How to make a dueling tree

Updated February 21, 2017

A duelling tree is a metal target that allows two shooters to practice duelling without shooting at each other. The tree is a metal rod with metal panels or plates that spin around the rod when shot. There are usually six panels arranged perpendicular to the rod: Three panels on one side, three on the other. Each dueler shoots the panels on his side of the rod. The panels spin on the rod when shot, so they end up on the other side. The first shooter to have no panels on his side of the rod wins. Making this type of target involves a welding. Have a scrapyard welder do this for you if you don't have an acetylene torch, or rent one.

Cut six steel plates into sheets sized 1-foot by 1-foot. Make sure the plates are at least 3/8-inch thick. When purchasing your sheets, tap the metal and listen for a high-pitched ring, like a hammer striking an anvil. Do not buy scrap steel that has a dull sound -- it's too soft. Look for steel that has warps and depressions in it. A perfectly flat surface may cause the bullet to ricochet back at you. Cut the steel with an acetylene torch yourself or pay the scrap yard welder or another welder to do it for you.

Cut another 2 ½-foot by 2 ½-foot steel panel. Weld the 6-foot steel rod to the centre of this sheet with the acetylene torch. This acts as the base for your duelling tree. Spray the rod with grease. Slide the 4- or 5-inch thick, 2-foot long hollow steel tube over the tall rod until it touches the base. This wider tube acts as a buttress for the other free-spinning tubes to sit on.

Weld one 1-foot steel tube to each panel. Ensure 6 inches stick out past one side the panel.

Weld one 4- or 5-inch thick, 6-inch long hollow steel tube perpendicularly to the 1-foot tubes that have already been welded to your panels. This creates the free-spinning panel arm target.

Slide one panel arm target's wide hollow tube over the central rod of the duelling tree. Slide an unused wide hollow tube over this one. Continue to alternate back and forth between the unused tubes and the panel arm targets until they are all encircling the central rod.

Push the bottom panel to the right side of the rod. Push the panel above this one to the left side of the rod. Alternate left and right like this until three panels are on the left side and three panels are on the right side of your duelling tree.


Weld in well-ventilated area. Do not weld near gas or other flammable fumes. Wear protective equipment, such as eye goggles and gloves, while welding. Do not use automatic, semi-automatic, high explosive or high impact ammunition on your duelling tree. This ammo will wear down the panels of your duelling tree. Do not duel within 8 yards of your duelling tree. Standing too close to the steel panels when shooting at them may put you in danger of collateral injury from shrapnel.

Things You'll Need

  • Acetylene torch with oxygen and acetylene tanks and cutting and welding tips
  • Six 3/8-inch thick, 1-square-foot steel plates
  • 7-foot steel rod that's 3 or 4 inches thick and hollow
  • One 2-square-foot steel plate
  • Six 1-inch thick steel rods that are 1 foot long and hollow
  • Eight 4- or 5-inch thick steel rods that are 6 inches long and hollow
  • One 4- or 5-inch thick steel rod that's 2 feet long and hollow
  • Spray-on grease
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About the Author

Matt Scheer began writing professionally in 2005. His work has appeared in "The Daily Texan" and "The New York Tribune." Scheer holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in history, both from the University of Texas. He is also a certified Yoga teacher and Web designer.