Hinged plates vs falling steel

Prop and target design and discussion. What works? What doesn't?
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todd
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Hinged plates vs falling steel

Post by todd » Fri Oct 20, 2006 6:15 pm

I had a lenghty discussion with Dan Varner this past weekend in regards to the pros and cons of using plates on hinges versus the plates which fall off. Dan seemed to feel that the hinges are good but over an extended period of time they will break due to the slamming of the plate. He also mentioned that the hinged plates inertia could cause the posts they are on to work loose.

I have yet to shoot at any hinged plate arrays but I know the WI shooters and the IN guys all use them. So for those of you who attended the ISSMC and have experience with these. What do you think? Are hinged plates the way to go? I know reset time is great but are there any negative side effects as Dan had mentioned? The ISSMC 2006 with the rain seems to be the ideal test area to see if they would work loose from the ground from the slamming. Did they?

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Post by bob » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:15 pm

Having attended both the 2006 ISSMC and the Johnny Cash shoot at Mt. Horeb, Wisconsins first match with knockovers. Dan has a good point, with many many runs, the welds tend to get worn, I don't know about ISSMC this time, but I do recall some rare failures in previous years.

As for Wisconsin, what I saw there were many " flip ups" where by the target was hit, knocked over then flip back up to it's original position, I know Rick was going to look at trimming off the back of the bases some in attempts to limit "flip ups". In the Johnny Cash match it was critical that the RO be paying attention to the target and advising the shooter that a target was neutralized, to go on. Another I guess " condition" that we experienced was with the plates on steel rods, and in the rain, when the soil became loose and the target was hit it would spin in a circle, not fall over, again, the RO needed to be paying attention to the muzzle and the target.

Indiana's targets are welded onto fence posts, have to watch when the sides of the post get shot off, they tend to be rather sharp.

I don't know if anything helps in the rain.

The knockovers definately help the back and for that reason alone I think they are essential and a very much worthwhile target for competitions.
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Post by todd » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:53 pm

Bob I am curious if Rick used any type of rubber bumper or stopper on the back end of the plates so the impact was dampened a bit and if you think this would have helped if he did not. I'm thinking like a rubber door stop bumper or similar.

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Pivoting knockover steel plates........

Post by SubGunFan » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:52 pm

I would think pivoting knockover steel plates are best.....

Past problems are a design issue..... The 2 main concerns are the hinge and the mounting base. Pivoting steel plates would be preferred because you don't have to go "fetch" them off the ground (where they might be covered with grass clippings or mud).

Being SMG steel targets as opposed to MG (rifle caliber) steel targets, the bullet impact vibrations are a lot less. However, any bullet impact causes some considerable vibrations on steel. I feel a "heavy-duty" 3-point hinge system should handle the 1000s of cycles required. It is hard to explain without drawings..... (As Vegas SMG knows me, engineers like drawings/plans... :) )

As for the base or support, I suggest using 1" diameter solid round bar stock. Solid bar stock will not get deformed from handgun rounds (like steel fence posts can), however, I suggest the supports be no more than 3' above ground.

With "bullet impact vibrations" on steel targets, the weld quality is VERY important. To hold up to "out shit", it takes heavy-duty components and good welding.....

To eliminate the turning of the bases, a 1/8" thick steel plate is welded to the 1" round bar near the bottom. The 1/8" plate is driven into the ground.

If you guys thinks my "plans" will work, let me know. I will be glad to "draw them up" and post them.............


.

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Post by Icer » Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:37 pm

Both types of targets have their pro's and con's.

Hinged are much faster to reset but they need to be of sufficient weight to stay down when popped with a stout .45acp load. Generally if the design allows them to rotate past 90 degrees and they have sufficient mass they aren't going to pop back up.

Hinged plates do have the tendency to break welds but luckily any monkey with a welder can fix them quickly.............they don't have to look good they just have to have good weld penetration to last another 10,000 rounds. :wink:

The problem with falling plates on stands is obvious if you watch the videos of this years Knob Creek match. Quite often a plate that was struck squarely would fly off the stand and knock another plate off as well.

