Paper Targets: Part Five- Conclusion

In the last four articles on this subject we have established that the ideal pistol target is three-dimensional and wearing clothes. It has the correct vital areas outlined on it and it moves. This target also drops when rounds are fired into the correct vital areas.

 Unfortunately, the only commercially available targets that meet these requirements are very expensive.  Even if we could afford them, most range facilities will not let us use them to their full advantage due to safety and liability concerns. So what do we do?

Failing perfection, we work with what we have. We train where, when, and how we can. We train with clear goals and tasks in mind. This is why I have broken down the problems with paper targets into five separate issues. No matter the constraints of your training area, time, or finances, each one of the issues with paper targets and their underlying training limiters, can be addressed every time you go to the range. My purpose was not harangue shooters about the type of target they use but to encourage you to think critically about your objectives, training plan, and performance.

For example: Our local range is antiquated, indoor, and only accommodates 2D targets. It will not even let you draw from the holster, much less move with a loaded handgun.

Even with these restraints, we can create targets that indicate the correct areas for shot placement, and then put clothes on them. This meets two of our training goals. With the addition of a good training partner, we can verbally simulate a target dropping to the ground after the requisite number of shots to the vital zone, meeting a third training objective.

By outlining our training goals, we can identify obstacles to our desired outcomes and can look for ways to get around them. We can also identify deficiencies in our training that need to be rectified.  This is far better than assuming that we are trained for a deadly force encounter solely because we can punch small shot groups into static targets, on a well-lit range. We are forcing ourselves to recognize that we are responsible for our own level of readiness and we must find ways to train. If that means working on everything that we can at our local range, and then make occasional extended trips to a different range that will allow us to draw from the holster and move with a loaded weapon, then so be it. As long as we are conscious of our training objectives, aware of our own deficiencies, and working to rectify them.

For my own amusement I decided to see how cheaply I could make a target that answers all five of the issues that we talked about. I bought a remote control ATV from Wal-Mart, pulled some bamboo planting stakes out of the yard, and grabbed some zip ties and cardboard from the garage. One hour,  $21.66, and half of a roll of duct tape later I had this:

RC ATV with bamboo planter

RC ATV with bamboo planter

Cardboard torso and head

Cardboard torso and head

Final product with old T-shirt and creepy facial features.

Final product with old T-shirt and creepy facial features.

It still requires another person to operate but it works pretty well. If you plan to go this route yourself, I would advise spending a little more on a wider and more powerful remote control vehicle. Version 2 will definitely incorporate that change. This is basically a cardboard scare crow. Your only limiting factors are your imagination and your willingness to think critically about training.

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