Years ago I read about a fascinating pistol target device described by Jeff Cooper as an Apitir. I searched for it at the time and found nothing. I later forgot the name, which I knew only as an odd name starting with an A. After rediscovering Cooper’s description and searching for it just now, I still find nothing. If anyone is building them, or has build even one, they haven’t posted it on line by the name Apitir, and almost no one has been talking about it.

Cooper describes it in the sixth item on this page. It’s a great idea, Cooper wanted it to be widely embraced, and since no one else is talking bout it, at least under that name, well, there it is for you to ponder.

It shouldn’t be difficult to build, but I don’t quite understand what he meant by “actuated by the shooter…with the shooting hand.” Maybe he intended that your pistol be holstered as you pull a cord or some such, and then as the disks begin to roll you draw, aim and fire. My (apparently incorrect) memory of it was that you’d shoot a central target, which would release the two rolling disks. He did not indicate the angle, or pitch, of the sloped runners. A variable slope would allow you to experiment, or change the difficulty, as desired. Some experimentation would be in order, to find a rail design that reliably keeps the disks on track, and lets them fall off when hit.

I remember thinking that a magazine full of the disks, and a feeding mechanism, would allow for several actuations, or tries, before having to reset the thing. That would make it more complicated and expensive, but far more useful.

If I had any trust that it would remain unmolested by rifle fire for a number of years, I’d have one built and keep it at the Peterson range. Something like that would make a pretty sweet rifle target though, too.

One compromise design, or variation, would replace the steel disks with clay “jackrabbits” or similar targets.


1 thought on “Apitir

  1. Did you read Cooper’s description, which I linked in the post?

    “…two 10-inch steel disks running in opposite directions from the centerline, powered by gravity. The shooter releases the two disks simultaneously with his shooting hand and tries to knock each off its runner before the end of the passage, which is a matter of 10 meters each way.”

    There are of course many possible variations on this general theme, and you have described one of them. Another variation that occurred to me was the use the “self sealing” material for the rolling targets, such that it might be possible to knock them off the runners with anything from a 22 rimfire to a 500 Smith (or maybe the wind could blow them off too?).

    The “magazine” I mentioned, which would allow several tries, or target releases, before a reset, could be as simple as extending the runners up and beyond their intersect point, loading multiple targets on each runner above that point, and releasing them in turn using a simple clockwork escapement mechanism.

    I don’t see it as a terribly challenging build in any case, but targets rolling directly on a runner would be simpler. Maybe one of the challenges would be to keep the targets running on-track while the ten meter long track itself gets pummeled by near misses.

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