Title:
SHOOTING GALLERY DEVICES AND METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Shooting gallery devices and methods are disclosed herein. In one embodiment, a shooting gallery includes a plurality of targets rotatably connected to a plurality of target connectors. The targets rotate between an extended position and a fallen position. The target and target connector assembly at least partially retains the targets in the extended position and/or prevents the targets from rotating from the extended position to the fallen position. Furthermore, the targets and target connector assemblies are configured to reset from the fallen position to the extended position without a rail guide or reset cam.



Inventors:
Potterfield, Russell A. (Columbia, MO, US)
Gianladis, Jim (Columbia, MO, US)
Birk, Adam (Lohman, MO, US)
Dreyer, Terry (Columbia, MO, US)
Kinney, Tim (Columbia, MO, US)
Zhou, Yan-jiang (Columbia, MO, US)
Zara, Robert J. (Rocheport, MO, US)
Morrow, Tim (Jefferson City, MO, US)
Dale, Jacob (Moberly, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/844980
Publication Date:
07/24/2008
Filing Date:
08/24/2007
Assignee:
Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. (Columbia, MO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/407, 273/366
International Classes:
F41J9/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PERKINS COIE LLP - SEA General (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. An automatic shooting gallery, comprising: a first plate; a support frame coupled to the first plate; a power source; a conveyor driven by the power source, wherein the conveyor travels in a predetermined path having an active zone and a return zone; a plurality of target connectors coupled to the conveyor; and a plurality of targets being movable between an extended position and a fallen position, the targets are rotatably connected to the target connectors, wherein the target connectors at least partially retain the targets in the extended position in the active zone of the path, and wherein the targets in the fallen position are configured to reset to the extended position from the fallen position during the return zone of the path without the aid of any other mechanism.

2. The shooting gallery of claim 1, further comprising a second plate coupled to the frame, wherein the targets at least partially rest against the second plate in the fallen position in the active zone.

3. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein each target connector comprises a protrusion at least partially retaining the targets in the extended position.

4. The shooting gallery of claim 3 wherein the target connectors further include protrusions configured to at least partially resist rotating the targets from the extended position to the fallen position, such that a first force is required to move the targets from the extended position past the protrusions to the fallen position, and a second force is required to reset the targets from the fallen position past the protrusions to the extended position, and wherein the first force is greater than the second force.

5. The shooting gallery of claim 4 wherein the first force comprises an impact force of a projectile.

6. The shooting gallery of claim 4 wherein the second force comprises gravity.

7. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein each target connector comprises a stop, wherein the stop at least partially supports the targets in the fallen position in the active zone.

8. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein: each target connector further includes a sleeve configured to receive a rotation device, the sleeve further configured to receive a locking removable pin.

9. The shooting gallery of claim 8 wherein the sleeve is integral with the target.

10. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein the targets are removable without the use of a tool.

11. The shooting gallery of claim 1, further comprising an adjustable conveyor tensioning device.

12. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein the power source is configured to drive the conveyor at different speeds.

13. The shooting gallery of claim 1, further comprising a remote control for directing the power source.

14. The shooting gallery of claim 13 wherein the remote control is wireless.

15. The shooting gallery of claim 1, further comprising a conveyor guide positioned proximate to the conveyor, wherein the conveyor guide at least partially maintains the conveyor on the predetermined path when the targets move from the extended position to the fallen position.

16. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein the plurality of targets are nonmetallic.

17. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein a geometry of the targets distributes a target weight such that the target weight at least partially retains the targets in the extended position.

18. The shooting gallery of claim 1 wherein the shooting gallery is sized to allow a user to hand carry the gallery.

19. An automatic shooting gallery, comprising: a frame; one or more gears rotatably coupled to the frame; a power source coupled to the one or more gears; a conveyor disposed on the one or more gears, wherein the power source drives the conveyor through a loop comprising an active zone and a return zone; a plurality of target connectors coupled to one or more of the gear; and a plurality of targets, wherein individual targets comprise a bracket that removably and pivotally couples the targets to the individual target connectors, and wherein the targets are configured to rotate between extended and fallen positions and wherein the bracket is configured to at least partially retain the targets in the extended position in the active zone.

20. The shooting gallery of claim 19, wherein the targets are non-metallic.

21. The shooting gallery of claim 19 wherein the bracket further includes a protrusion for at least partially retaining the targets in the extended position.

22. The shooting gallery of claim 21 wherein the protrusion is configured to at least partially resist rotating the targets from the extended position to the fallen position, such that a first force is required to move the targets from the extended position to the fallen position, and a second force is required to reset the targets from the fallen position to the extended position, and wherein the first force is greater than the second force.

23. The shooting gallery of claim 21 wherein the target connectors further comprise a stop that at least partially contacts the protrusion when the targets rotate, wherein the protrusion provides a greater rotational resistance in the direction of rotating from the extended position to the fallen position than in the direction of rotating from the fallen position to the extended position.

24. The shooting gallery of claim 19 wherein the targets further comprise a geometry configured to at least partially rotate the targets from the fallen position to the extended position.

25. The shooting gallery of claim 19 wherein the targets are constructed of a composite material.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/679,136 filed Feb. 26, 2007, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60,776,469, filed Feb. 24, 2006, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein in their entirety by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure is directed to shooting galleries and methods of operating shooting galleries.

BACKGROUND

Shooting galleries have existed for many years, providing amateurs and professionals alike the opportunity to shoot a firearm at a moving target for fun, skill, sport, enjoyment, and/or practice. Shooting galleries range from those found at amusement parks using numerous types of projectiles (water, cork, beans, BB's) to galleries designed for high power rifles. Conventional shooting galleries include multiple targets moving on an endless chain or belt in front of a shooter. As the targets pass laterally in front of a shooter, the shooter attempts to hit the targets with a projectile to knock the targets over. When a shooter successfully hits a target, the target temporarily disappears from view. The target then travels around a loop and reappears upright in front of the shooter. Most shooting galleries typically reset the targets by using a complex system including guides, reset cams and target rails to direct the targets upright again. One example of a shooting gallery device requiring a target rail to reset and retain the targets in an upright position along the target track is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,736,400 issued to Cesternino. These components increase the cost, complexity, size and weight of the gallery.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is an isometric view and FIG. 1B is a side view of a shooting gallery configured in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2A is a schematic front view and FIG. 2B is a schematic back view of a shooting gallery configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3A is an isometric view and FIG. 3B is an enlarged isometric view of a target and target connector subassembly configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention. FIG. 3C is a schematic side view taken along the line 3C-3C of FIG. 3B, and FIG. 3D is a schematic side view taken along the line 3D-3D of FIG. 3B.

