With airguns home IS the range! — Part 2

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.

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!

63 thoughts on “With airguns home IS the range! — Part 2



      • RR, Here on Maui our shelves were empty of TP for weeks but the last two weeks we’ve had plenty. Good thing too. For a while there I thought we might have to use corn cobs and Sears catalogs like in east Tennessee where I grew up. I guess people could no longer fit any more of their hoarded paper products in their homes. ;^)


        • Joe
          I was joking with some of the younger guys at work about corn cobs and out houses like we had on the farm when I was a kid.

          They had no clue what I was talking about.


    • JoeB,

      Actually, your idea of the paper tube is great. With feral soda cans, if you shoot one a lot it will leave sharp metal shards behind. The paper tube is biodegradable.



        • Carel,

          Oh, I do understand that. Actually, quite a few of the little old ladies living at RidgeRunner’s Home For Wayward Airguns do a pretty good job of it. It is like once upon a time, accuracy was what was important.


      • RR, yes, the perforated soda cans had to be handled extra carefully because of the shards. Oddly enough, our local recycler would still take them, sharp edges and all.


        • Joe,

          What???? I am a firm recycle person,…. BUT,…. those 75 and 100 yard shredded steel cans are just like championship trophy’s! I have more than a few displayed. 😉 Yardage marked with Sharpie on the bottom. I spray mine fluorescent orange.

          Chris


    • JoeB On Maui,

      SHOOT THE CORES ! ! ! Are you crazy?! Those are the seeds and this is prime planting season if you expect to have and TP when this pandemic comes back around in the Fall.

      Half


  1. Also, I recommend the Crosman 357 series. I had three, one in each barrel length (4″, 6″ and 8″), and used them to teach my kids safe pistol handling. They’re relatively inexpensive and the triggers are excellent, especially when the guns are fired single action. If you use new pellets and shoot with the sun low and at your back, the sun lights up the silvery interior of the pellets and they act like tracers.



  2. My back porch is my plinking range. Though I speak much of keeping the feral soda cans at check, there are other targets of opportunity available.

    I like that Air Arms target!



  3. B.B.
    In my day we didnt have Rockin rats or spinners.Paint’n your pellets like tracers? All we had was a cheap marksman bb gun and Ohio blue tip matches..and if you got the angle of deflection right on a cinder block wall for example, they will lite up in flite, and leave a trail of smoke. We lost the bb gun when Packy told his Mom we laughed at him because the match that hit him in the forhead just stuck there. We knew we were in trouble,
    and Packy didnt think it was funny. Low powered airguns are a good thing!
    Be safe kids.
    Rob


  4. Fill your feral cans with water for effect…back in the 60s and 70s, when you could still find lots of open land where you could safely shoot large-caliber firearms, my shooting partners and I would use water-filled plastic jugs and/or other suitable containers as targets. It was fun watching the effects of impacts on these, and sobering too. I recall inspecting a metal bucket which FM had shot either with an ’03 Springfield or a K-98 – small entry hole, large exit cavity. That would make sane people be very cautious about safety on the range, if nothing else.

    Unfortunately now, if you could even find a suitable piece of land for target shooting in S Florida, soon the SWAT helicopter would be swooping down on you.


    • Faulty
      I fill the aluminum cans with water and put them in the freezer.

      They explode nice when hit. And you can keep shooting them till the ice turns to slush. Then they still blow up nice when hit. You can get alot more shooting time on one aluminum can that way too compared to just shooting a empty can or can filled with water.


    • My dad had a 149 acre farm. I’d fill a 3 gallon tin can with water and shoot it at 75 yds with a .264 WM. It would explode in a satisfying manner and the can would split right up the middle. Impressive.


      • Joe
        One time I took a full green bean can that had the peel open lid and stood it up out at 50 yards. I took my .25 Condor SS that’s shooting at 70+ fpe and hit it. It popped the top off and easily went 15 foot high in the air. Wasn’t really expecting it. Was pretty cool.


