Last updated on April 15th, 2019
One thing that has always left me dumbfounded is novice gun owners who want to become better shooters, but then proceed to put 200 indistinguishable bullet holes all over a single target in less than an hour. Past the first five minutes, ask them where they’re hitting and they wouldn’t have a clue. While swapping targets every few rounds would be nice in an ideal world, it’s both impractical and expensive. That’s where this tip come in. If you want to become a better shooter accuracy-wise, there are few things better than target pasters. Let me explain why every shooter should pack a box in their range bag for target practice.
Mind you, these tips are geared towards new shooters or those that have never considered target pasters before. If you’re a veteran shooter, you probably know all of this already. It’s also slightly biased towards urban-dwelling handgun shooters who go to indoor ranges with mechanical targets. For outdoor target practice with rifles, different recommendations apply.
What are Target Pasters or Target Stickers
Target pasters – or as some people call them, target stickers – are little adhesive squares or circles used to cover bullet holes during target practice at the gun range. They aren’t exactly widespread, though you will see them at the firing line from time to time.
They come in a variety of sizes, typically between 1/2″ and 4 inches. The standard size is about 7/8″. You’ll also see them in virtually all the colors normal shooting targets come in. And generally made of non-reflective paper to avoid glare. To attach them, each paster comes backed with a strong permanent adhesive.
An alternative is patching tape, though it isn’t nearly as convenient.
Why and How You Should Use Them
There are plenty of benefits to using target pasters. So much so, that it’s probably my biggest non-self-evident tip for new shooters in the gear department. As far as advantages go, here are a few.
They help you become a better shooter
Shooting is an expensive sport, so making every shot count matters. If you can’t tell where your last round impacted, you can’t tell if you flinched, jerked the trigger or made any other mistake.
Personally, unless I’m practicing a particular skill, at indoor ranges I seldom shoot more than 5 rounds at a time. Every few shots I’ll press the button to mechanically bring back the target, examine my groupings, and cover the holes thus resetting my target.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the time applying the target pasters is time wasted. The second or two used for each sticker is just the right amount of time to diagnose your shot placement and decide what you need to correct. It allows you to better gauge how you thought your shot placement was with how it actually was, and hence what to do to improve it. Without using target pasters, it’s harder to justify bringing back the target ever few rounds or stopping long enough to consciously understand your groupings. Plus, thanks to the dispenser box the target pasters generally come in, it takes no time at all to apply them rapidly in quick succession.
Once your skills have progressed enough, you’ll be able to better gauge your shooting performance that day by how many bullets you manage to cover with a single paster. Once you get used to a consistently “clean” target and the capacity of identifying every shot, it’s hard to go back.
Save money and conserve ammo
Saving money is another big benefit. 1,000 pasters can cost as little as 3.5$ (bought in bulk), and can cover over a thousand bullet holes. Even for cheap 9mm, a box of target pasters covers the equivalent of over 200$ of ammo. Never mind more expensive rounds that can easily triple that amount. Basically, every bullet costs roughly the same as almost 70 pasters!
Using target pasters gives you the incentive to slow down just a bit, conserving ammo in the process, while simultaneously getting more money’s worth out of every shot. For better or worse, the time sticking the stickers and reviewing your shots is time you’re not slinging expensive lead down range.
If you pay for your range time by the hour but have a limited ammo budget, it’ll help you take up the whole hour without running out of ammo first. Not everyone can afford to shoot a few hundred rounds every session, and it might otherwise seem a waste to make a range visit for just a box or two of ammo in twenty minutes.
Plus, any savings in ammo is money saved to increase the frequency of your range visits. Practicing more regularly is definitely a better idea than dumping 100$-worth of ammo at the range a handful of times a year.
Maximize target life
This would be the most obvious benefit. If you shoot quality full size paper targets, each target costs the same as some 350 pasters. Considering that targets are both more expensive and way more bulky, it just makes sense to wipe the slate clean between shots repairing your target. To maintain the same experience achieved with target pasters, one would easily need a dozen or more targets per range session. That would get real old, real quick.
Also, while it is possible to simply “focus” on another section of the target, that might not be the best idea. Part of the benefit of silhouette targets is creating the muscle memory corresponding to aiming and firing at vital areas – that isn’t accomplished if you’re aiming at the upper shoulder just because it’s the only virgin spot left. By repairing your target, you get to focus your shots exclusively where they matter most.
This is even more valuable for those unfortunate poor souls that have no choice but to patronize ranges which force them to buy and use their over-priced targets – I kid you not, these regrettably do exist. Rather than spend money on their targets, you can simply patch up the first one.
Where to get Target Pasters
You’ll typically find target paster stickers anywhere where shooting supplies are available. You’ll find them sold by either the sheet, roll or in a dispenser box. I definitely recommend the units that include a dispenser box, as they make application so much easier. You just pull the wax paper on one side and the bare labels pop out the back. It may not be evident how it works without the dispenser in your hand, mind you.
Thankfully, they’re extremely cheap. You’ll find them for as low as 0.0035$ a sticker. That’s trivial in comparison to ammo prices! Typically I tend to buy them in bulk, such as these 5,000 pasters from Target Barn. If you want a smaller quantity to try them out, consider these 1,000 pasters instead.
Also worth mentioning is that you’re unlikely to find “Avery” style stickers or commercial marketing stickers any cheaper. Rarely enough, this is one of the few cases where something generic marketed towards shooters is the cheapest around.
If you take a liking to them, stocking at least two colors is generally a good idea. One for each color of most bi-tone shooting targets. For me that’s blue and white, considering that I mostly shoot B-27S full-size targets.
Bonus Tip – Shipping Label Stickers Make Great Bullseyes
An extra tip? After basically reconstructing an area of the target with the pasters, there won’t be any salient point to aim at. Just a bunch of plain, overlapping stickers with no distinctive markings. That makes for a pretty dull sight picture.
While reactive targets are okay, they’re expensive and awkward to attach to a hanging target in an indoor range. Not to mention that the “reactive” feature is often little more than a gimmick. On the other hand, a roll of fluorescent shipping labels makes for an excellent cheap adhesive bullseye!
Yup, no kidding. You can get rolls of shipping stickers for extremely cheap. And their gaudy colors make it a really salient point to aim at. It’s a pretty efficient way to quickly make a noticeable bullseye.
You can find them anywhere for dirt-cheap. I tend to prefer the widespread 1″x2″ size. Heck, if you work at any business that uses them you can probably get a roll for free.
Shooting is expensive enough of a hobby as is. There’s no sense in wasting lead poking holes in a target when you don’t know which holes you’re poking. Using target pasters is one of the easiest ways to make your range visits cheaper as well as make you a better shooter.
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