The broad jump will give your dog an opportunity to jump a distance hori
zontally rather than the vertical challenge offered by normal hurdles, as Kipp shows us above. We’ve created a jump with lower boards at either end with a raised center (this allows us to run the dogs in either direction over the jump), but you can put it together so it is approached from one side, with ascending boards the entire way; you can also space the boards differently (see design notes at end of article). Assembling a jump like we’ve built here will take three to four hours and will cost about $50.
You will need a PVC pipe cutter, a sharpie, a measuring tape and a short length of 4 x 4 or another solid block with a square edge for aligning perpendicular joints.
Below are the pre-cut pieces and connectors (all for 1″ pipe), ready to be assembled. The straight pieces of pipe are about 24 feet in total length, which means you’ll need three 10-foot pieces of pipe to construct one broad jump. In addition to the pipe and connectors, you will need to buy one 16′ vinyl ranch fence rail.
1 16′ vinyl rance fence 6″ rail, cut into four 4′ pieces (1)
2 90-degree slip connectors (20)
3 1-¾” pipe stubs (22)
4 slip end caps (4)
5 “T” slip connectors (16)
6 5″ pipe sections (16)
7 4″ pipe sections (12)
8 30″ pipe poles (5)
Note on the fence rail: The trim aisle at Home Depot has a hand saw for cutting long pieces of trim to length; you will probably want to use this facility to cut the fence rail in half to get it home, as 16′ is pretty hard to handle. When you get the two eight foot pieces home, cut them in half; it’s more important to get all four pieces the same length than it is to have them be precisely four feet long. If your cut at Home Depot didn’t exactly split your rail, you should cut the shorter piece in half at home, and then cut two pieces from the remaining board to match. Bringing a tape measure and a marker to the store will help you cut the rail exactly in half, saving a step.
Please see the tips page for general hints on cutting and assembling PVC pipe. Look for the red glue symbols in the photos to show the freshly glued joints in each step.
On this particular obstacle, you’re going to end up doing the same step as many as 16 times, so it’s a nice zen activity!
Start by gluing a 7 4″ pipe section to the center connector of a 5 “T” connector.
Do that seven more times, for a total of eight (8) identical assemblies, as shown above. These are the risers for the two high boards in the center of the jump.
Next, glue one of the 3 stubs to the center connector of a 5 “T” connector.
Do that seven more times, for a total of eight (8) identical assemblies, as shown above. These are the risers for the low boards at either end of the jump. (Do you detect a pattern here?)
In the next step, we’re going to glue a 90-degree connector to every one of those subassemblies from the prior steps. Above is how we’re going to keep the connectors aligned properly. By holding the “T” flat on our work surface, we’ll twist the 90-degree connector on and hold it flat against a scrap of 4×4 (you can use anything you want as long at it is perpendicular to your work surface).
Here we’ve taken a 2 90-degree connector and have glued it to one of the short risers we created in a previous step.
And here are all 16 sub-assemblies, glued and ready to go. Zen, I tell you, zen. Just don’t zone out too much!
Next, take your four remaining 7 4″ pipe sections and glue them to the four remaining 2 90-degree connectors. These will hold the guide poles.
Now we’re ready to assemble the side rails. Shown above are the components for one of them. We will be using two of the guide pole bases we just assembled, as well as four each of the short and tall risers, arranged short-short-tall-tall-tall-tall-short-short. To join the risers to each other we will use seven 3 pipe stubs. It’s important that this entire rail’s components are coplanar, but it’s not difficult to assemble them as such. Start at one end and work your way down, pushing each new piece flat to the work surface.
Here I’ve started to assemble a rail. I found it easier to glue the stub to the next riser in line and then glue that to the existing rail.
Here’s one rail which has been glued up. Note the double glue symbols, each of which indicates a pipe stub with a glued joint to each riser.
Before setting this rail aside to dry while assembling the other one, take eight of your 6 5″ pipe sections and glue them to the rail as shown. These are the pieces that will slip inside of your boards.
Never before has “repeat for the other side” covered more ground, but, well, use your remaining 3 stubs, riser assemblies and 6 5″ pipes to create a mirror of the rail you just assembled. Our board sequence is symmetrical, so as long as you do exactly what you did the first time, you’ll be fine.
Note: If you are making an asymmetrical jump (for example, all of your boards go up like a staircase from low to high) it is critical that you glue your risers into the new rail so they mirror the risers in the rail you’ve already assembled. If you started with low on the left on the first rail, you will need to start with low on the right on the second rail. Be very careful about this–dry-assemble the second rail and hold it up to the first as they will be used together if you have any doubts at all.
Now comes the fun part. Take one of your boards and slip it over the first two pipes on one of your rails. This is a tight sliding fit and doesn’t require any glue (which will also allow you to take it apart in the future, if you want or need to). Starting the board at an angle to go over first one pipe and then the other may make things easier. Note, if your pipes seem to interfere with the ribs inside the board, just gently spread them a bit, they may just be slightly crooked but will not interfere once they’ve started.
Push the board fully home.
Repeat for the three remaining boards. If your rails came with mounting tabs, a couple of your boards may still have them, as seen on the furthest right board here. Make sure they face down for best appearances.
Lay the rail with four boards so the rail faces down. We will now insert the other rail into the boards. This will require some patience, as there are eight pipes to fit into a fairly tight space. Start with one end with the second rail at an angle to the jump assembly. Put the first pipe a fair ways into the first board, then start bringing the rail towards the jump assembly, starting each pipe as you go. Towards the third or fourth board, you’ll need to keep watch that you don’t undo your previous work as you try to get each subsequent pipe started as the angle begins to get quite shallow.
Patience is the key, they will all eventually start! Once they do, stand the jump up on the first rail and press them together so that all boards are fully seated on both rails. Shown above are both rails fully inserted into all four boards. All of the hard work is done!
Glue the 4 end caps to the 8 guide poles…
…and then glue the guide pole assemblies to the jump, and you’re done!
And there’s our finished broad jump!
There are a lot of ways to customize this jump to your own purposes:
- You can vary the length of the pipe between the pairs of risers to space the boards further apart
- You can alter the heights of the risers for shorter or taller boards (see note below), or to have the front edge of the board lower than the rear edge.
- You can use a stair-step arrangement, from low to high (which is how I believe most “professional” broad jumps are arranged)
- You could use pairs of pipes four feet long between the risers instead of vinyl fence boards. You will probably need to wrap each pair in a material to mimic a board, though.
- It may be possible to use only a single riser per board, designed to slip into the center opening of the board. This would allow you to swivel the board slightly to have a lower leading edge, and of course would just about halve the connectors needed, cut the pipe down by about a quarter, and cut the cost by perhaps 30%. However, it will not be as sturdy, and I cannot guarantee the boards will stay put despite the tight friction fit. Let me know if you try it!
Note on board height: The lowest board on our jump still has a leading edge top height that is higher (3.5″) than many official dimensions allow. This is because off-the-shelf PVC connectors don’t allow for a lower board in this design without modification. You can modify regular PVC connectors and still use this design and get the lowest board to be just a smidge over 2″ high: Cut one leg of a 90-degree connector flush with the bottom of the other leg, and cut a center “T” connector fitting off to be flush with the rest of the connector. Join these to each other with a very small pipe-stub, probably no more than half an inch long. This won’t be the strongest joint in the world but there’s not much stress on this in any case.