When it comes to shooting, the only way to asses your shooting accuracy is by putting rounds downrange. All the fancy tools, apps, and gizmos are no substitute for good old fashioned live fire exercises. But, what makes for a good target? The best paper target for shooting will distinctly reveal the point of impact. Silhouette style paper targets are best used for honing personal defense shooting skills. However, smaller bullseye style targets are best used for fine tuning your aim.

There might be several reasons you’re headed to the shooting range. Whether it’s to practice personal defense, hone your shooting competition skills, or just friendly competition with friends choosing the appropriate target makes all the difference.

If the purpose of your trip to the shooting range is to focus on shooting prowess, such as prep for competition shooting or specific accuracy related skills, then a bullseye style target is best. Ideally it will be high contrast and display point of impact so you can shoot several magazines without recalling the target.

Alternatively, if you need to focus on personal defense and stopping an intruder, then a silhouette style target will give you better insight into your shooting capability. Targets used for personal defense training are best when outlining vital organs for stopping an attacker.

Finally, for good old fashioned entertainment value, fun shooting targets with a game meant for multiple shooters are best. But if you’re training alone, you can still spice up your trip to the range by choosing themed paper shooting targets over plain silhouettes or bullseye targets.

1. Splatterburst Paper Targets

  • High contrast at point of impact (POI)
  • Comes in silhouette or bullseye style
  • Suited for skill development or personal defense training
  • Options: multi bullseye, bullet hole stickers
  • Target Size: Varies

Splatterburst has quite the array of paper targets for your pistol and rifle shooting needs. These are probably one of the most popular style targets other than the traditional silhouette paper targets. Birchwood casey has their own line of paper shooting targets — the Shoot N C line — and so do several other producers.

Targets are black on a neon yellow background. Because of this combination of colors, when a bullet impacts the target, the bullet hole generated is outlined in the neon yellow background. Some even come with stickers to cover existing bullet holes to prolong the life of the target. There are an array of shooting target styles, from silhouettes to traditional bullseye. Because of this, sizes and quantities will vary by style. Check the links below for quantity and sizing information.

2. Police Qualifier Human Vitals Target

  • High contrast target to background
  • Comes in silhouette style
  • Best for personal defense training
  • Target Size: 25″ X 38″
  • Recommended Distance: 10-15 yards

The high contrast and vibrant colors make target acquisition incredibly easy. Because of this, you can focus on attaining proper sight picture. While splatter targets make seeing point of impact easier, this target provides you a unique view of the impact each of your shots would have on a targets vitals. These targets are ideal for developing personal defense shooting skills. These targets can vary in size, and come in quantities ranging from 5 to 25. Want to train like law enforcement? Pick up a set of these to test your shooting skill.

3. Birchwood Casey Battleship Game Targets

  • White splatter at point of impact for high contrast
  • Fun shooting exercise for 2 shooters  (or teams) based on classic game
  • Best for entertainment and single shot placement
  • Target Size: 12″ X 18″
  • Recommended Distance: 7 yards

This offering from Birchwood Casey provides a unique take on classic paper targets for shooting. Partner up or go head-to-head in a shooting competition and try to sink the opposing player (or teams) entire fleet. You’ll be able to see shot placement by the white splatter effect.

 Unfortunately, all targets are printed with the same pattern, so you’ll need to get creative to provide variety. You can turn the paper target sideways or even invert the target for variety. Because of the paper target size, I don’t recommend sending this downrange too far unless all shooters are of equal skill. Furthermore, I’d warm up thoroughly before busting out one of these games just to make sure you aren’t wasting one of the 8 targets that come in the pack.

4. Glow Shot Multi-Color Paper Target

  • Point of impact reveals ring color
  • Comes in bullseye style only
  • Best for skill development
  • Target Size: 10″ diameter
  • Recommended Distance: 10-12 yards

Glow Shot multi-color paper targets are ideal for refining your aim. Sometimes you question shot placement because the shot falls between rings. However, with this paper target for shooting, concentric rings match splatter color. This option shows if you’ve broken the value ring, and to what extent. If you’re looking for a good value, then this pack of 50 paper targets is great for long trips to the range.

5. Shoot N C Diagnostic Paper Target

  • Great for diagnosing problems with shot execution
  • Comes with stickers to prolong target use
  • Best for skill development
  • Target Size: 12″
  • Recommended Distance: 12-15 yards

If you are having problems with your groupings but don’t know why you’re missing the bullseye then this target is for you. Depending on the point of impact, the target will tell you what you are doing incorrectly. From pulling the trigger instead of squeezing, to anticipating your shot. However, this target is best suited to more experienced shooters with consistent groupings rather than those on their first trip to the range. The splatter is easy to see from a distance, and you can consult an unused target to understand your problem.

