Thursday, May 17, 2012

Five Bucks: Dot, Dot, Dot Targets...

I've been making and using dot targets for a quite a few years now.  The cool thing about dot targets is that you can stick dots (sometimes called labels) on just about anything to give a shooter a bulls-eye to shoot at... but don't stick them on the in-laws and ex's.

You can find dot labels at any office supply store or even your local Wally World.  The name brand dots run a little more, but you can often find a package of off-brand dot labels for less than five bucks.

As a long time NRA and 4H Shooting Sports certified instructor, I'm very familiar with the nine-inch plain targets...we call our fine redneck china... or paper plates as you call them... to build the fundamental skills including sight alignment and sight picture without worrying about hitting the bulls-eye.  Occasionally, a student will have trouble getting a group without more of a focal point on the target (yes, you focus on the front sight... I'm talkin' bout something more particular to aim at) and a dot usually will help them tighten their groups right up.

You can even add dots to existing targets to make the bulls-eye stand out a little more like these Midway USA Pistol Targets that are free to download.  I printed them on some yellow card stock so they're a little stiffer like the paper plates... and then they don't flap around in the wind so much.

A little hint if you're staple-gunning targets to a backboard... just put one-half of the staple into the target... they're much easier to remove... and if you're at a club or a public range... pull out your staples too.

Now if you want to use some dot targets to challenge yourself, make a bit of fun for the 4H Shooting Sports youth or other kids... especially those youngsters in their thirties and forties... here's a few suggestions to get you started:

Make My Day... or sometimes called Hollywood Mel for it's introduction in the movie Lethal Weapon.

Fast Five... great for trigger control... try to hit five for five in five shots... and there are many other variations that can be applied such as shooting a specific pattern or sequence.

Rockin' Round the Clock... You can time yourself and see how long or how many shots it takes you to work your way 'round the clock... or put up two targets and shoot against a friend in a game kind of like horse... take turns taking shots and see who makes it 'round first.

Call Out... this is a critical thinking game where the shooter can either face the target or you self-defense practicing folks can face away from the target then turn towards it and draw... have another friend time you... we use our Pact Club Shot Timer 3... and the person timing calls out a color then immediately starts the timer... you have to shoot all the dots of the color that was called out.

Sea Battle... a classic take on the game Battle Ship, except you and a friend take turns shooting and sinking your opponent's ships on the target buy hitting the dots.  Remember, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Extinction... See if you can eliminate the last of the prehistoric beasts, particularly the purple ones.

Johnny Appleseed... Johnny may have planted those apple trees all over the place, but someone has to pick'em and why not shoot'em down off that tree.

You can use these stick-on dots to turn just about anything into a target... even cats... oh, alright... I'm just kidding... use your head... be creative and have some fun.... and to save some arguments that will occur as egos get bruised... if the shot touches... even just the edge of the dot... it counts!

Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.


  1. Great ideas there! Mrs.Alien and I already carry a pack of dots with us, mostly because I'm a cheap bass-turd and don't like to pay for more targets than I have to, so we use the dots to cover up holes in the three or four freebie targets that our range hands out. That way you can shoot on one target (and there's usually five printed on each page, four per corner and a big one in the center) two or three times. When there's more dot than there is paper, its time to move on to the next target. I like the idea of making a game out of it, that should appeal to new shooters!

  2. get the really bright flourescent colored paper and the shots show up very well. I don't buy targets anymore, just stick a dot OR, and this is my actual fav, print off some basic crosshair patterns (very lightly, minimum ink) for aiming. A sharpie does well too.

  3. Another great post Dann. I'm heading out to OfficeMax this afternoon.

  4. @Alien... I'm cheap too... so a lot of times a piece of paper and a dot work for a target...

    @EdandJackie... a black sharpie is standard carry in my range bag... the light ink while printing is a good idea... I think I can print in "draft" mode, I'll have to check...

    @Six... thanks...

  5. I too carry a pack of dots and Redneck china in my range bag. Although I go for the styrofoam as I feel the burned holes are easier to see than with paper (especially at longer distances with older eyes ;) ) And as long as your grouping isn't too good, you can even stack plates and spin until no holes line up. Staple and use again. Yeah, Ima tightwad. If I could reload rimfire, I would.
    I do like some of the gaming ideas. I'll have to try that next weekend with the brothers.

  6. I took some fun reactive targets to our 4H gun club shoots last year that are simple and cheap. Take a balloon and put some carpenters chalk in it, then blow it up (be careful not to inhale the chalk) tie the balloon, then shake it up good. Then Shoot away!!

  7. Yep, I do the exact same thing with the paper plates and dots. I've also found that totally new shooters very often need a specific aim point on the plate.

    Here's another tip: Put a Sharpie marker in your range bag. If you run our of dots, or if the dots won't stay on for whatever reason (wet targets, etc) you can quickly draw in a circle or square with the sharpie for that aim point.

    The dot thing is definitely a good tip worth sharing. Good post.

  8. @Rob... thanks for stopping by... and the Sharpie suggestion is a good tip... we've always got Sharpies in the range bag...

    Dann in Ohio

  9. Sticker dots make good targets, but it may be useful to use smaller plates or something to make rings around them to aid in acquisition. Concentric rings also make it easier to focus.