TFBTV: Tips for Cheap Targets (Recycled Lawn Signs)

I am pleased to introduce our first video from Miles, fresh out of the Marine Corps. In this video Miles takes a look at some field expedient and unconventional target systems through the use of recycled cardboard lawn signs, specifically political campaign signs, which are in abundance at the end of many elections countrywide. We show various techniques in making decent target stands out of them and demonstrate their use through live fire. Keep in mind that these are specific ideas of how to work with them and simply show their multiple uses. If viewers have better and simpler ways, feel free to let the community know.

The full transcript is below …

– Conventional targets are great at a range such as this.

We’ve got our steel.

We’ve got our paper set up and everything, and that’s all fantastic.

What about those times when we don’t have targets set up? When we’re going out in the forest, and we’re shootin’ there, or we’re going to a range, and the targets don’t work out for us? So they’re not in the spot that we want them to be.

Or what if we’re low on a budget, and we don’t have the funds to purchase good targets? We don’t have the funds to purchase tons of PVC, tons of wood.

Or maybe we just want targets that we can lug around, lightweight, we can fit them in the back of a car.

Pretty simple, and they’re not going to take up the space that a conventional target would, such as those made out of plywood, steel, that kind of thing.

In that case, at TFB we’ve come up with an idea to use campaign signs, road signs, lawn signs, just like these.

These are simple H-frame lawn signs, campaigns.

I got a bunch of these from a recent election in Bloomington, Indiana, and wait until after the election to take them.

A good way to recycle them, good way to make use of them.

But basically what we’re talking about is just taking these at a common range where there’s grass or field, wherever we’re at, and we can just set targets in like this.

Now this is great for shooting at, but there’s a little more we can do with this.

For example, sometimes if we’re shooting handguns, or if we want a target at eye level, chest level, how most targets are, this isn’t gonna cut it.

In addition, at some ranges, this isn’t going to be good enough if we’re shooting a handgun, and rounds are going to be impacting over here.

They might impact the ground down there.

And some ranges then say, well we don’t want that.

Rounds could ricochet, da-da-da.

But for the purpose of this, this is great.

And what’s also good about this, is we can manipulate the target stand however we want.

If we get tape here, we can tape these however we want.

If we want it to be more closer to the ground or this way or that way, whatever we want, we can do that to it.

If we want the stand to be more over here, we just stick it down.

More over here, we can just stick it down.

To make them go higher, we can’t just stick this in on top of that.

See, that’s gonna be an unstable platform.

So to go against that, what we want to do, you want to have somewhat of an X-shape, you want to take a piece of tape and just put it on the corners, right here and right here.

Then we want to take in here.

We want to crisscross the H-frame so it looks like that, and it’s more of an X.

We want to crisscross it like this, and that’s going to give us a good platform, and it’s nice and stable up top.

What we do on the bottom, we tape it the same way, at the two corners, but we want to stick these in at an angle, so this is going to be our base, and they should be about a foot apart.

Just about that.

Just take your foot for measurement.

Just like this.

Make sure the frame is all the way on the ground for stability.

So we can take this, we can stick these down here, and they’re pretty stable, and we can take our targets and just use a stapler or tape, and we can staple them up as such, just with a stapler into here.

Now that’s great for the lower target, but we’ve got those range-isms, right? So we need to be shootin’ a lot higher, or if we’re playing a course, we want the targets to be eye level, like people are eye level.

So we’re planning for various things like that.

That’s where we take this target with the X, and we insert it into the holes up top.

So make sure you get them lined up pretty good.

You want to press down and have them stuck all the way in there.

And now we’ve got a target at eye height or chest height, wherever we want to call this, and now we’re set to take a standard IPSC type target or a 19 1/2-inch wide, whatever we want.

And we can stick this, and we can staple these up on here.

This one didn’t go through all the way.

Now the stapler might not hold it all the time, so we can put this away.

We can also use tape.

Tape’s our best friend out here.

And we can tape these, up there, and then some more down here.

Good on the back end.

And again, I’m not the neatest when it comes to tape, but we can work out, you can work out however you want.

But now we’ve got a target at chest height, and we can use it.

We can set up courses with these, if we had, basically it takes about eight stands to make something like this.

Wind will affect it at maybe 5, 10 miles per hour or more, and it’s going to be going back and forth, but if we’re in a bay or within an enclosed range or in a field, this is going to stand up most of the time.

The wind isn’t going to affect the ones down here, especially if we put them on a stand at this triangular sort of way.

It’s definitely not going to affect the base.

It might affect this a little bit, but for all intents and purposes, this is kind of we’re going to be at for most of the time.

