by B.B. Pelletier

Pyramyd Air will have a booth at the NRA show in Louisville, Kentucky, from May 15-17. They’ll be selling guns! This is an opportunity for you to see the guns before you buy them and save on shipping at the same time.

Now, on to today’s post.

I was going to start a report on the SIG Sauer BB pistol today, but that will wait until Monday. BG_Farmer posted a comment about how difficult handguns are for him, so today I want to tell you a story about how I took an anti-gun person and converted him into a 10-meter pistol shooter.

I was serving in Germany in 1976 when my first wife’s parents came for a visit. I was scheduled to go to tank gunnery for a month, so I missed most of their visit, but they really didn’t come to see me. We lived in an apartment on the American Kaserne (Ferris Barracks) in Erlangen.

Our front door was sheathed in steel, so I hung a pellet trap on it and used it as a backstop. In all the time I shot at that door, I never missed the pellet trap. If I had, the steel door would have stopped the pellet perfectly. The only gun I shot was a Diana model 10 target pistol. Because there was very limited space in the apartment, the longest distance I could get was 19 feet, so I used 10-meter rifle targets instead of pistol targets. They have a bull that measures 1.211″ across. The scale wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough for me.

Diana model 10 was a top-of-the-line target pistol in 1976.

Ten-meter air rifle target has a smaller bull than the pistol target. It’s more suitable for close-range target practice.

When they arrived, the first thing my in-laws noticed was the pellet trap hanging on the front door. Both of them were anti-gun, but they liked me and knew I was a shooter. Plus, they were very aware that my branch in the army was armor (tanks) which is a very violent combat arm, so they understood that shooting was what I did for a living. Yet…that pellet trap hanging on the inside of the front door really got to them.

Finally, my father-in-law asked me about it. “Why do you shoot inside your house?”

“I do it for relaxation.”

“Isn’t it dangerous?”

“Well, I don’t shoot if anyone else is home.”

“Yes, but what happens if you miss that little trap?”

“Well, I don’t miss, but if I ever do, the door is made of steel, so there’s no danger of penetration.”

“But wouldn’t the pellet bounce around the house and break things?”

“No. It would fall to the floor beneath where it hit. It’s only going about 475 feet per second. It doesn’t fragment at that speed and it can’t bounce back from a flat steel plate like the door. But why worry? The trap is five inches square and I can’t miss it from 19 feet.”

“I sure could!”

“No, you couldn’t. In fact, I’ll bet you couldn’t miss a quarter from that distance.”

[Now, pay attention, folks, because this really happened exactly as I am telling it and it’s how I can get YOU to be a 10-meter pistol shooter, too.]

My father-in-law, who said he never shot a gun in his life, looked at me and said, “You think I couldn’t miss a quarter from way back there?” pointing to the back of the hallway. “You’re crazy!” Then he turned to his wife and said, “He’s crazy!”

So, I bet him he could learn to shoot a Diana model 10 target pistol so well that he couldn’t miss an American quarter (about one inch in diameter) from 19 feet. He thought I was insane, but he agreed to try, so when everyone else went shopping, my father-in-law and I stayed home to shoot.

I showed him how to cock the gun, which he thought was hard (it was) and then we started. I asked him to stand five feet from the trap. Naturally we both wore safety glasses. When he extended his arm the way I will show you in the next 10-meter pistol installment, the muzzle was about two-and-a-half feet from the target.

“Well, I agree that I can’t possibly miss from this distance. I thought you meant from back there” (indicating the end of the hallway).

“We’ll get there. But let’s start here. I want you to sight the gun by putting that huge black bullseye on top of the front blade, with the top of the front blade even with the top of the rear notch. Make sure there is equal white space on either side of the front blade.”

So we began. His shots were all below the bull and grouped in a hole the size of a dime. After about 20 shots, I asked him how he felt about it.

“Well, it’s easier than I thought it would be. This trigger is so light that I barely touch it and it goes off. But I’m hitting way below the bullseye.”

“That will change as we move back. Are you ready to try?”

He was, so I moved him back to about 8 feet from the target. This looked like more of a challenge to him, but his shot group was no larger. It did climb on the target just a little, but it was still below the bull.

After another 20 shots, he felt good enough to move way back to 12 feet. Now the shot group was touching the bottom of the black, and it was still dime-sized. After he got comfortable at that distance, we moved back to 15 feet. This looked like a long distance to him and he said so. He could see that the slightest twitch of his hand would throw the shot off the pellet trap. I told him not to twitch. By now he was comfortable enough with the pistol that there were no surprises left. He knew the sights worked, and that what I had told him about sighting also worked. In fact, I had described the same procedure used by top Olympic pistols shooters, so I knew it would work for him. All he had to do was try. He was also used to how the trigger worked, so the chance of a flinch or a “sniped” shot (a shot in which the shooter pulls the trigger instead of squeezing it until it breaks by surprise) had passed.

So he started shooting from 15 feet. His group opened to the size of a nickel (just over three-quarters of an inch), and it also climbed well up into the black. He was concerned about this distance until, after about 25 shots, he saw that he could not miss.

“I never would have believed it, but I guess you were right. I really can’t miss the target.”

“Now let’s back up all the way.”

It was only four more feet, but they were the most daunting of all, because he knew what he had done in such a short time. And now he was about to take the acid test. I had to back up into my bedroom, because there was room in the hall for only one person. That first shot took a long time to come, but finally he fired. Then he lowered the pistol and walked forward until he could see the round hole in the bullseye. It wasn’t in the center, but it wasn’t that far out, either.

After seeing the first shot, he never doubted himself again. He fired about 15 shots and then we both walked up to the target. I’d like to tell you that all the shots were inside the bullseye, but a couple were in the white, close by. Still, the point had been proven. In about one hour this man who had never shot a gun before was shooting at targets from 19 feet and hitting within 1.5 inches. None of his shots ever came close to the edge of the target trap, so he finally understood what I meant when I told him how difficult it was to miss.

I had to leave for tank gunnery the next day, but the folks stayed with my family for two weeks. When I returned a month later, my wife filled me in on the details. Her father had shot up about 3,500 of my RWS Meisterkugeln pellets, practicing with the pistol every day. When he left he was thinking of buying a target pistol of his own. That never happened, of course, because back in the States he fell back into more familiar routines. But he did buy a BB gun to keep the birds out of his apricot trees. As I understood it, he taught his wife to shoot, as well and they both guarded the ‘cot trees in their Campbell, California, backyard from that time on.

This report was part of the 10-meter pistol report, though I haven’t numbered it as such. If you want to learn how to be a better pistol shot, this is how I would teach you. But you don’t need me. You can do this yourself.