FIG. 4A is a side view of a shooting gallery configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. FIGS. 4B and 4C are isometric views of a target and target connector, respectively, configured in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 5A-5F are schematic side views, FIG. 5G is a schematic front view, and FIGS. 5H and 5I are schematic side views of subassemblies configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 6A and 6B are isometric views of subassemblies configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 7A and 7B are schematic isometric views and FIG. 7C is a schematic side view of subassemblies configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 8A and 8B are schematic side views of subassemblies and FIG. 8C is an isometric view of a shooting gallery configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 9A and 9B are side views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 10A-10B are schematic front views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 11A-11E are schematic back views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 12A is a schematic front view and FIGS. 12B and 12C are schematic back views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 13A is an isometric view of a power source protective housing and FIG. 13B is a partial back view of a power cord protection member configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A. Overview

The following disclosure describes several embodiments of shooting galleries. One aspect of the invention is directed to an automatic shooting gallery. In one embodiment, a shooting gallery comprises a first plate, a frame coupled to the first plate, a power source, and a conveyor driven by the power source. The conveyor travels in a predetermined path and includes a shooting zone and a return zone. A plurality of target connectors are coupled to the conveyor. The shooting gallery further comprises a plurality of targets that are movable between an extended position and a fallen position. The targets are pivotally connected to the target connectors, and the target connectors at least partially retain the targets in the extended position when the targets are positioned in the shooting zone. The targets at least partially rest against the target connectors in the extended position during the shooting zone of the path. The targets in the fallen position are configured to reset to the extended position from the fallen position during the return zone of the path without the aid of a resetting mechanism.

In another embodiment, the shooting gallery comprises a support frame, one or more gears rotatably coupled to the frame, a power source coupled to the one or more gears, and a conveyor disposed on the one or more gears. The power source drives the conveyor through a loop including a shooting zone and a return zone. The shooting gallery further includes a plurality of target connectors coupled to the conveyor and a plurality of targets retained by the target connectors. In another embodiment, the individual targets include a sleeve portion that removably and pivotally couples the targets to the individual target connectors. The targets are configured to pivot between extended and fallen positions, and to move laterally across the shooting gallery in a first direction through the shooting zone and in a second direction opposite the first direction through the return zone.

In another embodiment, the shooting gallery includes a target connector assembly including a target having a first portion and a target connector including side portions. The side portions can have an aperture configured to removably receive a pivot member. The first portion of the target is pivotally coupled to the pivot member. The assembly may be configured to increase the force required to pivot the target from an extended position to a fallen position.

In another embodiment, the shooting gallery includes a target connector assembly having a first portion that slidably engages a target connector retention guide rail that is mounted to a support member on the shooting gallery. The target connector may be configured so that the targets do not touch the target connector retention guide rail when they are in the extended position.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a method of moving targets across a shooting gallery. The method comprises driving a conveyor with a power source through a cycle having a shooting phase and a return phase, wherein a plurality of target connectors are attached to the conveyor. The method further comprises pivotally connecting individual targets to the plurality of target connectors and moving the targets laterally across the shooting gallery in a first direction during the shooting phase. The targets move in the first direction and rotate between an extended position and a fallen position. The method further comprises moving the targets in a second direction opposite the first direction laterally across the shooting gallery during the return phase. In the return phase targets in the fallen position automatically reset to the extended position without the aid of a resetting device.

Another embodiment of the invention includes a method of connecting a plurality of targets to a shooting gallery. The method comprises attaching a plurality of target connectors to a conveyor that travels in a loop relative to the shooting gallery and pivotally coupling a target to each of the target connectors with a removable pin. The pin is inserted through a sleeve portion of the targets such that the targets rotate about the pin between an extended position and a fallen position. The pin may include a torsion spring to urge the targets from the fallen position to the extended position. Alternative, the targets automatically reset from the fallen position to the extended position without contacting any other device.

Specific details of several embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to shooting galleries and shooting gallery assemblies. Several details describing well-known structures or processes often associated with shooting galleries are not set forth in the following description for purposes of brevity and clarity. Also, several other embodiments of the invention can have different configurations, components, or procedures than those described in this section. A person of ordinary skill in the art, therefore, will accordingly understand that the invention may have other embodiments with additional elements, or the invention may have other embodiments without several of the elements shown and described below with reference to FIGS. 1-5.

B. Embodiments of Shooting Galleries

FIG. 1A is an isometric view and FIG. 1B is a side view of a shooting gallery system 100 configured in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment, the system 100 includes a first plate 110 attached to feet 114 and a support frame 120. The first plate 110 protects other components of the system 100 from projectiles fired at the system 100. For example, the first plate 110 can be made of a material, such as steel, suitable for withstanding a varied caliber of projectiles. The first plate 110 includes a first side 111 that is angled slightly downward to deflect projectiles toward the ground. In other embodiments, the first plate 110 may include a receptacle (not shown) to catch or collect the deflected projectiles. The feet 114 include elongated members 116 to provide a stable base for the system 100 and to at least partially prevent the system from moving or falling when a projectile strikes the first plate 110. In certain embodiments, the feet 114 may include spiked or pointed ends (not shown) to facilitate embedding the feet 114 into the ground. The feet 114 may also be removably attached to the first plate 110 to facilitate transport or storage of the system 100; may fold into the system 100 to facilitate transport or storage; or may be fixedly attached to the first plate 110 to facilitate a more rugged construction. The illustrated feet 114 are configured to space the system 100 away from the ground at a height H. The feet 114 may be adjustable to adjust the angle or distance between the system 100 and the ground. For example, the angle between the system 100 and the ground may be adjusted to compensate for uneven ground or to stabilize the system 100 against a various caliber projectiles.

According to one embodiment, the support frame 120 is connected to a power source 130 (shown in FIG. 2B) that drives a conveyer 140. The conveyor 140 can be a flexible conveyer that travels around the system 100 in an endless loop along a predefined path, as explained below regarding FIGS. 2A-B. For example, the illustrated conveyor 140 is a belt; however, in other embodiments the conveyor 140 can include a wire, strap, cable, chain (e.g., a linked chain or roller chain), or any other device suitable for traveling around the system 100. In certain embodiments, the conveyer 140 is mounted so that a plane bisecting the conveyer's longest axis is not perpendicular to a horizontal plane. The conveyor 140 travels over one or more gears (not shown) coupled to a tension device 136 (shown in FIG. 2B) that is configured to adjust a tension in the conveyor 140. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2B, the tension device 136 includes a set screw 137 that can increase or decrease the tension of the conveyor 140. Referring again to FIGS. 1A and 1B, the system 100 further includes a plurality of target connectors 150 attached to the conveyor 140. In certain embodiments, the target connectors 150 can be brackets, hinges, magnetic couplings, or mechanical or electromechanical connection means as are known in the art. Embodiments of the target connectors 150 are described in more detail below with respect to FIGS. 3A-3B and 4C. Individual targets 170 are rotatably and removably attached to corresponding connectors 150 to move the targets 170 along the predefined path of the conveyor 140.

FIG. 2A is a schematic front view and FIG. 2B is a schematic back view of an embodiment of the shooting gallery system 100. Like reference characters refer to like components in the Figures, and thus the description of such components will not be repeated with reference to all of the Figures. As illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B, a few of the targets 170 are rotated into a fallen position 214. The conveyor 140 moves the target connectors 150 and attached targets 170 laterally across the system 100 in a first direction 202a in an active zone 210, and in a second direction 202b opposite the first direction 202a in a return zone 220. In the active zone 210, the targets 170 are in an extended position 212 such that at least a portion of each target 170 is visible to a shooter when viewing the system 100 from the first side 111. When the shooter fires a projectile and successfully hits a target 170 in the active zone 210, the target 170 rotates to the fallen position 214, which is out of view of the shooter in the active zone 210. In the fallen position 214, the targets 170 continue to travel with the conveyor 140 until they are reset to the extended position 212 in the return zone 220.

