Vintage shooting timers (1980s)

Timers from the Bob Hanna collection: two early electronic shooting timers.

Par Timer

The first one is a simple par timer with a headphone output.

Controls are simple but complicated: start button, headphone jack, and a row of DIP switches you use to set the par time. To get a 1.0 second par time, for example, you would set the 0.2 and 0.8 switches to “ON”.

Stop Plate Timer

Instead of using a microphone to detect shots for timing, it was a simple buzzer that only displayed one time: the time when a piezo sensor attached to a stop plate registered a hit on the plate.

It was designed to be plugged into the cigarette lighter of a car (because cars back in the 1980’s had lighters). My portable Goal Zero box worked great for powering it.

I used magnets to attach the sensor to one of my steel targets, powered up the unit, and gave it a quick test.

The display is the classic 7 segment LED.

If you watch carefully in the video, you’ll see the sensor fall off the plate when it was struck. Apparently the magnets were not strong enough to hold it on. Bob explained that it was common to have to re-attach the sensor after each run. This worked OK for USPSA stages, where each shooter only got one run before targets were scored and taped. For Steel Challenge style shooting, with 5 runs per stage, a better solution was needed. Using two screws and a few zip ties I was able to mount the sensor to a 2×4, and it stayed attached. I shot the plate with 10 rounds and then stopped when I realized that a miss passing through the 2×4 could destroy the sensor. I didn’t measure the sensor cable but it looked like I could put the sensor at least 25 yards downrange from the timer box, possibly more.

Bob kept the par timer but gave me the stop plate system to add to my collection of vintage gear and targets. It will get used, at least in demo form, at the upcoming Historical Handgun class Tom Givens and I will co-teach in April 2021 at my range.