It happens fairly often when you group the targets like they did at Knob Creek. This to me is an example of bad course design and could be termed an equipment failure. Because of luck not everyone shot the same course of fire.............some got away with firing less rounds.

It is a variable that could easily be avoided. Spreading out the targets slightly and keeping them all on one plane not only keeps them from knocking each other over it also keeps ricochets from taking out additional targets as well.

Another issue with loose plates is the tendency for an "edger" to spin them 90 degrees thereby making them nearly impossible for the competitor to engage. The potential for unpredictable ricochets back towards the shooter, RO, and spectators also increases.

Knob Creek dealt with this in the walk-through by telling the shooters to consider the target neutralized if it spun after being hit. Unfortunately this is subjective and leaves the shooter at the mercy of the scorers and RO on whether it was a good hit, or was the target moved slightly by a ricochet, or possibly not reset correctly by the individual setting steel. Too many variables are probable............and I think we need to strive to keep things as black and white as possible.

Well designed hinged plates can work great. They cut down on fatigue and burnout for those responsible for resetting steel, an issue which can be a big concern at major matches. And most importantly they allow the RO to focus on his main responsibility...........the safety of the shooter and his proper handling of the firearm.

My advice...........encourage clubs to look into switching over to hinged targets as funds and opportunities arise.

---Icer

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Post by bob » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:34 am

This is some excellent discussion, I know Rick talked about adding rubber to the back, but we were wondering if that might increase the chances for flip-ups?.

I know he was going to try and make some changes, I need to send him some suggestions on the future, I'll try and get that done today.
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Post by Paul Winters » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:42 pm

At the Indana match the hinged plates worked OK, but toward the end of the second day, numerous hinges were breaking from the plates to the point it was getting close and the one that started cracking were used as long as the didn't break since welding station wasn't close by.

I am the one who determined the placement of the plates at the Creek. The plate stands were set so that the plate falling did not strick the plate behind it. This doesn't mean that a plate hit hard didn't jump and hit a plate, or that after multiple strikes a plate stand didn't shift slightly although they were driven very deep in the ground. I didn't want to put too much distance between the plates, as each shooter should see the same presentation. A 5'2" shooter will see the plates very differently that a 6'2 shooter if there is a great deal of distance of depth of the plates, especially with the little red guys in the cluster. I haven't found a true balance yet, with overlaps on steel. If it was a bad design, it is on me, though it was thought though. I'm always looking for a better way to set up course with what is available. Any help or suggestions are appreciated.

Paul : -)#

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Post by VegasSMG » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:32 pm

Icer wrote:My advice...........encourage clubs to look into switching over to hinged targets as funds and opportunities arise. ---Icer
Come down here and drive one of those into the ground... just one and you'll quickly realize why they can't be used at our club. Any significant number of these, say enough for a match, would be next to impossible with our rocky "soil". They worked out great at the ISSMC with the soft ground and I loved shooting and resetting them! In helping reset, I only noticed a couple that had loosened up in the rain drenched soil and these were late in the day. There were extra hinged targets on hand and ready to be pressed into duty as needed, so I didn't see that as an major issue. As far as adding some sort of rubber cushioning bumper to the rear, I feel it may be counter productive and have the opposite effect. I'm not sure. The plate rack had a few targets that bounced back into place, mostly with .45 hits, but I didn't see any of the hinged plates pop back up, although I'm sure a couple probably did over the course of the weekend.

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Post by todd » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:54 pm

great discussion. Well it seems to me that the only remedy to the hinged plates breaking under the stress of competition is to have spares at the ready which can be screwed on or off or some other method of replacing them on the fly. The advantages of the quick reset can not be overlooked and I would hope with enough trial and error a solutions can be found for the current issues.