In certain embodiments, gravity at least partially aids in rotating and resetting the targets 170 from the fallen position 214 to the extended position 212 when the targets 170 are in the return zone 220. Accordingly, fallen targets 170 automatically rotate from the fallen position 214 to the extended position 212 as they pass through the return zone 220. Thus, gravity provides a sufficient force to rotate the targets 170 from the fallen position 214 into the extended position 212. In other embodiments, the target connectors 150 include a torsion spring or other mechanical device to urge the targets 170 from a fallen position 214 to an extended position 212. In addition, in certain embodiments, the configuration of the targets 170 and/or target connectors 150 disclosed herein, provides an eccentric weight over center to at least partially help reset the target 170 without the aid of a target rail or a resetting cam. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1B, a support portion 172 of each of the targets 170 is configured to be generally parallel with the first plate 110 in the extended and fallen positions 212, 214. As such, the targets 170 tend to pivot towards the first plate 110 from the fallen position 214 to the extended position 212 in the return zone 220. The targets 170 also tend to pivot towards the first plate 110 in the extended position when they are passing through the active zone 210. In other embodiments the targets 170 can be otherwise configured to reset without the aid of an external mechanism. For example, additional weight (not shown) may be attached to the support portion 172 of individual targets 170 to increase the tendency for the targets 170 to reset to and stay in the extended position 212. In still further embodiments and as described below, the system 100 can include other features or components configured to move the targets 170 from the fallen position 214 to the extended position 212, or to at least partially aid in doing so.

During operation, the targets 170 travel through a transition zone 230 between the return zone 220 and the active zone 210. Because the targets 170 have automatically righted themselves to the extended position 212 in the return zone 220, the targets 170 enter the transition zone 230 in the extended position 212 and travel through the transition zone 230 in the extended position 212. Accordingly, in certain embodiments no guide rail, target rail, reset cam or other reset surface or structure for contacting the targets 170 is necessary to reset them from the fallen position 214. In addition, in certain embodiments the targets 170 are configured to travel through the active zone 210 without a support or other device contacting the support portion 172 of the targets 170 while in the extended position 212. In other embodiments, however, the system 100 can include support members, resetting members or other devices to reset or support the moving targets 170.

Eliminating the need for contact surfaces or structures to reset or support the targets 170 reduces the complexity of the system 100. As described below, the target connector 150 and geometry of individual targets 170 can be configured to support the targets 170 in both the extended position 212 and the fallen position 214 without requiring contact from other structures or devices. Accordingly, these embodiments eliminate the need for contact structures to reset the targets 170 or for a guide rail or other structure to support the targets 170 as they move. As such, the configuration of these embodiments can result in fewer components of the system, as well as in reduced cost and weight of the system 100.

In certain embodiments, the system 100 includes a second plate 112 (illustrated in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2B). The second plate 112 can at least partially cover components of the system 100 and also aid in restricting the rotation of the targets 170 in the fallen position 214. For example, the targets 370 may contact and rest against the second plate 112 in the fallen position, in addition to, or in lieu of stops provided in the target connectors 150 as described below. One advantage of the second plate 112 is that the second plate 112 protects the other components of the system 100 from stray projectiles or fragments from projectiles. In addition, as the targets 170 are repeatedly struck with projectiles, the targets 170 can bend or deform. As a deformed target 170 travels through the active zone 210 in the fallen position, the second plate 112 can accordingly at least partially shield components of the system 100 and prevent deformed targets 170 from contacting or damaging these components. Furthermore, the second plate 112 can also stabilize the conveyor 140 when a target moves from the extended position 212 to the fallen position 214. For example, the pivoting movement of the targets 170 can occasionally cause other targets 170 to also fall. As such, at least partially supporting the targets 170 in the fallen position 214 with the second plate 112 can provide stability for other targets in the extended position 212 and further can inhibit bounce back.

In certain embodiments, the system 100 can further include a wireless remote control unit 240 for controlling the movement of the targets 170 in the system 100. In other embodiments the remote control unit 240 may be electrically connected to the power source 130 with a wire (not shown) of suitable length (e.g., 40 feet in a specific embodiment) to provide a safe shooting distance. Alternatively the remote control unit 240 may be a radio frequency (RF) controlled remote. The remote control unit 240 can direct the speed and direction of the target 170 movement by controlling the speed and direction of the conveyer 140. For example, in certain embodiments the remote control unit 240 can include a rheostat or potentiometer for speed adjustment. The remote control unit 240 can also be configured to vary the target speed from a maximum to a minimum over a period of time, such as periods of three seconds in a specific example. The remote control unit 240 can also be configured to periodically stop the targets 170 from moving. Accordingly, the remote control unit allows a shooter to adjust the target travel speed from a safe distance to provide a dynamic target shooting experience. In alternative embodiments, a remote control unit 240 is not used and the shooting gallery 100 is operated by a power switch (not shown) contained on the system 100.

FIG. 3A is a schematic isometric view of a subassembly 300 configured in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 3B is an enlarged isometric view of components of the subassembly 300. Referring to FIGS. 3A and 3B together, the target assembly 300 includes a target 370 pivotally connected to a target connector 350. In the illustrated embodiment, the target 370 includes a target head 310, an upper portion 372 extending from the target head 310, and a lower portion 374 extending from the upper portion 372 to a sleeve 340. The lower portion 374 includes an upper surface 376 and a lower surface 378. In certain embodiments, the target 370 can be formed of a single piece of material suitable for being repeatedly shot with guns of varied calibers. For example, the targets 370 can be formed of a single piece of hardened steel. The target 370 can also be formed from several pieces of material mechanically or otherwise fastened together. The illustrated target head 310 includes a generally round shape. In other embodiments, however, the target head 310 can include different sizes and shapes or configurations, such as, for example, animal shapes, face card symbols, bull's-eyes, stars or other shapes. In certain embodiments, the target head 310 is made from metal or a metal alloy. Alternatively, the targets can be nonmetallic, such as a ceramic, cardboard, composite, paper or the like.

The illustrated target 370 includes a geometry that at least partially assists the target 370 in pivoting from the fallen position to the extended position without the use of any other contact device, as described above. For example, the target 370 can include a bend between the target head 310 and the upper portion 372, and a bend between the upper portion 372 and the lower portion 374. The illustrated geometry of the target 370 also allows the target head 310 to be oriented generally perpendicular to a projectile source, such as a gun.

In one aspect of the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the target 370 is pivotally connected to the target connector 350. The target connector 350 includes a bottom surface 351 and sidewalls 352 extending from the bottom surface 351. The sidewalls 352 are spaced apart from each other to allow at least part of the lower portion 374 of the target 370 to pass between the sidewalls 352 as the target 370 rotates. The target connector 350 further includes an opening 354 in each sidewall 352 to removably receive a pin 380. The pin 380 is inserted through the sleeve 340 to allow the target 370 to rotate about the pin 380. The illustrated pin 380 includes an aperture 382 for inserting a removable retaining member 384, such as a cotter pin, to retain the pin 380 in the target connector 350.

