Getting more bang for your buck has never been so literal.
Lots of good things come from Texas, including Bravo Concealment gun holsters. Another Texas company called Firebird Targets is also making great products for range time. Recently I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and test these detonating targets, and I’m super excited about them, for a couple reasons.
Firebird targets explode on impact but are much easier and safer to use than binary target material that has to be mixed shortly before use, is highly volatile, and often ages out of usefulness in storage. Firebirds are circular, about 2.75 inches across, and only about 0.25 inches thick. The explosive target material is contained inside a lightweight, sealed plastic case. A little patch of adhesive tape is attached to the back. It’s a simple peel-and-stick process to stick a Firebird onto a steel, cardboard, or wood target.
Setting up Firebirds is easy. Shooting them is a blast! The moment a projectile (bullet, pellet/BB, or arrow) strikes the target, it detonates, delivering a show of smoke and sound and, in dim conditions, flash. Two sizes of Firebirds are available, called 50BIO and 65BIO. They work the same, but 65BIO delivers a larger show.
Firebirds are considered a signaling device under government guidelines. And they work great at signaling accurate hits. These targets have passed the scrutiny of multiple federal agencies prior to their release in the United States. So long as they’re transported and stored in a way that prevents them from being sharply impacted like an arrow or bullet would (don’t try driving a nail into a Firebird, please), they’re not volatile. Furthermore, they’re biodegradable. While little bits of plastic case might be found in the target area post-detonation, they’ll eventually disappear safely with the influence of time and weather.
Why buy Firebird targets? Fun, training, and the efficient use of time are all good reasons. Firebird owner Dan Meeker has seen his product used by a wide variety of shooters and archers. He says that although he’s finally reached the point of not getting a thrill from the detonation of his product, seeing other shooters react, often with laughter, never gets old. They go far to liven up range time. This is especially true, he says, for young shooters who are accustomed to almost-instant gratification thanks to social media and the pace of modern life. Firebirds provide instant feedback for good hits. They can also be used for training the aim small/miss small principle, especially when shooting at steel. While steel of course gives auditory feedback, a firebird set in the center of, say, an eight-inch steel plate will quickly provide feedback on whether the shooter is only on the plate or right at center. Of course, that’s a one-time feedback per plate, but replacing it and starting over isn’t hard. Meeker recommends wiping steel clean between sets to ensure carbon buildup from the detonations doesn’t interfere with the adhesive sticking like it should. And, at least until the explosion happens, Firebirds can save those monotonous, repeated trips downrange and back in search of holes on paper.
Of course, safety is to be considered when using Firebird Targets. Stay at least 50 feet away from the target. Avoid setting them where dry leaves, grass, or pine needles are in the immediate vicinity of the target. Firebird detonations are designed to not extend more than a few feet from the initial site, so fire risk is low but not zero. Firebirds are generally not used at indoor ranges because of the smoke emitted.
This brand goes above and beyond regarding consumer safety. It’s the only product I know of that has a QR code right on the product. That code takes viewers directly to the product safety page. So if a disc gets separated from the package and picked up by someone who doesn’t know what they’re looking at, they can quickly learn about Firebird target safety from the website.
Firebirds can be purchased through distributors and dealers listed on the company website. Many stores in western and southern states carry them, and distribution is growing all the time. I can attest first-hand that these targets do all they are purported to do, and are much, much easier and safer to use than binary exploding target material. Firebird Targets sell for around $16-20 per 10-pack, with the 65Bio size being in the upper part of the price range. Getting more bang for your buck has never been so literal. Get some and enjoy! New distributors/retailers are welcome, too.