  5. Regarding backyard shooting and noise. I open the back door of the house and shoot from my dining room table. The neighbors don’t see or hear anything that resembles a gun. Don’t ask, don’t tell.


  6. B.B.,
    This report is timely. My old pellet trap is looking a bit sad; it was an 18″x12″ piece of 1/16″ thick steel (16 gauge), angled at 45 degrees, and it was built from scrap wood I had just lying around; well, it did last for 13 years.
    I just finished this new pellet trap, for which I used pressure-treated wood with a coat of clear Krylon over it.
    The trap is also up on some bricks to keep it out of the mud and make it last longer; it is mainly another piece of 1/16″ thick steel, but this one is 24″x24″ and, angled at 45 degrees, that puts the height at 17″…and the 24″ width is plenty of space for a bunch of targets before I have to go out and set them back up. This is a 15-yard target from my shooting bench, and a 25-yard target from the covered car port on rainy days…like today. =>
    Take care God bless, and thanks for another great report to help us keep our sanity in these trying times,
    dave




      • Half,
        It’s an easy setup to make; the main piece is the 24″x24″ piece of 16 gauge steel, and I just picked it up at Home Depot; then I epoxied that to a 3/8″ thick piece of 24″x24″ plywood (to deaden the sound), and picked up a second piece of plywood the same size for the bottom. A couple of 27″ pieces of 2″x4″ with two inner pieces 17″ long form the base (i.e. 27″ x 20″ base). Cut the second piece of plywood to 24″x20″ and screw it to the base for your bottom. Then put two pieces of 2″x2″ deck railing on the inside with the 45 degree angle cut at the back; Then put two 14″ (or a shade under) at the front, slide your plywood-backed steel into place and use a couple of screws into the 14″ 2″x4″s to set your angle. One more piece of 27″ 2″x4″ holds the angled plate down so it can’t move. Someone like Hank (Vana2) could assemble those pieces faster than the time it took me to type this up, hahaha! =)~
        Have fun & good shooting to you,
        dave


  7. B.B.

    And speaking of making the range at home, I had to improvise a couple of days ago while it was raining.

    I was cleaning up stuff from my home office when I came upon old business cards. Unfortunately, some got lose. Unknown to many, they can turn wild and, while not as dangerous as feral soda cans, they are way more sneaky. They turn sideways when they see you so they are more difficult to hit. However I was lucky I had my trusty Silhouette 1701P with a micro-dot sight.

    Disclaimer: the distance was a sedate 8 meters that is the most I can squeeze out of my garage without too much work. As can be imagined, wadcutter pellets work better than domes ones making it easier to get a clean cut. The low power of the pistol seldom cuts the card clean in two. For that the HW30S was perfect, but too easy. Placing the cards horizontal is even more challenging, at least for me.

    Henry


  8. Like Radfordc above, I shoot hidden from view in my backyard shed. I have up to 40 yards of distance along my rear property line.

    As for what to shoot, the bread pan filled with duct seal catches most of my ammo for me. The other day I stuck a bamboo skewer in the ground 22 yards from my bench. I used my Gamo Urban and cut it down from 2 feet to 6 inches high, 2 or 3 inches at a time without missing or grazing it, every shot made that 1/4” skewer shorter. Loving that Urban.

    But a few weeks ago I had some eggs that I decided were not edible, well they made spectacular targets! They must have a certain amount of pressure in them because they burst with a satisfying pop! and throw egg guts as far as 8 feet. Then 3 hours later more that a dozen large crows showed up to clean up the mess. Unfortunate side effect, or a second shooting opportunity? … You be the judge.


  9. Off topic,

    A shout out to Geo (unofficial computer guru of the blog). 😉

    With his assistance I was able to replace the mechanical hard drive with a SSD (solid state drive) and replace the fan on a 5 year old laptop. It is faster and whatever was making the noise, no longer is.