In certain embodiments, the target connector 350 is configured to restrict the rotation of the target 370 so that a support member or other device is not required to support the target 370. For example, the target connector 350 can restrict the position of the target 370 in the fallen position and in the extended position (the target illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B is in the extended position). Accordingly, the target connector 350 can include a stop 360 configured to restrict the rotation of the target 370 and support it in the fallen position. As the target 370 rotates to the fallen position, the upper surface 376 contacts the stop 360 thus halting the rotation of the target 370. The stop 360 can be an integral component with the target connector 350, or the stop 360 can be attached to the target connector 350. As illustrated in FIG. 3A, in the extended portion of the lower surface 378 of the target 370 rests against the bottom surface 351 of the target connector 350 to halt the rotation of the target 370 as the target 370 rotates into the extended position. According to alternative embodiments, the target connector 350 can include a bracket, hinge, magnetic coupling, and/or other mechanical or electromechanical device configured to control or restrict the rotation of the target 370 about the target connector 350.

The configuration of the target 370 and the target connector 350 illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B can provide many benefits, offering a variety of advantages over existing shooting galleries. For example, the configuration of the target connector 350 allows a shooter to change the target 370 as it becomes worn or deformed. Moreover, a shooter can change or replace the target 370 without using a tool as the retaining member 384 keeping the pin 380 in the sleeve 340 is easily removable. In addition, a shooter can replace individual targets 370 with a preferred shape, size or a combination of different shapes and sizes, thereby adding variability to the target selection. Furthermore, the configuration of the target 370 and target connector 350 eliminates the need for a contact member or rail to support the target 370 in the extended position during the shooting phase or to reset the targets 370 from the fallen position to the extended position.

Although the embodiments described above offer the many described advantages, another challenge associated with conventional shooting galleries is keeping unintended targets from rotating to the fallen position. For example, targets that are struck with a projectile are often struck with such a great impact force that they can cause other unintended targets to also fall. Accordingly, some of the embodiments described below address this problem and at least partially retain the targets in the upright and extended position. For example, FIGS. 3B-3D illustrate additional features of the corresponding targets 370 and target connectors 350 to at least partially retain the targets 370 in the upright extended position.

FIGS. 3C is a side cross-sectional view along the line 3C-3C of FIG. 3B, and FIG. 3D is also a side cross-sectional view along the line 3D-3D of FIG. 3B. Referring to FIGS. 3B-3D together, the sleeve 340 of the target 370 includes a circular or annular body 342 having an outer surface 344. In certain embodiments, a first protrusion 362 (shown in broken lines) is positioned on the outer surface 344 and has a gradually increasing thickness forming a ramp or wedge-like configuration. The first protrusion 362 includes a contact surface 364 configured to contact the stop 360 to initially and at least partially impede rotation of the sleeve 340 in the direction indicated by the arrow 365 representing the direction that the target 370 falls. The configuration of the first protrusion 362, including the gradually increasing thickness, allows the sleeve 340 to rotate more easily in the direction indicated by an arrow 366 representing the direction that the target 370 rotates into the extended position. Accordingly, the first protrusion 362 can at least partially retain or lock the targets 370 in the extended position and at least partially prevent targets that are not struck with a projectile or other unintended targets from rotating to the fallen position. Although the illustrated first protrusion 362 extends across only a portion of the width of the sleeve 340, in other embodiments the first protrusion 362 can extend the entire width of the sleeve 340. In alternative embodiments and as described below, other retaining devices can include a magnet, electromagnetic device or a mechanical retention means to retain target assemblies against certain forces.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the target connector 350 includes a second retaining device illustrated as a second protrusion 368 (shown in broken lines) on the sidewall 352 of the target connector 350. The second protrusion 368 can be positioned proximate to the lower portion 374 of the target 370 and configured similarly to the first protrusion 362 of the sleeve 340. For example, the second protrusion 368 can at least partially resist the rotation of the target to the fallen position, unless a sufficient impact force, for example from a projectile, is applied to the target head 310. The second protrusion 368 contacts the lower portion 374 of the target 370 as it rotates to the fallen position, and accordingly at least partially retains the target 370 in the extended position. Similar to the first protrusion 362, the second protrusion 368 allows the lower portion 374 to more easily rotate past the second protrusion 368 in the direction toward the extended position from the fallen position. In alternative embodiments, the second retaining device can be a magnet, an electromagnetic device or a mechanical retention means to retain target assemblies against certain forces.

FIG. 4A is a side view of a shooting gallery system 400, FIG. 4B is an isometric view of a target 470 and FIG. 4C is an isometric view of a target connector 450 according to further embodiments of the invention. Referring to FIGS. 4A-4C together, the illustrated system 400 is generally similar to the system 100 described above with reference to FIGS. 1A-2B. For example, the system 400 includes the first plate 110 attached to the frame 120, and the conveyer 140 coupled to the tension device 136. The system 400 includes, however, another embodiment of feet 414 having elongated members 416 configured in a stabilizing geometric configuration. The illustrated system 400 further includes the target 470 and corresponding target connectors 450 illustrated in FIGS. 4B and 4C. The target 470 includes a target head 410 and support portion 472 having an upper surface 474 and a lower surface 478. The illustrated target 470 includes only a single bend between the head 410 and the support portion 472. The target 470 also includes a sleeve 440 to attach the target 470 to the pin 380.

The target connector 450 illustrated in FIG. 4C includes features generally similar to the target connector 350 described above. For example, the target connector 450 includes first and second sidewalls 352 each having the opening 354 configured to receive the pin 380 to attach corresponding targets 470. The illustrated target connector 450, however, also includes first stops 460 to contact the upper surface 474 of the target 470 in the fallen position. The target connector 470 also includes second stops 462 to contact the lower surface 478 of the target 470 in the extended position (see, e.g., FIG. 4A). Accordingly, the first and second stops 460, 462 restrict the rotation of the target 470 to limit the range of motion from in the fallen and extended positions. The target connector 450 further includes a tab 480 extending from the sidewalls 352. The tab 480 extends from the target connector 450 to contact a conveyor retention device 482 attached to the first plate 110 of the assembly 400. As shown in FIG. 4A, the tab 480 can slidably engage the retention device 482 when the targets 470 rotate around the system in the extended position. In operation, as the targets 470 rotate to the fallen position, the twisting motion of the conveyor 140 can cause other unintended targets 470 to also fall and rotate to the fallen position. Accordingly, the retention device 482 can contact the tabs 480 of corresponding target connectors 450 to prevent the conveyor 140 from twisting during projectile impact. In certain embodiments, the first stops, 460, second stops 462 and tab 480 can be integral components forming a single piece construction of the target connector 450. In other embodiments, however, these components can be separate components that are individually attached (e.g., welded) to the target connector 450.

FIGS. 5A-5F, 5H and 5I are schematic side views of subassemblies 520, 530, 540, 550, 560, 570, 580 and 585, respectively, and FIG. 5G is a schematic front view of a subassembly 575, each of which are configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention. The subassemblies illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5I include various embodiments for supporting a target 508 in the extended position while the target 508 is presented to the shooter (e.g., in the active zone shown 210 in FIG. 2A). The targets 508 illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5I can have a configuration generally similar to the target 470 described above and illustrated in FIG. 4B. For example, the targets 508 include a head 510 and a support portion 512 coupled to a target connector 518. The target connectors 518 can also be configured to have features generally similar to some of the features of the target connectors described above. In the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 5A-5I, however, the target connector 518 is not required to have a stop to contact and support the support portion 512 of the target 508 when the target 508 is in the extended position. Rather, other means are used to support the target 508 in the extended position. More specifically, the subassembly 520 illustrated in FIG. 5A includes an embodiment wherein the target 508 is supported and slides against a top portion 503 of the first plate 110. Accordingly, the illustrated embodiment provides the benefit of using the existing first plate 110 as the support for the target 508, rather than including a stop in the target connector 518 or a separate rail assembly.

