During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of downtime. So, my father and I decided to build the world’s biggest Texas star target for shotgun.
CONCEPT AND CONSTRUCTION
The idea was to build a Texas Star target roughly 18 to 20 feet in height. We decided to build it mainly out of wood. We fastened five 6-foot 2×2 arms to a five-sided piece of half-inch plywood. We reinforced the middle with 2x4s and then drilled a large hole. Into this, we fixed a 3-inch piece of PVC pipe.
I painted the star black to make it stick out against the sky.
On a 24-foot high cedar post, we fastened a few 2x4s at one end and drilled a hole. Into this, we fixed a 2.75-inch PVC pipe. The larger piece of PVC pipe on the star section would fit over the smaller pipe. This would act as our ‘rotor’.
I dug a 5-foot hole and we set the cedar pole in it. We lubed up the PVC pipe with some grease and then my father hoisted me in his tractor’s bucket and I put the star onto the post. A bolt kept the wheel from spinning off the rotor. The star spun freely and it worked great. The Texas star target was just under 17-feet tall.
It should be noted that the backdrop of the target was just under 4-miles of fields and forests. We would only be shooting with a shotgun and low power rounds.
As you probably know, traditional Texas star targets are gravity operated. They use heavy metal targets at the ends of the arms and, when they’re shot off, the weight change causes the star to spin. I planned to use half-gallon plastic water containers taped to the ends of each arm. When shot, they would explode. However, I was not convinced that the weight loss would cause the star to turn, and if it did, it would be slow and gradual. This would make shooting the remaining targets too easy.
We did a test and our suspicions were confirmed. We had to motorize the star not only to turn it but also because we didn’t want anyone down range turning it when we went “hot.”
ELECTRIC DRILL POWER
The search began for a machine that could turn the star. My father came up with the first idea — an electric drill. He fastened it next to the PVC pipe, inserted a long bolt into the drill, and wrapped a rubber belt around one of the PVC pipes. Running the drill turned the pipe; however, the drill turned too fast, faster than the belt, which eventually began to smoke and caught on fire. So the power drill was a no-go.
GARDEN TILLER POWER
We kept looking around and I spotted my father’s old garden tiller in the barn. My father had been tilling the garden recently so we knew it ran. It was very heavy and had a function where it would drive by itself in a straight line. I got to thinking that if we wound a string around a spindle on the back of the star and pulled it with the tiller, the star would turn. All tests suggested this could be a viable option.
So we constructed a spindle out of the wood and attached it to the back of the star. We wound a length of string and attached it to the tiller. We lined it up and set it off in motion. It drove away and pulled the string and rotated the star. Success! It was perfect. We had our solution.
TRUSTY MOSSBERG 500 SHOTGUN
It was then time to load up my trusty shotgun. I used my Mossberg 500 SPX Tactical 12-gauge shotgun. I’ve owned it for over seven years and I love this shotgun. It has operated flawlessly and I can run it fast. I loaded up some cheap Winchester #8 birdshot. I can fit five 2.75-inch shells in the tube and one in the chamber. That gives me six rounds.
Upon my signal, my father set the garden tiller in motion and I waited for him to get safe and the star to start spinning. I then let loose. The spinning star was challenging to hit and a ton of fun to shoot. Check out the video at the top of the page. The only issue we had was when I shot the first water bottle, the weight change affected the momentum of the star. For a moment, it slowed down, allowing me to pick off a few water bottles. Other than that, the Texas star target was a huge success and my Mossberg functioned perfectly.
If you enjoyed this, you might like the DIY shotgun course I put together a few months ago. You can see the video of it below.