DIY spinner targets
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This is a guest blog from reader Vana-2, who goes by the name Hank. He tells us how to make spinner targets.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me. Now over to you, Hank.
DIY Spinner Targets
This report covers:
- Spinners for plinking
- Form the spinner arm
- Form the pivot coil
- The target base
- Spinner mounting
- Spinner target use
I like to make my own spinner targets.
Spinners for plinking
Plinking small reactive targets at random ranges is my favorite airgun passtime and spinners are my preferred targets. Today I will share how I make them.
I like spinners because they are an all-or-nothing kind of target. Hit them and they spin. Miss and they just sit there, waiting for you to try again. The instant feedback of a hit confirms that the sight picture was correct for that range. The way they move when hit allows you to discern whether you just clipped the spinner or smacked it dead center. Excellent training for hunting!
The bases can be anything.
There are many commercially made spinner targets available on the market but, being a compulsive tinkerer, I prefer to make my own from stuff I have around the house.
The targets I show here are best for air guns up to about 20 foot-pounds, which is about 27 joules. They can be used with more powerful rifles, but the wire arm may need more frequent replacement.
All you need are few basic tools and some hardware — a length of stiff wire and some wood for the base. Construction is simple, many of the best track saws will get the job done and you can easily make a half a dozen spinners in an evening.
To help form the wire, a simple bending jig is made from a piece of spruce 2×4 lumber that has a good solid knot and a 2-inch long, quarter-inch diameter bolt. To make the jig, drill a quarter-inch hole through the knot and install the bolt as shown in the picture below. Immediately beside the protruding bolt, drill an eighth-inch diameter hole about an inch deep. The eighth-inch hole holds the end of the wire while the coils are formed around the bolt.
This 3-inch spinner arm was made to show details of the large target coil and the small pivot coil, their orientation and the jig that’s used to bend them. An actual finished arm is about 10 inches long.
Form the spinner arm
The spinner arm is made from a 16- to 17-inch piece of stiff wire. Coat hanger wire works well, and one hanger will yield enough wire for two spinner arms.
To form the large target coil, bend the last three-quarter-inch of wire into an L shape and insert the short piece into the hole in the jig. Keeping the wire flat against the wood jig, bend it around the bolt (in one continuous motion) to form a 2-1/2-turn spiral (refer to the photo above). Pry the flat coil off of the jig with a screwdriver, cut off the short bit of wire and file the stub flush with the coil.
Form the pivot coil
Form the small pivot coil by making another L on the other end of the wire. This L end is also about three-quarters of an inch long, and is in the same plane as the target coil – in other words, this L should be flat on the table when the large coil is flat on the table. Insert the wire into the jig and form a 1-1/2-turn coil (like a spring) around the bolt. Remove from the jig and cut off the short bit of wire and part of a coil. Flatten and close the coil to create the pivot as shown in the next photo. Check that the target coil is at 90 degrees to the pivot coil and adjust if required.
This shows how the pivot coil is made.
Assemble the spinner target from two fender washers, a lock washer and a machine-screw with a nut to fit it. Clamp the large target coil between the washers and tighten the machine screw nut securely. If required, use a pair of pliers to bend the wire arm so that its axis is aligned with the center of the bolt as shown below.
Note that I am using heavy washers and 1/4-20 hardware for these spinners because they are for my .22 and .25 caliber PCPs. Lighter bolts and nuts can be used for .177 air guns.
Three finished spinner targets show assembly details.
The target base
The target base can be anything that will support the spinner. I’ve attached the spinner arms to fence posts, trees or a just a stake driven into the ground. The base needs to be wide and heavy enough to be stable.
The base shown at the beginning of the blog is made from a 3” thick slice of log and a 2×2 baluster left over from when I built my deck. I prefer a portable base to be able change locations easily.
The pivot end of the spinner is attached to the base support using a woodscrew, two washers and a disk of soft foam. The foam serves to space the spinner arm away from the mounting point and provides some tensioning to dampen the arm movement.
The pivot should fit loosely on the screw to allow it to move about freely. If the spinner arm is constrained too much it will be forced to absorb the energy of impact rather than being able to move out of the way.
This is how to mount the pivot to the spinner base.
All the usual safety precautions apply to using these targets… use safety glasses; shoot at a reasonable range and have a good backstop.
These spinners are NOT recommend for steel BBs – the metal target face is perpendicular to the shooter and the probability of the BB rebounding directly back at the shooter is very high.
Spinner target use
I like to deploy a dozen or so of these spinners along the walking trail on my property and moving them to different locations frequently. It’s great practice to stalk them and take the shot through whatever clear lane you can find through the bush. Since the spinners are the size of the kill-zone on most small game you can quickly learn your maximum effective range.
Pop-cans are the traditional plinking targets of airgunners but if you want a greater challenge, I suggest you try these spinners.