In the subassembly 530 illustrated in FIG. 5B, the target 508 includes a forward extension member 532 projecting from the support portion 512 of the target 508 towards the interior surface of the support plate 110. The support plate 110 includes a corresponding support member 534 projecting towards the target 508 and positioned generally below the extension member 532. In certain embodiments, the support member 534 can extend the width of the first plate 110, and the extension member 532 can accordingly slide along the support member 534 while the target 508 is in the extended position. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the extension member 532 and the support member 534 can have different shapes and configurations than those illustrated in FIG. 5B, for example, the support member 534 can be a cable or an adjustable contact bar which can be removeably attached to the first plate 110 and/or the frame 120. In certain embodiments, the extension member 532 and the support member 534 can be integral components of the target 508 and the first plate 110, respectively. In other embodiments, however, these members can be separate components attached to the target 508, the first plate 110 and/or the frame 120.

In FIG. 5C, the subassembly 540 includes a cable member 542 running generally parallel to an interior surface 501 of the first plate 110 in the active zone. Accordingly, the support portion 512 slides along the cable member 542 and is supported by the cable member 542 as the target 508 moves in front of a shooter in the extended position. In other embodiments the cable member 542 can include other configurations, such as, for example, a wire, rope, cord, string or other suitable member to support the target 508. Further, the cable member 542 can be adjustable to calibrate a target resistance to moving between the extended position and the fallen position.

In the subassembly 550 illustrated in FIG. 5D, the target 508 includes a rear extension member 552 projecting from the support portion 512. The rear extension member 552 projects in a direction away from the first plate 110 and is configured to contact a support member 554 as the target 508 rotates into the extended position. The support member 554 accordingly stops and retains the target 508 as it rotates into the extended position. In certain embodiments the support member 554 may be V-shaped to allow a contact surface for the rear extension member 552 and/or the head 510. In certain other embodiments, the support member 554 can be attached to portions of the shooting gallery assemblies described above. For example, in certain embodiments, the support member 554 can be attached to the second plate 112 or the frame 120 (see, e.g., FIGS. 1A and 1B). In addition, similar to the embodiments described above, the rear extension member 552, as well as the support member 554, can be integral or separate components with the target 508 and other structures of the shooting gallery assemblies.

In the subassembly 560 illustrated in FIG. 5E, a flexible connector 564 is attached to a target connector 562 and the support portion 512 of the target 508. The flexible connector 564 has a fixed length to retain the target 508 in the extended position. The illustrated target connector 562 includes an elongated base 563, and the flexible connector 564 is attached to the target connector 562 at an attachment location 565 behind the target 508. The flexible connector 564 is also attached to the support portion 512 of the target 508 proximate to the target head 567. In certain embodiments, the connector 564 can have an adjustable length to alter the rotation of the target 508 towards the extended position. In certain embodiments, the flexible connector 564 can be composed of a braided wire, chain, cable, rope, cord, string or other suitable flexible connector.

The subassembly 570 illustrated in FIG. 5F includes one or more magnetic sources to retain the target 508 in the extended position and at least partially prevent the target 508 from unintentionally rotating to the fallen position. For example, in the illustrated embodiment the support portion 512 of the target 508 includes a first magnet 572, and the first plate 110 includes a second magnet 574. The first and second magnets 572, 574 create an attractive force to at least partially retain the target 508 in the extended position proximate to the first plate 110 as the target passes in front of a shooter. In the illustrated embodiment, the first and second magnets 572, 574 are at least partially embedded in the target 508 and the first plate 110, respectively. In other embodiments however, either magnet can be embedded or attached to the target 508 or first plate 110. In certain embodiments, the second magnet 574 can extend the entire width of the first plate 110. In other embodiments, however, the second magnet can extend a shorter distance in the first plate 110. Moreover, in certain embodiments, one of the first and second magnets 572, 574 can be omitted from the subassembly. For example, in embodiments where the targets 508 are composed of a magnetically attractive material (e.g., steel), the targets 508 may not include the first magnet 572. Conversely, in embodiments wherein the first plate 110 is composed of a magnetically attractive material, the second magnet 574 may be omitted.

FIG. 5G is a front view of a subassembly 575 including a pin 576 pivotally connecting the target 508 to the target connector 518. In one aspect of the illustrated embodiment, the target connector 518 is configured to retain the target 508 in the extended position. More specifically, the target connector 518 includes a protrusion 577 extending towards a sleeve 578 of the target 508 such that the protrusion 577 contacts the sleeve 578 when the target 508 is fully extended in the extended position. The protrusion 577, however, does not contact the sleeve 578 during the range of motion from the fallen position to the extended position. As such, the sleeve 578 has a channel 579 corresponding to the protrusion 577 to allow the sleeve 578 to freely rotate over the protrusion 577 in the range of motion when the target is not in the extended position. When the target 508 is in the fully extended however, the protrusion 577 is not positioned within the channel 579 and the sleeve 578 rotates onto the protrusion 577 to retain the target 508 in the extended position. In certain embodiments, the tolerances between the pin 576 and the sleeve 578 can be configured to accommodate a slight displacement of the sleeve 578 as the sleeve 578 rotates onto the protrusion 577.

The subassembly 580 illustrated in FIG. 5H includes a first target 508a sliding along a support member 581 in the active zone (i.e., in the extended position) and a second target 508b that is not supported in the return zone 220 (see, e.g., FIGS. 2A and 2B). More specifically, the first plate 110 includes a support member 581 projecting towards the first target 508a. The support member 581 can be configured to be generally similar to the support member 534 described above and illustrated in FIG. 5B. For example, the support member 581 can contact and support the target 508a while the target moves in the extended position. In this embodiment, however, the first target 508a does not include an extension member, but rather the target 508a itself contacts the support member. Accordingly, as the target 508a moves in the extended position it contacts and slides along the support member 581. In the return zone 220, however, the target 508b does not contact other members and relies on gravity alone to reset into the extended position. In certain embodiments, the support member 581 can be a cable, an adjustable bar or other supporting structure as would be understood by one skilled in the art.

The subassembly 585 illustrated in FIG. 5I is generally similar to the subassembly 580 illustrated in FIG. 5G, except that in this embodiment, the second target 508b contacts and slides along a support member 586 in the return zone 220, and the first target 508a is only supported by the target connector 518 in the active zone 210. Accordingly, a support member 586 extends from the interior surface of the first plate 110 towards the second target 508b in the return zone 220. The support member 586 is configured to at least partially help reset the targets as they move from the return zone 220 into the active zone 210. In certain embodiments, the support member 586 can be a cable, an adjustable bar or other supporting structure as would be understood by one skilled in the art.

