Monday, August 6, 2012

New Target Stands

Last Summer I posted a blog about making a cheap and easy target stand.  It's served me well over the last 14 months, but I've progressed in my practice needs and I thought it was high time to make another attempt at improving the design and function of my stand.  The original blog post from June 2011 that describes the original stand can be found here.

After a few months of use, I added a cross brace between the two verticals that allowed me to attach paper IDPA practice targets to the stand by clipping them at the top and wrapping the bottom of the target around the brace and clipping that into place.  Unfortunately, that turned the target stand into a sail and it was very prone to blowing over which became a huge pain in the neck. 

I really like the IDPA style targets and they work well for my practice needs so for my next target stand attempt, I decided to build them around the IDPA Target dimensions.  I even decided to spend some real money and buy a case of 100 cardboard IDPA Targets.  I had someone offer to make metal stands for me but I don't like the weight and portability of metal.  PVC pipe is my new favorite construction material now that I've learned how to use my chop saw with it.  I knocked these three stands out in about 2 hours.  Most folks would call this good and be happy with their new stands, but I tend to over engineer stuff.  I didn't like the thought of an army of 4' 6" targets so I needed to figure out a way to change their heights around a bit. 

I ended up filling some shorter sections of sub-gauge PVC pipe that slip into the vertical support tubes.  This adds weight to the stand and also allows me to vary target heights for a more realistic training set up.  Now I've got an army of targets that range from 6' 5" tall down to 4' 6" tall.  The practice bays I use are tall and allow for taller targets to be placed near the back of the bay without concern of shooting over the berm.  Before building your own stands, make sure you build your stands to the rules and standards of your practice facility.

The target lifters are shown below.  I made a set of 16" risers and a set of 6" risers. The red nylon rope allows me to pull the weight out of the stand if it's not needed or when I'm ready to pack up.

Here's a shot of the three stands nested for storage.

Another shot of the stands nested and ready to head to the range.

I kept my receipts as I shopped so I have a pretty good parts list if you want to try making one or more of these for yourself.  I shopped at Lowes for all my supplies.  I'm sure Home Depot would also have everything you need to make your stands.

Tape Measure - Measure Twice and Cut Once
Marking pencil or Sharpie
Hack Saw for the patient, Miter Saw for the enlightened, or Chop Saw with Metal Cutting blade for the lazy (me).

Supplies for One Stand:
2 qty. 1 1/2" Sched 40 Tees @ $1.60 each
4 qty. 1 1/2" Sched 40 Elbows @ $1.25 each
1 qty. 1"x2"x8' #1 Treated ACQ Lumber @ $1.97
1 qty. 1 1/2"x10' Sched 40 PVC Pipe @ $4.65

Optional Supplies for One Stand:
2 or 4 Extra Large Binder Clips to hold target to standards $1.44 per 4 at Walmart
PVC Cement used only on the Tee joints
1" PVC Pipe for target height adjustment
Lead shot to fill 1" PVC Pipe
1" Nylon Hole Plugs to cap ends of height adjustment inserts
Duct Tape to secure plugs and attach nylon rope to height adjustment inserts

Construction Process:
Start with your 10' long section of 1 1/2" PVC pipe and cut 4 qty. of 11 1/2" sections.  Join these to the two Tees to make the target stand middle.  Use cement on the Tee joints if you prefer.  I did.

Cut 2 qty 19 1/2" end sections and attach the 4 elbows to all ends of these two sections.  I chose 19 1/2" inches based on my targets.  If you use a wider target, cut a longer section.  Skinny target, cut a smaller section.

Join two ends and two middle pieces (without cement) to form your target stand base.  Cut appropriate length sections of 1 1/2" PVC pipe to insert into the remaining empty Tee joints that will act as your support for the wood standards.  If you don't need height adjustment, then go with 6" or more.  Don't cut them less than 6".  You can cement in place if you like.

Cut your 1"x2"x8' wood strip into 2 qty 4' sections.  Attach 2 or 4 binder clips to the wood or you can use staples to secure your targets.  I chose the binder clips because it's easier than dealing with a staple gun.

Total approximate cost per stand is about $15 for the basic.  Mine run a bit more because of the height adjustment tubes.  Luckily I had some junk shot laying around so the lead was free as was the duct tape and nylon rope.

While I had the saw out and running, I knocked out a couple of shooter's boxes to help me set up my video shots.  Made from 1/2" PVC, they shouldn't be tall enough to trip me up on the range, but I'll have to practice with them and be sure.

PVC pipe is some pretty awesome stuff to work with.  I can see why the Blue Man Group uses it so much in their instrument design.  You are basically limited only by your imagination.  No parts list for this stand I built last Fall.  I just got an idea and started cutting.  Before I knew it, I had an awesome little portable clay target stand.  Need a fun afternoon activity for the family, swap out the clay targets for aluminum cans and grab the BB guns.  Find a suitable backstop and let the family have at it.  My son loves the sound a BB makes when it hits the dangling aluminum can.  Instant gratification. 


  1. Just started playing around with some ideas; this is timely. My cheapo idea for small cardstock targets and stuff is the little black plastic holders the lawn services use to mark freshly treated lawns: They don't last forever, but I have a pile from the last few years, and I have some donated by neighbors. Yes, I realize not everyone has lawn service. It's worked out cheaper for me than buying the stuff, storing it, and finding the time between my messed-up work and weather to put the stuff down.

  2. love it! thanks.