Sunday, February 19, 2012

HOW TO: Build a Target Stand

I belong to both an indoor and outdoor range. They both have advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages of the outdoor range is how complicated it can be to paste up, or replace, targets at an outdoor range that is flooded with other shooters. No electric zip-line. I used to have to wait for an opportune time to call the range "cold" then run out and paste up a single target. The first time I did that, I immediately knew I needed a system that let me put more targets down range.

A friend of mine bought several metal target stands at Brownell's but there are some serious problems with them. The slightest breeze blows them over unless he put sand bags on the bases. I didn't want to have to drive around with small bags of sand in my trunk. Also, those crazy target stands are $42 each! That seems like a lot of money and if I bought three of them, think of all the bags of sand I'd need to keep them upright?

So, I put my mind to work and came up with my own design. I wanted something sturdy, something with easily replaceable parts (in the event it gets shot, which it does) and I needed it to be easy to transport–set up and take down. This is what I came up with...and it only cost me $46.92.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Every part was bought at either Lowe's or Ace Hardware and the construction time (my first time through) was about three hours. I'm not a super carpenter and my plans had a few flaws that needed to be overcome during contraction. So, you're build time might be longer or shorter than mine. Overall, it's been an awesome target stand. I get so many range members asking me where I "got it", that I decided to post how I built it so you can build one yourself if you're so inclined.

The photos are for a second stand that I recently built so I can now put six IPSC targets down range if I'm really wanting to do a lot of shooting or if I want to run some multi-target drills or if my wife and I want to play some target games with our .22 pistols. Those .22 shooting games are extremely fun and more fun than shooting round targets hour after hour.

One of my favs is HORSE. Works just like the basketball version. Call your shots before you shoot. You shoot into a 1x1" circle, your opponent shoots into that same 1x1" circle. You shoot into a 1/2"x1/2" square, your opponent has to hit it too. You shoot a two-shot snowman, your opponent has to do it, etc. You miss, your opponent  takes the lead and call his/her shots. There are a ton of printable target games online.

Back to the target stand.

Here's the parts list with prices as of January 2012:

I use Treated Lumber for with weight.
1 - 2x4x8  $1.97
2 - 2x2x8  $5.94
1 - 1x2x8  $1.97
1 -  6 foot Tru-fit deck rail with pre-cut slots  $5.33
2 - 3/8 Carriage Bolts  $1.46
2 - 3/8 Wind Nuts  $1.96
2 - 1/4 Carriage Bolts  $1.46
2 - 1/4 Wing Nuts  $.98
8 - 2x3 Simpson 90º angle joint plates  $9.84
4 - Flat Washers $.44
2 - Screen Door Handles  $7.58
1 - Pack of Simpson Screws $7.99
Pieces of wood to use a shims $0 (Paint Stirs can be used. Lowe's will give those to you for free)

Total Cost: $46.92

First you need to cut the lumber. I used a miter saw.
-Cut the 2x4 into three pieces. Two pieces that are 30-1/2 inches and one that's 25-1/2 inches.
-Cut the Tru-fit rail into two pieces, one that's 25-1/2 inches and one that's an even 25 inches. Make sure you trim the extra 1/4 off each side so the one piece is shorter but the slots still line up.
-Cut a 51" piece out of the 1x2
-Cut two 60" pieces from the two 2x2s then with the left over 72" (36" from each 2x2) make three 15" pieces.

That's all the cutting you'll need to do. You should end up with a pile of wood that looks like this.

Next, using the 90º Simpson brackets and Simpson self-tapping screws, attach the 25-1/2" inch Tru-fit rail piece and the 25-1/2" 2x4 to one of the 30-1/2" pieces of 2x4. The 30-1/2 piece will be one of the side feet. Notice how the center pieces are not flush with the side piece. Make sure you do this so your stand will sit even (and not rock around) on slightly uneven ground.

Also, notice the spacing. I have the 2x4 at the back and the Tru-fit about 2/3 of the way toward the front. This measurement doesn't need to be exact, it just adds to the stability.

Now, attached the other 31-1/2" foot. Click on the picture so you can see where I drilled the holes in the Tru-fit rail piece.

The finished product should look like this.

Now, drill holes in the 25" Tru-fit that precisely match the ones in the 25-1/2" Tru-fit rail piece. Then use two washers, carriage bolts and a wing nut to loosely attach the two pieces.
Once the two Tru-fits are attached, insert the 60" 2x2 legs into the outer slots. Here is where the problem arrives. The legs are 2x2 but the slots are 2x2 1/4 so the legs aren't snug and they wobble.

This is where I used wood glue and an old paint stir stick to make spacers. Window shims will work here too. I trimmed and glued the spacers down then clamped down the wing nuts and let it sit for a while. This fixes the problem.

Attach your screen door handles at a spot that you determine to be a balancing point. You'll be carrying the stand both assembled and disassembled. Disassembled, it makes lifting the heavy treated lumber base into your truck. To get the stand on and off the range quickly, so everyone can get back to shooting, you'll be carrying it assembled. That balanced spot keeps the stand from tipping while you're carrying it.

Now, you'll need to take the 60" 2x2s out and drill holes in them 18" from the top. Then take the 51" 1x2 and attached the three 15" 2x2 pieces. Two should be attached even to each side of the 51-incher and the third piece should be centered. I used wood glue and wood screws to attached the pieces.

You'll line up the cross bar with the holes in the 2x2s, mark them and drill so you can pass a washer, carriage bolt and wing nut through the pieces as shown.

I built four of these cross-bars and carry an extra to the range in the event a bullet breaks one. I've found that the bullets don't shatter the treated lumber like they do kiln dried pine. In all the years I've had this stand, I have an old cross-car that's riddled with hole but I still haven't replaced it. 

There you have it. At three target, solid, wind-proof target stand for only $46.92, plus tax of course.


  1. Best design I have seen, and I have looked at a BUNCH of them! Thanks for the posting.

  2. I built two of these last weekend but my 2X2 did not fit, I actually had to trim about 1/4" off one side to get them to seat. They must have changed the cutouts on the Tru-fit rail pieces. It did make for a tighter fit, no shims required! Thanks again for the great design!

  3. Although your project was excellent, I have improved upon it. I put it together with a Kreg Jig. I started by cutting a 1/4" board to separate the Tru-fit boards when they were installed, it was removed after the Tru-fits were installed. This allowed me to use a dremel tool to ream out (in 3 minutes) the holes where the 2 x 2's are placed so it can be used over & over. Next I saved more money by purchasing only 2 2 x 2's. I cut them in half and made the stand 4 feet tall. I placed holes in the uprights at 4" & 14" down from the top. I placed the 2 remaining 2 x 2's at those locations in front of the uprights. You don't have to cut 3 2 x 2's. Now you can place 3 targets side by side. I saved $20.00.