by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Johnson Indoor Target Gun
The Johnson Indoor Target Gun is a catapult BB gun that was made in the late 1940s for youth target practice.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The test
  • First shot
  • Second shot
  • Adjusted down again
  • Rubber band broke
  • Now for a group
  • Proof of the pudding
  • Summary

Well, all the work we did was to get to this point. Today I shoot the Johnson Indoor Target Gun for accuracy.

The test

I shot at a target about 10 feet away. I was seated and used the UTG Monopod as a rest.

Since these BBs are only moving 126-129 f.p.s., or so, I used an aluminum foil target like the one I made for the Sharpshooter catapult gun test. We know slow-moving balls will penetrate aluminum foil readily. The target was backed by a cardboard box that stopped every BB, and then sent them back at me. More work is required on the backstop to catch the BBs successfully.

I only used a single type of BB for this test. There could be a difference in accuracy, I suppose, but it seems to me that catapults are far more forgiving of what they shoot. So, I chose Air Venturi Steel BBs.

I shot only 5 shots instead of 10. When you see the target you’ll understand why. The aim point was at 6 o’clock on the dot drawn on the foil. Let’s get started.

First shot

The first shot went high, so I took a picture of the target to show you. Fortunately the Johnson has adjustable sights.

Johnson first shot
The first shot (long arrow) hit considerably above the aim point (short arrow).

Johnson sight
The rear sight adjusts for elevation. Unscrew the knurled disk and slide it up and down. The first shot was with the sight set on the top line (blue arrow). For shot two the sight was set as seen here. Shot three was with the sight set on the red arrow line.

Second shot

Shot two was to the right and not that much lower than shot one. I could see the rear sight needed to be lowered a lot! That’s why I showed all the sight settings in the picture above.

second shot
As you can see, shot two moved to the right but not down by much.

Adjusted down again

This time I really dropped the sight. And it paid off with a shot through the dot I was aiming at! The picture is really dark, so I lightened it.

bullseye
Nailed it on shot three.

Rubber band broke

On this shot the rubber band broke, so I had to make a new one. I don’t think it affected the accuracy of the shot, however, and the shots that follow will confirm that.

Because of all the work I had done in the previous tests I knew exactly how to replace the rubber band. It only took five minutes before I had the gun back up and running.

Now for a group

Since the last shot was on target, I decided to just shoot 4 more shots without changing anything. Even though the rubber band had to be replaced, it had no affect on the sights. The gun was still sighted-in.

Four more shots went downrange. Shot 3 was a called pull to the left. When I was done I had a tight little group to show. Five shots had gone into a group measuring just 0.358-inches between centers. Sure, it was only shot at a distance of 10 feet, but that’s the nature of this gun.

group
Five BBs went into a group measuring 0.358-inches at 10 feel. Shot number three was a called pull to the left.

Proof of the pudding

Shooting this gun isn’t exactly resting. It’s a lot like shooting a flintlock. I wasn’t going to shoot another group, but I thought if I shot one more BB at a fresh target that might satisfy everyone. I figured it would sail though the bullseye. Wrong!

This time I aimed carefully and did not pull the shot, but the BB missed the bull altogether. The scale of the dime shows how close it was, so I think this shot represents the true accuracy of the gun.

last shot
The last shot missed the aim point. A fly would not have been hit. Still, I think this represents the accuracy potential of the Johnson — at least this one!

Summary

I think this Johnson is accurate enough for what it is. It’s not a 10-meter target rifle — heck, it isn’t a rifle at all! In its day it was essentially a toy.

This series has taught me a lot more about the Johnson than I ever knew. Now that I have tested it I know how to fix the rubber band so the gun performs as it should.

All the research I did on the Theraband Gold, plus watching the Slingshot Channel, plus looking at those Chinese “slingshot rifles” that are modern versions of Hodges gun, I am now interested in building a powerful catapult gun from scratch. If I do, I will take pictures and write it up for you.