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.

2 thoughts on “Apitir

  1. RE: Apitir Lyle, are you sure Cooper intended for the plates to roll down an incline? I’m envisioning a pair of rails, say, two parallel 20′ lengths of pipe, a pair of trucks, each with four flanged wheels, a hinged target plate on top of the truck, cabling (or rope) through a pulley at each end of the rails which changes the rope direction upward, another pulley at the top of a post which changes the rope direction 180 degrees, allowing a weight to fall, pulling the truck to the end of the “rails”.

    Two sets of “rails” joined at the center would provide 20 ft of travel in each direction, and the trucks, rails and rope could be protected with angle iron on the front.

    It shouldn’t be hard to add latches allowing one truck to move a distance before releasing the other truck, or put a second set of rails behind the first so a second set of trucks gets released. Latches could also be used to trigger a weighted shield for one, or pair, of hinged plates which are hidden behind the movers until they move a sufficient distance. Imagine this: one shot to a plate releases the two horizontal movers, their acceleration controlled by the amount of weight on the ballast end of the rope, exposing a stationary center plate that is covered (or toppled) by one of the horizontal movers at a certain distance. You’d have to hit a mover, get the center plate, and then the other mover (or combinations thereof). And since the horizontal movers are independent, different ballast weights would provide different acceleration rates. I can also see more ballast weight, and a brake of some sort on the post top pulley (a simple centrifugal clutch, perhaps?) allowing rapid early acceleration, then a constant speed through the remainder of travel.

    I see hours of frustration – and fun – with that rig.

    • 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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