The Caldwell Target Turner — Get Moving

I’ve got one helluva wife. She’s smart, funny, beautiful and gives great gifts. One gift she gave me this Christmas was the Caldwell Target Turner. Targets that turn, spin, and react can be a lot of fun. Shooting targets that just stand there and get shot is fun and sufficient for training, but it’s not the only option.

The Caldwell Target Turner does exactly what the name applies. As the name implies, it turns the target. It turns the target approximately 90 degrees back and forth. It acts as both a target turner and a stand. The primary components are the Target turner assembly that comes with three legs that fold and adjust.

The axle supports the two target holder rods, which then support your target backing. Caldwell includes a folding target backer, but it’s easily replaceable by anything light and friendly. This includes cardboard, which is my favorite medium for target backers.

Setting Up the Caldwell Target Turner

Caldwell sends all the goodies you need to build out the Target Turner. This includes the nuts, bolts, and tools to get it done. It took me less than fifteen minutes to assemble the legs to the base. Everything else pops on and off without issue.

Caldwell target turner kit
The kit breaks down easily for convenient carry.

The Target Turner is designed to be broken down and carried easily in the supplied carry bag. The kit’s plenty lightweight and it breaks down with ease, which makes it easy to take it to and from the range. The biggest downside to the kit is the battery pack. It holds eight AA batteries. That’s a hefty juice investment, and according to Caldwell, the battery life is about eight hours.

Caldwell Target Turner tote bag
It’s easy to tote the range in its easy toting bag.

The system stands tall enough to easily avoid shooting the base and can stand taller with whatever cardboard you use as a backer. I went pretty dang tall with the thing without issues. The low center of gravity ensures it doesn’t get blown over via wind, and it spins without disruption.

Going Reactive

Why do you want a target to spin around? Or to turn in this situation? Well, it makes your training more reactive and brings movement into the fold. It allows you to exercise your reaction times in a non-predictable or predictable pattern. The Target Turner base has an accelerator that allows you to adjust from Turtle to Rabbit.

Caldwell Target Turner base, speed control
Turn it one way or the other to change the speed.

The adjustable speed allows you to adjust the turn from every six seconds or a turn every second. The accelerator doesn’t necessarily adjust per second. It just rotates and speeds up as you turn the dial. You’d have to time the turns to understand how fast the target is actually turning.

Caldwell Target Turner GIF

The reactive design of the Target Turner makes for a more challenging training environment. This allows you to practice a variety of skills not only against a timer but against a potentially moving target. Plus, it’s just a ton of fun, and the more fun you’ll have, the more likely you are to train. Your target doesn’t need to just sit there and do nothing. Instead, it can move and change things up.

At the Range

Setup took no time at all. I messed around a bit with the accelerator and found a somewhat slow speed to start with. It certainly wasn’t six seconds’ worth of time. I started at 15 yards with my AR and practiced some simple engagements as the target turned towards me. Admittedly, you can fall into a predictable rhythm, but it’s a lot less predictable than a target that just stands still.

I stepped up my practice with the Target Turner and turned up the speed of the device. At the same time, I practiced my own failure to stop drills—two shots to the chest and a single, well-aimed shot to the head. The target spun, and I flew into the drill. It’s so much fun and delivered an outstanding training experience.

I was quickly finding new ways to use the Target Turner to enhance my training and to increase the challenge. One way was dropping the big targets and moving to smaller, more challenging targets. A series of 3×5 cards on my target backer made things a lot more challenging and, with their placement, a lot less predictable, especially as the targets rotated and quickly limited my time to get on target.

To change another thing up, I rotated the base oh so slightly to ensure the target didn’t turn to fully face me. This limited the target’s exposure and added a new degree of challenge to my time at the range.

Going 3D

What quickly became apparent was that pairing the Caldwell Target Turner with 3D targets was the way to go. I grabbed the cheapest possible 3D target on the market, which is the Birchwood Casey Torso target. It’s made from recycled material and still rotates with ease when attached to the Target Turner.

Birchwood Casey Torso Target, left side face profile
3D targets add a different edge to your training. Turns out the side of a person’s body is quite small.

I stapled the target to a target backer, and this added an entirely new edge to the Target Turner. The 3D target provides me multiple angles to shoot, and the Target Turner exposes both the front and side angles of the target. This changed things up and not only made me utilize the Target Turner to its fullest extent, but the Birchwood Casey 3D targets as well.

Birchwood Casey Torso target, face
These cheap targets turned without issue and offered both a large and small target when turned.

I could engage the smaller sides of the target and engage, or I could wait and engage when the target turned towards me. It was an entirely new training experience, and as far as I know, it’s the safest and simplistic way to train with moving targets.

Moving On

Since my first days at the range, I’ve used the Target Turner extensively, not only for live-fire but dry fire as well. The Target Turner can easily be used for a multitude of training environments. I’ve used it inside my kitchen, paired with an AR-15 equipped with the Mantis Blackbeard system.

I’ve taken it in the yard and used the Target Turner with a Sig P365 BB gun for close-range retention training. Trying to draw and shoot the target as it spins towards you creates a lot of challenge and plenty of excitement—a heckuva lot more fun than practicing with a stationary target.

Caldwell Target Turner with Birchwood Casey Torso target
It’s a simple setup and it works well. Makes your range time a fair bit more fun.

The battery life might last eight hours, but after six hours, I noticed a little lag in the acceleration. What might affect battery life was using the heavier cardboard backers for larger targets and the heavier 3D targets. I’m not sure, but even six hours of use seems generous. It took three weeks of heavy use to get six hours of use in. After a set of new batteries, the Target Turner came back to life and spun just as rapidly as it did on day one.

The Caldwell Target Turner is an amazing piece of gear. It’s a ton of fun, and I had a blast with the device. It changes up your training and what you can accomplish. Best of all, according to my wife, it costs less than 100 bucks. Not a bad investment to change things up.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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