6. Darkotic Zombie Paper Targets

  • Good old fashioned fun
  • Paper targets most closely resemble silhouette style
  • Best for entertainment and rapid fire exercises
  • Target Size: 12″ X 18″

Ever wonder how you’d fare against the zombie horde? Well now’s your chance to test your shooting abilities on a paper zombie from the apocalypse. These targets don’t offer a whole bunch in the way of skill development, but man is it fun to slay some zombies. And, what’s a trip to the range without a little bit of fun.

7. Threat Down Bleeding Target

  • Capsules on target simulate bleeding
  • Comes in silhouette style
  • Best for personal defense training
  • Target Size: 22″ X 30″
  • Recommended Distance: 15+ yards

This target takes the splatter principle to a whole new level, with a target that actually bleeds. I will caution you that indoor ranges are unlikely to allow these types of targets on the range. These targets don’t come cheap, so you’ll really want to test your shooting abilities by stretching out the distance. Targets come in packs of 1 to 15. If you’re looking for the best paper targets for shooting with an interactive element then these are for you!

8. Dot Torture Shooting Target

  • Instructions for shooting on target
  • Comes in unique style
  • Best for skill development
  • Target Size: 11″ X 17″
  • Recommended Distance: 7 yards

If you’ll working on drawing from your holster along with shot placement then this is the target for you. Each dot, or set of dots, has a very specific set of instructions and each subsequent drill will hone a different shooting skill. However, I will caution you that this target is called the dot torture target for a reason. Don’t expect novice shooters to step onto the shooting line and ace this test of shooting ability. These bad boys come in packs of 50, so you can get a ton of practice!

9. Caudle Side Profile Target

  • Traditional grayscale target
  • Comes in silhouette style
  • Best for personal defense training
  • Target Size: 24″ X 40″
  • Recommended Distance: 15+ yards

If there’s an intruder and you need to use your pistol, it’s best not to announce your location. While many targets offer a front profile view , the Caudle side profile target offers a unique perspective. Because this target is larger than many others on the list, you’ll need to play with shooting distance. Unfortunately, side profile targets haven’t caught on, so you won’t get the benefits of the traditional splatter targets for identifying shot placement. However, you will get plenty (48) of paper targets to practice on.

Save Money With Paper Targets

If forking over your hard earned money for an 8 or 10 pack of targets that you are just gonna put holes in seems like a bad deal you aren’t alone. However, there are ways you can stretch your money a bit and still have a pleasant experience at the range.

Sticker To Cover Bullet Holes

Fortunately, there are no lack of stickers to use on your targets to cover that first volley of shots you send downrange. You can extend the life of targets by covering existing bullet holes with shooting stickers like this type on Amazon. This is especially true for the game type paper targets that otherwise would be one time use. However, don’t feel like you’re relegated to special stickers you can use any type of sticker. But, using stickers specifically designed for shooting does make things a bit easier particularly if they match the background of the target.

Sharpie To Mark Existing Shots

Another way to extend the life of targets is by using a sharpie to mark off old bullet holes. Although this is a rather crude method, it works particularly well on your first target or two when you are just warming up on the range. However, this technique is more difficult with silhouette targets with a black background. But it is great for covering previous shots on splatter targets.

Make Your Own Paper Shooting Targets

The above targets are fantastic and have some great features. But, you can always go old school and make your own targets. You might not get neat concentric rings, or a pretty splatter pattern at the point of impact, but they get the job done. I’ve found that the cheap paper plates you can get at your local Walmart are excellent for this type of target. Just make sure you secure it with an extra staple or two to make sure the target doesn’t fall to the ground in the middle of your shooting exercise.

Fun Shooting Drill Without Special Targets

Even though you might not want to purchase some of these fun paper targets, you can still do some exercises with a buddy. One fun shooting exercise is to have each shooter load up two rounds into their handgun. However, the first shooter will load up just one round for their first shot. Next, set the target at the desired distance. Afterwards, the first shooter fires a round anywhere on the target. Then, the second shooter takes to the line and uses their first round to try and shoot through the same bullet hole the first shooter just created. They use their second round to set a marker for the next shooter. Points accumulate for each time the bullet holes touch.

Parting Shots

Hopefully you’ve found a suitable paper target for your range day needs. Are there any unique targets you’ve come across that you think should be on our list of the best paper targets for shooting? Leave a comment below, and I may revamp the list to include your selection!