We can also use steel with these as well.

How we do so is we take the frame off of it, so it’s just that H-frame, and take the cardboard off.

Then we can lay it in as such.

Get that good base.

So this frame will hold small pieces of steel.

I’ve worked with these, a bit larger.

Maybe about that much it will work as well, but further than that, it probably won’t hold, but it’s better than nothing.

We can just get pieces of steel, and we can hook them on like this.

The trick is, we want this as tight to the wire as possible.

So how we do that is, we take the center frame right here, and we bend it inward, just like that, because we want, this steel’s gonna rock about while we’re shooting it.

Now when we tie it on, we want there to be as least amount of 550 cord as possible.

We want it to be tight as well.

The more 550 cord you have on here, the more chance of it getting shot off.

And there we go.

We’ve got a good steel target right here, and we’re going to show while we shoot at it, this is gonna work great with our.22 caliber.

This is going to work great with 9.

40’s, it’s going to start bouncing around a lot, 45’s even more so.

Rifles, 5.56 will be all right, but it’s better than nothing.

Now this is something we can use anywhere.

We can just carry these pieces of steel around, and we can take any target as much as we want.

We can also take the frame that we have with the steel, and we can insert it on that base.

It’s going to bend a little bit, but there we have it.

We’ve got some steel up here, and it’s not going to be as closest to the ground, if you’re dealing with some of those range-isms that some ranges have.

So now we’re actually going to be shooting at them.

I’ve got a.22, a 9 mm Sig, and a 40 caliber H&K, and we’re going to see different effects on target.

That was the ground.

This is simple, simple target.

Now we’re going for the chest height.

Now we’re going for the steel.

Now we’re going for the 9 mil.

Now for the chest height one.

Now for the steel.

So with the 40, the steel’s going to be the biggest problem, because as the caliber goes up, the steel’s gonna suffer more.

The stand is going to suffer more.

So we’re just going to be wary of that, but we can still shoot steel at this, and bear in mind, that steel’s on the base that I set up earlier.

If we had just put that in the ground, there’d be a lot less shaking.

So, obviously, a lot of movement with the steel, but for our main calibers,.22, 9, 380, anything below that, the steel will work out perfectly fine for plinking.

The targets themselves are pretty stable.

There’s only rounds just shootin’ straight through them at whatever, under 1000 feet per second, so the targets are going to stay stable.

It’s just that steel one we have to be wary of.

Yeah, I hope you enjoyed our little show here, and I hope these are of use to you in whether you’re facing any of the situations I mentioned.

If you’re looking for a low-budget target system, if you’re looking for expendable targets, if you’re looking for targets in a new part of the country that you don’t have targets in and you want to get some.

Even if you’re just going out hunting and you want to find a good backstop and you want to zero them and you want to zero your rifle, you can just bring some of these in your car, and you can use them, yeah.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Ditto

    Ive used signs like that myself. I got a can of cheap spray paint, and sprayed the signs a uniform color, and then I stuck Shoot N See targets on them. They work great, and you can usually find abandoned ones for free.

    The only drawback? It’s amazing how often I managed to shoot the little wire frame that holds the sign up. Usually, though, you can just bend it back into shape.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I get little blind kids to hold up pizza boxes.
    Helps if they are deaf too.

  • Will

    Yard signs, el cheapo paper plates, magic marker and a stapler.
    Range day!!!!

  • Jack Morris

    Free targets are one of the few benefits of being a printer by trade.

  • Shwiggie

    To quote a great Cybertronian, everything is fodder. But I don’t typically use yard signs on their H brackets since they’re so low. I do use them as backing for my PVC stand. Speaking of which, if you can’t spring for the PVC to build a decent standing target then you’re one real broke hombre….

    • But you can get them higher! As I demonstrated….

  • DrewN

    You’d better make sure the election is over and you have permission to gather political signs, you can cop a citation for removing them.

    • The local election was over, I even cleared it with one of the candidates on the last day of the election. In addition I ran into someone who had 25 signs just sitting around for a candidate that dropped out.

  • Don Ward

    Next tip: Save money by using highway signage as target practice. I always opt for the “No Shooting” and “Deer Crossing” signs for irony.

    • Tassiebush

      Is that what them fancy patterning boards that have those fancy writings on them are called?!

  • Daniel F. Melton

    An old swing frame, some bowling pins, and some cord to hang ’em with makes for excellent targets. The bowling pins will soak up anything up to 30.06 rounds without exploding, and ya know when you hit your targets.

  • john

    Wait…do I have to remove them from the person’s lawn before I start shooting them? If not, WOW! How convenient is that!