US 20060290064 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, a movable target holder, a pneumatic drive mechanism attached to the movable target holder, and a target assembly. According to one embodiment, activation of the drive mechanism rotates a target between a horizontal concealed position which is hidden from the shooter, and a vertical presented position that is visible to the shooter. In another embodiment, activation of the drive mechanism causes an obstruction that is concealing the target to rotate out of the way, at the same time that the target is lifted and presented to the shooter.
1. A shooting target apparatus capable of transitioning between presented and concealed positions, comprising:
a drive mechanism mounted to said frame;
a movable target holder coupled to said drive mechanism; and
a target assembly coupled to said movable target holder and having at least one generally flat component, wherein activation of said drive mechanism rotates said generally flat component through an angular range so that said apparatus can transition between said presented and concealed positions.
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. A shooting target apparatus, comprising:
a frame including a first plurality of upright posts;
a movable target holder including a second plurality of upright posts;
a pneumatic drive mechanism including an air cylinder attached to said frame and said movable target holder; and
a target assembly rotatably coupled to said first plurality of posts via a first pivot axis and rotatably coupled to said second plurality of posts via a second pivot axis, wherein activation of said pneumatic drive mechanism causes: i) said air cylinder to move said movable target holder, ii) said target assembly to rotate about said first pivot axis, and iii) said target assembly to rotate about said second pivot axis as said second pivot axis moves in a path around said first pivot axis.
12. The shooting target apparatus of
13. The shooting target apparatus of
14. The shooting target apparatus of
15. A shooting target apparatus, comprising:
a frame including a plurality of upright posts;
a movable target holder including a plurality of linkage members;
a pneumatic drive mechanism including an air cylinder attached to said frame and said movable target holder; and
a target assembly attached to said movable target holder and including an obstruction and a target, wherein activation of said pneumatic drive mechanism causes: i) said air cylinder to move said movable target holder, ii) said target to move between lowered and raised positions, and iii) said obstruction to rotate between positions that conceal and present said target.
16. The shooting target apparatus of
17. The shooting target apparatus of
18. The shooting target apparatus of
19. The shooting target apparatus of
20. 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 capable of transitioning between presented and concealed positions. The apparatus comprises a frame, a drive mechanism, a movable target holder, and a target assembly, whereby activation of the drive mechanism rotates a generally flat component of the target assembly through an angular range so that the apparatus can transition between presented and concealed positions.
According to another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a shooting target apparatus that comprises a frame, a movable target holder, a pneumatic drive mechanism, and a target assembly. Whereby activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism causes: i) an air cylinder to move the movable target holder, ii) the target assembly to rotate about a first pivot axis, and iii) the target assembly to rotate about a second pivot axis as the second pivot axis moves in a path around the first pivot axis.
According to yet another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a shooting target apparatus that comprises a frame, a movable target holder, a pneumatic drive mechanism, and a target assembly. Whereby activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism causes: i) an air cylinder to move the movable target holder, ii) a target to move between lowered and raised positions, and iii) an obstruction to rotate between positions that conceal and present the target.
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 a first embodiment shown in
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, and a pair of upright posts 34, 36. 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. Post 36 is preferably an elongated component with a lower end 42 sturdily attached to mounting receptacle 32 via quick-release pin 40, and an upper end 44 that includes an opening 46 for rotatably receiving a pin, ear, dowel, or some other component of the target assembly 20. This rotatable connection allows target assembly 20 to rotate about a first pivot axis A when being driven between concealed and presented positions, as will be subsequently explained in more detail. Because of their similarity, a separate description of post 34 has been omitted.