    Having me work on a laptop is about the same as sending a blind man in to clear a mine field. But, with some part advice and some internet tutorial and a video,…. I did it in about 1 hour. The entire case had to be split (not like the ones that have little individual panels on the back).

    From what I gather, replacing a old mechanical hard drive with a SSD is one of the cheapest, easiest things you can do (IE: biggest bang for the buck). about $70 total.

    Thanks Geo for the guidance!,……….. Chris


    • Thanks for the shout out Chris. I am happy it all worked out for you and was a good experience. I think you will enjoy the five times faster speed with the new SSD drive. Yes, best bang for the buck by far.
      Geo


      • Geo,

        The tech. side of it is what had me befuddled the most. (back up/clone hard drive to new SSD).

        Other than that,… it was a (mechanical) venture,… screws, tools, etc.. I am good at mechanical stuff and have enough common sense to be very delicate when needed. Despite the VERY small screws and delicate plugs/connections,… it was pretty much a “plug and play” operation.

        I would imagine that a desk top computer (with separate tower),… it might be much easier to replace. Maybe not? As you know,… mine is a lap top where they try to cram 10# of **** into a 5 gallon bucket.

        Chris


        • Yes, desktop computers are much easier to work on. Many repair techs will not disassemble a laptop at all. If it doesn’t have the little covers than can be easily removed, they won’t open it up. I would not open one up for a long time either because I was always afraid of breaking some little plastic part, and then I would be responsible. Now, I will take on any of them. I’ve replaced keyboards, screens, and even motherboards. If someone would take their laptop to Best Buy’s Geek Squad or other computer shop, often times the repair cost will exceed 50% of a new laptop. At that point people scrap them and buy a new laptop, as that is what they will recommend.



    • Shootski,

      Yup,…. ya’ never know,…. them ones that won’t put their hands up (after command to do so) are probably reaching for something. 😉

      Chris

      (1/2 box for targets,…. the other 1/2 box kept bench side,.. munch, shoot, munch, shoot, munch,…..)


  10. Chris USA,

    Actually it is simply because I adhere to the Geneva Convention standards; once they put their hands up they are surrendering so I don’t shoot them…bad form that!
    Also, i don’t eat while shooting, especially lead, rounds so they are left in the box (POW Camp?) until i turn the cowards over to my neighbor’s kids. From that point on I’m uncertain of their fate…i have, however, heard some whispered references to Soylent Brown….

    shootski



  11. Half,

    Hopefully more folks have and will get a smile or a chuckle out of the TG story ;^)
    Humor is needed in dark times to maintain our humanity as well as our sanity. Just like that film!

    shootski


  12. Most of the slingshot guys are using a silicone or fabric spinner target attached to a string and a old t shirt to stop the ammo in a trap. This seems to work well enough for my avanti 499 and the stun darts from my blow gun as well.

    When looking into a air gun for at home usage I wasn’t so happy with whats available. I wanted to stay away from lead and ricochets. I settled on the 499 for the amazing accuracy yet shoots at a more indoor friendly speed than a red ryder.

    Might consider lead free pellets when they get those figured out and the price down. I also wonder how accurate a airsoft gun could be made? The dust devil bb’s look interesting as well.

    For now I enjoy shooting my slingshot. I can customize the bands and shoot anything from whoopers to biodegradable airsoft ammo.


  13. For backyard action BB pistol shooting you can also hang an old thick n heavy rug on something and pin on it paper targets or disposable paper platters (some are even 8″ in size). The heavy rug takes quite well the BBs and do not make them bounce much elsewhere. The lower the shots – the better it catches them.
    Once just took a cardboard box and put a microfiber cloth within it (as an active backstop) to catch airsoft BBs. Works damn well. Can then make smaller square cloths with leftover strings to it to attach smaller target cloths (to work as a silent gong) in front of the backstop curtain.

    A few targets in the backgarden..
    https://img.aijaa.com/b/00343/14831002.jpg


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