FIGS. 6A and 6B are isometric views illustrating subassemblies 610, 620, respectively, which are also configured to support a target 602 in the extended position. Referring to FIG. 6A, the illustrated target 602 is in the extended position and can have a configuration generally similar to the target 370 described above with reference to FIG. 3A. For example, the target 602 pivotally connects to a target connector 608 with a pin 612, and includes a target face 603 to be struck by a projectile. The illustrated target connector 608, however, is coupled to a roller chain having a plurality of links 615. More specifically, support members 618 (identified individually as first and second support members 618a, 618b) are coupled to opposite sides of a corresponding link 615. Individual stops 614 are positioned on the first and second support members 618a, 618b, and the target connector is removably attached to a corresponding stop 614 and support members 618a, 618b. In certain embodiments, a fastener 611 (e.g., a bolt, screw, etc.) can be inserted through each of the target connector 608, stop 614 and respective support member 618a, 618b. Each stop 614 includes an upright member 616 projecting from the stop 614 to contact a corresponding protruding member 604 (identified individually as first and second protruding members 604a, 604b) projecting from the target 602. The protruding members 604 project laterally from sides of the target 602 to contact the upright members 616. Accordingly, as the target 602 rotates into the extended position, the laterally protruding members 604 contact the corresponding upright members 616 of each stop 614 to halt the rotation of the target 602 and support the target 602 in the extended position.

The configuration of the subassembly 620 illustrated in FIG. 6B is generally similar to the subassembly 610 illustrated in FIG. 6A. In this embodiment, however, the target 602 includes a curved forward extension member 606, rather than the laterally protruding members 604 illustrated in FIG. 6A, to support the target 602 in the extended position. More specifically, the forward extension member 606 projects from the target 602 and generally curves towards a chain link 615 below the target 602. As the target 602 rotates forward into the extended position, the forward extension member 606 contacts corresponding first support members 618a proximate to the chain links 615. Because the forward extension member 606 directly contacts the first support member 618a, the target connector 608 can be attached (e.g., with the fastener 611) to first and second support members 618a, 618b without any intervening structure.

In certain embodiments, the target 602 can also include an optional curved rearward extension member 607 (shown in broken lines) projecting in a direction generally opposite from the forward extension member 606. The rearward extension member 607 projects from the target and curves towards the second support members 618b proximate to the chain link 615 below the target 602. As the target 602 rotates to the fallen position, the rearward extension member 607 is rotated to contact the second support members 618b. Accordingly, the illustrated configuration of the subassembly 620 can restrict the rotation of the target 602 and support the target 602 in the extended and fallen positions without the aid of any other structure or device.

FIGS. 7A-7C illustrate additional embodiments of subassemblies 710, 720 and 730 having other features configured to restrict the rotation of the targets, as well as support the targets in the extended or fallen positions. FIG. 7A, more specifically, is an exploded isometric view of a subassembly 710 including a target 704a pivotally coupled to a target connector 712a with a pin 718a. Certain aspects of the subassembly 710 can be generally similar to aspects of the embodiment described above with reference to FIGS. 3A-3C. For example, the target connector 712a includes spaced apart sidewalls 715 each having an opening 714 to receive the pin 718a. In the illustrated embodiment, however, the target 704a does not freely rotate about the pin 718a. Rather, the target 706a has a sleeve 706a including a securing member 707 (e.g., a set screw, bolt, pin etc.) to secure the sleeve 706a to the pin 718a such that the target 704a rotates with the pin 718a.

Each sidewall 715 of the illustrated target connector 712a includes a protrusion 716 (identified individually as first and second protrusions 716a, 716b) extending into each of the openings 714. The illustrated pin 718a includes a slot 720 aligned with the first and second protrusions 716a, 716b extending into the openings 714. In certain embodiments, the slot 720 can extend the entire length of the pin 718a. In other embodiments, however, the slot 720 can be at end portions of the pin 718a to engage the protrusions 716. The slot 720 has a width W that is greater than a thickness T of each of the protrusions 716a, 716b. The width W of the slot 720 corresponds to the range of rotation of the target 704a from the extended position to the fallen position. Accordingly, as the pin 718a rotates in the openings 714, the first and second protrusions 716a, 716b engage the slot 720 to limit the rotation of the pin 720. Because the sleeve 706a is secured to the pin 718a with the securing member 707, the rotation of the target 704a is limited to the rotation of the pin 718a.

The subassembly illustrated in FIG. 7B includes a target 704b that having a sleeve 706b that limits the rotation of the target 704b, rather than the pin 718a illustrated in FIG. 7A. In this embodiment, the sleeve 706b freely rotates about a pin 718b. The sleeve 706b, however, is configured to contact the target connector 712b to restrict the rotation of the target 704b. More specifically, the sleeve 706b includes a channel 708 at an outer surface of the sleeve 706b that engages a protrusion 717 extending from a base 713 of the target connector 712b. In certain embodiments, the channel 708 can extend the entire length of the sleeve 706b, and the protrusion 717 can extend between the sidewalls 715. In other embodiments, however, the channel 708 can extend along the sleeve 706b at a certain distance corresponding to a length of the protrusion 717. The protrusion 717 has a thickness T that is less than a width W of a channel 708. The width W of the channel 708 corresponds to the range of rotation of the target 704b from the extended position to the fallen position. Accordingly, as the sleeve 706b rotates about the pin 718b, the protrusion 717 engages the channel 708 to limit the rotation of the target 704b between the extended and fallen positions.

FIG. 7C is a side view illustrating another embodiment of a subassembly 730 having features configured to limit the rotation of a target 732 (shown as an extended target 732a, and in broken lines as a fallen target 732b). In the illustrated embodiment, the target 732 is carried on a chain 737 and interacts with an elliptical link 738a of the chain 737 to limit the rotation of the target 732 between the extended and fallen positions. In the illustrated embodiment, a first link 738a of the chain 737 is shown extending out of the plane of the page, and a second link 738b is shown extending into the plane of the page. The target 732 includes a target face 734 shown facing to the left, and a lower portion 735 of the target 732 is positioned within the elliptical link 738a. In the extended position, an upper surface 740 of the target 732a contacts an upper portion of the link 738a and a lower surface 742 of the target 732a contacts a lower portion of the link 738a. When a projectile (not shown) strikes the target face 734, the lower portion 735 of the target 732 pivots in the link 738a until the link 738a restricts the rotation of the target 732. The target 732 also includes an enlarged end portion 736 to prevent the target 732 from slipping out of the link 738a.

In certain embodiments, the shooting galleries disclosed herein can also include features configured to reset targets from the fallen position to the extended position. FIGS. 8A and 8B, for example, are schematic side views of subassemblies 810 and 820, respectively, configured to reset a target 802 pivotally attached to a target connector 804. Referring to FIG. 8A, the subassembly 810 includes an extended target 808a (shown in broken lines), and a fallen target 808b. The subassembly 810 includes a rotating member 806 that is configured to move the fallen target 802b into the extended position. More specifically, the rotating member 806 includes a support surface 808 that contacts and lifts the target 802b. When the rotating member 806 is actuated, it rotates about a pivot point 809 in the direction indicated by an arrow 805. The rotating member 806 can accordingly be pivotally attached to a component (not shown) of the shooting gallery to rotate the fallen target 802b about the target connector 804 and into the extended position.

