Challenge Targets Stake-N-Shoot 8″ Popper Steel Target

   01.23.14

My early competitive shooting career was in metallic silhouette pistol shooting. Silhouette shooting became popular in the late ’70s and was the hottest thing going. My first match was in NRA Hunter’s Pistol and I finished second unclassified. I was one of the first three AAA shooters in North Carolina, and my friends and I formed a club based around metallic silhouette shooting that now has 700 members. I think the attraction was the visual and audible reward that came when a target fell over with a resounding smack. I still love to hear the report of a bullet smacking steel, and I suppose I always will.

Our targets in those days were mild steel plate, and the .357 and .44 Magnum loads took a heavy toll on them. We hired Boy Scout troops to reset the targets in those days. Later, there was a craze of shooting plate matches: six steel plates on a rack shot at ranges from 10 to 25 yards under a fairly tight time limit. The plates again took a lot of punishment and eventually had to be replaced due to disfigurement by the hot pistol rounds.

Shooting steel today is even more popular than in those days, and now we have much more durable and practical targets. This fall, I had the opportunity to attend the Rockcastle AR15 3-Gun Championship and I met Brad Brune there. Brad has a whole line of steel targets, and I requested a Stake-N-Shoot 8″ Popper for review.

The Challenge Targets Stake-N-Shoot Popper is made out of AR500 steel. The popper is spring-mounted to the stake via a pair of half-inch carriage bolts with springs to make target movement easier to see. The springs provide visible witness to hits to compliment the ringing smack of a projectile hitting steel. Here are some more abbreviated stats from the product’s page:

  • Rated for all handguns and rifles with muzzle velocities under 3,100 feet per second
  • Built to withstand all standard FMJ rounds (not armor-piercing to steel-core)
  • Minimum distance for pistol rounds: 7 yards
  • Minimum distance for rifle rounds: 100 yards
  • Target plate measures 20 inches tall with an 8-inch diameter circular plate, 3/8-inch width
  • Spring mechanism fully protected by target face
  • MSRP: $139.99

The target should be inserted into the ground at a slight angle to deflect bullet fragments downward. It’s easy to reverse the target face to extend target life, which is already extensive—.308 rounds from 100 yards scrape off the paint, but have no effect on the face of the target.

Any time you shoot steel, you should take safety precautions. Pistols should never be fired at steel targets closer than seven yards away, and 10 yards is better. Eye protection should be worn by everyone in the area, not just the shooter. Rifles shouldn’t shoot steel closer than 100 yards, which is covered on the product page.

On the range, the Stake-N-Shoot Popper makes practice sessions more fun. At distances past 200 yards, the plate’s eight-inch diameter makes it challenging to hit. And, of course, the delay between the report of a rifle round leaving a muzzle and its collision with a steel target makes shooting more exciting. Running through a magazine of .45 at one really gets it moving. With a suitable berm and one 8″ Popper, you have a small shooting range. It’s economical because you can shoot it over and over, easy because you never have to reset it, and fun because every hit provides a reaction. The Challenge Targets Stake-N-Shoot 8″ Popper is all you need for serious shooting fun or practice.

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