How to make a target box

BB shooter Jonathan Young keeps on the right side of his neighbours by building a target box to catch his ammo and keep everything peaceful and quiet.

The heart of Jonathan’s target box is an old wooden wine crate that he snaffled from his local supermarket for his favourite price: free!

For safe plinking – and when shooting for accuracy – commercial steel pellet-catchers are great. Most accept standard target cards which slot in at the front, and they trap all the spent ammo safely by having a sloped or funnel-shaped interior – which, on impact, directs those spent pellets and BBs towards the back or bottom of the pellet-catcher.

If you don’t like shooting paper target cards, you can buy a similar steel trap with an open front with swinging targets set inside it lined up in a row. These are great fun, but are a little too noisy in a private garden and I do prefer a bit of peace and quiet with less clatter when I’m shooting.

I shoot BB guns a lot, so knowing how these BBs can bounce on impact and also make a racket, I decided to make a target box which will work for both BBs and for longer range pellet-shooting down the garden.

Way back in issue 102 we looked at making a simple, effective and portable target box that used a compressed sawdust brick bought at a supermarket. I still use mine, making running repairs by patching up any holes with sticky parcel tape and replacing the brick as and when needed.

It’s imperative to line any wooden box with something that will stop BBs or pellets dead, such as a steel plate or the cut chopping board seen here.

But for something more solid that can be set up semi-permanently at a suitable point down the garden, I needed something else, and settled on an old wooden wine crate, which was free for the asking at my local supermarket. The shop assistant thought I was going to try something trendy like fill it with compost and grow herbs in it, but no, it’s for shooting!

On its own, a wooden box is not enough: having a safe and solid backstop is vitally important. Ever cautious, we need to think about reinforcing any target box either on the outside or from the inside to prevent any through-and-through shots.

For this project, I raided the kitchen and grabbed a chopping board in thick, hard plastic. An offcut of steel sheet could be used instead – anything, in fact, that will stop dead any spent ammo and prevent accidents.

To illustrate the importance of this, let me explain how I once used a target card stuck to some cement breezeblocks. I thought this would be a perfectly safe, pellet-absorbing backstop, not realising just how soft this material is. This was not one of my smartest ideas.

The crate was then lined with some old foam. This is only used to deaden the sound – it won’t slow or stop incoming projectiles.

As all my pellets hit home in exactly the same spot (and no, I’m not bragging), a hole developed behind my target card. I didn’t notice that the pellets were flying through the breezeblock and hitting some plastic buckets behind. One .25 pellet came hurtling right back and flew past my head. D’oh!

I learned a valuable lesson the hard way: we must always work to make things safer. Back to the project in hand; the chopping board was cut to shape using a hacksaw and was then fitted inside the box. As I was intending to use it in a private garden, I wanted to find a sound-deadening material, as shooting is usually quite noisy.

It’s amazing how much attention is drawn to you when you’re shooting by the thump of pellets hitting home against a hard surface. Heads soon start bobbing along the garden fence! So to stop that from happening, an old foam cushion was rescued from the bin and cut up roughly to size to match the interior.

What actually stops the BBs and pellets are strips of an old rubber mat suspended from wooden battens. It’s hacksaw time…

To have a more resilient contact surface to absorb energy from the incoming pellets, a rubber mat was also used. This was cut into long strips and then attached at one end to a wooden batten, which had previously been sawn to size to match the internal width of the box.

After all this effort I had a single rubber curtain, which I then repeated on the other side of the batten. I then made a second double-curtain batten. A larger box would allow even more battens, and thus more hanging strips, to take the brunt of the incoming ammo.

Some offcuts of batten were used to line the aperture of the box around three edges to make a lip, which makes it easier to fit a target card. On the fourth side, assigned to be the base of my new target box, the batten was not fixed permanently, but pressed into place against the walls. This now forms a removable front step and retains all spent pellets behind it.

It’s nearly finished – and it cost very little to make – a real win-win situation.

They simply drop down after hitting the rubber strips. Once this batten is pulled out, the contents can be tipped out for eventual recycling.

For the front surface, which is simply there to hold a target card, I opted for some corrugated plastic – but ordinary cardboard cut from an old box would do, and this can be pinned around the edges.

I used an A4 see-through file pocket stuck down on three sides to this outer card. It’s easy to slide a target card into the open end each session, and the pocket and card sheet can be replaced when they get too ragged. No more messing with damp paper targets and sticky tape!

And that’s it: a safe, stout box that doesn’t go waking the dead every time you hit it – and you get to recycle all that steel and lead afterwards.

Always shoot safely

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