Safety First! Arrows can kill people, so do not attempt unless you have an experienced archer on location for supervision. Know your surroundings, and make sure the shooters have a clear understanding of when they can and cannot shoot- setup a box for the target to fly in so that whenever the target leaves the box it is off limits for shooters. We are using arrows specifically designed for shooting aerial targets, and we have a large open range to shoot into. Setup clear safety rules before starting and make sure all participants understand and follow the rules. Use common sense, don’t take unnecessary risks, and have fun!
So my friends, family and I are all really into shooting sports, and lately we’ve been getting into archery too. A friend of mine is a really top-notch archer, and he practices by taking a chunk of laminated cardboard, tossing it in the air, and hitting it with an arrow before it gets to the ground. This is a ton of fun and is really challenging, but after trying my hand at it, I realized that it would be a cinch to hang a target from my heavy lift Y6 setup. The results were awesome, and after you watch the video of us having a blast, I’ll show you how we did it…
I’m using a TITAN Y6 with 16” carbon fiber booms; this is actually the very first pre-production prototype of this frame, I just can’t kill it- although it’s been treated really poorly. I did all of my flying LOS using Stabilize mode on the APM2.6. It is surprisingly manageable to fly even with this weight swinging 10ft below, although it does take a while to get the hang of it. Here’s the setup:
- TITAN Y6 with 16” CF booms and a GoPro camera mount
- SunnySky x2212-980kv motors
- Gemfan 11x4.7” slow-fly props
- 3000mAh or 6000mAh 3s battery
- HobbyKing F30A ESC’s flashed with SimonK
- APM2.6 with uBlox 6H GPS antenna
- Spektrum Dx8 radio and AR600 receiver
The target is heavy (especially when it’s full of arrows) and it’s not exactly aerodynamic, so battery life is not great. I only get about 5min up with the 3000mAh 3s and 7min with the 6000, although I usually stick with the 3000 because everyone is out of arrows after about 2 minutes of shooting, so I can get two complete flights on a charge. As you can see in the video, power isn’t a problem; even full of arrows I can fly faster than most of us amateurs can shoot.
Now onto the target. This was one of those “woah dude I just had an awesome idea!” moments, so the first iteration was thrown together in a matter of minutes with junk I had lying around. The first target was just a cardboard box that was filled with cardboard scraps, wrapped in duct tape and hung with twine (this is the target you see in the first few seconds of the video). This worked pretty well, but it was too heavy (around 1500g), and having that weight swinging 10ft below the frame made flying tricky to say the least.
After that first day, I decided it was worth refining the setup. So the first task was to make a target that would stop an arrow (harder than you might think) and be as lightweight as possible. What I ended up with was a double-wall cardboard box lined with 1” thick pink foam board insulation. I simply cut the foam board to fit each of the interior faces, then used spray adhesive to attach them to the cardboard. This brought the weight down to an easily manageable 634g.
I also decided that it would be good to have some shock absorption between the target and the copter, so the first thing I tried was replacing the twine with a long elastic cord; this was a bad idea. Every movement would cause the cord to stretch and release, the copter was constantly going from full-load to no-load to 2x-load… it made the Y6 almost impossible to fly. So instead, I used a small loop of elastic cord, with the rest of the tether made from small nylon rigging string. This ended up working perfectly, as you can see in the video; most of the hits barely shake the camera.
Finally, I decided it would be a good idea to be able to ditch the target in an emergency, so I rigged a very simple release mechanism. All it took was a metal gear servo with a small servo horn, rotating into a slot that was cut into a scrap of plastic. A keyring provided a no-tangle loop to attach the target, and a pair of strings carried the load around the battery pack right on the CG of the copter.
The quick release turned out to be a really good idea- a couple of times we tried flying in high wind, and the target just acted like a sail- luckily I was able to cut it loose and fly back safely. It also added the ability to drop the target from altitude, which made it really challenging to hit (we did get a few hits, just not on video…).
To get the aerial shots of the target, I just strapped my GoPro to the underside of the camera platform with the angle plate, this ended up pointing it in the perfect spot to catch the target in forward flight.
For those of you who are interested- we are using traditional longbows and recurve bows, and we are shooting flu-flu arrows. These arrows have really large fletching so they show up well on the ground; plus they slow down more quickly and don’t fly as far as regular arrows, which is nice when you miss and have to walk a quarter mile to pick them up.
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