Shooting targets are helpful for sighting in your rifle, practicing the fundamentals of marksmanship, self-defense training, and hunting. To save money on disposable targets and increase the number of options available, you can search for free printable targets online.
Printable shooting targets are available online in a wide variety of designs. The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides free shooting targets that you can download as PDF files and print at home on standard 8.5×11 printer paper. State wildlife agencies, such as the Michigan Department of National Resources, also provide free targets for several different weapons.
Types of Shooting Targets
Paper targets are popular for pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting because they’re relatively inexpensive, disposable, and can be used practically anywhere. Steel plates are popular because they’re reusable and provide audible and visual feedback when your bullet lands. However, steel targets are heavy, bulky, and can be expensive.
Self-Defense and Pistol Targets
If you own or carry a handgun for self-defense, you should practice hitting targets consistently at several distances up to 25 meters. Traditional defensive or training targets, such as the B60 (Advanced Silhouette SP-83A), may be unsuitable for home printers due to their size. You can, however, find other types of printable targets to hone your skills.
The NRA B8 target has four rings: 8 (8.0”), 9 (5.54”), 10 (3.36”), and X (1.69”). This corresponds to the size of the chest containing vital organs and major blood vessels — heart, thoracic aorta, superior vena cava, and lungs. When you print the target, de-select “Fit to page” and set the scale to “100” for the best results.
For an additional challenge, fold the sides of the paper target to the first black ring. If you want to simulate the head alone, fold the tops and bottoms of the paper until only the 9, 10, and X rings remain visible. This can be useful for simulating hostage situations or hitting an assailant taking cover.
In the 5×5 drill, start with your pistol in the low-ready position or in its holster at a distance of five yards from the target. When you hear the shot timer beep, draw your weapon or raise it to eye level and fire five shots in five seconds. The object is to keep all five shots inside one of the two circles in the allotted time. This target allows you to train under time pressure, which can be useful for self-defense or competition.
Violent Criminal Actor (VCA)
In 2011, following the terrorist attacks in Norway, well-known firearms photographer Oleg Volk posted the Violent Criminal Actor (VCA) printable target on his blog. The purpose of this target is to represent an assailant wearing body armor and police decals, as the perpetrator of that attack had impersonated law enforcement. You’ll need to practice hitting exposed parts of the target in this silhouette, avoiding the helmet and vest.
You can simplify the process of zeroing or sighting in your rifle by using targets that feature a grid composed of 1-MOA squares. This provides a reference point for incremental windage and elevation adjustment. The target should also depict a brightly colored bullseye in the center as an aiming point.
Depending on your needs, you may also want to find a target that has spaces for writing down important information. For example, if you’re developing different loads and comparing results, noting the date, rifle, caliber, bullet, powder type, load, and primer can prove vital.
Black Powder Targets
If you shoot black powder firearms, particularly muzzleloading rifles, consider downloading a dedicated black powder rifle target with a high-contrast grid and bullseye. This is ideal for sighting in your black powder weapon at 100 yards in preparation for hunting or competitive shooting.
Shooting black and white or color targets depicting game animals can help you to become familiar with the location of vital zones from different angles.
If you want to hunt turkeys, it’s a good idea to test the pattern of your shotgun load. To pattern your shotgun for turkeys effectively, targets that depict the kill zone can be useful. At least one shot pellet should land inside this area for a killing wound to be likely. To ensure proportional sizing, select “Actual size” with no scaling.
Big Game Sighting-In Targets
For sighting in a big-game rifle at 100 yards, where you expect your shot to hit 3” high, consider sighting in your rifle using a specially designed target. The target depicts a green circle above a red circle, and a bullseye superimposed on a grid.
Small Bore Rifle and Varmint Hunting
A grid target depicting 20 red ½” circles is useful for shooting small-bore rifles and airguns. You can also find these types of targets featuring black circles and bullseyes. While useful for target shooting and competition, any target that requires this kind of challenge is also beneficial for varmint hunting.
A grid target composed of ½” squares that features 1” circles can be helpful for sighting in your centerfire varmint rifle at 100 yards. If you fire rimfire rifles, you can sight it in for 25 or 50 yards.
Rimfire Rifle Targets
For precision shooting with an iron-sighted or scoped .22-caliber rimfire rifle, a 50-yard target with differently sized circles can provide the perfect challenge. Each circle has a different score, ranging from five points to 40. This type of target allows you to determine where your marksmanship needs improvement.
Practice Your Draw on the Range
At We The People Holsters, we encourage anyone interested in carrying a firearm for self-defense to practice regularly and seek professional training. Free targets that you can download and print yourself can allow you to find the design that’s most helpful for becoming proficient with firearms.
However, when practicing your draw stroke and for reliable, safe concealed carry, you need a high-quality holster. We offer a variety of Kydex and leather holsters in every major handgun brand and caliber. Check out our line of products in both IWB and OWB for the best fit.