03 December 2022


While I was supervising the bug bombing, Marv hit the range (full report coming).

He mentioned that the rifle range at the place is closed indefinitely.

They've gone from five lanes at 100 yards to just one and the person at the sign-in counter said there were literal fights over who got the lane.

All because the equipment keeps failing.

One time while we were there they had the covers off and it's a Rube Goldberg mess of stuff in there.  Lots of circuit boards.

All to get a cardboard panel hanging from a wire out to a given distance.

We both looked at it and came up with several much simpler ways to do what the electronics were doing and our way of doing it would have been serviceable by the staff.

Keeping the mechanism from being serviced by the staff was the goal here, I think.

I am thinking a simple electromechanical deal with a stepper motor.  If you know the diameter of your pulley, you know how far the target moves per step.  An Arduino chip could handle this.  Have a mechanical stop for setting the zero end and you're good to go.


  1. The local indoor range nearest me uses in-house built stuff that is about as simplistic as you can get. It's basically not that disimiliar from how a lot of 1970s electric car widows work... just a bunch of switches and a simple motor that turns a pulley. In/out switch for the user, and stop switches at the ends so it turns off when the cardboard holder is all the way in or all the way out.

    The mechanical parts are also pretty simple... Basically an angle iron track that a little sled with wheels on it runs on. That's pulled by the line. Those little sleds are made with parts readily available at Home Depot. They have a couple nuts welded to them. They screw a threaded rod into each one of those. The threaded rods are bent at an angle so they make an upside-down V as they hang. The bottom ends of those have a simple wooden clothes pin duct taped to them. That's what holds the targets.

    Anyway, it is fairly common that people will shoot off the clothes pins, so they keep a bin of them and rolls of duct tape so they can call a cease fire and quickly fix that. They also have a bucket full of extra rods, several sleds, a big spool of wire and extras of the switches and motors. Pretty much this allows them to keep things running on all the lanes (10 25 yard and 10 100 yard) more or less continuously 9am-9pm 7 days a week. They even have spares of the angle iron track sections, because those get shot occasionally too... And of course flourescent tubes for the lighting down-range... The place has run basically the same setup since before I moved here 21 years ago, so it's a fairly well oiled machine. The place has to be fairly profitable because it's fairly busy in the evenings and weekends and pretty much always a few cars around the place any time they are open.

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  3. http://www.sherwinshootingsports.com/targetretrievalsystem.htm

    1. Those parts are not entirely unlike the ones the range nearest to where I live uses. The main difference is basically the local place does everything in-house and while it is perhaps a bit more crude, it's cheap and all the materials as I mentioned are readily available from Home Depot or Lowe's. I actually wouldn't be surprised if they didn't start out buying stuff similar to what is in your link and gradually moved towards making the stuff in house out of convenience for always having it. Keeping lanes open I think in this business is the key to profit. And while their range fees aren't cheap I sometimes think they actually make a pretty big percentage of their money on ammo sales. And they're also a gun store, so the traffic of people coming in to use the range probably results in other sales as well. And at their gun prices (near list) they are probably making a fair amount there too.


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