Real Shooters. Real Targets. Often Copied, Never Equaled
Salute Targets was officially formed on Christmas Day 2003. The name was based on the age old military ‘salute’ honor rendered with respect from one military person to another. We were reminded of this with the motion of one of our original targets when it was struck backward with a bullet and smartly sprung back forward upon our unique spring base. The key here was that all Salute Targets would never require the shooter or support staff to go downrange to reset targets. Safety was essential, as was simplicity, original engineering, robust construction, and the essential element of fun, challenging, tactical training.
Being veteran owned and operated, our main focus was toward the real world tactical training scenarios of our US military and law enforcement forces. The real foundation for Salute was based on the US Marine Corps necessity of re-training the new Kuwaiti Army following our liberation of that nation in 1991. A series of exercises throughout the 1990s known as “Lucky Sentinel” took place annually among various US coalition forces centered at Camp Doha, Camp Arifjan, and Camp Commando, Kuwait. Paper targets did not hold up well is Middle East sandstorms, nor were our Arab allies enthralled with a lack of metallic response. The solution came from several young Marines who were familiar with US National Rifle Association steel target shooting. Why not come up with military related targets based on the steel NRA Ram, Hog, Turkey and Chicken targets which had originated on their live counterparts south of the border at Mexican weddings and fiestas? As one Marine said: “Let’s make some manly targets to shoot at.” In fact, the very first of our steel targets were a German Tiger and Russian T-34 Tank (our training focus being on defeating enemy armor). Prototypes were made of plain shop steel in the US and Kuwait. Our Australian, British, and Kuwaiti allies, not to mention our US Navy SeaBee and Army friends, liked them and asked for more.
Salute based much of its original foundation upon this rich American shooting heritage. Col Jeff Cooper, who had founded the definitive Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona, in 1977, was a wealth of encouragement and wisdom. He had made his first Pepper Popper steel targets and Dualing Tree targets in 1980 and 1981. Good shooting folks like Seligman Shooting Products (just up the road from Gunsite in Seligman, Arizona), highlighted their ground-breaking “Seligman Dueling Tree” in the October 1984 Guns and Ammo. All of this background was generously shared with us Marines deploying to and from Lucky Sentinel exercises in Kuwait. As a combat engineer, I was assigned in the mid-1990s to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I-MEF) G-3 Operations section as a staff engineer out of Camp Pendleton, California. These ongoing deployments involved all of the engineer battalions within the Marine Corps. Thus, units like 1st,, 3rd, 4th Combat Engineer Battalions, not to mention 6th Engineer Support Battalion, became involved in this new tactical training need.
It was actually in between my first and second combat tours in the Iraq War that Salute Targets became a real company, incorporated as an American business, outside my home in Portland, Oregon.
Yes, Salute Targets was literally “born in battle” with the mission of meeting the needs of the US military in the Iraq War.