by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
NTOG dueling tree made to handle low energy. NTOG provided the photo.
This report covers:
- From NTOG
- Some assembly required
- Yes, it really works!
- M1 Carbine
- Testing with steel BBs
- Target operated perfectly
- Testing with Dust Devils
- Smart Shot
- Modified target
Several weeks ago, reader New to Old Guns (NTOG) contacted me with a new project he was working on — a dueling tree for lower-powered BB guns.
Today’s target is an action target, but it’s one with a big difference. I’ll let him tell you what he first told me.
“It is a “down to about 1ft-lb capable shooting tree”. Yes, you can have fun with a shooting tree with the Red Ryder!
“The short version — I realized I was having a ton of fun with the big tree “dueling” and “racing” guns like the Vectis, Sumatra, Nova Freedom, and AT44. But I couldn’t shoot that tree with my son, as he’s 12 and doesn’t have anything near the about 18 ft-lb needed to flip those paddles. I remembered a bud talking about bending and flattening cheap spoons for use as targets, and, well, one thing led to another. Good shooting with the Red Ryder is enough to flip it. So any BB gun shooting in the neighborhood of 300 fps will work. That means training pistols like the Sig P226 should flip it too. Doesn’t that open a world of entertaining practice?
“The BB ricochet problem is of course not to be ignored, but I have two observations regarding that: a) frangible BBs do exist, though I don’t know if they’ll transfer enough energy to flip the paddle b) momentum laws would say that as long as the spoon is free to spin, half the energy goes to moving the spoon. That means any potential bounce back has already lost about half of its energy. In our enjoyment, we’ve yet had any bounce back that we’ve noticed.
“I’d also add, it is really shines with guns like the Crosman 73 Saddle Pal, and Walther Lever Action. Honestly, the 73 was probably the most fun of them all. Pity those aren’t still made.”
I was interested because I am working on a project to bring some informal shooting competition to the Pyramyd Air Cup next year. Out of the hundreds of people who attend, only the semi-professionals and highly advanced amateur shooters actually get to compete. Doesn’t that seem reversed? Could this dueling tree be the answer? Is it reliable enough and rugged enough to stand up to a lot of shooting? I needed to know, so I asked NTOG to send one for me to test.
Some assembly required
As you see in the first photo, the target is mounted on a long section of 5/16-inch threaded rod. He didn’t want to ship that, which I understood completely. I can buy the same rod at my hardware store, so he sent 6 of the paddle mechanisms. I bought an 18-inch length of rod plus the channel material for the base and a couple other things like washers to get started. Once it was assembled I did some testing right away.
Yes, it really works!
The first test was successful. This target really does work. The spoons have to be loose enough to swing freely but not so loose that they wobble and rob energy from the shot. Let’s look at some detail.
This photo shows a lot of detail. You can see the bent wire that stops the paddles when they swing around. But it also made me wonder about the yellow standoff rod that holds the spoon mechanism away from the threaded rod. Is it necessary? The yellow paddle at the top is not a part of the target I am testing. NTOG provided the photo.
When I assembled the target I put just three spoons on my 18-inch threaded rod, as I was only testing the concept. And that got me shooting right away.
I chose the new Springfield Armory M1 Carbine to test the target. I wanted accuracy which that gun has in spades and I also wanted a semiautomatic because, let’s be honest — that’s what this target is all about.
Testing with steel BBs
My first test involved shooting steel BBs, because I wanted to know about bounceback. Steel BBs do bounce back from hard targets, and that’s a safety issue. I shot from inside my small patio slab that opens on the back yard and, because the threaded rod I used was low. I was shooting into the ground behind the target.
Out of about 30 BBs that were shot one did came back. It didn’t come straight back at me, it veered off the the side about 10-15 feet, but it did return. I could hear it hit the house at low velocity. So NTOG is right about the bounceback issue; it is greatly reduced. But it isn’t eliminated, and that’s what I wanted.
Target operated perfectly