Should I Shoot Steel or Paper Targets?

Grizzly Guide to Paper VS Steel Targets
Category: Guides

Should I Shoot Steel or Paper Targets?

“Should I shoot paper or steel targets?” is asked by all shooters at some point. This topic is widely debated on due to the differences and tradeoffs that accompany your target choice.


Steel targets own a massive portion of the shooting target market. Quality steel targets provide a clean and safe shooting experience for everyone. Once your targets are set up, they won’t need moving or adjusting afterward, which is a huge advantage.

Steel Target Feedback

Most commonly, people select steel targets for the immediate validation of hitting or missing the target. The gratifying audio and visual feedback is a major selling factor with steel. Receiving instant feedback when shooting a steel target helps program muscle memory, which in turn reinforces positive behavior and movements.

Training With Steel Targets

Steel targets are a great training tool to have whether you are shooting solo or with friends! Steel targets come with their own advantages. Not only do you spend more time shooting and less time with your targets, but training with steel targets can enhance your training speed and accuracy with instant audio and visual feedback. Steel targets are recommended for shooters who are training on a more tactical level.


Paper targets have been the easiest to acquire and the most popular choice in previous years. Most paper targets come in thick cardboard or thin paper. Paper targets are made in many different shapes and sizes. They are also generally quick and simple to change out.

Scoring with Paper Targets

Paper is great to use when sighting-in your weapon. Paper allow shooters to see exactly where their shot lands on the target. With your shot passing through the target as opposed to striking the target, there are no “splatter” remnants on the paper. Their wide variety allows for greater flexibility, especially when it comes to competitions across various organizations, each having its own types of score zones, stages, and qualification targets.

Training with Paper Targets

Primarily, paper is used for precision shooting. The ability for a shooter to not only see where the shot lands, but also view how tight together their shots were, is why the NRA and other leading organizations use a lot of paper targets for their competitions. 

The Trade-Offs

We have covered the advantages of both paper and metal targets. The following section will explain the major differences between both styles of targets. When it comes to selecting your target type, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. It all comes down to what you are looking for in your target.

Feedback vs Scoring

The most obvious trade-off would be the immediate feedback of steel versus the delayed accuracy of paper. If you are shooting solely for precision or accuracy training, a paper target would likely be your best choice.  However, steel targets are best if you are looking for immediate feedback or to train tactically.  Steel targets provide a pure entertainment factor, especially reactive metal targets, that paper targets simply can’t compete with. Paper targets can show you precisely how accurate your shots are. However, the long walk down the shooting range to see if you have successfully hit your target is eliminated with the audio and visual feedback you get with steel targets.


Another major factor that shooters use to discern which target is best for them (and rightly so) is how safe the targets are to shoot. At Grizzly Targets, we specifically design our steel targets to provide maximum safety. We build our targets with both AR500 and SR500 steel that deflect bullet splatter in a safe direction to eliminate any possible safety threats. Even though shots do not pass through our targets (as they do with paper targets) we purposefully angle our targets for maximum safety. Additionally, shooters needn’t walk downrange to see if their paper target was hit successfully.


Another key tradeoff is the cost of your target selection. The upfront costs that come with paper targets will immediately cost less on a per unit basis. Consider that metal targets, especially those made of SR500 steel, are a one-time purchase. Whereas, paper targets need replacing after each use.

Steel or Paper?

Both paper and steel targets have their advantages in certain scenarios. Go for paper if you are scoring points or practicing precision and accuracy. Choose steel for immediate feedback and a more tactical aspect of their training. Grizzly’s steel targets offer much more durability and longevity than paper targets. Our gong collection comes in a variety of sizes, perfect for testing your accuracy on different levels!