A while ago I started penciling in the idea for an article titled “the expectations of accuracy”. Without diving all the way in, it’s all about defining your acceptable level of accuracy in training to match your required level of accuracy in the real world. If you need to hit the vitals on a deer and figure that to be a 6″ diameter circle, neither blasting a huge cardboard box nor plucking 1″ bullseye 10-round groups is maximizing your training value to the desired end. Too often when a shooter is desiring to get much faster with the same level of accuracy, I still see them trying to shoot slow, tight groups. This is where I see shooting steel as a huge benefit. You define your level of accuracy (say, an 8″ circle). Now, how fast can you hit it? With steel, a hit is clearly audible and that responsive, tactile ring can be a big benefit in how you train. Now that the long intro is out of the way, let’s check out CTS: Complete Target Solutions and their steel targets.
CTS is based right here in the USA, located in Springfield, Minnesota. Their targets are laser-cut from sheets of AR-500 steel, which the company maintains the steel’s hardness rating. The targets are available in 1/4″ (rimfire), 3/8″ (pistol/rifle) and 1/2″ (big boy rifle) thicknesses. They come in a variety of shapes, from circles and squares to popular competition shapes such as the IPSC style “silhouette” rifle targets. There are even a couple animal shaped ones if you’re looking to practice on a boar or kitty shaped piece of steel.
The mounting options are excellent and varied. Starting with the stand-to-dirt interface, I received an “X Ground Base” which is a good choice if you’re going to be shooting on hard-packed earth, and a 2×4 “Spike Base” if your ground is a little softer. Either base holds onto a 2×4 and secures it via a plastic knob or metal wingtip-screw (both provided). Now, you have a vertical 2×4 onto which you can hang your steel. The target mounting options there are spring-loaded 2×4 “Pro Target Hangers” as well as 2×4 “Target Hanger hooks” which allow the steel plates to swing a bit when hit. There is some chain hanging setups for gongs as well as some horizontal “sawhorse” mounts so you can setup staggered plates easily.
From left to right, here’s what I tried out from CTS: 18″ cardboard target holder (ideal for stapling zero targets onto), X ground base with Pro target hanger and mini-silhouette in the middle and on the end, spike base with pro target hanger and 8″ circle. Both targets are 3/8″ thick.
After 200 rounds of 9mm, 100 rounds of .40 S&W, 100 rounds of .45acp and 40 rounds of .44 magnum shot from a distance of ~30 feet, there’s not one chip or tangible dent in the steel. To spend the better part of a day shooting up two targets and have them come away in near mint condition is pretty exciting. CTS makes their targets, stands and mounts to last.
Besides giving positive hit/miss audible feedback, having a few steel targets around makes for the best/easiest setup of competitive drills. Decide what are of shooting skill you want to work on (distance, speed, accuracy) and arrange your steel appropriately. Check online for videos of popular shooting drills (such as “el Presidente”) and use them as inspiration to create your own.
The quality in CTS’ products is evident from the start. Besides using high-quality laser-cut AR500 steel, the welds and craftsmanship in every piece make it clear CTS is designing these targets to catch lead for many years to come. Pricing is pretty reasonable considering the longevity of these plates. The “2×4 Spike Pro Kit”, which is everything on the far right target in the above picture, is $89.99. The center pictured setup “2×4 X Base Pro kit” runs $144.99 and the 18″ cardboard target stand runs $39.99. All pieces of a kit are available separately as as well. CTS has a much wider variety than I was able to show in one article, so do yourself a favor and check them out to upgrade your range trips today!