Let’s face it, budgets are tight these days. While you can go out and pay $50 or more for a steel target stand, you can build your own target stand that does the same job at a fraction of the cost. One of the easiest and least expensive ways is to use PVC pipe and connectors. All the materials you need are available at your local hardware store for under $20.
The advantages of using PVC pipe for a do-it-yourself (DIY) target stand are low cost, ease of construction, and light weight. It has a high strength-to-weight ratio and doesn’t rot or rust. It’s also easy to repair. The DIY project has an added benefit in that it can serve as a team-building activity or family project.
The static target stands found at most ranges are a major limitation on dynamic shooting drills. The DIY PVC target stand offers a solution. Its low cost and simplicity of construction allow you to easily construct multiple target stands for placement in strategic positions along a course of fire.
This capability facilitates multiple target acquisition drills and allows you to change distances easily. It’s also great for use in shoot houses. And for shooting at unimproved shooting areas, a lightweight portable target stand is a no-brainer.
NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION
A number of plans for DIY PVC Target Stands are available on the Internet. One of the best I’ve found is from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). The NWTF target stand is no turkey. Not only is it well suited for tactical shooting, it’s also great for family fun at the range.
The NWTF is an international non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of the wild turkey and preservation of our hunting heritage. It’s the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. It has helped acquire or improve habitat on more than 17,000,000 acres of public, private and corporate lands.
The NWTF PVC target stand is a simple free-standing design. It takes up little space when disassembled for transport and is light in weight. It’s easy to set up and can accommodate paper, cardboard or plastic targets/backers. Except for the PVC construction, it’s similar in concept to the “H” style base steel target stands used by law enforcement and the military.
Using a miter saw for cutting PVC pipe ensures straight, clean cuts.
To make the target stand, you need one 2-inch x 10-foot plain-end PVC pipe (PVC pipe is sold in ten-foot lengths) and four 2-inch PVC Slip x Slip x Slip Tees (“T” fittings). You also need PVC pipe cement and primer. These will add about $7 to the initial cost of the stand but can be used to glue numerous stands.
Cut the two-inch PVC pipe into four 12-inch sections (feet), four 4-inch sections (uprights), and one 20-inch section (crossbar). For best results when cutting PVC pipe, use a fine-tooth miter saw to get clean square cuts or use a two-inch PVC pipe cutter. Wear protective eyewear and a dust mask or respirator to protect against particulate dust.
Glue both feet and the crossbar as shown in the accompanying photo. Prior to gluing, de-burr the inside of the cuts with sandpaper. It’s also a good idea to fit everything together and mark the pipe and fitting with a marker for precise orientation prior to final assembly and gluing.
Wipe the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe with PVC primer prior to gluing. The solvent cement should be spread evenly on the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe.
Cut pipe into the following pieces: (4) 12 inches (feet), (4) 4 inches (upright holder), and (1) 20-inch (crossbar). They will be joined together with the four “T” joints.
Over time, exposure to UV can cause a slight degradation in impact strength of PVC, as well as discoloration. It’s not a big deal and won’t affect the usability of the target stand.
Painting the PVC with KRYLON® Fusion for Plastic® Spray Paint or a water-based latex paint such as KRYLON H2O™ Latex Spray Paint will protect it from UV damage. Follow the directions on the can. The use of oil-based paints isn’t recommended.
KRYLON Fusion for Plastic Spray Paint works best. It super-bonds to most plastics, including PVC. No sanding or priming is necessary. KRYLON offers an ultra-flat, non-reflective Camouflage Spray Paint with Fusion for Plastic Technology that’s ideal.
Assemble and glue both foot sections and crossbar as shown.
Assembly of the target stand at the range is quite literally a snap. Simply insert the uprights into the feet. The target stand is designed to hold 1×2-inch wood furring strips, which serve as the target holder.
Furring strips are long thin strips of wood or metal used to make backing surfaces to support the finished surfaces in a room. They’re inexpensive and can be found at any lumber or building supply store. They come in 8-foot lengths and run around $1.25 each. A single furring strip makes two 4-foot uprights.
Cardboard targets or backers are stapled or clipped to the furring strip uprights. I prefer to use the large metal binder clips that can be purchased at virtually any office supply store. Binder clips work quite well for this purpose and make target changes easy and quick.
Rigid foam insulation (not Styrofoam™) and Coroplast® (corrugated plastic) sheets are inexpensive all-weather alternatives to a cardboard backer. Coroplast is often used for yard and real estate signs since it’s a lighter, cheaper alternative to fiberboard. Sign printers are good sources. Rigid foam insulation is available at most building supply and hardware stores.
Paper targets are affixed to the backer with staples, tape or adhesive. Larger targets may be clipped to the backer. Cardboard targets don’t require a backer.
To set up target stand at range, simply insert feet into crossbar and twist into position.
VIKING TACTICS TARGET
While there’s a time and place for all types of targets, you can’t beat the Viking Tactics (VTAC) Double-Sided Tactical Target as an all-around tactical training target. It was designed by Sergeant Major (Ret.) Kyle E. Lamb, founder and president of Viking Tactics.
SGM Lamb is a highly decorated Tier One operator who spent over 21 years in the U.S. Army, most of it in Special Mission Units. He has conducted numerous combat operations around the globe, including the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia (Black Hawk Down incident), plus multiple tours in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as Operation Desert Storm), and Bosnia.
SGM Lamb is a highly sought-after military and law enforcement trainer and the author of Green Eyes & Black Rifles: Warriors Guide to the Combat Carbine and Stay in the Fight! Warriors Guide to the Combat Pistol. Both books are highly recommended.
Considerable thought went into the VTAC Double-Sided Tactical Target. SGM Lamb states, “We needed a target that would do it all. Serious training time was being lost chasing 25-yard bullseyes across the range and then needing to change to silhouettes. We also needed a quick reference to show shooters what vitals they were actually going to hit depending on shot placement.”
Wood furring strips are inserted into uprights and serve as target holder.
The VTAC Double-Sided Tactical Target features both a silhouette side and a marksmanship side. You get the versatility, convenience, and cost effectiveness of having two different targets on one sheet.
The silhouette side of the target has a realistic silhouette with visible skeleton showing center of impact boxes (vital organ and central nervous system areas—one each in face, chest, and pelvis) and a competition-style overlay to scale. It has a white silhouette on a black background for easy long distance (200 and 300 yard) recognition/targeting discrimination. There are +0, +1, and +1.5 second markings in the silhouette zones to inform shooters how much time will/should be added to their runs when they put rounds into those zones.
The marksmanship side of the target provides four 25-yard SR-1c bullseye targets with one-inch-square grids added for easy reference and quick sight adjustment when zeroing and grouping. The center of the bulls feature a cross designed to further define zero. The four bulls are also used when firing 50- and 100-yard aggregates. The marksmanship side also features numbered precision shooting shapes that are designed to challenge the shooter when up close on the clock.
The VTAC Double-Sided Tactical Target measures 23 by 35 inches and is offered in both paper and cardboard. It can be purchased directly from Viking Tactics or at many tactical equipment dealers.
With an inexpensive stand that is portable and the target of your choice, you can shoot almost anywhere.
National Wild Turkey Federation
Viking Tactics, Inc.