In my opinion, having a firearm for personal or home defense is a good idea. I understand that not everyone feels the same way and I agree that a firearm isn’t for everyone. But if you’re going to have one, it’s definitely a good idea to train with it. In fact, I feel proper training is as important (if not more important) as having ammo.
That being said, if you’re going to shoot, you’re going to need targets. And while paper targets will do the job, nothing during training is more satisfying than hearing the “gong” from hitting steel targets.
But before you can start putting steel on steel, you’re going to need a couple of things. First you’re going to need AR500 steel targets and second, you’re going to need a way to hang the targets. Here’s how I built my target stand to support two 10″ AR500 steel targets.
DIY Homemade AR500 Steel Target Stand
I recently purchased 6 – 10″ AR500 steel targets from an eBay vendor Target_Zone. I chose to purchase from this vendor for several reasons, but the most important one was the hanging tabs. These targets appeared to have the sturdiest tabs and in the correct position for how I planned on hanging it, but more on the targets in my AR500 Steel Target Review. For now, back to the DIY target stand.
Since I’m normally don’t shoot at an established range, I needed to build a stand to hang these targets from. If I had the means to do so, I would have like to make the stand out of steel, but seeings how I don’t know how to weld, I went with wood. After throwing around a couple of ideas, I decided to keep it as simple as possible with this easy to build, easy to transport stand design. Here’s the list of materials used to build this target stand:
- 4 – 4′ long 2 x 4′s
- 1 – 4′ 9″ long 2 x 4
- 4 – 14″ lengths of 1/4″ chain
- 4 – 5/16″ x 1 1/4″ bolts, nuts, washers
- 4 – 1/4″ screw-in hooks
- 2 – 3/8″ x 4 1/2″ lag bolts
- 2 – 3/8″ nuts
- 4 – 3/8″ washers
Step 1: mark the 4 – 4′ long 2 x 4′s three inches down and center on one end. Drill a 3/8″ hole all the way through, one hole per 2 x 4. This hole will serve as the pivot point for the stand legs.
Step 2: put two of the 4′ long 2 x 4′s together and secure with the 3/8″ lag bolts. Be sure to put the washers in place.
Step 3: lay the two sets of legs flat on the ground. Take your 4′ 9″ long 2 x 4 and lay it across the top of the inner leg. This will serve as the cross bar from which your targets will hang. Screw into place.
Step 4: target assembly. Insert a 5/16″ bolt through the target hang tab, followed by the chain, washer, then the nut. Tighten the assembly and repeat for the other 3 remaining tabs.
Step 5: installing the target hanger hooks. On the cross bar, drill two sets of 1/4″ holes (4 holes total) spaced evenly across the cross bar. Then screw the hanger hooks in place, opening towards the top. I gave mine 16″ of space between the chains of the same target.
This is how the finished product will look. The 10″ AR500 steel plates hang down from the chains. When a round impacts the target, it will swing on the chains and lessen the impact delivered on the stand itself. For easy transport, the legs will fold flat and the total target stand dimension is 48″H x 4.5″W x 60″L when folded down. I used this particular dimension so that it will fit perfectly in the bed of my short bed truck.
In order for the target stand to fit flat in the bed of my short bed truck, I had to make the legs 4′ high. With the stand set up and legs extended, the center mass to the targets came down to 32″ as seen in the picture below. If the height is too low, you can always move it up by hooking the chain alittle higher up.
This target stand is easy to build and very cost effective. Two days after I built this target stand, I took it out to my friend’s property to test it out. Stay tuned for the followup review of the AR500 targets and the DIY steel target stand. Thanks and have fun out there!
UPDATE: DIY Homemade AR500 Steel Target Stand
As mentioned above, a couple of days after building the target stand, I had an opportunity to take the target stand out for testing. Two 10″ AR500 steel plates were hung from the stand by 1/4″ chains attached to the stand by 1/4″ screw in hooks. The targets were placed approximately 77m downrange and setup as part of a tactical rifle course. After approximately 5 hours of training with 6 shooters engaging the target with a variety of weapons, it became apparent that a target stand made of steel would have fared much better and would definitely last longer.
In the wood stand’s defense, it held up fine. The stand withstood the impact of a variety of calibers and did so without folding over or collapsing. No shaking of the target stand was observed and at no point did I feel the target stand wouldn’t last the day. In fact, it did great! The target stand did what it was supposed to do without a hiccup.
However, as mentioned above, steel would have been the better material choice for target stand for one main reason. As the impacting rounds vaporized on the AR500 steel targets, it sent shrapnel upto 1/4″ into the wood, chewing it to pieces. More specifically, the stand supports next to the steel plates and the cross bar directly above the steel plates took the brunt of the shrapnel, making it look like wood with heavy termite damage. Below are some pictures of the damages sustained from one day of training.
Another area that took some beating was the 1/4″ screw-in hooks used to hang the chains from. I don’t believe any rounds hit the screw-in hooks directly, but as you can see in the picture below, the 1/4″ hooks bent under the pressure of the impacting rounds. If you click on the picture below, you can see how the hooks stretched near where the threading starts. In fact, all four of the hooks were bent in a similar fashion.
Another area that could use improvements was the 5/16″ bolts that held the chain to the AR500 Steel Targets. Again, I don’t believe any rounds actually hit the bolts themselves, but based on my observations, it appears the pressure from impacting rounds caused the 5/16″ bolts to stretch and deform.
On one of the targets, it appears the impacting rounds caused the bolt head to pop off as it pushed the bolt through the hanging tab hole in the target. On this particular bolt, the nut on the rear had also pushed its way into the hole in the hanging tab. The nut was so badly rounded that I had a difficult time getting it off for replacement.
The final area I wanted to show you guys was the chain. Although the 1/4″ chain fared well for the most part, one link on the chain holding the target on the right side stretched open far enough, causing the link to separate and the target to fall off.
FINAL NOTE: Despite the fact that every area of the DIY Target Stand could use improvements, overall it did it’s job well enough. I suspect as is, the target stand could be used several more times with minor repairs along the way. As recommended by one of our readers, I plan on replacing the chain with a nylon rope in the future. Thanks for reading and if anyone has a better target stand idea, please feel free to contact me and share.
Cheers.~ John, Modern Bushman>