How to Hang Steel Shooting Targets

Steel shooting targets that is being used for gun practice
Create the ideal shooting setup for safe and effective target practice at home or your local target range. Whether you’re preparing for a hunting trip, military career, or weekend competition, it’s essential to find out how to properly hang steel rifle targets. Follow these key hanging steps and shop for MOS steel targets at MGM Targets.

Select the Right Mounting Hardware

One of the most important steps to setting up a target range is to find the right hanging hardware. Simply leaning a target on a bench or attempting to set it on the ground aren’t practical ways to get the most out of your steel targets. Stay safe and create a professional setup with one of these common mounting hardware options matched to your new targets:
  • Chains
  • Rubber straps
  • Bolts
  • Mounting brackets
All four mounting hardware strategies require some sort of stand. Consider picking up a professional stand, burying a few 2×4 posts, or mounting a vertical piece on two sawhorses to prepare for your mounting hardware. Check out our mounting options at MGM Targets to explore more ways to safely secure your quality targets.

Compare Chains, Straps, Bolts, and Mounting Brackets

Chains and straps are some of the most common hanging options. Both of these allow your targets a small degree of free movement. Use bolts that are at least two and a half inches long to create a chain or rubber loop through your target and around a vertical 2×4 or another piece of material. This affordable option gives your targets some room to swing, which can reduce the force of each impact. Mounting brackets and bolts securely fasten your target to a horizontal or vertical post. Both solutions are relatively inexpensive and offer a firm hold compared to chains and straps. Use this method if you wish to create the optimal angle and keep your target held tightly at that angle. Choose quality mounting bolts or brackets to avoid damaging these pieces with high-velocity rounds.

Set the Ideal Height

The height of your target is another critical safety feature of your shooting range. Mount AR550 shooting targets four feet or less from the ground. Consider a lower mounting height if you’re shorter than average. This will prevent a trajectory that’s angled too high in the air. The danger of hanging a target too high is that any missed shots can travel a significant distance. This can increase the risk of accidental damage or serious injury. A target that’s at the same height as your firearm may also not have the proper angle to avoid ricochets. Consider the elevation of your target and your shooting spot. Try to shoot downhill at your target rather than uphill. Shooting uphill comes with the same risks as shooting at a high target height.

Find the Optimal Angle

Targets need to be mounted at a downward angle. Try to create a downward angle of at least 20%. Mounting brackets typically have this angle built-in, but other fastening methods may require some modification to get the angle just right. There are two main reasons to set your targets at a downward angle: ricochets and shrapnel. A ricochet occurs when the bullet hits the target and continues in a different trajectory, quite often with a great deal of force still behind it. A ricochet can be just as dangerous as the initial trajectory of the bullet, so it can cause severe injury or property damage. A 20% downward angle increases the chance that any ricocheting bullets will head straight to the ground in front of the target. Similarly, shrapnel from the target may fly off at high speeds. If you’re using an AR550 target from MGM Targets, you won’t have to worry about shrapnel caused by your handgun, thanks to our lifetime target warranty. For rifle or shotgun target practice, small pieces of the target or target mounting material may fly off at high speeds. A downward angle keeps all that shrapnel headed in a downward direction, safely away from bystanders, property, and you.

Don’t Hang Targets Too Tightly

Mounting brackets may ensure your targets always stay at an ideal angle, but mounting chains and other loose mounting strategies help protect the life of your steel targets. Be sure your targets are secure and won’t fall off your mounting brackets or chain loop, but try to give them some wiggle room. A loosely mounted target can swing as the bullet comes in contact with its surface. This increases the longevity of the target by spreading out the force over a longer period of time. If you’re using a gong or other target intended to make noise as you hit it, a loose hanging method helps you hear that pleasant ring every time you make contact.

Keep Your Distance

The closer you are to your target, the greater the risk of a dangerous ricochet or shrapnel situation. Keep a safe distance whenever you shoot at a steel target. For handguns, this means 10 yards or more. Rifle shooters should be at least 100 yards away. Don’t estimate the distance, but measure it out and set a clear shooting station to avoid creeping up on your target. Review your mounting method and type of target before you set the best distance. Some targets and target brackets are specifically made for short-range rifle shooting. These targets typically have a 30-degree angle for reduced risk of ricochet.

Use Quality AR550 Shooting Targets

It pays to invest in quality shooting targets. For a leader in target manufacturing, choose MGM Targets. Our online store has a wide range of MOS targets and dependable AR550 steel constructions. Here are just a few types of targets available for your shooting purposes:
  • Gongs
  • Auto-poppers
  • Hex shapes
  • Silhouettes
As long as you use a handgun, you can enjoy limited lifetime warranty coverage on your targets. High-powered rounds and firearms may reduce the lifetime of your target. For best results, increase the shooting distance when using a rifle or shotgun. Don’t use birdshot, steel core ammunition, armor-piercing ammunition, or buckshot at your AR550 targets, or you may experience deformation and holes. Use extreme caution with a deformed target. Slight deformation may be natural after heavy use, but a deformed target increases the risk of a ricochet at an unexpected angle. Even if your deformed target is set up at a correct angle, you may still experience a dangerous ricochet.

Shop for Targets and Mounting Gear at MGM Targets

Use these steps to hang your steel targets the right way. Now that you know all about hanging steel targets, it’s time to pick up leading target options. Shop at MGM Targets for a wide range of dependable targets for professional, competition, and recreational use. Browse our sale page to see how you can get great deals on the best targets in our catalog. From gongs and auto-poppers to tactical and rifle targets, you’ll find the target and mounting options you need to perfect your setup.  

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