Abstract: For one decade, spalling techniques based on the use of a metallic Hopkinson bar in contact with a concrete sample have been widely employed to characterise the dynamic tensile strength of concrete at strain rates ranging from a few tens to hundreds of s−1. However, the processing method based on the use of the velocity profile measured on the rear free surface of the sample (Novikov formula) remains quite basic. In particular, the identification of the whole softening behaviour of the concrete material is currently out of reach. In the present paper, a new processing technique is proposed based on the use of the virtual fields method (VFM). First, a digital ultra-high-speed camera is used to record the pictures of a grid bonded onto the specimen. Then, images of the grid recorded by the camera are processed to obtain full-field axial displacement maps at the surface of the specimen. Finally, a specific virtual field has been defined in the VFM equation to use the acceleration map as an alternative ‘load cell’. This method applied to three spalling tests with different impact parameters allowed the identification of Young's modulus during the test. It was shown that this modulus is constant during the initial compressive part of the test and decreases in the tensile part when microdamage exists. It was also shown that in such a simple inertial test, it was possible to reconstruct average axial stress profiles using only the acceleration data. It was then possible to construct local stress–strain curves and derive a tensile strength value.