Consistent, easily repeatable target construction is critical to the success of any match. There are several simple things that will help maintain consistency in target placement, preservation, and scoring.
First, you may notice in the video that we used what I like to call a “rain hang” on the example target. This places the top of the target in line with or a little below the top of the sticks supporting it. That way, if it rains, or even in a heavy dew, a wet target bag won’t collapse the top, or head, of the target, creating a different or inconsistent presentation and requiring a change. This is a very easy and repeatable way to hang targets in case of inclement weather. But, if you find that it’s not possible to hang targets this way (and there are any number of reasons why not), there are a couple of other alternatives to protect the head of the USPSA target from collapsing. One way is to staple a piece of coroplast or other stiff plastic behind the head, making sure it goes past the “neckline” so it is supported by the body of the target. I’ve also found paint stirrers, usually available for free at a big box paint counter, to work as well. Another, more elegant example can be found in this NROI blog post, titled “Fixing Floppy USPSA Targets“.
Once the targets are hung on the sticks, they should be witness marked with an indelible marker, at the spots where a straight line of the target crosses the stick (the shoulders and hips, so to speak). We always strive to keep the initial target, the backer, up on the sticks, but sometimes it’s not possible, so witness marks will ensure proper placement on the sticks, should a brand new target need to be hung up.
Occasionally, a competitor will want the RM to score a target, and if the RM can’t get there in a reasonable amount of time, the target in question can be pulled, and replaced with a fresh one. Backers and witness marks help in the target replacement process, just as they do for a normal change of targets in a match. Note: pulled targets must be initialed by the RO and competitor and kept in a safe place until the RM can look at it.
When hanging or changing targets, attention to the details is critical. This post, “Mind Your Targets“, will help with those details.
When designing a course of fire, there are many things to consider, not the least of which is the ability to easily and consistently replace targets when necessary, and to preserve those targets while they are being shot at. Do yourself and your staff a favor and put these tips into practice.