Safe Self-Defense Training With Newbold Targets

It's critical to train at "contact distance," and even more important to do it safely.

posted on November 7, 2022

If you carry a gun you need to train at contact distance, period. The dilemma there is that “contact distance” is about 7 yards. Doing so with paper usually ends with the target flying off of the hanger during the first shot; attempting the same drill with steel is extremely dangerous. Frangible ammunition can solve this, but it’s expensive (and hard to find right now, sadly). But there’s another way to train at contact distance safely, and that’s where Newbold Targets comes in. The premise is simple: reactive targets that are safe to shoot at any distance.

Newbold targets are made out of its proprietary Throom material. It has a self-healing property, yet absorbs enough energy to move, indicating a hit. My first exposure to this material was through the use of the company’s full-sized pepper popper targets; three years later they are still alive and well, despite taking several thousand rounds of every caliber under the sun. Soon after I was able to try out the self-healing dueling tree, and with that, I taught several new shooters how to draw and fire while retreating.

New for 2020 is the Newbold plate rack kit. I had the opportunity to take it to the range just a week before this writing. The plate rack kit is a mashup of Newbold’s best-selling products, namely a pair of Alpha brackets and six 6-inch Hang Tuff target plates. With the addition of simple 2x4s, the Alpha stands can support well over 100 pounds of weight. Best of all, these supports are made of the same self-healing material as the targets just in case you botch a round.

I’ve torture tested these stands numerous times “for science,” and in one instance I put a full box of 9mm into one while it was supporting 45 pounds of weight. We’re still using it to this day. The Hang Tuff Target plates are made from a single piece of Throom and consist of a 6-inch target area suspended by a self-healing strap. Some assembly is required, but all you need do is lop 2x4s in half (many home-goods stores will do this for free), leaving you everything you need to get the job done.

Newbold also includes the proper length screws, cutting out the guesswork. With an 8-foot 2x4, you can easily get all six plates on the rack. but I chose to scale mine down to just three so I could get it into the trunk of a sedan without any issue. Given that the Alpha stands don’t use any sort of fasteners, they are inherently portable and quick to set up and break down.

Range day was a little rainy, which helped me recognize another great feature of the Newbold plate rack kit over steel targets. The polymer Throom won’t rust or corrode if you put it away wet, so this target rack could be left out indefinitely without fear of losing your investment.

After setting up I attacked the targets with a variety of 9mm, .45ACP, and .22LR. All three cartridges got the targets moving, with the .45 putting the most hurt on them. I measured the “hurt” by the target’s reaction, not the hole that the bullet made, as it sealed up just as if it was .22LR.

Speaking of .22LR, it was amazing how much movement they imparted on the target, especially the subsonic and hollow-point varieties. The 9mm caliber activated the targets just fine as well, but really got the action underway when we smacked them with the flat points.

Although my range day involved over 300 rounds, it felt like it ended far too early. There is something about shooting reactive targets that is just plain addictive and the Newbold systems were no different. The fact that these had a wide spread of safe and useful engagement distances played a major role in not wanting to step off of the range. I was able to pop these things at point-blank as well as 35 yards and stayed safe while still generating a reaction from them.

The Plate Rack Kit and the BounceBack targets are just two more fine examples of what’s going on over at Newbold and I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings to the industry.



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