The subassembly 820 illustrated in FIG. 8B includes a biasing member 826 configured to urge the fallen target 802b into the extended position. When the target 802b moves into the fallen position, a retaining member 822 having a catch 824 retains the target 802b and compresses the biasing member 826. In certain embodiments, the subassembly 8B can be configured such that when the target connector 804 moves across the shooting gallery 802b, the catch 824 is released and the biasing member 826 pivotally urges the target 802b away from the target connector 804 into the extended position.

FIG. 8C illustrates a further embodiment of a shooting gallery system 830 configured to reset fallen targets 802 to the extended position. In the illustrated embodiment, a plurality of targets 802 (identified individually as extended targets 802a, fallen targets 802b, transition targets 802c and return targets 802d) move around system 830 in the direction indicated by an arrow 831. The assembly 830 also includes a first cover plate 832 and a second cover plate 834, each of which can be configured and positioned to protect the internal components of the assembly 830. The second cover plate 834 can also act as a support surface for the fallen targets 802b. The targets 802 can contact and slide against the first cover plate 832 as they rotate into the fallen position. A reset member 836 engages the fallen targets 802b to move them into the extended position as the fallen targets 802b slide along the first cover plate 832. A first portion 838 of the reset member 836 engages the fallen targets 802b and a curved geometry of the reset member 836 lifts them off of the first cover plate 832 and towards a support member 840. For example, as illustrated by the transition target 802c, the reset member 836 urges the transition target 802c into the extended position and onto the support member. The support member 840 can accordingly support the transition targets 802c and the return targets 802d in the transition and return zones, respectively.

FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrate additional embodiments of shooting gallery systems 910 and 920, respectively, including features configured to generally cushion or at least partially absorb the force from the toppled targets. More specifically, FIG. 9A is a side view of the shooting gallery system 910 with targets 170 (identified individually as targets first, second, third and fourth targets 170a-170d). The first target 170a is shown in the extended position and the second target 170b is shown in the fallen position, both of which are in the active zone 210 (see, e.g., FIG. 2A). The third target 170c has reset to the extended position in the return zone 220 and the fourth target 170d is moving through the transition zone 230 (see, e.g., FIG. 2A). In one aspect of the illustrated embodiment, target connectors 904 connect individual targets 170 to the conveyor 140. Individual target connectors 904 include a forward stop 906 configured to support the targets 170 in the extended position. The target connectors 904, however, do not include a rear stop to inhibit to stop or inhibit the rotation of the targets 170 into the fallen position. Rather, the system 910 includes an impact absorbing member 912 coupled to the second plate 112. The absorbing member 912 can extend the width of the second plate 112 and be positioned on the second plate 112 to contact the heads of the targets 170 as they rotate into the fallen position. Accordingly, the force of the falling target 170b is spread throughout the absorbing member 912 and not returned to the target 170b. In one aspect of the illustrated embodiment, the absorbing member 912 includes an extension 914 projecting from the absorbing member 912 and second plate 112. The extension 914 adds energy dissipating mass to the absorbing member 912 to at least partially dissipate the force of the falling targets 170. In certain embodiments, the absorbing member 912 can be composed of a resilient material, such as an elastomer or rubber material, to partially cushion and absorb the force of the toppled targets 170. In other embodiments, the absorbing member 912 can have other configurations or be made from different materials.

The system 910 illustrated in FIG. 9A also includes a reinforced upper portion of the first plate 110. More specifically, the first plate 110 includes a strip 901 of reinforcement material attached to the first plate 910 at a location that is likely to be repeatedly struck with projectiles. In certain embodiments, the strip 901 can be composed of the same material as the first plate 110 and increase the thickness of the upper portion of the first plate. In other embodiments, the strip 901 can be an integral part of the first plate 110. The strip 901 provides the benefit of reinforcing the upper portion of the first plate 110. As such and in certain embodiments, the remainder of the first plate 901 can be made to have a thinner cross-section to conserve material for cost and weight purposes.

The illustrated system 910 also includes legs 902 (identified individually as a first leg 902a and a second leg 902b) having independently adjustable feet 903. The feet 903 can be threadably engaged with corresponding legs 902 to provide an elevation adjustment. For example, rotating a foot 903 can adjust a height of the foot with reference to the corresponding leg 902. The system 910 can accordingly be used on uneven terrain or support surfaces.

FIG. 9B is a side view of a shooting gallery system 920 configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The illustrated system 920 includes features generally analogous to the system 910 illustrated in FIG. 9A. For example, the target connectors 904 include the forward stop 904 to support corresponding targets 170 in the extended position. In one aspect of the illustrated embodiment however, the target connectors 904 include a rear stop 908 to inhibit the rotation of the targets 170 in the fallen position, rather than relying on the second plate 112 (illustrated in FIG. 9A) to stop the targets in the fallen position. The system 920 also includes a resilient member 922 configured to retain the targets 170 in the fallen position. In certain embodiments, the resilient member 922 can be attached to first and second support members 921, 923 extending from the second leg 902b of the system 920. In other embodiments, the resilient member 922 can be attached to other components. In the illustrated embodiment, the resilient member 922 has a generally wedge-shaped configuration including a tapered end portion 924. The tapered end portion 924 is positioned such that the uppermost portions of the heads of the targets 170 contact and deflect the end portion 924 as the targets 170 rotate into the fallen position. The resilient member 922 is configured such that the impact force of the falling targets is sufficient to deflect the tapered end portion 924 to pass beneath the resilient member 922. Once the targets 170 rotate into the fallen position and beneath the resilient member 922, they will not be able to bounce back up past the resilient member 922. The resilient member 922 can have a length (not shown) that extends most of the width of the system 910. Once the targets 170 have traveled outside the length of the resilient member 922, they can reset or be reset to the extended position without interference from the resilient member. Accordingly, the resilient member 922 prevents unintended targets 170 from falling by at least partially absorbing the impact force of the targets 170 that are hit by a projecting and retaining the fallen targets 170 in the fallen position.

FIGS. 10A-10B are schematic front views of alternative shooting gallery configurations in accordance with further embodiments of the invention. More specifically, FIG. 10A is a schematic front view of an embodiment of a shooting gallery system 1010. Like reference characters refer to like components in the Figures, and thus the description of such components will not be repeated with reference to all of the Figures. As illustrated in FIG. 10A, the shooting gallery system 1010 allows presentation of targets 1004a, 1004b, 1004c along multiple sections of the system 1010. The system 1010 is oriented in a vertical direction such that targets 1004a are presented along a first side section 1008a, targets 1004b are presented along a top section 1009, and targets 1004c are presented along a second side section 1008b. The shooting gallery configuration shown in FIG. 10A provides the shooter the opportunity to shoot at targets moving up/down, and left/right, thus providing a more challenging shooting scenario.

FIG. 10B is a schematic front view of yet another embodiment of a shooting gallery system 1022. The shooting gallery system 1022 includes attachment device 1024 configured to suspend the shooting gallery system 1022 from a tree or other support structure and targets 1004. The attachment device 1024 can be a chain, rope, cable, bar or similar attachment mechanism suitable for suspending the system 1022 from a support structure.

