How to Build a Practical Fighting Targe

A guest post from “China Hand,” on an often-requested topic: how to build your own targe!

The PFT is cheap, easy to build from readily-available materials, and rugged enough for training and combat with wooden weapons. While not as lovely as some of the exquisite examples I have seen, the PFT is not unattractive in its utilitarian way. Materials should cost under $25 if you buy new. A clever scrounger could build one for virtually nothing.

These instructions are not intended to be a course in Carpentry 101. If you are not familiar with the use of basic tools and layout procedures, get someone to help you.

Some definitions for purposes of these instructions:

Body – the main part of the targe, i.e. the round plywood part

Edging – material that coves the perimeter of the body

Grip – the handle that you grasp with your hand

Strap – holds the forearm to the targe at your elbow

Padding – goes between the forearm and the targe to cushion the arm

Cover – covers the padding and holds it in place

Outside – the side of the targe away from you

Inside – the side of the targe against your arm

Materials needed:

Plywood,- ½ inch thick and 18 to 21 inches in diameter

Hose – about 6 feet of ¾ inch i.d. hose

Padding – about 4 inches by 10 inches of some kind of padding

Cover – cloth or leather to cover the padding

Strap – 16 to 20 inches of ¾ inch wide double –sided Velcro

Hardware – 2 @ ¼ inch Tee nuts; 2 @ ¾ inch by ¾ inch bolts to fit Tee nuts; 10 @ ½ inch, flat-head screws and finish washers to fit; 2 @ 5/8 inch, flat-head screws and finish washers to fit; 9 nylon cable ties.


The body – traditional targes were about 18 to 21 inches in diameter. Unless you have a very long forearm I would go with 18 inches. A targe gets heavy during long training sessions. A 21 inch diameter piece of plywood weights 36 % more than one 18 inches in diameter. Use ½ inch thick plywood.

Draw and cut the circle in the diameter of your choice. It does not have to be a perfect circle because the edging will cover any errors to a great extent. Clean up the cut with sandpaper.

Photo 1

You do not have to paint the plywood but it does look better. I use spray paint because it dries quickly. Any paint will do. You can be as plain or as decorative as you wish.

Photo 2

Edging – the edging protects the targe from the impact of other weapons and it also makes it easier on your training partner’s arms.

Most types of hose will work for the edging. I prefer reinforced PVC water hose as it is very tough. The hose must be sliced open as you would gut a fish so it will fit over the edge of the targe. Hose has a natural curl and you should cut the inside of the curve. It is easy to cut hose open in a spiral so you must make an effort to cut a straight line.

It takes just under 5 feet of hose to cover the edge of an 18-inch targe. Take 5 feet of hose and clamp each end so that it lies straight. Mark a straight line down the centerline and cut with a sharp knife.

Photo 3

Photo 4

The hose is held to the targe with nylon cable ties. Nine ties are enough. One tie is placed about ¾ inch in from each end of the hose and the other 7 evenly distributed around the perimeter i.e. one tie every 45 degrees. For ¾ inch hose drill each of the nine holes ½ in from the edge of the targe. Holes should be an appropriate size for the cable ties you use. Starting at one end of the hose, thread the cable tie through the hole from back to front and cinch it up tight around the hose. Cut off the excess end of the tie. Work your way around the edge until the second last hole. Trim the hose to fit and do the final hole. Note that the hose stands off the edge of the targe a bit; this provides a bit of a cushion.

Photo 5

Photo 6

Photo 7

The Grip – your forearm should be centered along its length on the targe. Grasp a pencil in your fist and measure from the pencil to the crook of your elbow. Half this distance from the center of the targe is where the center of the grip will be.

The hose used to make the grip must be strong. I would use the reinforced hose here if nowhere else. You will need about a foot of hose. Clamp one end of the hose down and bend the hose in an arc like an inch worm. It is a good idea to wear padded gloves when using a targe to protect your fingers. Make sure your gloved hand, or bare hand if that is your choice, can grasp the grip comfortably.

Photo 8

Adjust the hose until it feels right and cut to length. Drill a ¼ inch hole in each end of the hose about ¾ inch in from the ends. See Photo 9 for hardware used to mount grip, pad, and cover.

Photo 9

Mark where the grip will be fastened on the plywood. Drill two 5/16 inches holes and hammer in the tee nuts from the outside.

Photo 10

Attach the grip using washers and bolts.

Photo 11

Padding and Cover – I use a piece of an old closed-cell foam camping pad but other materials would be suitable. The pad I used is about 4 inches by 10 inches; adjust yours to suit. The pad can be covered by leather or cloth. The cover needs to be larger than the pad. You can fasten the cover down with staples but I prefer to use ½ inch screws and finish washers.

Photo 12

Photo 13

The Strap – The Velcro straps have the advantage of being adjustable for different users and layers of clothing. Two 8-inch straps are long enough for me to wear a winter coat when using the targe, but you may need longer straps. Grasping the grip, locate where you want the straps to be near the crook of your elbow. Fasten the straps with two 5/8 inch screws and finish washers.

Photo 14

The ½ inch screws are not quite strong enough. If any screws poke through the front of the targe, file them flat.

You are done – happy fighting!

Photo 15

Photo 16


China Hand

One thought on “How to Build a Practical Fighting Targe”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s