How to Build & Construct Field Targets for an Air Rifle

Updated February 21, 2017

An air rifle is a perfect tool for beginning shooters to learn the art of marksmanship. Air rifle enthusiasts are both young and old and all enjoy plinking and practicing with their weapons. Air rifle field targets are hinged targets, typically in the shape of a small game animal, set up on a plank. When the shooter hits the kill zone on the target, the target will fall over. You can make your own field targets at home.

Stencil out the shape of a small game animal such as a bird, rabbit, squirrel or fox. You can make the stencil as big as you want, but generally 6 to 10 inches wide by 6 to 10 inches tall is ideal for field targets.

Trace the stencil onto a piece of 3/4-inch plywood. Cut out the shape using a jigsaw.

Position a large industrial washer onto the target. This will be the kill zone. You can have a kill zone diameter of whatever you prefer; generally, using a 1.5- to 2-inch diameter is ideal for a kill zone.

Trace out the centre of the washer onto the plywood. Place this in an area that would mimic an actual kill zone for the animal cut-out you made. This can be the approximate heart and lungs area, neck or head. Cut out the kill zone using a rotary tool or a drill.

Cut the 2-by-6-inch board to 12 inches long using a saw. Clean up any rough edges with sandpaper.

Place the 2-inch utility hinge onto the 2-by-6, 2 inches from the end. Screw the 2-inch hinge into the 2-by-6 so that the hinge bends back toward the 2-by-6 end farthest from the hinge.

Screw the target onto the 2-inch utility hinge. Bend the target back and forth to ensure that it operates properly.

Position the target face vertical. Measure the distance from the top of the kill zone hole to the 2-by-6. Cut a piece of 3/4-inch plywood to this length, and 1 inch wider than the kill zone diameter. This will be the paddle arm that sits behind the target face. Ensure that the paddle arm is wide and tall enough to cover the kill zone hole.

Screw the 2.5-inch tee-hinge to the 2-by-6, then screw the paddle arm to the tee-hinge. Ensure that only 1/2 inch of space is between the paddle arm and target when positioned upright, and that the paddle arm is proportionately centred with the kill-zone hole.

Cut a piece of 1/8-inch steel plate to fit the top of the paddle arm using a hacksaw. Cut the metal to a square 1 inch higher and 1/2 inch wider than the kill zone diameter. Drill pilot holes into the metal. Screw the metal onto the top of the paddle arm, ensuring that it's centred on the paddle arm and behind the kill-zone hole.

Set the target face and paddle arm up vertically. Set an pencil flat on top of the paddle arm. Ensure it is perpendicular to the paddle arm. Mark where the pencil touches the target face, then measure down 1/16 inch and mark again. This is where you will drill your hole for the hex bolt.

Drill the hex bolt hole onto the back of the target face with a 3/16-inch bit. Slightly tilt the drill upward, away from the top of the paddle so that the hex bolt can be installed at an upward angle. Do not drill completely through the target face.

Screw the hex bolt into the hole and tighten. Cut off the head of the hex bolt using a rotary tool or hacksaw. File or sand the edge on the paddle and the hex bolt on the area where the head was cut off.

Screw in the sear adjustment screw into the paddle arm, 1/2 inch below the paddle and off to one side. The sear screw will regulate how far the paddle can move down the hex bolt to the target face. Set the screw to ensure the paddle is fully seated on the hex bolt, slightly past the hex bolt end.

Drill a hole in the target face plate for the reset string. Drill the hole opposite the side of the sear adjustment screw on the paddle arm. The idea here is to make the hole above the midpoint of the paddle arm if possible. This depends on the size of your target.

Hammer a U nail or screw in a hook on the paddle arm directly behind the hole you just made. The reset string will be attached to the paddle arm on the U nail or hook.

Screw in one eyelet screw into the target face about 3/4 inches above the bottom and 3/4 inches to one side of the paddle arm. Attach the 1 7/8 inch, 0.32 spring to the eyelet screw. Attach the other eyelet screw on the free end of the spring.

Position the paddle arm and target face down on the 2-by-6. Pull the spring and eyelet screw back to the rear of the 2-by-6. Mark where the eyelet contacts the 2-by-6. Unhook the spring. Screw in the second eyelet screw at the mark on the 2-by-6. Reattach the spring.

Drill holes in the 2-by-6 for staking the target into the ground. Twelve-inch spikes are ideal for staking the target. Drill two holes in the base at the front and rear of the 2-by-6 in the diameter of your spikes.

Feed the string in through the target face and attach it to the U nail or hook. Paint your target if you wish.


Paint the kill zone a distinct colour such as red or orange to aid in aiming.


Never point an air rifle at anything that you don't intend to shoot or kill.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/4-inch plywood
  • 1.5- to 2-inch centre diameter industrial washer
  • 2-by-6-inch board
  • 2.5-inch utility hinge
  • 2-inch tee hinge
  • Steel plate (1/8 inch thick)
  • 1/4-by-2-inch hex bolt
  • Wood screws and sheet metal screws
  • Eyelet screws
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Hacksaw
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper or metal file
  • Rotary tool
  • Tape measure
  • 1 7/8 inch, 0.32 spring
  • Nylon cord or fishing line (2 feet long)
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