Movable target holder 16 rotatably supports target assembly 20 on a second pivot axis B and is coupled to drive mechanism 18 so that it can move up and down during operation. According to the embodiment shown here, the movable target holder preferably includes a horizontal lift bar 60, a pair of mounting receptacles 62, 64, a pair of upright posts 66, 68, a roller mount bracket 70, a pair of rollers 72, 74, and a pair of corresponding roller guides 76, 78. Lift bar 60 essentially extends the width of the shooting target apparatus and carries a mounting receptacle 62, 64 at each end, as well as the roller mount bracket 70. The mounting receptacles 62, 64, which are welded or otherwise attached to lift bar 60, respectively receive upright posts 66, 68 via quick release pins similar to those previously described such that the posts are maintained in a generally vertical orientation. Upright post 68 includes a lower end 84 that fits into mounting receptacle 64 and an upper end 86 that preferably includes an opening 88 for rotatably receiving a pin, ear, dowel, or some other pivotal component of target-assembly 20. It should, of course, be appreciated that alternatively target assembly 20 could include the opening and the upper end of post 68 could include the protruding item. Regardless of the particular implementation, this rotatable connection enables the target assembly to pivot about the second pivot axis B. Roller mount bracket 70 is welded to lift bar 60 and rotatably carries rollers 72, 74 which act as wheels for rolling up and down within roller guides 76, 78, respectively. The roller guides are preferably vertical channels made from angled steel and are sized to receive the rollers such that they freely roll up and down under the power of drive mechanism 18, but do so in a stable manner.
Pneumatic drive mechanism 18 uses pressurized air to drive movable target holder 16 up and down, thereby rotating target assembly 20 so that the target transitions between presented and concealed positions. Preferably, the pneumatic drive mechanism includes an air connection 90, a valve 92, and an actuator or air cylinder 94. Pressurized air from a compressor or some type of air rail is provided to connection 90 (all air connections preferably use push lock or other quick-release fittings) and is regulated by an electrically controlled valve 92. Air connection 90, as well as other components of the pneumatic drive mechanism, can be protected from stray bullets with a shield like component 78, which also serves as a guide for roller 74. Air cylinder 94 is preferably a dual-direction, single-rod pneumatic cylinder that has a lower end pivotally attached to base 28 and an upper end attached to lift bar 60. The pivotal connection to the base is accomplished with a clevis bracket or some other type of connection that allows the air cylinder 94 to pivot slightly during operation, as will be explained.
Target assembly 20 includes a target 96 and a pair of pivot plates 98 and is designed for easy rotation between presented and concealed positions. Target 96 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 96 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. Each of the pivot plates 98 is mounted to a side of target 96 and has a pair of holes; the first of which corresponds with opening 46 in post 36, and the second of which corresponds with opening 88 in post 68. Preferably, these openings receive dowels which are secured by cotter-type pins and allow for pivotal movement of target 96 about both of axes A and B.
During operation, drive mechanism 18 moves the movable target holder 16 up and down so that the target assembly 20 is rotated between presented and concealed positions. Beginning with the presented position shown in solid lines, activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism causes air cylinder 94 to extend its rod such that lift bar 60 of the movable target holder 16 is pushed upwards. This in turn causes rollers 72, 74 to roll upwards within roller guides 76, 78 and causes the upper ends of posts 66, 68 to exert an upward force on the target assembly. As target assembly 20 is being pushed upwards, it is pivoting about both axis A and axis B, which causes target 96 to rotate counter-clockwise (indicated with arrows) through an angular range of about ninety degrees. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, the upper end 86 of post 68 most follow an arcuate path C in order for target assembly 20 to rotate about axis A. Thus, axis B moves along arcuate path C around axis A, so that it is repositioned with respect to axis A. Once this operation is complete, target 96 ends up in a horizontally-aligned or concealed position (shown in phantom). A subsequent activation of pneumatic drive mechanism 18 causes target assembly 20 to pivot back to the presented position, but this time in a clockwise direction.
Turning now to
As before, frame 114 functions as a supportive framework for the other components of the shooting target apparatus, and preferably includes several, transversely-connected steel members including base 128 and upright posts 130, 132 which are attached to the base. The frame can further include a number of additional items, such as steel gussets for added strength, protective angle irons, mounting receptacles, components for electrical and/or pneumatic connections, wheels, etc.
