Keeping kids (and adults) entertained on the shooting range at 4H Shooting Sports can be a challenge, especially after a couple of seasons of creative shooting situations from Top Shot on the History Channel. The running joke is, "What can we shoot that's fun and won't cost us more than about five bucks?" as it seems most of our funds and fund-raising goes towards ammunition to keep approximately 80 4H'ers shooting each year.
One item I came up with is a Balloon Dueling Tree. All you need are some Step-In Electric Fence Posts at about a $1.79 each from a farm supply store like Tractor Supply Company and some balloons.
The step-in electric fence posts are usually fiberglass, polymer, or a combination of both (I don't recommend steel posts due to safety concerns) with a little foot-step to press the pointed end into the ground and several clips to hold the electric fence wires that also work great for holding balloons.
The fiberglass and polymer construction holds up pretty well except for direct hits from bullets and doesn't seem to cause any problems with deflecting bullets or ricochets. Even if you do shoot your balloon dueling tree, it usually takes several hits to ruin all the clips that hold the balloons.
We have come up with all sorts of games, shooting sequences, and timed events with these balloon dueling trees and you can increase the difficulty of each game by reducing the balloon size or increasing the distance to target and even the wind can add to the fun by wobbling your balloons around. Kids (and adults) who aren't shooting (or some of your liberal friends or anti-gunners) can use their hot air to keep a steady supply of targets ready to go.
For the zombie hunters and mall-ninjas that don't think this is very cool, you can always get black or camo balloons in the birthday party supply aisle at Walmart and call it a Tactical Target Support Structure.
Go ahead and try it... and if you don't like it, you're out... like... five-bucks.
Remember to follow the gun safety rules, check beyond your target, and have fun!
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