How to make air gun targets

Written by richard kalinowski
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Air guns are a relatively safe firearm alternative for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Air guns are nonlethal and not as strictly regulated as traditional firearms, yet they are still accurate at closer distances and can be used for a variety of target-shooting and gun sporting events. However, despite being less dangerous than firearms, air guns are not toys and should not be used haphazardly. An often-overlooked consideration of air gun safety is target construction. It's easy to assume that less dangerous air guns can be fired at any number of makeshift targets, but target-making requires proper forethought to avoid accidental injury.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Table saw
  • 1/2-inch thick plywood
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Sheet metal
  • Tin snips
  • Elmer's glue
  • Utility knife or razor blade
  • Cardboard
  • Computer printer
  • 8 1/2-by-11 inch paper

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  1. 1

    Use a table saw to cut plywood pieces for your target. Use plywood at least 1/2 inch thick. Cut one 2-foot by 4-foot piece, two pieces measuring 2 feet by 3 inches and two pieces measuring 4 feet by 3 inches.

  2. 2

    Screw the pieces together to form a box measuring 2 feet by 4 feet by 3 inches, with one open 2-by-4 foot side. Place screws about 2 inches apart to ensure the box is sturdy. You can also purchase small boxes or wooden trays at local hardware or crafts stores; this costs more than constructing your own box, but it will save you some time.

  3. 3

    Cut a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of sheet metal with some tin snips.

  4. 4

    Use Elmer's glue to attach the sheet metal to the 2-by-4 foot inside panel of the box.

  5. 5

    Use a utility knife or razor blade to cut a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of cardboard.

  6. 6

    Use tape to attach the cardboard piece to the box's open side. The cardboard-only side of the box will be the front of the target.

  7. 7

    Stand up the target with the cardboard facing forward. Use rocks or scrap pieces of wood to prop up the back of the target so it doesn't tip over when you shoot at it.

  8. 8

    Print paper targets on standard 8 1/2-by-11 inch paper. Target templates can be found on the Web at sites like These targets are designed for use with proper target boxes as described above and recommended by the NRA-produced "Air Gun Shooting Sports Safety Guide." Never use a paper target by itself.

  9. 9

    Tape the paper target to the front, cardboard-only side of the box. You can now practice shooting. Shot pellets will go through the paper and cardboard front, hit the metal backing, and settle inside the target box. When the cardboard begins to wear out, tear it off the box, empty the old pellets and tape a new piece of cardboard and a new paper target to the box.

Tips and warnings

  • Even with a proper target box, it is still possible for pellets to ricochet; always wear goggles and thick protective clothing when using an air gun.

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