Movable target holder 116 has a spring-loaded linkage-type construction and carries target assembly 120 while moving between a raised position (shown in solid lines) and a lowered position (shown in phantom). The movable target holder preferably includes a pair of lower linkage members 140, 142, a pair of upper linkage members 144, 146, a lift bar 148, a pair of upright members 150, 152, and a pair of springs 154. The lower and upper linkage members 140-146 are pivotally attached to upright posts 130, 132 with hardware such as shoulder bolts, flange bearings, thrust washers, and/or nuts so that the linkage members can smoothly move through a range of motion. Lift bar 148 is transversely connected between upper linkage members 144, 146 and provides the movable target holder with lateral support. All four linkage members are designed to move together such that they stay in a relatively parallel orientation throughout their range of motion. Upright members 150, 152 pivotally interact with the various linkage members and are designed to stay in a generally vertical orientation during operation. Optional stop brackets can be attached to either the upper or lower linkage members in order to limit the range of motion during extension of the linkage members. Springs 154 exert a downward force on the movable target holder, and are preferably attached to base 128 at a lower end and upright posts 150, 152 at an upper end so that they extend in a generally diagonal direction. The springs assist in stabilizing the various linkage members during operation, and provide a downward bias that is helpful in returning the apparatus to a concealed position.
Drive mechanism 118 is also preferably driven with pneumatic power and uses an air connection 160, a valve 162, and a single-rod actuator or air cylinder 164 to raise movable target holder 116 up and down. According to the embodiment shown here, the lower end of air cylinder 160 is attached to base 128 and the upper or rod end of the air cylinder is attached to lift bar 148; preferably, both of these connections are made with a clevis bracket or some other type of pivotal connection. Air connection 160 can include a pipe tee welded to base 128 with a standard 37-degree fitting, as an example, and the entire drive mechanism 118 is preferably protected behind an angle iron or other shielding component 166.
Target assembly 120 is designed to lift and tilt so that a target is selectively concealed from and revealed to a shooter, and generally includes a first pair of posts 180, 182 for supporting an obstruction 184, and a second pair of posts 186, 188 for supporting a target 190. Posts 180, 182 can be welded directly to upper linkage members 144, 146, respectively, or they can be attached via mounting receptacles such as those previously described. In either event, the posts 180, 182 should be fixedly attached to the upper linkage members so that a uniform angle θ is maintained during rotation of the obstruction. Obstruction 184, which is a generally flat component, is mounted to posts 180, 182 and blocks the shooter's view of target 190 when the apparatus is in a concealed position (shown in phantom lines). Posts 186, 188, on the other hand, are rotatably attached to upright members 150, 152, respectively, and are designed to stay in an upright or vertical orientation so that a varying angle ψ (extending between post 188 and upper linkage member 146) during movement of the target. As is demonstrated in
During operation, the pneumatic drive mechanism 118 moves the movable target holder 116 up and down so that the apparatus 110 is transitioned between presented and concealed positions. Beginning with the concealed position shown in phantom lines, the shooter is unable to view the target 190 because the obstruction 184 is blocking their view. Upon activation of air cylinder 164, the drive mechanism exerts a force on lift bar 148 which causes the lower and upper linkage members 140-146 to be extend upwards. As these linkage members are extending, the orientation of posts 180, 182, with respect to upper linkage members 144, 146, remains constant (angle θ) and thereby causes obstruction 184 to rotate or tilt downwardly and expose the target to the shooter. At the same time, target 190 is lifted upwardly into a presented position that can be viewed by the shooter. In the presented position, the rod of air cylinder 164 is fully extended and springs 154 are tensioned. Further activation of the pneumatic drive mechanism 118 causes a reverse action which, with the help of springs 154, quickly returns obstruction 184 and target 190 to the concealed position previously described.
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.
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.