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There is a good chance you've never heard the term command shooting targets. You may have heard them called by the term Discretionary target, Acquisition targets, circles, and shapes, or any other combinations of names.Even so you may be missing out on training opportunities if you're not using them!

Command Shooting Targets Explained And How They Can Benefit You

So just what are Command Shooting Targets?

There is a good chance you’ve never heard the term command shooting targets. You may have heard them called by the term Discretionary target, Acquisition targets, circles, and shapes, or any other combinations of names.

Regardless of what you know them as (or don’t), they are excellent training aids that you should absolutely consider adding to your range equipment list for your next day trip. Whether you know them by name or not you’ve likely seen a version of them at one point or another either on the shooting range or in your local gun shop.

They are most often easily identified by the fact they have a variety of shapes and letter-number combinations on them. While not that exciting to look at the command target serves as an excellent training aid and is quite under-utilized by many shooters.

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How Command Shooting Targets Work

Using this style of target is actually quite simple and straightforward. It can be used with a handgun or rifle for training. The target is most effectively (and designed) to be used by a shooter and training buddy. The trainer will call off shots such as red circle, and the shooter starting in a safe direction will then acquire the target and engage. The trainer can do any combination of calls to further challenge the shooter such as a string of commands (eg. Red Circle, Blue Square). The shooter’s starting position can also be adjusted to provide further challengers during the range time. Such as starting with the firearm in the holster, behind cover, etc… 

While you may utilize this target alone, traditionally it just doesn’t provide the same training benefit as the target calls are not a surprise when you’re making them for yourself. I suspect this is one of the primary reasons this target is not as popular among the shooting crowd. The Modern Warrior Project T2 target overcame this shortfall by incorporating an easy scan QR code onto the target that allows the shooter to download a wide variety of shot-call playlists. This allows the firer to operate individually, but as if they had a training partner present calling command for them.

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The Command Shooting Target Shortfall

Historically there is a shortfall associated with these types of range targets. The challenge is that a shooter will begin to memorize the target pattern after firing at it a few times. It’s not even necessarily a purposeful action, just the nature of the beast. If you look at something a couple of times your mind can’t help but to begin to memorize the pattern. The problem with this is that it begins to negate part of the training value. That being to quickly identify your next shot. If you already know the exact position of the Red Circle for instance then it’s much easier to quickly point the pistol at it and take the shot, as compared to having to find it first.


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In the past various targets have attempted to overcome this shortfall by creating a larger variety of shapes and sizes thereby making it harder to memorize. This however presents an even worse problem as it makes it near impossible to accurately grade a string of shots. The reason is that having the various shapes smaller and crammed together it is likely that a missed shot will hit another shape. Then when you go to grade the shots you don’t really have an accurate picture of what was missed and what was hit unless you do a very short string of shots and purposely make them widely apart on the target. Definitely not an ideal training flow.

The Modern Warrior Project Solution

Being a large fan of this style target and the beneficial training value it gives we sought out a way to overcome the known shortfalls. We did this by studying every style of command target we could find (though we already had quite a grasp on them as we used them regularly) and sat down to design a better option. The first shortfall we addressed was the single shooter challenge I discussed above.

 I truly believe that because this style of target is known as a partner-required target it is not as popular as it should be. Our solution to this, as mentioned above, was to create a variety of shot calls and incorporate them into a podcast-style delivery. Furthermore, we placed a QR code on the bottom corner of the target so it is always readily available for the shooter. After all, no one wants to get all situated at their shooting station only to realize they can’t remember the site to download the playlist. Now you can quickly access a large variety of shot calls whether you’re in a shooting booth at a gun range or prepping your training at your house the night before.

Having the single shooter issue tackled we then went after the memorization problem of the target. We recognized that simply adding more shapes and sizes posed more problems than it fixed so we took a different approach. Our goal was to keep the target clean and easily gradable, yet prevent easy memorization of the patterns it presented. We did this in a variety of ways and in the end, we have a target that you can call of so many varieties of shots that it would be near impossible for a trainee to memorize. We accomplished this in a variety of ways.

Created Two Sizes of Shapes (Small, Large)

Created Zones by inserting horizontal and perpendicular lines through the target (Left, Right, Top, Center, Bottom)

Added Alpha and Numeric Combos to each shape (providing numerous varieties of calls)

Shaded one side of the target (Light Side, Dark Side)

These changes to the traditional design allow for an amazing training experience and it is our hope that they re-introduce this amazing aid to the shooting sport community.

Want to see all the benefits of the T2 Command Target? Check it out here.



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