Reactive targets are a great way to spice up any firearms training session. Not only is it great fun but the instant results you get back from the target are a great way to hone your skills by providing you with quick feedback about your accuracy. Steel targets are undisputedly the most common and popular option for reactive targets and are used in virtually every shooting discipline to provide trainees, competitors, or those just having fun, with a fun visual and audible experience that can make shooting paper targets seem boring in comparison. However, steel targets are not without their drawbacks. For one, they are quite expensive, second, they’re super heavy and often require specialized rigging equipment to get set up further increasing the cost. Finally, steel targets even when set up correctly can still throw spall and ricochets back at you or those nearby causing injury. This is where the reactive targets from THROOM shine. THROOM is in the business of making high-quality polymer targets that are a safer and more affordable alternative to steel targets. THROOM Targets recently sent me some of their target kits to review so today I’ll take you through the process of what it’s like to set them up, and how they’ve held up over the last handful of months.
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TFB Review: THROOM Targets – Affordable Ricochet-Free Reactive Targets
As stated earlier, THROOM Targets are not made from steel and are more or less completely free from metal or other hard objects that could cause a projectile to bounce back in your direction. This includes everything from the targets themselves, the Alpha Stand, target holders, and the self-healing nuts and bolts used to adjust each target. THROOM sent me one HANGTUFF Plate Rack, as well as one KNOCKDOWN Series 8″ round plate rack to review. Out of the two, the KNOCKDOWN Series plate rack has been my favorite so far but is one of the most expensive kits that THROOM has and retails for around $449.99. Meanwhile, the much more affordable HANGTUFF Plate Rack costs almost one-quarter as much but still gives you 6 different targets to shoot at for just $89.99. These are respectively THROOM’s most expensive and least expensive kits giving you a good idea of what you can expect to spend.
THROOM Targets come with almost everything you need to set up your plate rack. Each kit I’ve seen so far comes with the Alpha stand bracks, base mounts (if needed), targets, and of course the inexpensive screws you’ll need to fasten the targets to your stand. The remainder of the stand is completed using standard 2x4s and while you could say this might add an additional $50 or $60 to the total price, I’m a penny-pinching meiser so I just drove around random construction sites looking for discarded 2x4s and wound up not spending a single penny on them.
Comparatively speaking, THROOM targets cost about half as much as a lot of steel targets out there and also have the added benefit of virtually eliminating bounceback and a lot of the noise that often comes along with setting up and using steel targets. This aspect could be a two-edged sword as I find the ringing of steel to be one of the best parts about shooting steel targets but I can understand that maybe those who live close to neighbors or want to shoot suppressed might not want the added noise during their range sessions.
THROOM target kits come with very simple instructions on how to assemble them but anyone who knows how to use a cordless drill and a tape measure should be able to figure the setup out without needing the instructions. THROOM has specific lengths that you should cut each piece of wood for your target stands but there really is no set way to do it. In total, you’ll need at least 5 pieces of wood measuring about 4′ each and that’s exactly what I did with my scrap wood. After each cut was made, I set aside the four legs and focused on attaching both sets of targets to the last remaining piece of wood with the 2″ side of the plank being the “front” of the target stand. To get even spacing, I simply just used a tape measure and used a cordless drill to attach each of the targets – it’s worth noting here that it’s very easy to overtighten the included screws so you should set your drill’s torque settings accordingly.
Once the base mounts and HANGTUFF Targets were all attached, all that was left to do was insert the KNOCKDOWN 8″ targets into the mounts which requires no tools and can be done either at home or when you get to the range. I opted to set my target stand up as much as possible before making it to the range. Final assembly takes only about 2 minutes and all that is needed is to attach the four legs and then adjust each of the targets using the self-healing bolts that come pre-mounted to the base mounts. Time to shoot them up!
THROOM Targets have their own special recommendations for safe operation. THROOM says that their targets are compatible with most firearms and what they mean by that is that firearms and ammunition that produce velocities below 750 fps, or small projectiles like birdshot, BBs, and airsoft pellets are probably not a good idea to use with THROOM targets. THROOM also notes that .22 shorts and slingshot projectiles are also unsafe to use since these types of projectiles can still bounce back toward you. Anything from 22LR up to 50 BMG can be used with the self-healing targets and larger 50 caliber projectiles still only leave a pinpoint-sized hole in the target.
THROOM recommends standing about 5 to 10 feet when using handgun calibers and a minimum of 50 to 150 yards for rifle caliber ammunition to get the best effect. When I had first set these targets up to test them out, I found out why. Since THROOM’s targets allow the projectile to pass through the target, rifle ammunition like 5.7x28mm, 5.56, and even 7.62×39 is simply traveling too fast to make the target react. This makes close-range training with rifles an area where THROOM targets are not optimal. During my testing period, I didn’t experience a single bounceback and all projectiles that hit the targets simply came out the other side and landed safely in the dirt berm.
Since I am only one human being and THROOM claims that their targets will take several thousand hits each, I opted to leave my target kits at my local private range for the rest of its patrons to shoot at. This group mostly consists of USPSA, IDPA, and 3-gun shooters and thus I was able to really test out the durability of these targets without having to use up all of my ammunition. After about 3 months of “public use”, the targets are still in decent condition with a few minor pieces of damage to some of the plates, base mounts, wooden frame, and screws.
One aspect that you might have to keep in mind if you decide to opt-in to this type of target system is the cost of replacements. Steel targets, if properly taken care of will last much longer than THROOMs targets but will also come along with an appropriate price bump to replace them. Two of the targets so far look like they need replacing after several thousand rounds, and being exposed to the sun, rain, and heat for days on end. The larger 8″ KNOCKDOWN Round target will cost $39.99 to replace while the smaller 2″ HANGTUFF target will only cost $3.99 to replace (THROOM sells these particular targets in packs of up to 20 for just $69.99). All in all not that bad especially if you factor in the extra layers of safety that the polymer targets provide.
I don’t think that I’ll replace all of my targets with THROOM targets and here’s why. As I mentioned earlier, I really do like the sound that steel targets give me as feedback and for me, that’s one of the greatest benefits that steel targets have to offer – they are just plain fun. During the last couple of months I have brought several new shooters to my range to introduce them to firearms and without prompting them every shooter except for one said that they had more fun shooting the steel plate racks. That being said, I am not the one who pays for all of the steel alone and just a cursory glance at the web to see how much an equivalent steel plate rack would cost is already enough to give my wallet the shakes.
The biggest benefit that THROOM targets have is that they are no doubt much safer and more affordable to use in places where steel targets wouldn’t be an option due to safety or noise concerns. THROOM targets can be used safely at indoor ranges since there is no risk of spall being blasted into the ceilings and walls and when used at home with suppressed firearms, THROOM targets don’t add any additional noise and also don’t carry the risk of having fragments of projectiles being flung hundreds of yards away and hitting the neighbors kid in the head.
If you’re even just a little bit interested in these types of targets, I’d highly recommend checking out THROOM’s website as they have many more target kits, accessories, and even dueling trees that might be a fun addition to your home range. I’d also like to hear your thoughts on these targets. Would you ever consider using THROOM’s polymer targets over steel targets? Let me know in the comments below and as always, thanks for reading!