FIGS. 11A-11E are schematic back views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention. In the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 11A-11E, various linear motion devices for moving the targets are illustrated. For example, FIG. 11A illustrates a shooting gallery system 1110 including worm gear 1106, drive motor 1108, support bracket 1112, a plurality of target connectors 1104 corresponding to a plurality of targets 1102 and a controller 1114. The worm gear 1106 rotary movement is illustrated by arrow 1113. The rotation of the worm gear 1106 causes the targets 1102 to move in a left-right direction as illustrated by directional arrow 1111. The rotation of the worm gear 1106 can be reversed at the controller 1114, by means of an automatic timer associated with the motor 1108, and/or by an actuator or captured spring system as is known by those skilled in the art.

FIG. 11B illustrates a shooting gallery system 1120 including a linear actuator 1122, a plurality of target connectors 1104 corresponding to a plurality of targets 1102 and a support member 1128. The linear actuator 1122 includes a drive shaft 1124 coupled to an extension member 1126. The extension member 1126 couples to the drive shaft 1124 at a proximal end and rests on a support member 1128 at a distal end. The linear actuator 1122 moves the drive shaft 1124 which in turn moves the extension member 1126. The target connectors 1104 couple to the targets 1102 and to the extension member 1126 to move the targets 1102 with the extension member 1126 as the extension member 1126 moves in a left-right direction as illustrated by directional arrow 1111.

FIG. 11C is similar to FIG. 11B except the actuator in FIG. 11C is hydraulic. Thus, FIG. 11C illustrates a shooting gallery system 1130 including a hydraulic actuator 1132, a plurality of target connectors 1104 corresponding to a plurality of targets 1102 and support members 1138. The hydraulic actuator 1132 includes a hydraulic hose 1134 coupled to an extension member 1136 by coupling 1135. The extension member 1136 couples to the hydraulic hose 1134 at a proximal end and rests on support members 1138 at the proximal and the distal end. The target connectors 1104 couple to the targets 1102 and to the extension member 1136 to move the targets 1102 with the extension member 1136 as the extension member 1136 moves in a left-right direction as illustrated by directional arrow 1111. As discussed above, the targets 1102 may be reset by an actuator, a captured spring system, a controller, or similar means.

FIG. 11C illustrates a shooting gallery system 1130 including piston actuators 1142a, 1142b, an extension member 1146, a support member 1148, and a plurality of target connectors 1104 corresponding to a plurality of targets 1102. The piston actuators 1142a, 1142b include pistons 1144a, 1144b configured to contact the extension member 1146 at a distal and a proximal end. The extension member 1146 pivots about the support member 1148 at an approximate mid-point. The target connectors 1104 couple to the targets 1102 and slidably connect to the extension member 1146 to allow the targets 1102 to slide along the extension member 1146 as shown by arrow 1141 when the piston actuator 1142a is in an extended position and piston actuator 1142b is in a withdrawn position (or vice versa). Targets 1102 move in a left-right direction as illustrated by directional arrow 1111.

FIG. 11C illustrates a shooting gallery system 1130 including gear actuators 1152a, 1152b, 1154a, 1154b, an extension member 1156, and a plurality of target connectors 1104 corresponding to a plurality of targets 1102. The gear actuators 1152a, 1152b, 1154a, 1154b are configured to drive the extension member 1156, shown in the illustrative embodiment as a chain, at a distal and a proximal end. The extension member 1156 is supported by the gear actuators 1152a, 1152b, 1154a, 1154b. In certain embodiments, a gear or other support member (not shown) may further be included at a midpoint or along the length of the extension member 1156 to provide additional support. The target connectors 1104 couple to the targets 1102 and to the extension member 1156 to move the targets 1102 with the extension member 1156 as the extension member 1156 moves in a left-right direction as illustrated by directional arrow 1111.

FIG. 12A is a schematic front view and FIGS. 12B and 12C are schematic back views of shooting galleries configured in accordance with further embodiments of the invention. FIGS. 12A and 12B illustrate a shooting gallery system 1210 including two rotary members 1206a, 1206b rotationally moving targets 1202 as illustrated by directional arrow 1211. The rotary members 1206a, 1206b shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B move independently, thus allowing one to rotate at a different speed than the other. The rotary members 1206a, 1206b further include target connectors 1204 coupled to targets 1202 shown in a configuration that presents the targets 1202 to the shooter at fixed interval distances. In certain embodiments, the targets 1202 may be presented in intervals of varying distances. In FIGS. 12A and 12B, the front face of the shooting gallery system 1210 is curved to reveal more targets 1202 at one time. Alternatively, the front face of the shooting gallery system 1210 could be of any other geometric shape to all more or fewer targets to be revealed to the shooter.

FIG. 12C illustrates a shooting gallery system 1220 including two rotary members 1206a, 1206b linked by an actuator 1222. The actuator 1222 may include a chain, rope, belt, cable, or any other actuator as described above. The rotary members 1206a, 1206b shown in FIG. 12C move in unison, thus allowing each to rotate at the same speed. As in FIGS. 12A and 12B, the rotary members 1206a, 1206b further include target connectors 1204 coupled to targets 1202. Similar to the shooting gallery system 1210 shown in FIGS. 12A and 12B, the target 1202 movement in shooting gallery system 1220 is rotary as illustrated by directional arrow 1221.

FIG. 13A is an isometric view of a protective housing 1300 for use with the shooting gallery. The protective housing 1300 can at least partially surround the power source 130 (see, e.g., FIG. 2B) to shield the power source from the projectiles. In certain embodiments, wires that connect the power source 130, (e.g., a battery) or remote control are shielded from projectiles with cable shields, shown in FIG. 5B. FIG. 5B, more specifically, illustrates power cord protection members 1310 adjacent to the power cord (not shown) and positioned to protect the power cord from stray projectiles. The illustrated power cord protection members 1310 are shown connected generally at a right angle, however, as understood by one skilled in the art, the protection members 1310 could be U-shaped, C-shaped, tubular or the like. Furthermore, the protection member 1310 can be made of any material suitable to protect the power cord from a projectile, such as, for example, steel.

D. Conclusion

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words “comprise,” “comprising,” and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in a sense of “including, but not limited to.” Words using the singular or plural number also include the plural or singular number, respectively. When the claims use the word “or” in reference to a list of two or more items, that word covers all of the following interpretations of the word: any of the items in the list, all of the items in the list, and any combination of the items in the list.

The above detailed descriptions of embodiments of the invention are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed above. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described above for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize. For example, while steps are presented in a given order, alternative embodiments may perform steps in a different order. The various embodiments described herein can be combined to provide further embodiments.

In general, the terms used in the following claims should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification, unless the above detailed description explicitly defines such terms. While certain aspects of the invention are presented below in certain claim forms, the inventors contemplate the various aspects of the invention in any number of claim forms. Accordingly, the inventors reserve the right to add additional claims after filing the application to pursue such additional claim forms for other aspects of the invention.

The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. All of the U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety. Aspects of the invention can be modified, if necessary, to employ shooting galleries, targets and target supports with various configurations, and concepts of the various patents, applications, and publications to provide yet further embodiments of the invention.

These and other changes can be made to the invention in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all shooting galleries, targets and target supports that operate in accordance with the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the disclosure, but instead its scope is to be determined entirely by the following claims.





 
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