Build an Air-Rifle Shooting Gallery (Dec, 1953)

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Air-Rifle Shooting Gallery

Do you have a budding marksman in your home? You’ll rate high with him if you help him build this Lilliput shooting gallery.

By Kenneth Murray

IF YOUR invitation to the next A-bomb test hasn’t arrived yet, you can still get your bangs at the nearest shooting gallery. Or, if you feel like tinkering, you can have a shooting gallery (junior grade) for your very own. It’s fun to construct and exciting to use, so it makes a perfect dad-and-lad undertaking. It works just like the big ones at summer carnivals, but an air rifle or air pistol with BB ammunition is used. That puts the shooting expense way down. Also, there’s no danger—you can set the target up either inside the house or, when the weather permits, outdoors on the lawn. It fits comfortably on an ordinary card table. The project is simply made. It has a wooden base and a front row of moving characters, such as Bugs Rabbit, who run on an endless belt. They can be knocked over, but come to life again the next trip around the circuit. At the rear are some more targets. One revolves slowly and, theoretically, you get a prize if you put a BB slug through the right hole at the right time and ring the bell. Then there are some “clay” pipes that look like the real thing. Instead of breaking, however, they merely spin merrily each time they are hit. Lastly, for timid shooters, there’s a round target that doesn’t go anywhere but has a large hole through which it’s easy to ring the gong.

To avoid ricochets as Well as high costs, the backstop is of canvas on a dowel frame. Canvas will stop a BB shot without damaging it.

Those galloping rabbits and other characters suggested in the accompanying drawings are best cut with a hand or power scroll saw. You will need ten of them and they should be between 2 and 2-1/2 in. high to provide the most desirable target area from a distance of 15 or 20 ft. Use galvanized 24-ga. sheet metal. Leave a tab at the bottom of each for hinges. After cutting, file away the burrs and smooth up the pieces with emery cloth.

The figures are attached to the endless belt with hinges that permit them to fall backward when hit, but prevent them from falling forward. Small brass hinges are most satisfactory if they work freely; the figures are not heavy enough to operate stiff hinges. If you wish, you can make the bottoms of the figures self-hinging. Pieces of 24-ga. metal are formed around finishing nails, which serve as hinge pins. The ends of each nail are soldered to the bent-forward tabs at the bottom of each target.

A piece of furniture webbing with the ends sewed together is a satisfactory target belt. A flexible leather belt would be even better. Rivet the targets to the belt with a space the width of one figure between each pair.

A 5×18-in. piece of wood supports the pulleys over which the target belt travels.. If you turn your own pulleys, 2 in. wide and 1-1/2 in. in diameter is a satisfactory size. Be sure to make a groove in one for the drive belt. If you search around, you will probably find a pair of wooden spools near enough in size to serve the purpose nicely. The shafts to which they are fitted are common bolts. Drive a short piece of metal tubing in each end of each pulley.

These serve as bearings; lubricate them during assembly.

You will notice that a brace from an Erector set has been used to support the free end of the driven pulley. A few other such braces are used elsewhere because of the ease of assembly they permit. They can be purchased for a few cents each or you can use ordinary strap iron. Use of an Erector motor is quite desirable because of its low cost and because it has several forward speeds and a reverse. With it, you can run your rabbits backward for those who find them too hard to hit!

Two 5-in. metal disks, a pulley, and a bell make up the first of the targets at the rear. Cut four holes as shown in one of the disks. It is difficult to hit the bell as this disk revolves in front of it. It is more difficult to hit the bell through the smallest hole than through the largest. You can number the holes if you wish, or paint different-colored rings around them. Anyway, the fellow or gal who can ring the bell through the smallest hole gets the biggest prize.

You will like the “clay” pipes. After cutting them, solder stiff wire shafts to the backs. Carefully smooth the lower end of each shaft. Bore holes for the shafts in the rear target support at a 70° angle. Before putting the shafts in them, drop a small ball bearing in each. This will allow the pipes to whirl easily when hit; because of the angle, they will return to shooting position as they come to rest. Do you want red fire flashes from the pipes each time they are hit? Stick a disk of red Scotchlite to the back of each pipe bowl. This is the reflective-bead material so often used on the rear bumpers of automobiles.

The other rear target is cut from a 5-in. disk and has a large hole and a bell. Watch for the stinker who takes the easy way out by concentrating on this target because of the noise it makes!

All targets should be painted white and the background should be a dead black. The dead black was not shown in the illustrations because it does not photograph well, but you can blacken all parts except the targets merely by going over them with a can of black stove polish. You might add a metal cover to protect the motor, although tests indicate that it is well located against ricochets. If you want special illumination, inclose the lamp bulb inside a heavy pickle bottle.

Construction of the backstop is shown in one of the photos. You can get the dowels in 36-in. lengths at any lumber yard. The plugs, which serve as hinges as well as dowel connectors, can be turned out in a jiffy with a hole cutter. (In this case, you save the hole and throw away the board in which you made it.) Plugs can also be made by taking slices from a broom handle. Be careful, though—it splits easily. Use any heavy canvas, such as a piece from an old tent, for the backstop. It will look the same as new when blackened. Brighten up the project with a strip of multicolored awning canvas.

1 comment
  1. Twisted Tales Game Ideas - Halloween Forum says: April 24, 201110:51 am

    […] gun or a Nerf rifle and have target practice. Here's a link to make your own shooting gallery: http://blog.modernmecha……oting-gallery/ Something with Hansel and Gretel. If you have one of those crashed witch things, put it in a wall […]

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