Navigating and Buying Shooting Targets: Not all Targets are Created Equal

You may be surprised when browsing Cheaper Than Dirt’s targets. You may have never thought there were such a wide variety of different targets. Not only are there traditional bullseye, but also sight-in targets and even bleeding zombies. It might be overwhelming for the brand new shooter to decide which target to buy. You might start by price; however, picking the cheapest target on the page might not be the best target for your application. Not all targets are created equal.

Cheaper Than Dirt divides their targets between paper and reactive. Paper targets are targets printed on paper and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some paper targets will splatter a different color upon the bullet’s impact, while others will not. Reactive targets are targets that spin, pop back up, or otherwise move in some way. These targets are generally made of steel or self-healing material. Another reactive target is the relatively new Zombie Industries 3D “bleeding” targets.

Besides traditional bullseye, there is silhouette and oval, sight-in, competition-specific, hunting, fun and games, and NRA-standard targets. Though you can shoot up any target you want, each type meets a specific need.

Paper Targets

The most popular silhouette is the B27 target.
The most popular silhouette is the B27 target.


Paper bullseye targets come in sizes ranging from small 1-inch bullseyes to large 24-inch bullseyes for long-range shooting. Bullseye targets are good for precision shooting, learning how to sight properly, and practicing accuracy. There are also bullseye targets for competition. The standard competition bullseye size is 5.5 and 8 inches. Caldwell’s basic 5.5 inches Orange Peel targets are perfect for pistol shooting in an indoor range. The bullet impact explodes neon green inside the bullseye and neon orange outside the bullseye. Generally, larger bullseyes, like a 12-inch or 24-inch are for long-range rifle shooting.

Silhouette and Oval

Silhouettes and ovals are geared toward defensive target shooting and training. Some silhouette targets mimic the human form, while others are simply oval-shaped. The most popular silhouette is the B27 target. B27 targets are the standard for concealed carry classes and law enforcement qualifications. The shape of a silhouette or oval is especially good for practicing self-defense shooting. The shape represents a person’s chest area.


Made specifically for sighting in your riflescope
Made specifically for sighting in your riflescope.

Sight-in targets are usually square or diamond-shaped as opposed to round like a bullseye; however, there are a few round sight-in targets. Made specifically for sighting in your riflescope, many of them have a crosshair pattern while others just have squares. You can determine a sight-in target by the grid pattern in the foreground. Some sight-in targets include one large central target with four smaller targets. The smaller targets you see in each corner is to fine-tune your groups once you have your scope sighted in. Burris makes an excellent sight-in target for the first timer. It includes instructions and sight-in tips.


There are so many different types of shooting sport competitions it would be exhausting to list them here. However, to be good in competition, you must practice and most shooting sport games have rules and regulations when it comes to their target specifications. For example, the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) has strict rules on what types of targets are competition-approved. 3-Gun, the International Shooting Sport Federation and NRA—to name a few all have different targets and scoring requirements.

Many unconventional targets provide a challenge
Many unconventional targets provide a challenge.

Fun, Games and Zombies

Many unconventional targets provide a challenge, requiring precision shooting and concentration. Personally, I like Champion’s Precision Insect target and Birchwood Casey’s Dirty Bird Battle at Sea target. These types of targets are good for new shooters, youth, date night, friendly competition between friends or when you just want to kick back and plink. If you like zombies, there are plenty of zombie targets choices.


Animal targets such as deer, prairie dog, squirrel, and waterfowl help the hunter get ready for hunting season. You can practice hitting the sweet spot with life-sized replicas of game. Some targets have detailed outlines of critical vital zones. Waterfowl and turkey targets also show you how your hunting shotgun is patterning.

Reactive targets are targets that spin, pop back up, or otherwise move in some way.
Reactive targets are targets that spin, pop back up, or otherwise move in some way.


Reactive targets come in all different types and configurations from multiple target spinning wheels to single target spinners. Some targets move side to side, while others pop back up once hit. These targets are caliber-specific. Some reactive targets can only handle .22 Long Rifle, while others can withstand larger calibers. Reactive targets are fun for youth, friendly competition, and steel competition practice to hone your speed and accuracy. Before purchasing a reactive target, make sure your local range allows you to use one.

Do you already have a favorite target? Share it with us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

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