Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ballseye's Portable PVC Target Stand

Last August, I got the plans to build a firearms target stand over at Bob's site: The Wandering Minstrel. I should note that Bob was not the originator of those plans, he got them at and according to that site, the plans were created by Utah shooter "Cheese". My thanks to all of them, especially to Bob though because if not for him, I would never likely have seen them.

I thought about building one back then but the truth was and is (that besides being The Great Procrastinator) I had little use for a portable target stand at the end of last summer. I rarely shoot anywhere other than my local ranges unless I am hunting. Of course, during the last couple of summer, I attended the Fifth & Sixth Annual Northeast Blogger Shoot and will be attending the seventh one this weekend. I thought - what better place to use a portable target stand and that was what got me motivated to get around to finally building one.

I went to Home Depot a day or two ago and picked up a two 10 foot lengths of 1.5" PVC tube, four 1.5" PVC elbows, two 1.5" PVC T's and two 8 foot long lengths of 1.5 x 1" pine furring strips. I had the guy at Homer's cut the PVC tubes in half for me so they would fit in the car. If you ever need anything cut, like a length of PVC or wood or whatever you are getting at Home Depot, may I recommend you cut it yourself it you want a nice even cut. I did not mind that when the HD guy cut the PVC, the ends were cut at uneven angles. I had plenty to spare in each 5 foot piece, so I cut the ends evenly once at home. Then I pulled up the plans (actually a detailed diagram) of what length pieces I would need. I got to measuring and cutting once I had found my tape measure and lugged the chop saw out of the shed where it has been pretty much forgotten for years. Amazingly it still worked okay.

Photo source was,
click on the link for the exact page.
As you can see in the above plans/photo, I only had to measure and cut 8 lengths of PVC (although I cut another 20" piece later for an improvement I made and added to T's), and cut two furring strips in half then whittle down one end on each of them a bit. It was a small and quick bit of work. In all, I am going to figure that from the total time expended, including bringing in the material in from the garage, getting the saw from the shed, setting up the saw, finding my tape measure and a marker and then going at it until finished was about 15 - 20 minutes for the original design. No sweat, I even got it right he first time round. I later added about another 10-15 minutes of work making some of my own design improvements. 

My new and improved version: Ballseye's Portable PVC
Target Stand. Note the additional materials.
Click on the photo to enlarge it.
After slapping the it together based on the original plans, I realized that a simple design change would add some strength and support to the stand. The addition of two T's and one more 20" cross member would make it stronger overall especially on windy days. I attached the two T's to the tops of the 24" uprights and placed a 20" cross member between them to bridge the gap between the uprights. About the only other thing that needed to be done was to cut the pine furring strips to size. I bought two 8' lengths. While the design calls for two 48" strips, since they are wood I wanted spares in case of bullet damage. I cut each of the 8' lengths in half. Then I whittled down the corners on one end of each of the now four strips. I started at 8" from the end and just took off the corners a bit down that 8" length. The strips then fit into the open top end of the T's on the upright PVC lengths with just about 36-37 " of the furring exposed.

I also did some drilling, something that was not in the original design. Bob had recommended holding down the whole thing with sand bags during windy weather. While Bob's idea was a good one, I did not like the idea of needing to lug around heavy sandbags that might leak sand in my trunk. At first, I though the solution to potentially messy sandbags might be stakes to hold the bottom of the target in place - either an inverted L or U shape but I could not find anything like that at Home Depot. Then I had another idea and I bought some galvanized 8" long spikes (they look like really big nails), six of them to be exact and six flat washers to fit. I drilled a hole into about the center of each of the lengths of PVC that rests on the ground, and can now use the spikes to hold them in place against the ground on windier days.

One of the 20" base pieces shown with the 8" anchor spike.

With my design though, you need to consider the possibility of ricochets if you shoot the spikes and although I think the risk of that is minimal I guess there is a small risk of hitting part of the spike and having fragments come back at you. Truth be told though, you would have to be near to being a terrible shot to have that happen since the spike head would be about 2" above ground surface if fully driven down to the top of the PVC.  
Be careful when drilling the holes for the anchor spikes, PVC will crack.
Another word of caution, when driving the spikes into the ground, through the holes in the PVC, make sure you do not hit them so hard as to drive the head into tubing with enough force to crack the PVC. PVC does crack as can be evidenced by the accompanying photo of a piece that cracked while I was drilling one of the spike holes (my only screw-up while making the stand).

The almost finished stand, I added the
drilled holes to each base piece later on.
There you have it, my version of a portable target stand.

All the best,
Glenn B