Ice Hockey Shooting Targets
One of the best ways to enhance your hockey skills is to become a powerful, accurate shooter. Those two traits are difficult to combine, but with enough practice using the proper tools you can develop them both. So what are the proper tools? One excellent choice: shooting targets.
What are shooting targets used for in ice hockey?
Shooting targets connect to a hockey net and create a point of focus for the shooter to aim for. They come in a number of different styles, but they all ultimately accomplish the same goal of helping the shooter pinpoint a typically unguarded portion of the net. These targets allow for unlimited repetition and practice, so that players get to practice their aim before eventually adding more power to their shots. Eventually, players can shoot hard and accurate shots that give them a higher percentage to score.
Shooting targets can be used on nets both on and off the ice, so that you can practice your shooting accuracy during practices or at home. The primary points that shooting targets help players aim for are the top and bottom corners of the net, and the space between the goalie's stick and pads while standing up. This is known as the "five hole".
Things To Consider
When looking for a shooting target, you'll want to consider the following:
- Where will you be using the shooting targets?
- How much do you want to spend on a shooting target?
- What materials do you want the shooting target to be made of?
- How many shooting targets do you want to use at once?
Although the main goal of all hockey shooting targets are the same, they accomplish that goal in several different ways. The four different types of shooting targets are magnetic targets, clip-on targets, strap-on targets, and shooter tutors.
Magnetic shooting targets connect to the metal posts of the net and get knocked off when hit. These can be easily set up, but they also must be set up after they get hit once. They are easy to move around, so players can practice targeting different points of the net. They are also on the higher end of the price spectrum as they are only sold in multipacks.
Clip-on targets are targets that can be clipped onto the posts of the net at any point, so the target is adjustable and durable. The biggest drawback of clip-on targets is that powerful enough shots can actually spin the target so it's no longer facing forward and has to be readjusted. Clip-on targets tend to be sold individually.
Strap-on targets can be placed almost anywhere on the net but, instead of being placed on like clip-on targets, they are usually fastened with velcro or another type of fastener. These are less likely to spin because they aren't stiff, so the puck pushes the targets out of the way when it hits them. Strap-on targets are typically among the cheapest types of targets, and are sold in multipacks.
The most realistic type of shooting targets is the shooter tutor. The shooter tutor is usually a tarp that covers the majority of the net, leaving only small areas open. Unlike other shooting targets, the goal is to not hit this target. When using a shooter tutor, the goal is to hit the small amounts of space it leaves open in the net. The shooter tutor is the only type of target that allows for practice aiming at the five-hole. These are typically more expensive because of their size.
There are many different types of shooting targets, and they can all be made using different materials. Let's take a look at the most common materials used in shooting targets.
- Foam: Foam is usually expanded polystyrene, which is a type of plastic that contains large amounts of air bubbles within it. Foam is lightweight material used in strap-on targets that doesn't offer resistance to the puck when hit, so it doesn't absorb the impact and doesn't wear easily.
- Nylon: Nylon is a man-made polymer that is one of the most widely used materials in the world. Nylon tarps are the material that shooter tutors are made of.
- Steel: Steel is a strong metal that is capable of withstanding high amounts of pressure without breaking. Steel is typically used in clip-on targets to help firmly suspend the target in the net. It helps make targets more durable and, although the steel may scuff, it is unlikely to break.
There are a number of different styles and sizes to shooting targets, as well as brands that produce them. Three of the biggest shooting target brands are Bauer, Top Shelf, and Winnwell.
- Bauer: Bauer produces strap-on and clip-on targets, as well as shooter tutors. Bauer shooter tutors are made of a heavy duty tarp with the five typical openings and an image of the goalie printed on the front. Bauer is one of the premier hockey brands, making their equipment a hot commodity in the world of hockey.
- Top Shelf: Top Shelf is the most well-known producer of magnetic shooting targets, which allowed them to set a higher price for their specialized products. Top shelf targets are made of high quality plastic and come in two different sizes.
- Winnwell: Winwell produces a wide range of different shooting targets ranging from foam strap-on targets to heavy-duty shooter tutors. They have shooter tutors in multiple different sizes, and several specialized styles of individual targets.
When purchasing a shooting target there are a number of things that you must consider including the durability, cost, and size.
The durability of your shooting targets is largely dependent on the type of target and the frequency that you use it. Most targets are typically quite durable, but after extended use they are going to wear out. shooter tutors will likely experience wear along the straps from repeated contact from missed shots. Clip-on targets can become damaged through repeated, powerful shots.
The cost of shooting targets can vary based on the type of target that you are looking to purchase, but they mostly cost under $100. Shooter tutors are typically the most expensive style of target as they require the most material and can even come with electronic scoring systems. Magnetic targets cost in the $50-$100 range. This tends to make them less expensive. Strap-on foam targets tend to be the least expensive style of target, but all of this varies by brand, size, and features.
Targets do come in different sizes, but they change based primarily on the brand or product type. The shooter tutor is the biggest of the targets because it covers the majority of the net, but it doesn't necessarily mean that its targets are bigger or smaller than clip-on targets. The smaller the actual targets are, the more difficult they are going to be to hit, so more experienced players should look for smaller targets. Less experienced players should work on their general aim with larger targets.
How much do ice hockey shooting targets cost?
Almost all shooting targets, including shooter tutors, can be purchased for less than $100. Magnetic targets are sold in packs as they are typically small, and those packs usually range in price from $50-$100. Strap-on targets can cost as little as $24 in a pack of four, while single clip-on targets are usually in the range of $22-$25 each. The cost of shooter tutors fluctuates significantly depending on the brand and features. Some shooter tutors come with electronic scoring systems or large, extremely durable tarps which both drive the price up. Some brands offer weaker shooter tutors that can withstand the power of youth shots without breaking the bank.
Do shooting targets come in different sizes?
Shooting targets do come in different sizes, which allows players to choose the target size that is appropriate for their current skill level. More experienced players with better accuracy should practice aiming for smaller sized targets, while beginners should practice with larger targets to get down general aim. The size of openings on the shooter tutor could be the same size as clip-on or strap-on targets. Each type of shooting target can come in a number of different sizes.
What skills do shooting targets help you learn?
Shooting targets primarily help players learn how and where to aim their shots. The targets typically are placed in the highest-percentage scoring areas of the net, so players can focus on aiming for those spots over and over again. It also allows players to practice their aim and control in hitting different parts of the net. The accuracy that can be learned with shooting targets also allows players to begin to shoot with more power, while maintaining control. All of this combines to help the players learn how to be a better shooter and scorer.