Skip to comments.Shooting Hobbyist Invents Eco-Friendly Target
Posted on 03/10/2005 2:22:34 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Joe Schroeder is a man who isn't afraid to pull the trigger on an inventive idea.
Living on a portion of his family's farm in Juneau, the self-employed 44-year-old used to spend time pondering ways to fire his shotgun at targets across the open spaces. But, an environmentally conscious shooting hobbyist, Schroeder could not bring himself to fire a single shot.
"I couldn't shoot trap because of the crops. The shot was bad for an animal's digestion," said Schroeder, who also didn't want exploding clay targets, which contain significant levels of petroleum pitch, to sprinkle his mother's vegetable garden.
His predicament is not uncommon among rural Wisconsin residents who enjoy shooting trap but want nothing to do with polluting the land, which can be their livelihood. Schroeder, a man with a mind for business who once produced and sold machines to recycle television cables, turned his sights toward a solution.
By developing a non-toxic chemical formula which mixes with water "the formula is a secret and only my dog knows, and he's not talking" Schroeder's Ice Blasters solution is poured into molds, tossed into the freezer and can be hand-thrown just like any sporting target. Subsequent blasting comes secure in the knowledge that the shattered target is environmentally safe.
In fact, no cleanup is required.
"It's all completely biodegradeable. I actually ate a piece of one, but I don't recommend anyone do that because it's not made under sterile conditions," said Schroeder, who began selling from his company line (Ecotargets) a year ago and uses it at home or at nearby Pumpkin Center Sportsman's Club where "we always have to clean things up that people blow up."
Dan Small, host of public television's "Outdoor Wisconsin," caught wind of the product last summer. He and a film crew met up with Schroeder, who was armed with a shotgun and a hand-held cooler to store the targets, on a 90-degree day in July to get a first-hand look.
"My first thought was, There's nothing to this. It's just an ice cube.' In fact, they don't look any different than if you left a saucer of water out for a cat and it froze," said Small, whose episode about the targets was recently aired on PBS. "But they fly amazingly well. ... the flying birds, when hit with a shotgun charge, disintigrate just like a clay target."
Small and Schroeder shot flying and hanging ecotargets.
"Each target exploded satisfactorily, there was a clear result in shooting, but the most impressive factor is it's totally biodegradeable and can be used anywhere you can safely shoot," said Small, who found only wet spots when he searched for debris.
Cami Peterson, a water management specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said her agency has no problems with his product, which includes the use of natural color dyes.
"They're made out of ice, so you can't get much more natural than that," Peterson said.
Small can only shake his head.
"This falls into the category of Why didn't I think of this!' It's like the Hula Hoop and the pet rock ... every once in a while a product comes along like that. It's a simple concept, but it works," Small said.
The Ice Blasters can be produced in the form of birds, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, stars or saucers. They aren't conducive to all operations for which targets are loaded they have to be hand-thrown or hand-loaded into a mechanical trap, especially in warm weather but Schroeder said he's working on machinery that would work in fast-trap league shooting and hopes to be able to produce an ice maker "to keep popping them out."
Products for purchase include a trap shooting kit ($9.95), sporting clay kit ($19.95), rifle range kit ($9.95), trap adaptor kit ($3.50) and additional molds and colorants for day or night shooting.
"For a guy and a kid who just want to go out and do some shooting, it's a good deal," said Randy Firari, president of the Pumpkin Center Sportsman's Club, which is about an hour's drive northeast of Madison.
Firari, who is from rural Reeseville, said he was especially impressed with the rifle range kit.
Schroeder's targets can be viewed and purchased at www.ecotargets.com and can be purchased by calling 1-920-927-3899, writing to Ecotargets, W7742 Lighthouse Road, Juneau, WI 53039 or sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ecotargets products also can be purchased by contacting Dan Small at http://dansmalloutdoors.com.
I am not sure if this is a huge problem, but there is clearly a solution and yummy at that.
thought you might appreciate this one.
I don't really have an opinion. This guy seemed to think that the targets were a problem for his livestock, so he came up with a solution. That was the point. When it comes down to it, if all other things are equal, it makes sense to chose that which does less damage to the environment.
I noticed that you're from Germany. My wife is from Stuttgart. We were in Frankfurt, Munich, and finally Dresden a few weeks ago.
Am I missing something here? Its great he made biodegradable targets, but is he stillusing steel or lead shot when he shoots them?
As usual...I am confused.
People like you give a bad name to Republicans. WE WANT TO DESTROY THE EARTH, remember????
My dad goes to garage sales and buys trinket type kid's toys for my kids to shoot at when they visit. He's got two pillow cases full of the junk.
One solid plastic pig absorbed at least a dozen .22 rounds before it threatend to split apart.
How envoromentally friendly is something if it requires the use of electricity to keep it frozen? Doesn't the electrical plant burning fossil fuels put out more polution to maintain the cold temperatures of the freezer than what the original clay targets produced?
Oh yeah, the rapture and stuff. Have fun.
It might be interesting to learn that the Hindu religion has lots of raptures. Each incarnation of Vishnu has happened to save the Earth from sinking.
Of course the 10th and final incarnation is Vishnu as a vengeful god that kills all non-Hindus. So much for passive resistance.
Sorry about the weather.
No, not the Rapture. Heck, I'm not even Christian.
No, I refer to our innate desire as Republicans to destroy the ecosphere. It is genetically ingrained in all of us to pollute. I, for example, intend to build a vast network of factories that spew toxic chemicals into pristine rivers, bellow thick noxious gasses into clear blue skies, and export leaking drums of toxic and dangerous chemicals to be placed in untouched wilderness areas.
What will my factories build, you ask?
Nothing. Their sole purpose will be to pollute. That's what my business model is: No product, just pollution.
I'm gonna be RICH!
I personally have released quite a few tons of toxic, greenhouse gases. It is probably the extra spicy chicken wings.
I may need to hire you as a Global Warming Specialist.
Pollution -- It's Not Just A Good Idea, IT'S THE LAWTM.
Am I missing something here? Its great he made biodegradable targets, but is he stillusing steel or lead shot when he shoots them? As usual...I am confused.
No more confused than I am. I found myself wondering what kind of animals he's planting as his crops. :=) Just how deep do you plant chickens?
"Rrrrrroll that beautiful skeet footage..."
Now shooting clubs need a freezer that pumps these things out automatically. Just plug it up and pour the solution in. In a little while it ejects the frozen ones out of the mold and it refills itself to make more.
Environmentalism is more about feeling "morally superior" (wherever that's derived from) to "polluters" rather than anything to do with the environment.
Hmmmmm. Make 'em out of BS and water Fire, Fertilize, Forget...
Colorant? I don't know about your hometown but I can't remember the last time (15 years??) I was able to buy tinted toilet paper because the dye was harmful to the environment.
My son started this years ago. We were at a private range and the president of the club was furious when he thought we were shooting glass. We told him we were shooting ice and he pleasantly surprised. We also told him since it was a hot day he could help himself to a cold one.
I have to admit, shooting ice "clays" from an automatic freezer sounds like a great idea for a tournament.