I'm making a game where you have to hit targets, kind of like whack-a-mole except the targets aren't actively actuated. I'd still like an element of mechanical "feel" to it, so I'm aiming to put the targets on a rod with a spring, so that when you whack it, it goes down, triggers a limit switch so the game knows you've hit it, and it springs back up. See below for a rough model. The intention is to use an off-the-shelf shaft, spring and shaft collar.
In terms of scale, the target is going to be somewhere in the range of cue ball to grapefruit, and made from a light material (e.g. plastic, resin, etc), so the spring doesn't have to be particularly strong. (I realize this is slightly vague, but it's TBD and I'm only tasked with making the mechanism.)
It needs to withstand a few hundred whacks per day for a couple of months. The mallet will be coated in thick foam but wielded by members of the public.
Would using linear bearings in the brackets or a linear bearing pillow block as the whole bracket be overkill?
Is there an off-the-shelf component I could use for the bracket otherwise, or would I be better to have a metal bracket fabricated? I've hunted around for a while, but I don't know what to call that kind of bracket.
I've also considered 3D-printing a bracket, but I'm not sure if it will be strong enough to put up with repeated whacks. Might I get away with it if I designed enough bracing into the bracket?
The limit of the travel can be set by a fixed surface (e.g. the cabinet) so theoretically the bracket primarily needs to withstand the force applied to it by the spring under compression, but if the target is whacked diagonally, the bracket must withstand the lateral force too.
Another option I have considered is laser cutting 1/2" ply to make a box-jointed housing, but not sure if the wood against the metal will make a kind of jittery movement. I'm imagining kind of like below, but with box joints and probably an extra sort of lintel under the horizontal pieces.
I have time and resources to try a couple of simple prototypes, but I can't feasibly whack it thousands of times to see if it gives.