December 1, 2021

Training with 3D Shooting Targets

When we head out to the range, we usually have access to a piece of paper if not a commercially made paper target. So as a result, we all probably shoot on paper the most, especially when it comes to our training.

The problem is that in the real world, threats are not flat and two-dimensional. They are three-dimensional targets with the ability to move. So, training against that steady, unmoving piece of paper might not really prepare us for the threats we might actually face.

Man using 3D shooting targets during training
Using a 3D target allows you to train for angled shots which may be all you have available in a self-defense situation.

Here is the problem of shooting with only a two-dimensional mindset. When you staple up that paper target, there is probably a tidy little kill zone circle on the target that indicates where you should aim. The problem is, if you were to put that paper target over a three-dimensional target and then shoot from a 45-degree angle, you would miss the heart and other blood-bearing organs.

The Answer

So, what is the solution to this training conundrum? The answer is to train against a three-dimensional target as part of your regimen — and one like the Rubber Dummies system featured here is a great option.

Man training with 3D shooting targets
3D targets, like this one from Rubber Dummies, works equally well with rifles and pistols.

When shooting in the real world on a target like this, we are not shooting at a superficial target — we are aiming for the location of those internal vital organs. If you are shooting at that circle on the paper over that “chest,” you’d more than likely miss them. On a three-dimensional target, your aiming point will have to be farther outward on the torso toward the shoulder, which on paper would be a bad shot.

In a real situation, you could have to fire at a threat that is turning. It’s important to be in the mindset that we are not aiming for a superficial target — we are shooting to hit the heart.

Man training with Rubber Dummies target
The more realistic the training the greater the likelihood you will succeed in making a defensive shot under pressure.

The Rubber Dummies target is a highly durable target that will last for many, many rounds. Once you paint up the dummy, it’s easy to see where your shots hit. You can also paint the backside of the target to see where your exit wounds are. I encourage you to read Will Dabb’s review of the Rubber Dummies Targets.


Every opportunity you get, try to train with angles in mind. And if possible, use a target like the Rubber Dummies system. For extra added depth, you can get their thicker Rubber Dummies 2.0 version.

In training, remember that you live in a three-dimensional world and your point of aim might need to be adjusted in a real situation. Be prepared for any potential, and train to win!

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