Shoot N Spin Dueling Shooting Tree Review
April 19, 2014
If I have said it once, I will say it a thousand times... it doesn't get much more fun than shooting steel targets. Over the years I have found that when shooting reactive steel targets I tend to shoot more and can capture the attention of new shooters faster than shooting paper alone. I'm not the only one who has come to this opinion because the steel target industry seems to be growing to meet the demands of the market. One new company on the market is Shoot N Spin which was founded by an industrious 12 year old named Dawson Volker. It seems that Dawson was challenged to take some scrap steel and figure out how to make some money. The industrious young man took the challenge and developed a line of steel targets directed towards the Nerf, Airsoft or BB gun market, thus was the birth of Shoot N Spin. With an ever growing steel target market and consumers expressing interests, Shoot N Spin started to develop targets suitable for rimfire and centerfire firearms. At the time of this review, Shoot N Spin offers a variety of steel targets which are listed below.
For this review, I wanted to take a look at Shoot N Spin's Dueling Shooting Tree. I felt this target system would give me a good idea on the quality, innovation and durability of the Shoot N Spin Targets. I'm planning on reviewing some of Shoot N Spin's other targets soon so make sure you check the Gunsumer Reports website in the near future.
Like most steel targets, they don't come cheap, but I feel that when you compare the materials, innovation, portability and the fact that shipping & handling is included, the $750 MSRP on this target system seems to be a competitive MSRP. As the targets come available in retail stores, I would expect the price of the targets to be less than MSRP which translates into more value to you.
In all honesty, I initially struggled with the price of the Dueling Shooting Tree, but once I got the opportunity to see one first hand and understand the portability of the tree along with the versatility of it having the capability to easily replace the paddles with rimfire paddles, I felt like the price point may be substantiated.
The dueling shooting tree arrived in two boxes. The long box shown below contained the post portion of the tree.
The post was well protected in heavy brown paper and the box also had other pieces of structure to help prevent the post from shifting and protected the post during transport (not that shipping would be any worse than getting hit be various caliber bullets).
After removing the paper, the post was wrapped to prevent it from opening.
The post portion of the dueling tree weighed in at about 26.5 pounds.
At the center of the post is a folding joint which helps with the portability aspects of the target.
In these next two photos you can see how the upper portion will lock in place to prevent the post from folding back over. When upright, gravity is what holds the upper portion of the post locked in place.
Each of the six paddles pivots on a pin that is held in place inside the post. The folding joint, along with how the pin assembly is held in place on the post, are examples of some real engineering that took place in designing these details.
The second box was rectangular in shape and contained the base of the dueling tree and the six centerfire paddles. One thing to note is that Shoot N Spin is a subsidiary of Next Innovations, LTD. The Next Innovations company provides manufacturing for precision machining and sheet metal with a core business in decorative metal for indoor and outdoor use which is why Dawson Volker was positioned well to let his Shoot N Spin target ideas have a chance to grow.
Once I wrestled the contents from the box and out of the brown paper, the stand and paddles were further wrapped as shown below. At this point in my unboxing, my impressions of this dueling tree were growing more and more favorable with the "transformer" (folding) concepts that were used to make the target system portable.
The stand and six paddles weighed in at about 52 pounds, which in my mind is a manageable weight for a single person. Also notice in the photo below that you can carry the paddles inside the base. A word of caution though, depending on how you are holding the handle, the base may be tilted slightly. If the base is tilted with the carry handle leg down, the paddles can rotate out of the base if you are not careful.
If 52 pounds is more that you would like to carry, you could carry the paddles separately. Each paddle weighs about 3.9 pounds, so removing the paddles gives the stand base an approximate weight of 28.6 pounds.
The target base comes fully assembled and with a set of instructions. Assembly is so intuitive, no instructions were required for me to assemble the target.
Each of the three legs unfolds and secures in place in the same way. When you lift the leg up and rotate it out of the slot, you also need to start rotating the inner portion of the leg.
When the legs are folded and locked in place for the transport mode, the inner leg has a slot that goes around the pivot bolt and the outer leg has a pin that engages in a slot to keep the leg vertical.
As you rotate a leg around the pivot, you will rotate it to the bottom slot and then press the leg inward so that it engages in the cup portion of the L shaped slot.
The photo below shows one of the legs locked in place.
The only difference in the legs is that one leg has a carry handle welded to the leg as shown below. The base also has an extra bolt in this leg so that the leg will not pull out of the slots when carrying the base.
The next photo shows the carry handle leg locked in place in the down position and I reinstalled the bolt showing that this could be a good place to keep the bolt to prevent losing it. Also in the photo, notice that the post is installed in the base. The bottom of the post has two pins that engage in the long slots in the base to orient the post in the correct position when installed.
Each of the six centerfire paddles that come with the Dueling Shooting Tree are made of 3/8" AR500 steel plate and are welded to a female pivoting socket. The paddle face measures 6" in diameter. AR500 steel is considered to be the standard for making centerfire steel targets and is clearly the right choice for this application.
These next photos show a basic sequence for setting up the target.
One feature I want to point out is that the center of the base is actually off the ground when the legs are locked in place. This is so the legs are making contact at the ends and this three-point-contact is a very stable configuration.
When fully assembled, the Dueling Shooting Tree measures 58" in height. The center of each of the paddles is 9" apart vertically and 13" horizontally when they are on opposite sides of the post.
For range testing, I took the dueling shooting tree to a shooting event that I have each year with my co-workers. The video below shows the features of the target, details on setting up and taking down the target, along with some actual range testing taken during my shooting event.
