US 20060290063 A1
A pneumatically-driven shooting target apparatus that can transition between presented and concealed positions and can be used in a variety of shooting environments. The shooting target apparatus generally includes a frame, an obstruction, a movable target holder, a pneumatic drive mechanism attached to the movable target holder, and a target. According to one embodiment, activation of the drive mechanism tilts the target between a concealed position where it is hidden behind the obstruction and a presented position where the target is revealed to the shooter. In another embodiment, activation of the drive mechanism causes a movable target holder linkage system to pivot between concealed and presented positions.
1. A shooting target apparatus, comprising:
an obstruction mounted to said frame;
a drive mechanism mounted to said frame;
a movable target holder coupled to said drive mechanism; and
a target coupled to said movable target holder and generally located behind said obstruction, wherein activation of said drive mechanism moves said target between generally coplanar concealed and presented positions, in said concealed position said target is hidden from a shooter by said obstruction, and in said presented position said target is revealed to the shooter.
2. The shooting target apparatus of
3. The shooting target apparatus of
4. The shooting target apparatus of
5. The shooting target apparatus of
6. The shooting target apparatus of
7. The shooting target apparatus of
8. The shooting target apparatus of
9. The shooting target apparatus of
10. The shooting target apparatus of
11. The shooting target apparatus of
12. A shooting target apparatus, comprising:
an obstruction attached to said frame;
a movable target holder generally located behind said obstruction and including a pivot arm pivotally connected to said frame;
a pneumatic drive mechanism including at least one air cylinder connected between said frame and said movable target holder; and
a target attached to said movable target holder, wherein activation of said pneumatic drive mechanism causes said air cylinder to tilt said movable target holder about said pivotal connection so that said target is moved between a concealed position and a presented position.
13. The shooting target apparatus of
14. The shooting target apparatus of
15. The shooting target apparatus of
16. A shooting target apparatus, comprising:
an obstruction attached to said frame;
a movable target holder generally located behind said obstruction and including a plurality of linkage members pivotally connected to said frame;
a pneumatic drive mechanism including at least one air cylinder connected between said frame and said movable target holder; and
a target attached to said movable target holder, wherein activation of said pneumatic drive mechanism causes said air cylinder to pivotally move said plurality of linkage members so that said target is moved between a concealed position and a presented position.
17. The shooting target apparatus of
18. The shooting target apparatus of
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Ser. No. 60/692,813 filed on Jun. 22, 2005, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates generally to shooting targets, and more specifically, to movable shooting targets such as those used in automated targeting systems found in shooting ranges.
Various types of shooting targets have been developed and sold, including both stationary and moving targets. Their designs vary widely and are largely driven by the particular needs of the shooter and the specific environment in which the targets are used.
For instance, standard bulls-eye type targets having a retrieval drive mechanism powered by an electric motor are commonly found in shooting range firing lanes and are used by shooters who want to practice shooting at a stationary target. Pop-up type targets and moving targets, on the other hand, provide the shooter with a more dynamic target environment, and sometimes move the target with a drive mechanism that is powered by either pneumatic, electric or hydraulic means.
Some examples of different types of shooting targets are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,808,177 issued to Dehart; U.S. Pat. No. 6,325,376 to Elliott et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,232,227 to Bateman and U.S. Pat. No. 3,515,388 to Zachmeier.
According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided a shooting target apparatus that comprises a frame, an obstruction, a drive mechanism, a movable target holder, and a target, whereby activation of the drive mechanism moves the target between generally coplanar concealed and presented positions. When the target is in the concealed position it is hidden from a shooter by the obstruction, and when the target is in the presented position it is revealed to the shooter.
According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a shooting target apparatus that comprises a frame, an obstruction, a movable target holder generally located behind the obstruction and including a pivot arm pivotally connected to the frame, a pneumatic drive mechanism, and a target. Activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism causes an air cylinder to tilt the movable target holder about a pivotal connection so that the target is moved between a concealed position and a presented position.
According to yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a shooting target apparatus that comprises a frame, an obstruction, a movable target holder generally located behind the obstruction and including a plurality of linkage members, a pneumatic drive mechanism, and a target. Activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism causes an air cylinder to pivotally move a plurality of linkage members so that the target is moved between a concealed position and a presented position.
