CAN-DO ATTITUDE Disabled shooter, Russ Douglas, shows us how to construct some pleasing reactive targets
If you’ve seen my first few articles, you’ll have noticed some curious Heath Robinson-style targets downrange, involving T-shaped frames and multiple pellet tin targets suspended from them on chains.
I started making these last year, for use as plinking targets outdoors at GARC (Grampian Air Rifle Club). We can’t use BB-firing guns on the 25m indoor range, for fear of ricochets and the hazard they’d leave underfoot for anyone walking downrange to change targets. The targets are at fixed (10m/25m) ranges, so having multiple targets at different ranges/ heights outdoors seemed an ideal solution.
This does mean you can’t use them in a confined garden or range, in case of occasional pellet ricochets. For these locations, I’d use the portable carpet tile box backstop you can find a couple of pages back.
I’m also a general fan of recycling, and devised a way to recycle empty pellet tins. Many thanks to my fellow members for all the tins donated thus far – none are wasted. One problem straight off is that pellet tin lids are often push-fit, so they’d fly off when hit. Plus, with lids intact the tins produce a more satisfying noise.
An ongoing problem is that such tin targets get shredded in no time if shot by full-power 12 ft.lbs. rifles. That’s only solved by fellow shooters observing the courtesy of leaving tin targets for air pistols, or sub-6 ft.lbs. rifles, e.g. the SIG MPX.
Even then, I thought that if the tin targets were suspended on chains, the free movement would help to dissipate some of the impact, reduce ricochets, and provide more of a fun target/visual hit indication, as they swing or flip around energetically when hit.
Cue some online searches and a trip or two to B&Q, to gather raw materials.
I should say now that if I’d planned from the start to make so many of these targets, I’d have sourced the materials online in bulk. That would mean paying around £7.50 per six-tin target, or less. As it is, some of the early ones cost me nearer £10 each, lesson learned there.
On early versions of the target, I drilled two holes in the side of each tin, large enough to thread the chain right through. This may have negated the need to use wires, but proved laborious when it came to change shredded tins due for replacement.
1. Medium reel of baling wire. 2. 4cm x 4cm 90cm hardwood banister per
nine or ten target frames.
3. 1m lengths of M8 threaded rods (three 0.5m lengths per target, or two 0.5m lengths and a 1m length for a longer ground stake).
4. Galvanised or chrome-plated chain, chunky enough not to be damaged by a pellet, but thin enough to be easily threaded with a 20mm split ring.
5. 15mm & 20mm split rings (cheaply available in bulk online, e.g. Amazon).
6. M8 threaded inserts and an 8mm Allen key (Amazon again).
7. M8 Nuts, Nyloc nuts and washers – to keep the chain where you want it on the studding (guess where from).
BUILDING A SIX-TIN TARGET
1. Empty the tins of foam padding which otherwise snarls-up the drill bit, and replace lids as tightly as possible.
2. Clamp the lidded tins down to a sheet of waste wood and drill four holes, equally spaced right through the edge of lid/tin. The burred holes can be sharp.
3. Cut the baling wire into 4” lengths, bend each in the centre into a U-shape, thread through the drilled tins and twist tightly to wire on the lids; snip off the leftover wire with pliers, and bend over the sharp stubs.
4. Thread two 20mm split rings onto adjacent wires, from which the tins will attach to the chain.
5. Cut the chain into 50cm lengths, add a 15mm split ring to each end and space two more equally along the chain, one third and two thirds of the way along – the chains hang from these rings. 6. Cut one 1m M8 threaded bar in half. 7. Attach the chain to the threaded bar, using M8 nuts at the ends to retain the chain, as required.
8. Cut the 90cm banister into nine or ten equal lengths.
9. Drill two 10mm holes through, 20mm apart as shown, 25mm from one end; drill another hole into the centre of the opposite end.
10. Screw-in threaded inserts flush into all three holes, using an 8mm Allen key.
11. This can be fiddly, but now you hold the wooden block vertical and in turn each M8 threaded bar horizontal, screwing them in turn into the threaded M8 inserts, taking care to keep the chain hanging freely and untangled.
12. Once both bars are threaded onto the block the pre-wired tins can be hung from the chain, spaced as required, attached via the 20mm split rings.
13. At the range, screw in a vertical length of studding (50cm-1m, as required), to act as a ground stake for the target. If using multiple tin targets these can be set at varying heights, to spread out the targets and add variety. A hazard in soft ground is the T-shaped target holder rotating away from you, but just shoot at the opposite end’s targets to rotate it back.
14. Lastly – periodically remind your fellow shooters that these targets are only for pistols or sub-6FPE rifles, despite the satisfaction of shooting holes right through them.
1. Be careful handling the tins once drilled, and the wires once twisted-together; burred holes and snipped wire ends can be sharp.
2. Unscrew the ground stake to store the targets more easily, they should last a long time if not left out to the elements.
3. Wall-mounted L-brackets are ideal for storing targets when not on the range, keeps the floor clear and prevents the chains from getting tangled.
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