Make Your Own Target

With a few dollars and the help of a qualified friend, long-distance target practice can quickly become reality for you.

My situation is probably typical of many hunters: The local rifle range only stretches to 300 yards, but I want to shoot longer distances. So that means I have to head into the hills to do it. That's not a problem, but setting up suitable targets can be. I haven't been satisfied with my previous long-range target setup, so I went looking for a steel target design I could build myself that's compact, easy to set up and stable in all conditions.

I live in oil country, which means there's tons of scrap steel available and a welder living in every fifth house. As a result, a lot of shooters have the same idea and make their own targets. I wasn't totally happy with any of the ideas I saw, so I took the best concepts from the ones I liked and came up with something a little different. It turned out well enough that I think the design is worth sharing.

The legs are 6-foot long pieces of 1-inch square steel tubing attached into pairs by a through bolt 10 inches from the end. They collapse flat, but scissor open into a large "X" that simply lean together to make a tepee. They can be set on irregular ground or even a side hill and still remain stable. To lock everything together and provide a target hanger, a chain wraps around the junction with the loose ends hanging down for target attachment. I'm using a 10-foot length of chain, but that's probably about 4 feet more than what's needed.

Hook on a target and it's ready to be shot. For a gong, I'm using a piece of scrap mild steel from some oil field project, but that's only to verify this design works. After beta testing, I haven't run into any issues, so the plan now is to buy a commercial gong cut from AR500 steel. This is the proper hardness of steel for a target and it'll be much safer because it won't crater or pit like the mild steel does.

So far, my limited testing leaves me very happy with the design. As it sits, this target cost me nothing, but only because I was able to scrounge all the materials and a friend welded the hangers on the back of the target face. Even buying the necessary parts shouldn't make this design expensive, because buying the AR500 gong should be less than $100, depending on size.

The entire unit requires no tools to assemble, can be set up in about a minute is hurricane proof and stable on uneven ground. If you need a portable steel target and this design works for you, feel free to copy it.

Oh, the things a predator hunter thinks of during the off-season …