Falling target idea for IDPA use


March 11, 2003, 08:27 AM
Not sure if this is the best place for it, but.. A friend and I did some brainstorming and came up with an idea for an IDPA target (using standard 1x2 frame and stand) that when hit in the COM the target would slide to the ground/bottom of the frame. It seems that it would be a nice feedback for an occasional target to actually 'slump to the ground' as it were.

The question is...does anybody think it would really be useful? Or am I just stuck on 'cool idea' that wouldn't be very useful?

The design is mostly done, a few details to work out.. but it would be made with 1x2's, string, cardboard and two screw in hooks...with the main goal being ease of repair and resetting.

Any comments? Or am I off my rocker? :scrutiny:

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March 11, 2003, 09:00 AM
On the History Channel show about Firing Ranges recently, they showed a similar idea used by one of the training schools:
A dummy made out of a cardboard box (roughly shaped like a human silohette) is suspended from a rod with lots of ridges on it (sorta like the tommy gun barrels), using a pin and a balloon to hold it in place. When the balloon is popped, the dummy falls off the rod, the trainers can move the rod back and forth to simulate a charging enemy using a control panel. A Tshirt is placed over the cardboard box so that the shooter cant see the balloon through all of the bullet holes, making the box reusable.

A simpler way to do it would be to just stick a balloon to a cardboard silohette and then suspend it by attaching two pieces of string to the balloon using tape (so the target wont twist in a light breeze). I dont know how useful a normal target holder would be for this situation, a custom frame made from 1x1s would probably work best, or it could be suspended from the target hanger in an indoor range.


March 11, 2003, 09:07 AM
I've seen that as well, the problem there is it requires the ability to hang these things.. They also put the baloon 'somewhere' in the target to make the shooter keep shooting until it falls, which is cool from a reality standpoint but I think for IDPA purposes it would put in a random factor that would be unacceptable to some.

My plan is to use standard target frames with 1x2's, free standing..ie: can be setup anywhere. Use of something like this as a indoor range would be a real pain unless you can get down range.

My biggest concern is, would this be useful for IDPA or similar competitions... I have a feeling they'd be useful in a limited fashion (maybe one or two in a COF).

I liked the helium balloons on a R/C car too.., sounds like I need to get one that's suitable (my R/C boats and indy cars don't work in the dirt too well ;0)..

Jim Watson
March 11, 2003, 09:09 AM
There is always a need for improved/simpler/cheaper reactive targets. Please keep working. I notice you did not mention a steel plate like our Bad Bob targets. A wood and cardboard target that could be used indoors without worry over riccochet or spatter would be a real asset.

If easy to build, easy to set up, easy to reset, and easy to repair, they would definitely be useful for IDPA. I expect they would be used in a mix with scored stationary targets and the usual run of bobbing and sliding target sthat a range might have.

The Polite Society would REALLY like to have them, if as specified.
Their last shoot at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference was, except for the Standards stage, ALL reactive targets. They had their own design, but I am sure another would be of interest. Especially if it dropped straight down instead of tipping back upon impact.

March 11, 2003, 09:14 AM
Okay, sounds like I've got a project... As soon as I've put together a prototype and tested it.. I'll make some plans and post them on my site (and a direct link here of course)... The design is very simple so far.. ;-)

And yes, no steel plate involved.. I wanted something anybody could put together with a minum of tools, any wood joining will be with glue and wooden pins so as to keep metal use down to almost zero (2 small 1/4" screw hooks will be the only metal).

March 11, 2003, 01:01 PM
This might not help out with solving this problem for IDPA, but for three gun, rifle versions could probably be made using a wooden pin that suspends the cardboard target from a frame, the wood pin would then be attached to a peice of string cut to length (so only a little slack) that is attached to a steel disk of whatever size desired (set up with a hinge, so it falls backward) and placed COM in the target. Any good hit to COM knocks the steel plate back, pulling the string and popping the wood pin out of the target/frame causing the target to fall.

Of course, some smart-*** will complain when he hits the string and causes the target to refuse to fall even after he empties a whole 20 round magazine into it.


Steve Smith
March 11, 2003, 01:09 PM
Not sure if this is the best place for it

Sorry to be a smart-butt, but try the Comptitions forum. (Moving now)

March 11, 2003, 02:15 PM
I love reactive targets.

If you believe your idea is sound, reliable, and cheap go for it.

If it works as advertised I think that it would be very popular.

March 11, 2003, 03:07 PM
Thanks for the encouragement! I'll keep this thread posted, our Sunday match has been cancelled (range is sloppy mud city, along with the road up ;-).. so I've got a weekend to perfect it ;-)

As far as the "Comptitions" forum ;-)... Competitions (plural) implies a list of competative events, as opposed to general discussion on competition. Which is why I didn't put it there in the first place, cause everything I read fit with the 'list of events'.:confused:

Oh, and BTW.. These aren't going to be for sale (in case anybody wondered). I'll post complete plans and instructions of some sort. I hope the end result is very easy for anybody to build.

Steve Smith
March 11, 2003, 03:15 PM
If you will read the threads in this Comp forum you will see that "listing" events is a very, very small part of what is discussed here. Most shooters are not interested in competiting, so they will post "look at my cool rubber band gun" threads that will push your topic down the page. Competitors will come HERE and read your thread, and participate, and no one is going to put a lame thread in front of yours and push it down here. If they do, one of us will put it where it belongs, in its appropriate forum. If it has to do with competitions, it belongs here. The reason it is listed as plural is because there is more than one type of competition discussed here.

