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The life of a wooden knocker is dependent on such things as the wood (type, knots, dryness, etc.), the power and caliber of the ammo, and luck. The larger knockers tend to take more abuse. If you split one, then perhaps you are too good--set up the now smaller pieces and try that again. They will last longer with smaller calibers (such as the .22LR) and may explode in a spectacular display of splintering wood with more powerful calibers (such as .44 Mag HP or a 12ga slug). I prefer to use my .22LR Henry rifle and old S&W revolver, with an occasional mag or two of FMJ 9mm from one of my Berettas. I have even tried my dad's WWII 7.7mm Arisaka rifle--but the bullets (FMJBT) travel so fast they sometimes pass through the knocker without moving it.
These knockers are very simple to make, all you need are a saw (power miter saw would be helpful) and common two-by dimensional lumber (2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 2x10, or 2x12). Cut them into square pieces (respectfully, 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, 10x10, or 12x12)--or cut them into other fun shapes with your bandsaw. At a safe distance, arrange them on a heavy wood base (4x6, 6x8, 8x8, or perhaps an old railroad tie; don't use metal, the ground, or anything like bricks, stones, or cinder blocks), then have some fun.
Knockers are not just fun, but they can be good practice too. In order to maximize their value for improving accuracy and learn proper sight picture, use consistent size knockers at a constant distance. For example, for .22 rifle practice try 4x4 knockers at 25 yards. When that becomes too easy, try the same knockers at 50 yards. To better gauge your improvement, stick Dayglo sighting pasters in the center of the blocks. They come in 1, 2, and 3 inch diameters and can be found here: Dayglo Sighting Pasters
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