These and other objects, features and advantages of this invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and best mode, the appended claims and the accompanying drawings, in which:
The shooting target apparatus disclosed herein is a pneumatically-driven device that provides a shooter with a dynamic and engaging target shooting experience and can be used in a number of different capacities, including indoor and outdoor training, competition, and recreational settings. Depending upon the particular manner in which it is used, the shooting target apparatus can be set up by itself as a stand-alone target, with other targets as part of a larger shooting course, in a traditional shooting lane, or in any other target shooting application known to those skilled in the art.
With reference to
Frame 14 acts as a foundation for supporting the other components of shooting target apparatus 10, and generally includes a base 28, a pair of mounting receptacles 30, 32, a pair of upright posts 34, 36, and a bracket 42. Of course, other frame constructions can also be used, including frames formed with plates, ones having wheels or other components for improved portability, or ones made from materials other than steel, to name but a few possibilities. Base 28 preferably includes several, transversely-connected steel members that lie on the ground to provide a solid foundation for the apparatus. Mounting receptacles 30, 32 are welded or otherwise attached to base 28 and receive posts 34, 36, respectively, so that the posts are maintained in a vertically-upright and generally parallel orientation. Quick-release pins 38, 40, which can be connected to mounting receptacles 30, 32 with cables to prevent them from being lost, are used to non-permanently secure the upright posts in their corresponding receptacles. This makes for easy assembly and disassembly of the shooting target apparatus. Because of their similarity, a separate description of post 34 has been omitted. Bracket 42 is securely fastened to frame 28 and extends upwards so that drive mechanism 20 can be attached to it and has a component to which it can anchor itself.
Obstruction 16 is generally located in front of target 22 and simulates an object, such as a hostage, that hides or otherwise blocks the target from the shooter. The obstruction is preferably sized to block the entire target when apparatus 10 is in a concealed position, however, it could be designed to block only a portion of the target and thereby leave a portion exposed for the shooter to aim at. Preferably, obstruction 16 and target 22 conform with the guidelines set forth by the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), however, other types and size targets could be used as well. As an example, obstruction 16 can be the same type of target as the target 22, only turned around backwards so that the indicia on the target does not face the shooter. Although a stationary obstruction is shown here, it is also possible to couple the obstruction to drive mechanism 20 or some other mechanism so that the obstruction also moves during operation.
Movable target holder 18 supports target 22 as it is tilted between several generally coplanar positions, including the concealed and presented positions mentioned above. According to one embodiment, the movable target holder includes a pivot arm 50, a cross member 52, a pivot bracket 54, a pair of mounting receptacles 56, 58, a pair of posts 60, 62, and an actuator main frame 64. As its name suggests, pivot arm 50 is pivotally attached to base 28 so that it can move through an angular range of motion that spans a number of generally coplanar positions. Cross member 52 is transversely attached to pivot arm 50 and supports mounting receptacles 56, 58 at each of its ends. As previously explained in greater detail, each of the mounting receptacles secures a post 60, 62 in a generally upright orientation and can utilize quick release pins for easy assembly and disassembly. Pivot bracket 54, which is best seen in
Actuator main frame 64 generally extends between bracket 42 of the frame and pivot bracket 54 of the movable target holder, and is designed to maintain two or more pneumatic cylinders in a generally coaxial alignment. The actuator main frame 64 can be constructed from angle iron or any other appropriate material, and includes anti-rotation features 70-76 that prevent the air cylinders from rotating during operation. These features include one or more slotted blocks 70 which extends from an end of actuator main frame 64 and captures a flat section of the air cylinder rods so that it is prevented from rotating. The slotted block 70 is welded to a slide plate 72 that slides in and out of a space formed with spacers and between a steel cover plate 74 and actuator main frame 64. In this manner, the slotted block 70 can move with the drive mechanism as it cycles through a range of motion. A switch actuator plate 76 can be welded to the opposite end of slide plate 72 and can interact with mechanical and/or electrical switches that provide data regarding the position of the air cylinders.