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Post by Icer » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:42 pm

Come down here and drive one of those into the ground... just one and you'll quickly realize why they can't be used at our club. Any significant number of these, say enough for a match, would be next to impossible with our rocky "soil".

VegasSMG---

What??????? Are you under the impression that Northern Nevada is some tropical nirvana with luxuriant rainforests and fertile soil? With only 7.5" of rain a year and enough rocks on our range to start a successful quarry we don't pound much of anything into the ground..............unless it's stakes to hold up the walls. You can make hinged plate targets with different bases that don't require excavation/mining. :D

Try some old rims with detachable wood 4x4's. We use these for our Steel Challenge layouts quite successfully. They break down into 3 separate components for easy storage and the wood soaks up the lead and is easy to replace. Old rims are typically cheap/free and they just need square brackets welded to them to hold the 4x4 posts. Best of all they are stable/heavy enough to stay in one position through an entire match without having to be staked in place.

As far as adding rubber to cushion the impact of the plate as it falls............you can do it but it probably isn't necessary. I also like the audible feedback of the plate as it clanks. :wink:

Since we are discussing new designs just make the plate rotate past 90 degrees...........I'd try for 120 to 140 degrees of "flop". I think you will find that even a stout .45 acp would have a tough time getting your average weight steel plate to rotate back up that much.

---Icer

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Post by VegasSMG » Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:36 am

I owned 11+ acres just outside of Reno in the early '80s, so yes, I'm aware of it's geological and climatic makeup to some degree. Being that you lived in Tahoe, I didn't know exactly where you shot. There's certainly much more agriculture and richer *soil* in your area than here in southern Nevada. As you've seen, our range is dug into the side of a rocky hill... Please forgive my ignorance of your shooting facilities.

I agree with the audible feed back the hinged plates provide. It's a great sound and I enjoy hearing it on the videos. I understand the basic concept of your stands, but I'd like photos with some detail if you could provide them. The basic materials should be easy to obtain and assemble into targets.

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Post by Icer » Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:36 pm

Being that you lived in Tahoe, I didn't know exactly where you shot.

Ahh.....good point. Unfortunately there is no shooting allowed in the Tahoe Basin. No ranges, no hunting, no nuthin'. Good thing I own suppressors............what they can't hear won't bother them. Most of my competitive shooting takes place in Reno or Carson City.

I'll see if I can't get some pics of the targets the next time I head to Reno.

---Icer

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Post by mp40gunner » Tue Jun 12, 2007 9:24 am

Lots of good ideas. Tim and I are working on modifying the target stands before next years ISSMC. The only time we have any breaks is when the hinge is hit when the plate is down.

We messed with the bumper idea and found it made the plates flip up even more. So much for the padding idea.

I think the hinges are quick to reset and safe a ton on the old back. I like what the Florida crew as done with their pivot pin and hinge cover. We are also going to mess with the idea of bar stock for the base as in lieu of the fence post. The fence post is not the same high quality steel as the target and the post often breaks instead of the target.

Just my .02

Cain
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Post by todd » Tue Jun 12, 2007 10:39 am

Cain you should check out the video below

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 3290152277

That is the hinged targets Andy designed after we saw your ISSMC targets and the targets Rick Winters sent pictures of to me. We use a bumper on the back side which has worked well. No plate heads have failed in the 8 months or so we have been using them. We don't use them every month but we do use them a lot.

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Re:

Post by JTinIN » Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:17 pm

todd wrote:Cain you should check out the video below

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 3290152277

That is the hinged targets Andy designed after we saw your ISSMC targets and the targets Rick Winters sent pictures of to me. We use a bumper on the back side which has worked well. No plate heads have failed in the 8 months or so we have been using them. We don't use them every month but we do use them a lot.


Interesting design, takes a tiny bit more fixtures to setup up (one time only) but with a little work one can scale up the hinge using a larger / stronger bolt, 3rd hinge (marginal) and/or thicker stock for the hinges.

Regards
John

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