Fun and Cheap. Making Your Own Homemade Shooting Targets

I have always loved shooting up watermelons.

Shooting at bullseyes and zombies can get old and expensive, especially if you want to spend a full day out plinking. Homemade targets are fun, easy, and cheap to make. Many moons ago, I had access to a lot of land in the country. As my shooting buddies and I went to explore it, we found the perfect spot to set up a shooting range. A natural eight-foot berm eroding from a dried-up creek bed made a perfect backstop. We set up shop and had months of fun shooting our little hearts out. For target backstops and stands, we obtained free wood pallets from a friend’s bar. Out there we shot fruit, beer bottles, soda cans, electronics, plastic water bottles filled with water, and whatever else we could get our hands on.

I have always loved shooting up watermelons.
I have always loved shooting up watermelons.

Now that I no longer have access to the makeshift range, I have to go to the indoor range like many of you. Don’t let that stop you from taking your own homemade targets. Whichever your choice of range—indoor or outdoor—get clearance from the staff as to what you can and cannot shoot at their facility.

Most of my homemade targets are paper plates I buy at the dollar store. The only limits to what you can do with a paper plate is your own creativity! I have drawn Q-tips on them for precision shooting. You can tape hard candies and lollipops to them, or trace different sized coins on paper plates. Draw a tic-tac-toe board. Staple playing cards to them. Whatever you want. Draw a picture on them, or draw a traditional bullseye. The NRA uses just plain white paper plates, as they are about the size you will need to practice hitting center mass. To replicate a silhouette, staple a smaller, dessert-sized paper plate to the side of a regular, dinner-sized paper plate. Then position them so that the smaller plate is above the larger plate. It should look like a snowman without the bottom part. Now you have a chest and a head. For a good speed and concentration drill, I have drawn different numbers inside different shapes and had a friend call out what to shoot.

Draw on them or not, paper plates make the perfect and cheap target.
Draw on them or not, paper plates make the perfect and cheap target.

If you want a reactive-type target, fruit and electronics are always fun to shoot at. Cans and bottles work, too, especially if you’re after a traditional “plink” sound. Plastic milk and water jugs filled with water are fun to watch explode. A lot of people put food color in the water to see it better. Balloons filled with a little bit of baby powder create a smoke effect when shot. Charcoal will also crack and powder when shot. Tennis balls and golf balls work a lot like Do-All Outdoor’s self-healing bouncing balls and squares. Crackers and Oreos are a biodegradable option and will break up when shot. Though I have never tried it, I’ve heard that shaving cream cans are a riot to shoot, but make a big mess.

Different numbers and shapes speed drill.
Different numbers and shapes speed drill.

I have never tried it, because it had not occurred to me before, but many people have shot at old toys such as plastic army men. Search garage sales and the dollar stores for toys, stuffed animals, and old plastic holiday decorations to shoot up. Old Christmas ornaments strung up along a tree line will swing and explode, making a fun challenge.

Another option is to draw your own targets on plain old white computer paper. Further, you can Google search “free printable targets” and find all kinds of free targets to print out. I have found traditional bullseyes, correction targets (right-handed and left-handed), site-in targets, poker games, darts, match games, get the most cash games, and even insults! Homemade targets get your creative juices flowing, save money, and break up the monotony of traditional bullseyes.

There are three very important things to consider when you make your own targets

Be Safe!

If you are shooting at an outdoor range, or on private land make sure you have a berm, or a backstop. Always be aware of your target and what is behind it.

Be Considerate!

Plenty of my suggestions, like bottles, Christmas ornaments, balloons, and plastic toys create a giant mess when you shoot them up. Always clean up after yourself. If it isn’t biodegradable, it goes in a trash bag!

Have fun!

Have you ever made your own targets, have suggestions for a homemade target, or shot up something unconventional? Tell me about it in the comment section.

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Comments (4)

  1. Thanks for the great tips. I can’t wait to put baby powder in balloons.


  2. I like printing simple outlines of my favorite people and taping them to body targets. People are always laughing when they see it. A few times people have been offended at my choice saying I need to show respect for these people and remove them, I answer I always show respect for people that earn it. It sure is a stress reduction method

  3. I like to freeze plastic milk jugs. Then take them shooting. The inpack turns the ice to like snow cone ice . So then you can make youself a cool drink after shooting.

  4. Take some re-bar and bend a hook on one end, then angle cut the other. Weld a shackle to the hook end and now you have a hanger for a target such as a bowling pin with a lag eyelet screw in it. If you like full fabrication with spare parts
    around, I made a triple swinging target out of leftover stock from work and welded it up. Only problem is OTHER people have no consideration for your hard work, and shoot at it at the range before you get your shots in on it.

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