by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Texas star
Shooting in the back yard can be fun when you have action targets like Sig’s Texas Star.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Can you shoot?
  • What to shoot
  • Quiet!
  • What about air pistols?
  • What about PCP and CO2?
  • Power
  • What to shoot
  • Plenty of action targets
  • Make them yourself
  • Get out

Are you bored out of your gourd with the quarantine restrictions? Have you seen enough TV for two lifetimes. Come on, then. Let’s go outside!

Today we move outside with our Home is the Range airgun shooting. And not into a spacious yard that most of us would like to have — maybe one that abuts a thousand square miles of BLM land. I know some of you have a place like that, but the rest of us live on postage stamps that are bordered by high fences.

Can you shoot?

The first question you need to answer is whether you can legally shoot in your back yard. This varies for every community around the nation, so all I can say is find out the law where you live.

Some communities will allow airguns to shoot as long as their projectiles don’t cross the property line. That is a reasonable law that keeps neighbors safe, and it’s one that I follow. But I take it a step farther. Don’t think of the fence on your property line as a backstop. Shoot into the ground on your property in such a way that any chance ricochets will hit the fence and stop. That means shooting down. If you own an elevated deck, so much the better! That increases your safety, as long as there aren’t large rocks on your property.

I could go farther, but I think I have made my point. As a shooter safety is your responsibility.

What to shoot

This is where it gets dicey. As my late aunt once said, “Common sense isn’t that common.” I will preach to you readers who will understand, but there is a whole world of others who haven’t got a clue. They think just because it’s an airgun it isn’t real and they are too quick to say, “I didn’t know!” There is no reset button for life. As shooters it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of others around us.

Quiet!

Shoot something that’s quiet. That’s just respectful. I shoot airguns like my Diana 27 that is barely as loud as a coughing mouse, and you should too. I won’t tell you what powerplant to select, but whatever it is, it needs to be quiet.

For today’s report I invited my neighbor, Denny, to plink with me in the back yard. I let him shoot the Diana 27 and I shot a Walther LGV Challenger that I reviewed for you back in 2013. Both rifles are in .22 caliber, which makes loading the pellets easier, and both are mild airguns. Oddly the Diana 27 sounds louder to me in the video than the Walther, even though the Walther shoots the same JSB Exact RS pellet about 100 f.p.s. faster. You will see what that means when you watch the reaction of the target we both shot.

What about air pistols?

The key word to back yard shooting is quiet, so if you have an air pistol that’s quiet, go ahead. A Webley Tempest would be quiet. But since pistols are so easy to point anywhere, you have to control your range all the more. If it’s just you then it’s easy to control, but every other person who shoots increases the chances for an accident. With pistols the accidents can happen before you can see them coming, so find ways to play safe.

Find a Hawke Scope

What about PCP and CO2?

You can shoot both precharged pneumatics and CO2 guns, as long as they are quiet. For example, a Crosman 1077 is reasonably quiet. So is a Benjamin Fortitude Gen 2. But don’t let quiet be your only concern. Some PCPs can be very quiet and still extremely powerful. Don’t allow quiet operation to overrule safety.

Power

There is no way to set a power limit for what’s safe in the back yard and what’s not, but I would say that staying under 12 foot-pounds for rifles and 6 foot-pounds for pistols is a good place to start. My LGV Challenger is just under 12 foot-pounds and the Diana 27 (Hy Score 427) is about 7 foot-pounds.

What to shoot

This is where it gets good. Indoors I like to shoot at paper targets because they work well with pellet traps and they don’t allow pellets to scatter around the floor. But outdoors is a different story. This is where action targets come into play.

In the video you will notice that Denny and I are both shooting at an Air Arms sight-in target. There is a large paddle at the bottom and, if you can shoot through the hole in the four square paddles in front of it, the rear paddle will spin. Denny hit it with the Diana and moved it a little, but I smacked it on my first shot and sent it spinning. Then I missed and smacked the upper right quadrant of the target, and you got to see how this action target helps you get sighted-in. These used to be popular on field target courses for checking zeros.

Plenty of action targets

But there are plenty of other airgun targets to choose from for this kind of shooting. I prefer the type you can set and forget because they keep on doing their thing without any attention. That allows you to shoot without interruption. One such target is the Air Venturi Rockin’ Rat. When I tested it I discovered that it wants to be hit hard to react. I tried an 8.5 foot-pound Benjamin Wildfire, thinking I would bounce the rat all around, but it just stood there and took it. Hit this one with at least 12 foot-pounds to get a reaction.

Rockin rat
Air Venturi’s Rockin’ Rat just sits there and takes it! Keep your power at or below 20 foot-pounds, and remember that it takes at least 12 foot-pounds to get it moving.

Air Venturi’s Crazy Eights spinner is a game that is resettable when all the paddles have been flipped up. This is another tyoe of a target you don’t need to attend.

Crazy Eights
Air Venturi’s Crazy Eights is a resetting spinner target.

Make them yourself

Of course if you are handy you can make action targets for yourself. We have seen several of them in this blog — from the dueling tree made by reader New To Old Guns to the spinner made by reader Codeuce.

Or — don’t make anything at all. Shoot at feral aluminum soda cans. We talk about that all the time on this blog. They don’t even need to be soda cans. Other beverages come in aluminum cans, too. Weight the cans with stones to hold them in place, or not.

Shoot at plastic Army men! Though if you do shoot at them I recommend you tether each one to a 10-penny nail with fishing line. Otherwise they can be launched into low earth orbit!

Get out

The point is, there is lots to do outdoors with the right pellet guns. Be safe and considerate, but as Crosman says in their ads — Take it Outside!