During my range tests, we shot the target from about 10 to 15 yards with centerfire handguns. The instruction sheet clearly stated that the minimum distance was 30 yards for handguns, but I'm more inclined to say the minimum is 10+ yards. I'm not saying you can ignore the manufacturer's warnings, instead I'm just giving you my opinion and what I did for my range testing. Whatever distance you decide to use for shooting the tree, you should always wear some type of safety glasses when shooting steel targets.
Since I was not personally monitoring the range at all times, I'm not 100% sure of the different pistol calibers being shot at the tree. Overall the target worked great and I know that 9mm, .40 S&W & .45 Auto were used during the handgun range tests. We did experience some "bounce back" (target flipping to other side then immediately bouncing back to original side). I thought this may have been attributed to the ground where I had the target setup being sloped down hill slightly and the post was not leaning forward the same amount as if it were on level ground. I shimmed up the rear leg and it was hard to tell if there was a real difference in bounce back. The bounce back seemed to occur more on the lower paddle.
Later I moved the target to my 100 yard range and the portability of this target system was really appreciated. As I took the target down, I was able to hear several comments in the background about the "coolness" and compactness of the target. One thing to note is that when handling any steel targets, you need to either wear gloves or wash your hands because the targets will get covered with lead dust.
When I set the target up at the other range, the distance was actually at about 70 yards. Again, the instruction sheet states that for rifles, you should shoot the target at a minimum distance of 100 yards and you are limited to a maximum caliber of .308 Winchester. For .223, I shoot some targets as close as 50 yards. Since this is a 6" diameter paddle dueling tree (relatively easy to hit), I feel 100 yards is a legitimate minimum distance for centerfire rifles. But, I wanted to make sure the target was sitting on flat ground and that is why I set it up at 70 yards. Another reason I was willing to shoot the target at this closer range is that the closer distance is actually a harder test of the target because you have slightly increased bullet velocities which translates into increased energy delivered to the target.
With .223 Rem caliber rifles, the Shoot N Spin dueling shooting tree again worked great. As before, we still got some bounce back and in some cases, the upper portion of the post would wobble and sling a paddle over to the opposite side. I didn't consider these things to be bad enough to sway my opinion of the target, but it is something that you will need to understand might happen. Make sure you watch the video to see some examples.
My last observation was that the post seemed to loosen up during my range testing. The overall freeplay between the folding portion of the post and where the post mounted in the base seemed to be greater than before. At this time, I'm not sure if that is an issue. Only time will tell. If it is an issue, it might mean that you get more bounce backs due to some type of whipping movement from the top portion of the post.
This next photo is an example of how well the AR500 steel paddles holds up to handgun and .223 Rem rifle bullet impacts. The handgun impact only knocked the paint off the paddle face and the .223 Rem at 70 yards made small dimples less than the depth of a golf ball dimple.
Although this target system has paddles made from AR500 steel, the pivoting system is not rated for large (long action) caliber rifles. Shoot N Spin rates this target for rifles up to .308 Win shooting normal (up to interpretation) ammunition at 100 yards.
After completing my evaluation with the .223
rifles, we decided to give the target a try with a larger caliber. The largest caliber used was a .30-06 with 180gr
Winchester Power-Points which was outside of the Shoot N Spin's
recommended range. In this case, the amount of energy
delivered into the paddle was too great for the pivot pins and I
had some pins bend as shown below. Clearly this is an example
of what can happen if you shoot this target with a higher caliber than
Fortunately, I was able to put the post on a concrete floor, install the paddle, and then use a hammer to bend the pin back straight.
As I inspected the paddles on the bent pins, one paddle had a cracked weld. Again, this is an example of what not to do and neither of these types of damage (bent pin or cracked weld) was the results of shooting .223 caliber rifles.
Just to be clear on this point, Shoot N Spin rates this target capable of calibers up to .308 Win. The chart below shows some data on the energy delivered at 100 yards for several type of ammunition that I feel would be likely used to shoot at a dueling tree at 100 yards. The top ammo shown in the chart (.30-06 180gr) is what bent the pins and is clearly not recommended. The calibers and bullet weights listed below the .30-06 180gr in the chart is what could potentially be recommended. Since I didn't try every type of .308 Win on this target, I would tend to think the maximum 100 yard energy that you should deliver into this target system would be about 2250 ft-lbs. Personally, I would limit this target system to less than 1500 ft-lbs so that I would be confident that the target would have minimal issues. The main reason I'm hedging my recommendation away from the manufacturer's is that someone could hit the paddles close to the pivot point and transmit more energy into the pivot pin than if they were to hit the paddle in the circular area. Looking at the chart below, limiting this dueling tree to less than 1500 ft-lbs of energy at 100 yards still covers the key calibers that someone might shoot at the range during most repetitive shooting situations.
Once I get a set of the rimfire paddles, I plan
on doing a follow-up review of the rimfire paddles being used on this
dueling tree stand. If they function as good as the centerfire
paddles, I think the versatility and value of the Shoot N Spin
Dueling Shooting Tree will increase significantly.
Overall I'm impressed with the Shoot N Spin Dueling Shooting Tree. The innovative design and portability is to be admired and appreciated. The trees ability to be used for both centerfire handgun and some centerfire rifles offers enormous opportunities for training, competition and fun. The fact that Shoot N Spin also sells rimfire paddles for this tree adds another aspect of value to this target system. If you are planning to shoot the recommended maximum caliber rifle (.308 Win), I feel you need to understand that you will be pushing the pivoting system to its limits. The AR500 3/8" thick plates can take the punishment, but the weak link may be the pivoting pin on the tree. If you are willing to limit your shooting to handguns and smaller caliber/energy rifles, this target system should give you many years of shooting enjoyment. At the moment, to purchase one of these targets, you may have to order it directly from Shoot N Spin at the MSRP price. Hopefully in the future they can expand their distributorship and the price will come down. As always, do your research before you make any purchase.