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Making Your Own Reactionary Target

Publication Number: IS2028
View as PDF: IS2028.pdf
Young girl smiling with goggles and headphones on holding her thumbs up with the background being in the woods.

There is no better reward than seeing a young person’s face light up at the sight of a well-placed shot. We all love the feeling of success, and what better way to demonstrate this than by making a reactionary target? Reactionary targets give the young person immediate feedback after the shot; no walking downrange to view the placement of the round is necessary.

The first thing that we want a new shooter to do is simply get on the paper. Normally this is done by turning a standard target so the bullseye faces away from the participant. The emphasis is not on scoring a hit; the goal is simply to make a hole in the paper. Supplies are relatively affordable and also provide a rainy day activity for the youth instead of just another cancelled meeting.


  • Neon poster board
  • Clear shipping tape
  • Matte black spray paint
  • Scissors

Step One

Decide what size of target that you want to make. There is no right or wrong answer here. Let the youth decide what they want, and go for it! Less experienced shooters should start with a larger piece of paper so they can have a greater chance of success. Once you have your paper dimensions, you can move to step number two.

Step Two

The first thing that you will need to do is make sure that you are working on a clean, flat surface. Cover one side of the poster board with clear shipping tape. You can stretch the tape in any direction you wish as long as it is covering the entirety of the paper and does not have wrinkles or bubbles. A good way of applying the tape is to go beyond the borders of the paper. When you are finished, you can cut the excess off of the sides. The strips of tape should overlap each other; not overlapping the tape will cause step three to fail.

Young girl taping a green sheet of paper to a white poster board.

Step Three

Take the paper outside to an area of grass or place it on a piece of plywood. If you would like, you can secure it to the ground or plywood with tape or rocks. Now take the can of spray paint and thoroughly cover the taped side of the paper. Don’t saturate the paper, but be sure you spray on a nice even coat. Let this dry for at least an hour.

At this point, you have your reactionary target. Place it on an appropriate backstop and send some lead downrange! If you are shooting a shotgun, this type of target also shows how different chokes and different distances affect shot shells patterns.

Remember to keep it safe, keep it fun, and keep it 4-H. Then shoot and see how you do!

Young girl nailing a black board to a wall outside.
Image of black board with bullet holes in it.

Information Sheet 2028 (POD-04-16)

By Dr. John Long, Assistant Extension Professor, 4-H Youth Development.

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Assistant Extension Professor
4-H Youth Development Specialist

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Assistant Extension Professor
4-H Youth Development Specialist