Drive mechanism 20 uses pressurized air to tilt movable target holder 18 through a variety of generally coplanar positions, and generally includes an air connection 80, a valve 82, and a pair of actuators or air cylinders 84, 86. Pressurized air from a compressor or some type of air rail is provided to connection 80 (all air connections preferably use push lock or other quick-release fittings) and is regulated by an electrically controlled valve 82. Air connection 80, as well as other components of the pneumatic drive mechanism, can be protected from stray bullets with a shield like component 88. Each of the air cylinders 84, 86 is preferably a bi-direction, single-rod pneumatic cylinder, and when they are used in a serial or end-to-end arrangement, it allows for several different positional combinations. According to a first presented position (not shown), both air cylinders 84, 86 have their rods retracted within their cylinders, which results in target 22 being tilted out to the right of obstruction 16. This provides the most retracted or shortest overall length that the pair of cylinders can assume, and is referred to as a right-presented position. In a concealed position (shown in phantom), one of the air cylinders 84, 86 is retracted and one is extended; this results in target 22 being located directly behind and therefore hidden by obstruction 16. According to a left-presented position (shown in solid lines), both air cylinders are extended so that target 22 is tilted out to the left of obstruction 16. Air cylinder 86 preferably has a rod end attached to bracket 42 with a clevis joint or some other rotatable connection, and a cylinder end that is attached to air cylinder 84. Similarly, air cylinder 84 includes a cylinder end attached to cylinder 86, as just stated, and a rod end attached to pivot bracket 54 via a second clevis joint.
Target 22 can be attached to posts 60, 62 with various types of mounting hardware (not shown) and is sized in relation to obstruction 16 so that it can be selectively concealed from and presented to the shooter. Target 90 is a generally flat component that preferably has target-related indicia on its surface, such as those that conform with International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) guidelines. Furthermore, target 90 can be in the shape of a person, animal, or some inanimate object, with one or more zones indicating the quality of different shots, for example.
During operation, drive mechanism 20 tilts target 22 between generally coplanar concealed and presented positions. Beginning with the concealed position shown in phantom lines, one of the two air cylinders 84, 86 is extended and one is retracted (in this particular embodiment the cylinder on the right is retracted and the one on the left is extended, however, they could be reversed). If the air cylinder 86 on the right is activated so that it transitions from a retracted position to an extended position, then both air cylinders will be in extended positions and movable target holder 18 will be tilted to the ‘left presented’ position shown in solid lines. If, on the other hand, air cylinder 84 is activated, then it would transition from an extended position to a retracted position so that both air cylinders would be retracted. This results in a ‘right presented’ position that is not shown in the drawings for reasons of figure clarity. It should be recognized that throughout the range of motion that occurs when the apparatus 10 transitions between the various concealed and presented positions, target 90 generally stays within a common plane.
Turning now to
Frame 114 provides structural integrity to shooting target apparatus 110, and preferably includes a base 128, a number of mounting receptacles 130-136, a number of upright or vertical posts 138-144, and drive mechanism mounting brackets 146-150. As before, the base 128 preferably includes a number of elongated, transverse members that lie on the ground and provide a foundation for the rest of the apparatus. As an example best seen in
Obstruction 116 protects the components of drive mechanism 120 and hides the target 122 when it is in a concealed position. According to a preferred embodiment, the obstruction includes a lower shield component 156, which may be comprised of a single panel or multiple panels, and an upper shield component 158. Lower shield 156 is secured to posts 138-144 by one of a number of attachment techniques, while upper shield 158 is just secured to posts 140-142, which are longer than posts 138 and 144 located on the ends of the obstruction.
Movable target holder 118 uses a spring-loaded linkage-type design to pivot the target 122 between one of several generally coplanar positions, and generally includes a pair of linkage members 166, 168, a cross member 170, a pair of posts 172, 174, and a pair of springs 176, 178. Each of the linkage members 166, 168 is pivotally attached to frame 114 at a lower end and cross member 170 at an upper end, and preferably use pivotal connection hardware such as spacer plates, shoulder bolts, flange bearings, and thrust washers. Cross member 170 is an elongated, horizontally aligned component that extends the general width of the movable target holder 118 and maintains a proper spacing between posts 172 and 174. Springs 176, 178 are diagonally attached across the linkage members, and assist with the proper movement and spacing of the movable target holder 118 during operation. Additional components, such as stops or bumpers could be used to limit the range of motion of the linkage members.
