Tom watches
I watched each shooter, ready to grab the pistol if they turned with it. This is Larry, a safer shooter.

This report covers:

  • Back story
  • Colt Single Action Army
  • 5 meters
  • Shot high
  • Targets
  • Success story
  • The mechanical bull
  • Lessons learned

Today I will tell you about an adventure I had last Saturday. It was surprising and also somewhat shocking, and it may relate to things some of you want to do.

Back story

The pastor of my church fancies himself a cowboy. Not the organized crime type of cowboy from the gang that Wyatt Earp broke up in the 1880s but the general term that is applied to cowhands who work on horse and cattle ranches. So, at a church staff meeting several months ago, he was blue-skying what sort of event the church could hold for the men in October and a “Roundup” night came up. It was just said in passing, but it grew into an official event. Everybody would come dressed as cowboys. There would be food (of course — get men together and there’s gotta be food) fellowship and fun. The fun was divided into games of cornhole, steer roping (steers made from 2x4s with steer heads on one end), a mechanical bull (more on that in a bit) and a shooting gallery with guess who in charge?

Our previous men’s night event had been axe-throwing. I tell you that for a reason that will become evident in a moment.

So I was asked whether I had any BB guns or pellet guns that looked like cowboy six-shooters. I bet you know the answer to that.

From that point on I took charge of the shooting gallery. I set up two 12-inch by 12-inch boxes of rubber mulch as target backstops on which to place the targets. I used the same boxes and stand that I used when I taught the Royal Rangers to shoot the Daisy 499B, last year. Remember that? I will come back to that in a moment, too.

Colt Single Action Army

I selected the Colt SingleAction Army BB revolver, of which I have three. I only used one revolver on the line but I had 12 cartridges. That gave each shooter a chance to shoot 12 times per turn. I had planned to let each shooter load all 12 BBs for himself, but that would have taken all evening, so I loaded while they shot. But that proved too distracting, so I asked for a volunteer to load for me so I could pay full attention to the shooter. You will note my hand in the first picture is ready to grab the muzzle of the gun if the shooter swings it anywhere but downrange. I had to do that numerous times throughout the event.

Colt Single Action Army BB gun.

5 meters

You know how I always set up BB gun targets at 5 meters for my blog reports? It sounds so close, doesn’t it? It’s only 16 feet 4 inches. Well, it wasn’t close on this night and here comes a lot of my amazement. More than half of the men who came forward to shoot had no idea how to shoot a handgun! And I live in Texas!

I had debated beforehand whether to make them shoot one-handed, but I decided that might not be such a good idea. Duh — you think??? Fully 95 percent of them shot two-handed like they were on the police force. Two of them actually were. One guy shot across the elbow of his folded left arm, with the revolver about 3 inches from his face. My gosh, if he had been shooting a .45 Colt firearm he would have put a divot in his forehead from the front sight when the revolver recoiled. Either that or the hammer would have put out his sighting eye!

Shot high

Fully three quarters of the shooters missed the target box with all their shots — the 12-inch by 12-inch box! At 16 feet! They shot above the target. Why? Well, it took me a long time to figure it out but I finally realized they were holding the whole front sight up in the rear sight notch. I had just told them how to sight the gun but when they started shooting they forgot what I said and did it their way. By the end of the evening I was telling them to shoot at the bottom of the bullseye and that got some of them hitting at the top.

The pastor asked me to put the wooden axe-throwing target behind the BB-gun target boxes, just in case someone missed the box altogether. So they wouldn’t hit the wall. Just in case???? Most of them hit that axe target after missing the rubber mulch target box altogether. AT 5 METERS!

Build a Custom Airgun


I gave each  shooter a 6-inch Shoot-N-C bullseye to shoot and an aluminum soda can. Both were backed by rubber mulch boxes. I will say this. When BBs go through a Shoot-N-C targets at 5 meters they leave a very small yellow mark. I could see it easily enough but half the shooters couldn’t see where they had hit and had to be told.

One man is vain about his appearance and will not wear glasses, even though it’s obvious he needs them. He had safety glasses on but nothing to correct his vision. That man told me that the sights on the gun he shot were off, which is why he missed the target. I showed him the target of another man who had just shot before him and hit inside the 10-ring of the bullseye five times out of six. He then informed me that the sights were still off and the other guy must have aimed elsewhere to hit where he did.

I also gave them an aluminum soda can to shoot and it turned out to be the better target. Once they hit it one time they started concentrating on the sight picture and doing better. It was a fun target for them because it made noise and moved when hit. I’ve got to remember that.

Our targets were in front of our old axe-throwing target. Most of the shots missed the cardboard box altogether and hit that!

Success story

When I set up for the event before the people arrived an 18-year-old young man helped me set up the range. I had taught him how to shoot last year and once he learned how these sixguns work he was hitting the actual bullseye target every time. That way, before the event began I knew the gun was on target. But it was the young man who made me proud. He demonstrated that when you do things right they work as they should.

Speaking of sixguns, I told one fellow that the revolver was a six-shooter and he then asked me how many shots it held. Fortunately I was too far from a wall to bang my head.

The mechanical bull

Remember that mechanical bull? It was set up outside the building where the other events were. The men in my church are in two age groups. Half of us are 60 or older and half of us are under 40. We don’t have many in-between those ages.  Guess how many of the over-60 group rode the bull? That’s right — zero. We have all been there, done that, gotten the t-shirt and wore it out. We know better. We break!

But there were probably 12-15 young guys who didn’t know any better. They were the ones who rode the bull. And a couple of them did pretty good! I think the operator was told not to break anyone, so he mostly just spun people around, rather than bucking them off. The good news was that everyone walked to their car after the event.

Lessons learned

BB learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Most men do not know how to shoot a handgun and they do not listen when they are told what to do. I remember from my years in the Army that men shooting handguns tend to spray shots all over the place and someone has to be standing next to them to grab the gun when they try to swing around with it.

Instead of a shooting event this should have been a training session where BB taught the men how to shoot. Fully three quarters of them needed it. And many of them have their concealed carry permit! Right after I told one guy that he had to cock the revolver’s hammer before each shot he asked me whether the gun was single action or double action. Yeah — and by the way, the bullet comes out of the hole on the end of that long tube.


Why have I told you all of this? I have because you may sometime have to run an airgun shooting event for a group of people and I want you to know what can happen. When it’s people you know you can get used to it pretty quick, but when it’s people you don’t know, or at least don’t know their shooting skills, make no assumptions — other than you’re going to see things you never imagined.