Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hanging Plate Match Rules and Equipment

If your gun club is looking for a fun yet competitive match for both new and experienced shooters, and one that doesn't require a lot to make the equipment, you might consider a "Hanging Plate" match. Hanging Plate matches are similar to some versions of Falling Plate matches, but it doesn't require a complicated plate rack/target. A hanging plate match could be set up in an indoor range, and move the target rack for each distance, or at an outdoor range, and move the shooting positions for each distance.

A Hanging Plate on its hook.

First, I should mention that the hanging plate targets I'll be discussing are intended to be used with nothing larger than .22 LR ammunition. You will need to make 24 steel disks (called plates), preferably out of 3/8" steel plate, but nothing lighter that 1/4". Make 6 plates 4" in diameter, 6 plates 5" in diameter, 6 plates 6" in diameter, and 6 plates 7" in diameter. Drill one hole near the edge of each plate so it can be hung on the hook.

The Hanging Plate Rack.

The rack to hang the plates can be made out of just about anything you have on hand, but the rack at Central Whidbey is made from rebar. The uprights and crossbar could be made out of 2x4's too. Our rack is probably taller than it needs to be. You will want to make the rack solid enough that hitting one plate doesn't set the rest of them swinging!

From the crossbar you need to mount six 1/4" diameter steel rods, each with a hook bent in the lower end of the rod to hang the plates. Make the hook a full 180 degrees, so hitting the plate will swing it around, but not knock it off of the hook. Space the rods 16" apart.

Finally, if you are shooting at an outdoor range and you want to move the shooting position rather than the target rack to change the distance, you need to come up with a portable shooting station table of some sort. One of those blue plastic barrels will work just fine if you have one available, otherwise a small table will work just fine.

The Pocket Pro Shot Timer.

The only remaining items needed are a shot timer like the Pocket Pro, and a clip board and paper to record the times.

At CWSA we shoot two classes, one for optical sight guns, and one for conventional or "iron" sight guns. If we had a few more revolver shooters, that would also be a class.

Steve shooting, LouG running the timer, and Al recording the scores.

The basic procedure and rules are simple, and you can change them around if you like to suit your needs. Set the timer to beep a second time six seconds after the first beep so shooters will know when the six seconds have expired.

We use a "Low Ready" starting position with the gun pointed down at a 45 degree angle. You could also choose to use a "Muzzle on the Table" start position. It's up to you, either will work fine.

After the beep, the shooter has six seconds to fire six times, one at each plate. All shots fired within the six seconds count, and shots fired after the six seconds has expired don't. Any shots fired beyond the first six shots are also not counted. Each shooter makes 3 runs of six shots. Scoring is the total number of plates hit. After everyone has had their three runs, or "Shot Strings", the distance is increased to 15 yards, and the 5" plates are used. Again, everyone shoots three shot strings. Once everyone has shot at the 15 yard distance, the plates are changed to the 6" plates, and the distance increased to 20 yards. Finally, the distance is increased to 25 yards and the 7" plates are used.

After a number of shooters have shot, we re-paint the plates with white spray paint to make it easier to tell if a shot hit or not. Usually there's a good "Plink" sound, but an edge hit isn't always easy to tell.

When all of the shooters have finished, each shooter should have fired 72 total shots, 18 from each distance. Scoring couldn't be much easier, just add up the plates hit!

That's all there is to it! It's a lot of fun, and one of our most popular events. We charge $5.00 entry fee, and first place gets a buck per shooter in his class as prize money, so it's also a good fund raiser for our club. Why not give it a try at YOUR club?

I should also credit LouG for putting these matches together in the first place. Great job, Lou!


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