long to figure out that a disadvantage of training with steel targets is that bullet splatter can come back towards the shooter, potentially causing discomfort or injury. The Fragshield, from Take Aim Targets, can reduce bullet splatter resulting in a safer environment.

Take Aim Targets sent me a Fragshield fitted to an IPSC Contender target. It’s the size of the IPSC B/C zone target which eliminates peripheral hits. This torso shaped target is 9″ wide and 20″ tall.

In another box, I found a Take Aim Targets Deluxe Swivel Mount, the Hostile Adaptor Target, and their smartly designed 29″ Deluxe Transformer Base. The Deluxe Swivel Mount and Hostile Adaptor Target mount on the back of the IPSC Contender and provide a hostage-type target to diversify your training opportunities. The 29″ Deluxe Transformer Base is a great addition. This base holds the wooden two-by-four for the target and is a fully functional portable target stand holding target backers of either 18″ or 24″. This is a portable target stand capable of performing many functions. It’s truly a wonder of engineering. The legs detach with a quick pull of a pin and lock up under the target stand for a portable and compact unit.

Now to the Fragshield. The Fragshield is a patent-pending elastomeric material which can be bolted to the face of any target. The Fragshield is designed to reduce the likelihood and amount of bullet splatter coming off the face of a steel target and back towards the shooter. As the bullet penetrates through the Fragshield and strikes the target face, the fragmentation is safely deflected away from the shooter. Take Aim Targets said this is especially important for those shooters who like to shoot their steel closer than recommended safety distances.

Dan Parker from Take Aim Targets told me that all of the AR500 steel used to manufacture their targets is sourced from the USA. He sent me an actual steel test certificate showing the steel they use has a Brinell hardness of between 492 and 503. Do your own Internet search and see for yourself what is recommended by the “experts.”  What you’ll find is that high quality steel target manufacturers use AR500 steel with a Brinell hardness rating of at least 450.

Dan told me the idea for the Fragshield was born when people repeatedly asked about ricochets and splash back from shooting steel targets. He said that they have tested the Fragshield through several thousand rounds of ammunition and it keeps working as designed. The elastomeric material holds its shape well and creates a tight seal around the bullet hole preventing fragmentation and splash back. Using full metal jacket rounds extends the life of the Fragshield compared to using hollow point duty rounds, but the Fragshield has proven itself to be durable and resistant to high round counts.

As someone who owns a lot of steel targets from a variety of manufacturers, I asked if the Take Aim Targets Fragshield could be ordered to fit steel targets from other manufacturers. Dan told me that the Fragshield could be custom cut to fit any steel target. All they need to know is the dimensions and mounting of the target to be used and Take Aim Targets can custom cut a Fragshield to fit your target.

By this point, I was itching to get out on the range to test the Fragshield to see if it really was all Dan claimed. After putting a couple hundred rounds on these products, I can say it worked exactly as advertised.

The IPSC Contender target moves nicely when struck by rounds so shooters see a reaction to well-placed shots. The 29″ Deluxe Transformer Base kept the target planted to the ground and worked extremely well.

The Fragshield did a remarkable job controlling bullet splatter. I placed a large piece of cardboard beneath the IPSC Contender target to see how much struck the ground between the target and the shooter. I was amazed at how well the Fragshield kept the bullet splatter away from the shooter. It slowed the splatter so much that there were very few holes in the cardboard under the target caused by full metal jacket bullets coming apart after striking the steel. The Fragshield did slightly lessen the audible tone of hitting the steel, but it didn’t keep the target from reacting to bullet strikes.

I shot the Fragshield closer than I would ever use it during a class and I was still completely free of any bullet splatter. I don’t recommend doing this same experiment, but I wanted to really test the Fragshield to see if I could recommend it. It really is a safer way to shoot steel targets. If I was a regular user of an indoor range, or a range with a hard concrete or asphalt deck, and wanted to utilize steel targets, then the Fragshield would be a mandatory accessory. This will keep your range safe, your shooters safe and your training environment free of unwanted distractions.

For more information, check out what Take Aim Targets has to offer at