Instinct shooting with a BB gun – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Instinct shooting has been around for a very long time, but those who practiced it most were exhibition shooters. There was no formal program to teach anyone who wanted to learn. Then. in 1954, a tobacco salesman from Georgia – Lucky McDaniel – started a program of instruction. He taught thousands of people through the 1980s and several of his students went into the teaching business on their own.

Special guns
At first, Lucky used .22 rimfires. In circumstances where he couldn’t use them, he substituted BB guns. The sights were removed from all guns so the student would concentrate on Lucky’s method of mounting the gun. A BB gun’s sights are usually just snapped off with a pair of pliers. Before long, however, Lucky found himself wanting to have a special gun made for his training, so he approached Daisy.

In 1958, Lucky went to Daisy and demonstrated his method to their top brass in the company parking lot. It took the better part of the day, because they were fascinated with what they saw. The result was the creation of a special Daisy Lucky McDaniel Instinct Shooting Set. It came out in 1959 and was made for only one year. They probably didn’t move very fast, because without the training people didn’t know what to make of a gun that had no sights.

Daisy’s Lucky McDaniel shooting set was made for just one year.

Quick Kill
In the years that followed, the U.S. Army became interested in instinct shooting for Vietnam-bound soldiers. They had a regular training program given at Fort Benning, Georgia, not far from Lucky’s home in Columbus. They called their program “Quick Kill,” and tens of thousands of inductees went through it. There was also a program in Vietnam for those who hadn’t been to Benning.

The Army buys BB guns
Daisy became interested, again, when grass roots inquiries tipped the scales, and they put together a new package. This time, Lucky’s name was left off, and the program was called “Quick Skill.” It lasted from the late 1960s through the end of the 20th century, coming and going as interest dictated. The Army sold many of their BB guns in the 1990s, so now there are hundreds and perhaps even thousands of sightless BB guns with the markings of Army training centers painted on their stocks or “U.S. Prop.” stamped into the wood. Collectors eagerly snap them up. There have also been many special guns, such as one made with the Ducks Unlimited logo on a decal on the stock.

Parris guns
Lucky went to the Parris Manufacturing Company to have a gun built for his program. These guns look like the model I showed you in the post about the Parris Kadet Trainer, but Lucky’s guns have his decal on the stock. While they shouldn’t have sights, all the ones I have examined, which have only been about five, did have both front and rear sights.

Two books about the program
Both books are highly collectible. The first is Instinct Shooting and was written by Mike Jennings and published in 1959 by Dodd, Mead. It was included in the Daisy Lucky McDaniel shooting set box. Expect to pay $30 to $50 for this book (used). Lucky co-authored his own book with Bill Reece in 1980 – Lucky McDaniel’s Secrets To Shooting. This book comes in hardcover from Cosco Press, a division of Columbus Office Supply Company, and in softcover from Waldrup Printing Co. You’ll pay $50 to $125 for either of Lucky’s books. There are also numerous Army publications and Infantry School publications about Quick Kill.

In all, there is a wealth of material and guns for the collector who is interested in shooting without sights. I haven’t told you the best parts yet: the program, itself, or how well you will shoot when you learn. And, I haven’t told you who took the training. That’ll be in Part 2.

14 thoughts on “Instinct shooting with a BB gun – Part 1

  1. BB,
    I read a book from the 60’s and it included Quick Kill lessons. I tried the idea with a modifyed Red Ryder. After about 50 shots I could easiy pop a can at 7 yards all day with no sights. I’d advise this to any trap/skeet shooter or wing shooter(it helped me)

    Keep up the good work

  2. BB, A question on the ppk/s and CO2. I think I read you say that you leave the CO2 cylinder in the gun. I’ve so far shot out the entire capacity so that I could remove the cylinder before putting the gun away. I’d prefer to be able to leave it in there, if I don’t feel like shooting through the entire 100 shots or so. I use Pellgunoil for the seals. Will they hold up if the CO2 is left in there?

    Thanks. Gazza.

  3. Gazza,

    I leave all my CO2 guns charged all the time. I always have, and many of my guns have been charged for years. My two PPK/S pistols have been charged for two years and they both hold perfectly.

    What hurts the seals is when they get dirt on them from the air. Even small dust particles too small to see can develop into sludge that will eventually destroy the seals of an airgun. But pressure never will, as long as the seals are made from the right materials, and Daisy and Criosman guns all use the right materials.

    However, if you do what I do, ALWAYS use Pellgunoil on the tip of every new powerelet. You never know how long it will be in the gun.


  4. To All Shooters:

    I was extremely fortunate enough to train under Lucky McDaniels in 1980. His quick kill method, in my humble opinion, is one of the methods that should be taught to all law enforcement agencies.

    I graduated top in the class of 25 students in the fall of 1980 and was given for the first time in the history of Mitch Werbell’s School, the Top Agressor Award for “killing” 3 instructors in war games, using wax 12 guage shotgun shells. No one in the history of the school had ever “killed” an instructor, let alone three. The instructors were responsible for setting all the booby-traps and trip wires in total darkness. They had night vision devices – we did not. I didn’t go the easy trails. I swam through the snake infested swamp, something no student had ever done. It was not fun, trust me. I shot all three in the back and in the head. Yes, it hurts like a bitch.

    Lucky’s quick kill method was outstanding and I still teach it today for close friends and relatives. Lucky had so much faith in me during the exercise that he stated to me while standing at ten meters, “There is a fly at 1:00 o’clock on the target. Shoot it using my “quick kill” method. I drew my Colt Gold Cup 1911 and shot from the hip in a fraction of a second. Lucky walked down to the target and showed me the blood smear of the huge deer fly that was there seconds earlier.

    He was a good friend and an excellent listener and teacher. I will miss him always, his wit, his laugh and his vast knowledge of firearms, ammunitions and shooting methods.

    Peace In Your Hearts, Minds and Families,

    Thomas White
    Illinois USA

  5. I am interested in getting a copy of Secrets to shooting, can you give the contact numbers for cosco press or waldrup printing, having a hard time locating them. thanks bruce

    • This quick kill training was part of basic training in 1969 at Ft Leonardwood Mo. The basic bb rifle was used . We were trained to shoot from the hip. Unbelievably effective.

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