DIY Project – Silhouette Targets

    Last week I was standing in the isle of my local sporting store looking to get a pack of targets.  I was looking for a silhouette type target to do some rifle and handgun training with.  Standing there with a three pack of cardboard targets I had an epiphany.  Why am I going to spend $4.99 on this package filled with cardboard?  I have always been a fan of DIY shooting projects, even going to far as to design and print my own sight-in targets.  I always figure the more I save on everything else, the more shooting I can do.

    In my day job, I work in retail sales.  We take in large boxes daily, generally in the 72inX36inX10in size and made of good sturdy cardboard.  So I grabbed a few of the 72inX36in side panels and brought them home, much to my wife’s dismay.

    Wanting a self/home defense target that was more along the lines of a “real” persons size.  I began by looking at the IPSC/IDPA targets that they use for competition.  I didn’t want something that busy, or difficult to produce.  I was also looking for something visible, unlike the small score marks they use.  So I took some loose measurements from my own torso and coupled them with some of the IDPA measurements to come up with something simple, realistic and easy to produce on a fairly large scale.  I chose to included the pelvic girdle as well in my targets, but they can be left out if you choose not to train with them.

    I started out with a total of three targets as prototypes.  I needed a basic shape for a template, then needed to make the zones.  After taking measurements and drawing them up, I was able to cut the zones out of two of them, giving me a basic outline for the two color masks.


    The spray paint I am using is cheap (like $0.97 a can cheap) and from my local hardware store.  I was able to fill in 15 targets with one can of white paint.  I chose white, but you really can use any color you want.  I was looking for a color that would stand out against the brown of the cardboard, but also allow my center zone to pop on the target and be visible.  Also when choosing colors, generally the really cheap paint only comes in a few colors like white, black, red and green.  So if you are looking at doing something more unique, you might have to spend more for paint.



    I ended up using orange paint for the center zone, but really any color would do, as long as it contrasts with your base color.  I did spend the extra $2 for the hi-viz marking paint to make the small vitals pop a little against the white paint.  One can of orange should last me well over 100 of these targets, it covers well and really there is only two small areas.


    I was able to figure out the cost of each target, which was ~$0.12/ea, which factors in paint and utility blades.  It takes me about one hour to cut and paint 15 targets and another hour for them to dry fully.  I personally figured that my time was well worth more then the $25 or so that it would cost to buy 15 similar targets locally. .  I am sure some people might see it differently, but I would rather spend $25 on ammo then targets.  I can spare two hours a month to make targets to use, but some maybe don’t have time.

    Sure, they are not perfect, the paint lines might blur a little or the diagonal cuts might be a little off, but they work for what I need.  I designed them to fit my needs, and the beauty of designing them yourself is that you can design them for your needs.

    If you are looking to do something like these, find a local store that gets boxes in a lot.  Check with appliance stores, box stores or even bike shops in the area.  Most of them get large boxes with flat panels perfect for cutting multiple targets from. Most stores are more then happy to have someone take boxes away, just build a relationship with them over time and you will have all the boxes you could ever need.

    One last note: If you shoot outdoors, away from established ranges and take targets you make in, please pack them back out when you are done.  Not doing so is the leading to the loss of a lot of popular outdoor shooting areas across the country.  I strive, every trip out to the woods to shoot to leave it cleaner then I found it, but many unfortunately do not.

    Would you like to see more DIY shooting projects? Let me know!