Block of the Week: Target
Ready, aim, redstone!
Until recently, if you wanted to host an archery competition in Minecraft, you had two options. The first was to shoot at live prey – either hostile mobs from a spawner, or passive mobs (noooo not the sheep!).
The second was to use a button, which activates when shot. But buttons are tiny, so the whole thing was really hard. That’s why, at Minecon Live 2019, we introduced a solution. The target block, which will be making its way into the game in update 1.16 – the Nether Update.
To make one, you’ll need a hay bale and four piles of redstone arranged around it in a 3x3 crafting grid. Now here’s where the magic happens. Plop down a target, take a few steps back, and then throw something at it. An egg, a snowball, a splash potion, a firework rocket, an ender pearl, a trident, or a good ol’ fashioned arrow from a bow. All of them will work.
When hit, the target will give off a few ticks of redstone power, with the amount of power proportional to how close your projectile hit the centre of the block. Hit the edge? You’ll get a signal of 1. If you manage to hit it right in the bullseye, though, you’ll get a signal strength of 15. An observer will also detect if the block has been hit.
Once the archery competition is over, you can break the target again and take it home. A target can be broken with any tool, or even your bare hands, but a hoe is the fastest way.
In the real world, shooting targets have been around since before we started recording history. Hunter-gatherers likely practiced their spear-throwing and arrow-shooting on trees, and perhaps even some sort of purpose-built target like a mound of dirt, way back in the Stone Age.
The earliest record we have of archery contests dates back to China 3,000 years ago, but the modern sport of target archery can trace its origins to England during the 14th century. The English had just invented the longbow, and it was considered the country’s most important weapon but was kinda difficult to use. So in 1363, by royal decree, a law was enacted that obliged all Englishmen to practice archery on Sundays and other holidays. The law wasn’t fully repealed until 1960.
You might be wondering why archery targets look the way they do – with concentric circles. This probably originates from the coiled straw mats that early competitions used to quickly see who shot closest to the center of a target. The design originated sometime before the mid-1700s, but their exact origin is lost to history.
Circles don’t exist in Minecraft, of course, so our targets are concentric squares instead. This is good news for you, the player, because it gives you a larger area to hit. That in turn will make you look more impressive to your friends and family – just one of the little services we perform for you every day. You’re welcome.