As with the previous embodiment, drive mechanism 120 uses a pair of bi-directional, single-rod actuators or air cylinders to move the target between the various coplanar positions, and generally includes an air connection 186, valves 188, and a pair of air cylinders 190, 192. The two air cylinders are connected in a serial or end-to-end fashion and can drive the movable target holder 118 between right presented, concealed, and left presented positions, as previously described. Moreover, the rod end of air cylinder 190 is securely attached to cylinder mount bracket 148, and the rod end of air cylinder 192 is connected to linkage member 166. For each air cylinder connection requiring a pivoting motion, it is preferable to use a clevis joint or some other type of pivotal connection.
Target 122 is securely attached to posts 172, 174 so that it can move together with the movable target holder 118. Because the target 122 is similar to that already described, a second, duplicate description has been omitted.
During operation, activation of drive mechanism 120 causes movable target holder 118 to move between several coplanar positions, as was the case with the previous embodiment. Beginning with a concealed position (shown in phantom) where target 122 is hidden behind obstruction 116, only one of the two air cylinders 190, 192 is extended (in this particular embodiment, air cylinder 190 is retracted and cylinder 192 is extended). If cylinder 190 is activated, then it will go from a retracted position to an extended position, this in turn causes the linkage members of movable target holder 118 to pivot to the “left presented” position shown in solid lines so that target 122 is visible to the shooter. Conversely, if air cylinder 192 is activated, then it transitions from an extended position to a retracted position so that both air cylinders are retracted and the target 122 assumes a “right presented” position (not shown).
It is to be understood that the foregoing description is not a definition of the invention itself, but is a description of one or more preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention. The invention is not limited to the particular embodiment(s) disclosed herein, but rather is defined solely by the claims below. Furthermore, the statements contained in the foregoing description relate to particular embodiments and are not to be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention or on the definition of terms used in the claims, except where a term or phrase is expressly defined above. Various other embodiments and various changes and modifications to the disclosed embodiment(s) will become apparent to those skilled in the art. All such other embodiments, changes, and modifications are intended to come within the scope of the appended claims.
For instance, it is possible to replace the pneumatic drive mechanism with another adapted power source, such as an electric motor, a hydraulic drive mechanism, or some other drive mechanism know to those skilled in the art. Furthermore, one or more protective angle irons or other shielding-type components can be added to any one of the shooting target embodiments to protect their components from stray bullets. This is particularly useful for protecting the components of the pneumatic drive mechanism, although other components can and should be protected as well. Even though most of the components described above are preferably made of steel, they could alternatively be made of aluminum or another metal, plastic, composite, wood, or any other suitable material known to those skilled in the art, such as Amortex which is a bullet proof material made of fiberglass and resins.
Furthermore, one of any number of additional features could be added to any one of the embodiments described above. For example, position sensing switches could be used throughout any one of the shooting targets in order to provide an electronic controller with feedback as to the position of one or more components. It is also possible to use the shooting target in a larger targeting system where some type of main control unit communicates with each of the shooting targets so that they function in a coordinated manner as the shooter advances through a course. In that regard, the various shooting targets and the main control unit may communicate via some type of wired medium or even a wireless link. These are, of course, only some of the additional features that may be used with any number of the embodiments disclosed herein, as other features and aspects of the shooting targets would be apparent to those skilled in the art. An electrical connection 40 is located on the pivot arm and can connect an electronic control system of the shooting target to power and/or a larger control network.
In a preferred embodiment, software is used to randomly activate one of the two air cylinders so that a shooter does not know in which direction the target will be presented. The software can provide at least two options for target presentation. One option is to have the target advance either to the left or right and stay in that position until the shooter advances through the course. Another option is to have the target oscillate back and forth while the shooter is at the shooting target until advancing through the course.
As used in this specification and claims, the terms “for example,” “for instance,” “such as,” and “like”, and the verbs “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and their other verb forms, when used in conjunction with a listing of one or more components or other items, are each to be construed as open-ended, meaning that that the listing is not to be considered as excluding other, additional components or items. Other terms are to be construed using their broadest reasonable meaning unless they are used in a context that requires a different interpretation.