How to Build a Catapult to Launch Targets for Shotgun Practice

It’s been a few years that I wanted to build a catapult to launch targets into the air to shoot with my shotgun. Thanks to COVID, I finally got around to it. It has provided hours of fun and entertainment for my whole family.


Before setting out to build it, my father and I watched a few videos on the internet to get acquainted with medieval launch devices. Once we understood the parameters, we drew up a simple sketch of a catapult, bought the supplies and got to work.

Homemade Catapult to Throw Cans for Shotgun Family Fun

Rough sketch of the catapult.


Within a few hours, we had what resembled a catapult. At its core were pine 2x4s held together with screws and metal straps. A solid metal bar served as an axis for the 2×2 launch arm. I bought some super-stretchy rubber workout bands. With three of these acting the propulsion system, we were able to launch pop cans roughly 100 feet into the air.

Homemade Catapult to Throw Cans for Shotgun Family Fun

A metal dustpan with a wood shim to get the launch angle right. Very important to release the pop cans on an effective trajectory. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

A dustpan at the top of the launch arm acted as the pop can delivery system. A wood shim beneath the dust pan allowed for the can to be released at the perfect angle. A rubber tire acted as a stop for the arm.

Homemade Catapult to Throw Cans for Shotgun Family Fun

Super stretchy elastic workout bands provide the propulsion system for the catapult. (Photo: Ben Philippi/


All in all, we were very satisfied with the result. Watch the video to see it in action.

As always, I used my trusty Mossberg 500 SPX Tactical 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. I’ve owned it for roughly eight years and I’ve put a few thousand rounds through it and it has worked flawlessly. I love it and it goes bang every single time.

My trusty Mossberg 500 SPX shotgun. I’ve put a ton of rounds through this gun and it goes bang every single time. I love this gun. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

For activities like shooting pop cans from the catapult, I use basic Winchester #8 birdshot. A box of 25 shells at costs $15.

And if you’re looking for a new or used shotgun, I highly recommend Mossberg. The company’s been around for over 100 years and they make fantastic firearms. The 500, 590, and 930 series of shotguns are rock solid.


Homemade Catapult to Throw Cans for Shotgun Family Fun

The DIY catapult throws pop cans about 100 feet in distance and 60 feet in height. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

Homemade Catapult to Throw Cans for Shotgun Family Fun

The foot-activated quick-release mechanism for the catapult. Might have to register a patent on this sucker – it’s that good. (Photo: Ben Philippi/

If you enjoyed this video, check out two other similar videos below for shotgun fun.

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