March 11, 2003, 03:29 PM
Now it's really getting off topic. Making the word plural does not expand it's meaning, nor does it need to. Competition covers it just as well without being plural and without implying a list, which is what made me think my post didn't belong here ;-)

Perhaps it's because I was used to the Competition Shooting forum at TFL, dropping Shooting is a no brainer...but making it plural threw me off. And the description doesn't help, as it affirms my suspician that this is strictly a place to announce your event, regardless of event type.

Now back to the on-topic post....

Weather seems to be warming up a bit out here, so if all goes well I'll have a prototype and pictures this weekend ;-):D

Steve Smith
March 11, 2003, 04:31 PM
It is a point. Not necessarily one that is shared by many, but I can see it. I'll do what I can to see if it should change.

Andrew Wyatt
March 11, 2003, 05:18 PM
there are bunches of good target ideas around.

the baloon in a cardboard box on a stick one is good, as well as more complex and expensive ones like the dropper targets that get used at the SWAT magazine match.

if you want, i'll try and get some pictures of some of our targets, so you can get some ideas or build your own.

March 11, 2003, 05:20 PM
if you want, i'll try and get some pictures of some of our targets, so you can get some ideas or build your own.

That'd be good...always nice to see other idea..perhaps somebody has already thought of mine!

3 gun
March 14, 2003, 03:00 PM
I'm sure we could give them a good test at Tusco on the 23rd. Bring a couple along, I'm sure Brian or Tom could work them in somewhere.

March 15, 2003, 09:16 AM
You know, the Tusco newsletter said "saturday dates are for setup" on the plate shoot. I talked to Tom, but forgot to ask about that. I'll be coming down on Saturday anyway to talk to his welding dude, I've got a portable coal forge that might be very useful for straightening out steel plates and targets and the like.

I hope to get a prototype made today or tomorrow, might be difficult..went in for a bit of a medical procedure on Friday and I'm supposed to take it easy (nothing major....starts with vas....ends with ectomy ..wife says..snip snip;-)..

March 15, 2003, 05:59 PM
Protype done, haven't tested with live ammo...but it seems like it'll work. Pictures are posted my site (http://gta.hn.org/gallery-cat4.html).

I'll try to describe the system..

First, the frames. There are two (one for each side). I cut 4 25" long 1x2 and 6 2" long 1x2. Put two of the 25" peices with another peice of 1x2 and 2 peices of cardboard between them (making a 1x2 sandwich). The 2 peices are secured together (and spaced to allow a 1x2 to slide between them with a little extra) with 3 2" peices of 1x2, spaced however ;-). Then make another. These are simply tracks that mount on the inside of a standard 1x2 upright (whatever fits).

The two tracks are held together for the most part by a cardboard target mounted to the front, I also put in a 1x2 crossbar at the bottom for extra stability.

Then, 2 screw hooks are mounted to the inside of the frame (either side) just below (perhaps 1", depends on the balloons) of the -0 center zone.

My original plan for attaching the strings to the uprights was to simply split the top, seems that'd require cutting a notch to wedge them in.. so instead I just screwed a couple of 1" drywall screws to the top of the upright on the rear of course.

Now, the trigger mechanism.. Take a 4"x4" (roughly, no measuring required really) peice of old target cardboard. Fold at 90degree angle. On one part of it, make a 3/4" hole (square, round, doesn't matter) and the other, attach a peice of cord. The idea here is the bent up part of the cardboard rests against the back of the target which keeps the balloon pressed against the target.

Tie a balloon to a length of twine, thread it through the 3/4" hole making sure to get the entire balloon 'nipple' on the side with the string. Take each string (one on either side of trigger), hook through the screw hooks and pull the target up on the uprights..make sure the balloon is centered and wind the twine around the screws at the top...

Voila, bang in COM pops balloon, releasing strings and the target will fall!

The only problems I've come up with so far, I need to adjust the hooks to minimize the possibility of hanging up on the cardboard trigger... and my prototype needs more 'slop space' to account for warped 1x2's.. Oh, and my target frame stands (designed by me for quick and cheap construction), don't support the uprights horizontally (figuring they'll always have a cardboard target keeping things straight).

March 17, 2003, 10:32 AM
Yikes, no comments... is my idea that bad :D

Bear in mind, my primary goals are: cheap, easy to setup and easy to reset.

The theory for resetting being, make up a bunch of 'trigger's with balloons all ready to go.. After each shooter, simply hook up a new trigger and reset....

Steve Smith
March 17, 2003, 10:40 AM
Post pics. I am about a week into a horrible flu/cold/whatever and I couldn't follow the logic of a teacup right now.

March 17, 2003, 10:56 AM
I might be reading your trigger discussion wrong, so bear with me.
What about inverting the balloon/trigger board (so the nipple is pointed up instead of down), and tying the supporting string to the nipple/knot in the balloon? When the balloon pops, the remains would pull through the hole in the trigger and the target should drop freely.

A seperate trigger might not even be required, it might be possible to cut a flap from the target itself (U shaped cut), put the hole in the flap and run the balloon nipple through the hole. The balloon could be secured in place with one or two pieces of masking tape to ensure the balloon doesnt flap in the wind. A post-it note could be added to the target to cover up the flap hole if desired.


March 17, 2003, 10:57 AM
I've got pics posted, see my site (http://gta.hn.org/gallery-cat4.html).

I just noticed that the two closeups of the 'trigger' with the orange balloon..uh..the cardboard isn't on right. the 'flap' needs to be pointing down in order to hold the balloon up against the back of the target.

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