Sick of trying to prop up cardboard targets against rocks when shooting outside? Don’t want to spend crazy $$$ for those fancy metal target stands? Want your target holders to be lightweight and transportable in the trunk of your car? Do you like the smell of PVC cement? Got $16? Then you can make your own PVC target holder!
For just under $50, my teenage son and I made three of these PVC targets today (that’s about $16 each). And by using my mitre saw, we cranked them out in about ten minutes (cutting the PVC is the most time-consuming part).
Each target holder requires a total of 12′ of PVC pipe, but since Schedule 40 PVC comes in 10′ lengths, it’s most economical to buy four lengths of pipe to make three targets. You could probably get away with using only 10′ of PVC per target if you made the upright portions 12″ high instead of 24″ (which would still probably work fine), but here’s the list of supplies we used to make three of these lightweight, portable targets:
- Four 10′ lengths of 1-1/2″ Schedule 40 PVC pipe ($5.11 each)
- Three 1″ x 2″ x 8′ furring strips ($1.25 each)
- Six 1-1/2″ PVC T pieces ($1.68 each)
- Twelve 1-1/2″ 90 degree elbows ($1.31 each)
- PVC Primer/Cement combo pack ($6.57 — if you don’t already have some)
You’ll also need a saw to cut the PVC, as well as a tape measure and Sharpie to mark your cuts. A mitre saw works great if you don’t go too fast, but if you’ve got the time you can always use a humble hacksaw.
Start by cutting all your PVC. Each target requires four 12″ pieces and four 24″ pieces. For three targets, chop up all your PVC so you end up with 12 pieces of each size.
While you’re in a sawing mood, cut all the furring strips in half, so that you have a total of six 4′ lengths.
Once you have all your pieces cut, lay out all the PVC pieces you’ll need to build one target.
If you want to be able to break down your target into pieces small enough to fit in a duffle bag, skip the next few bits about priming and gluing the PVC. It should hold together fine, but for the best results, I recommend gluing at least the base pieces together. I didn’t glue the uprights, so that I could store everything flat in the trunk of a car.
Priming and gluing as you go, make the sides of your base by connecting the shorter PVC pieces to each side of a T connector.
Next, glue an elbow onto each end of two of the longer pieces. These will be the front and back of the base. I found it works best to assemble all the base pieces them on a flat surface (like your back patio) and use the ground to help ensure that you’ve got things lined up so the base won’t wobble.
To make sure the uprights were (mostly) parallel, I found it easiest to glue the side pieces of the base to front and rear pieces last. The trick is to insert the 24″ upright PVC pieces into the top of the T pieces without gluing them in, gluing the final pieces of the base together, and then holding on to the uprights and adjusting them quickly to parallel before the glue in the elbow pieces sets up. Here’s what the completed base looks like:
Slide the 4′ furring strip pieces inside the uprights. It will be a very snug fit, but it’s designed that way. Here’s what the finished product looks like:
I plan on using large clips to hold cardboard and paper targets in place, or I may just use a staple gun. I also recommend keeping some extra PVC pieces around for repairs… since PVC doesn’t react well to bullets. 🙂
Here are our three targets broken down and ready for transport:
One possible addition we though of today was making an additional 24″ PVC piece with elbows on each end, and then sliding it on top of the furring strips to make a horizontal cross piece at the top. This would allow us to suspend tennis balls with rope to make “interactive” targets that swing when hit. I also though about drilling holes in two of the 12″ pieces, and hammering rebar through it when using these targets in windy weather. That should help keep them from tipping over. But sandbags would work just as well, too.
So head to the hardware store, grab some PVC, breathe a few glue fumes, and get shooting!
I welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions for tweaks to this design in the comments below!