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Constructing a Portable Target Stand
by Roy Seifert

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Disclaimer:  This article is for entertainment only and is not to be used in lieu of a qualified gunsmith.  Please defer all firearms work to a qualified gunsmith.  Any loads mentioned in this article are my loads for my guns and have been carefully worked up using established guidelines and special tools.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for use of these loads, or use or misuse of this article.  Please note that I am not a professional gunsmith, just a shooting enthusiast and hobbyist, as well as a tinkerer.  This article explains work that I performed to my guns without the assistance of a qualified gunsmith.  Some procedures described in this article require special tools and cannot/should not be performed without them.

Warning:  Disassembling and tinkering with your firearm may void the warranty.  I claim no responsibility for use or misuse of this article.  Again, this article is for entertainment purposes only!

Tools and firearms are the trademark/service mark or registered trademark of their respective manufacturers.

I enjoy going shooting as often as I can, which never seems to be often enough!  There are a couple of national forests close to me that have an area set aside for plinking and target shooting.  However, they don’t have any permanent target stands for posting targets.  I understand the reason for this; target stands have a tendency to get shot up and have to be replaced, thereby incurring additional cost.  Therefore, I needed to bring my own target stand whenever I went shooting.

In the past I have used a number of different methods to hold targets:

  • A cardboard box weighted down with rocks to keep it in place - this is simple and effective, and you can throw away the box when it is sufficiently ventilated.  However, you need a supply of boxes unless you keep them between range sessions, and the boxes have a tendency to move around if not weighted properly.
  • Real estate sign – nice if you can find one.  Push the legs into the ground to hold it upright and tape or staple the target to the board.  However, most real estate signs can only hold one target which means you have to call a cold range and replace your target frequently.
  • 2x4 frame covered with cardboard and mounted to a saw horse – This worked very well and could hold multiple targets…until the wind blew it over!  I used a saw horse that came with brackets to hold a 2x4, but the wind would blow the 2x4 frame out of the brackets.  I added a 1/2” wooden dowel that protruded from each side of the frame to hold soda cans and plastic bottles.  The cans and bottles were hung from the dowels with rubber bands.  This provided more plinking fun than just punching holes in paper.

At a recent range session the guy next to me had a home-built target frame made out of 2x2’s that I thought was pretty clever.  I decided to copy his design with a few improvements of my own.  Rather than use 2x2’s I decided to use 2x4’s and rip them.  I did this because I wanted to put an angle on the top of the frame so when it was leaned back against the supporting legs, the targets would be perpendicular to the ground and square to the shooter.  (I also had some 2x4’s left over from a previous project so I didn’t have to purchase any new wood!)

I started by cutting two 2x4’s into 4-foot sections, which gave me four 2x4x48” sections.  Two of those pieces I ripped lengthwise to give me four 2x2 sections.  Two of these sections I cut to 36” which became the support legs.  The other two 2x2’s I trimmed to 24” which became the horizontal sections.

The other two 2x4x48’s I cut according to the pattern shown in the above figure.  I cut the first half along the marked diagonal, and then ripped the bottom part.  I didn’t have a guide for the diagonal cut, I just cut it by eye on my table saw.  Without a guide the cut was pretty rough, but it is covered by cardboard so no one sees it anyway.

I assembled the horizontal and upright sections with 3” wallboard screws, two screws per joint.  I drilled a pilot hole first before installing the screw so the wood wouldn’t split.

At the top of each 36” support leg I drilled a 3/8” hole so it was the same distance from the top edge and each side.  I drilled a corresponding 3/8” hole exactly 16” down from the top of the upright.  This distance is important since it gives the support legs a wider stance.  I installed a 3/8” carriage bolt through the holes in the support leg and upright and installed a lock nut.

Once the legs were installed I set up the stand and extended the legs until the bevel at the top was level.  I attached a leather strap with staples between each upright and support leg.  The leather strap prevents the leg from opening too wide.

I cut a piece of cardboard to size and stapled it to the front of the frame.  Now I can staple or tape targets to the cardboard, and when it becomes too blessed (holey; excuse the pun) I simply replace the cardboard.

To complete my target stand I purchased one 48” wooden dowel 3/4” in diameter.  I cut it in 24” sections, drilled a hole at one end through the dowel, and attached them to each end of the frame at the top.  When I get to the range I can unfold these “wings” and hang soda cans and plastic water bottles from them with rubber bands to make shooting more interesting.  The legs and wings fold up for easy transport, and there is enough area to hang multiple targets.

Below is a list of materials I used:




2x4x96 – nothing fancy, they will probably get some holes in them


3” wallboard screws


3/8” carriage bolts


3/8” lock nuts


Leather straps or other means to hold the support legs in place


Sheet of cardboard


Staple gun and staples



   © Copyright 2012 Roy Seifert.