Lucky McDaniel Instinct Shooting Trainer Outfit
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s what Carl says about his submission: My nephew shooting my old Crosman 700. Still a nice hard-shooting rifle.
While selling some of my guns at a recent show in Dallas, I happened to notice a boxed airgun on the table behind me. I walked over, and there I saw what I thought was a Daisy Quick Skill Instinct Shooting set. It was in the box and fairly complete, but the price was right at the top of where it should be, so I passed. However, I’d caught the attention of the dealer who could see that my tables were just behind him.
Daisy made and sold this outfit for parts of four decades — from Vietnam until sometime in the 1990s. The BB gun looks is very similar to the one in the Lucky McDaniel Shooting Trainer, but it’s a model 95 instead of a 99.
On the morning of the second day when I arrived to open my tables, the other dealer was also there getting ready. It was quiet, so he asked if I was interested in the set. I was, but I needed to make a little money from the deal, so I offered something less than his asking price. He agreed and I placed the set under my table.
About one hour later it suddenly dawned on me. This was not a Daisy Quick Skill set at all. This was the much rarer Lucky McDaniel set that contained the Daisy model 99 BB gun with the 50-shot forced-feed magazine that by itself is worth $500 in excellent condition. The presence of the box with the instructions printed on the inside of the lid, one set of shooting glasses, the graduated targets, the original BBs still in their sealed box, the template for attaching the Eye-Dapter chin rest (now attached to the gun), the separate cork tube and cork ball ammunition made the package that much better. I thought I’d bought a pound of hamburger, but this was aged filet mignon.
This rare set was made for only one year.
The contents are fairly complete, with just a pair of safety glasses and the book missing. The plain cardboard boxes in the center contain the graduated targets and an unopened box of BBs.
According to the Blue Book of Airguns, this set was made for only one year, in 1960. I know that Daisy pursued Instinct Shooting training with the U.S. Army, which was engaged in Vietnam at the time and receptive to anything that might help soldiers become better shots. Daisy sold many thousands of guns to the Army under the training name Quick Kill. Crosman even modified their V350 BB gun and tried to get a slice of the pie. I’ve seen a couple of their sample guns, but I don’t think they ever went anywhere. So, McDaniel may have been forced out of the training set business, though he did continue to instruct instinct shooting for the rest of his life.
The one thing that wasn’t with the kit I bought was the book Instinct Shooting by Mike Jennings, which sells for $60 and up when you can find one. I already own one, so nothing’s lost; but if I sell the set, I doubt that I’ll put the book with it. It’s been too valuable to me over the years.
Though there are many books about instinct shooting, this one by Mike jennings ranks at the top. It was originally part of the Lucky McDaniel Trainer Outfit.
In the book, you learn that Floyd Patterson, the world heavyweight professional boxing champion was a student of Lucky’s and prized the training for the focus he thought it gave him. In 1957, when Patterson agreed to a match with Pete Rademacher, the Olympic heavyweight gold medalist, he defeated him by a knockout in round six. However Rademacher then became interested in instinct shooting and developed his own gun and target set for instinct shooting with plastic clay pigeons. It was manufactured in Akron, Ohio. His set never sold well, but Crosman obtained the rights to the trap and included it with their model 1100 Trapmaster air shotgun a few years later. Small world!
What’s in the box?
In the set, you get a special Daisy model 99 air rifle that’s made without sights. There’s also a wooden shelf for your chin that gets attached to the stock. It’s called an Eye-Dapter and it’s patented! The purpose is to keep your head up, rather than down on the stock.
The wooden chin rest screwed to the stock is patented! Lucky called it the Eye-Dapter, and he wanted each shooter to use it so he wouldn’t put his or her head down on the comb of the stock. Looking above the muzzle of the gun when you shot was one of the secrets of Lucky’s program.
Daisy made hundreds of thousands of model 99 air rifles, including the model 2999 that they sold by the tens of thousands to the U.S. Army for Quick Kill training during the Vietnam era. But they only made the gun with the special 50-shot forced-feed magazine for the Lucky set that was made in small quantities for just a year. That’s why a $50 airgun is worth 10 times as much. Because the special gray paint on the magazine matches the paint scheme of the Lucky gun, you can’t fake it easily.
A cork ball-shooting shot tube also comes with this set. The balls are much larger than BBs, so they can be seen in flight that much better. They have to be single-loaded at the muzzle of the shot tube. Daisy made this same cork ball shot tube for the No. 25 pump gun when it’s in the No. 325 Target Set, and they are very rare today.
Lucky called these cork balls “Big Shots,” and he provided a muzzle-loading, single-shot shot tube to use them. They would have been easier to follow in flight.
Lucky also included two pairs of safety glasses in the set — one for the shooter and the other for the coach. Of course, there are the targets, themselves. They range from metal disks the size of a nickel to a huge metal washer. Then there is a large red wooden ball that I suppose was used with the cork balls.
The box itself is highly collectible. This is only the second one I have seen, though I’m sure there are more around in collections. Inside the lid are the rough instructions that save you from having to read the book while you’re practicing. I’ve seen about 10 Lucky BB guns like this, but only one other box, which should give you a rough idea of how rare it is.
Condition is everything
I would love to be able to tell you that my set is virtually unused, but that’s not the case. In fact, it’s just the opposite. From the shot-up appearance of all the aerial targets, it’s clear that this set was used a lot. The paint on the gun appears close to excellent, but I need to do more research. I’ve seen other guns with special paint over the base coat that identified the gun as a Lucky McDaniel, but my gun doesn’t have it, nor are there any traces of paint that might have been there. There’s no question about this gun’s authenticity, however. It matches the other contents of the box, it has the Eye-Dapter permanently attached to the butt and both shot tubes (BB and cork ball) are painted the identical color.
The targets were shot up numerous times, and the one set of shooting glasses that remains with the set has both temples broken. Some items, such as the original BBs that came with the set, remain unopened; but the general condition of this set is well-used.
How does it work?
I wrote a special two-part report about Instinct Shooting for this blog back in 2006. At that time, I toyed with the idea of getting the training so I could report more in depth on the subject, plus become a better shotgunner at the same time. Well, time and circumstances intervened, and I guess I won’t get to cross that one off my bucket list. So, nothing I can say today really expands on what I wrote back then.
This discipline does work exactly as described, though I’ve noticed that many people don’t read what was written carefully enough. Just because Lucky was able to get people to hit aspirins and even BBs thrown in the air with a BB gun doesn’t mean they could do it every time. They still did miss, and some misses were expected. That’s stated clearly in the book; but somehow people have gotten the idea that once trained, a shooter just can’t miss any thrown target.
The distance to the targets, when they were thrown properly, was seven to ten feet. That was all Lucky advised in his books. Others have pushed the envelope out farther; but for those longer distances, Lucky had his students shooting .22 rimfires and shotguns.
A lucky find
This was one of those great finds that happens occasionally if you turn over enough rocks. I plan to sell the set at the Virginia show to someone who will appreciate it in their collection, because that’s where such things belong. I was fortunate to find it, because now I can make sure it gets to the right person who will preserve this fragile memory of airgunning from a half-century ago.