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Trick shots

Ad (Adolph) Topperwein sits atop 72,491 wooden target blocks he hit as they were thrown in the air. He missed 9.

This report covers:

  • Playing cards
  • Splitting a lead bullet
  • Aerial targets
  • Archery too?
  • Summary

Today you’re gonna get a whole weekend of topics to talk about. Trick shots. Who made them and what were they? And have you made any?

Annie Oakley

Phoebe Ann Mosey (often spelled Moses) was born in rural Ohio in 1860. By the age of 8 she was hunting for her family and also selling the game to raise money.  Her first shot was a head shot on a squirrel to preserve the meat. When she was 15 she competed against and defeated marksman Frank Butler, who soon after married her and became her manager. If you can’t beat em…

Annie Oakley
Annie Oakley.

Playing cards

Annie shot holes in playing cards held up by attendees of her trick-shooting show, gaining them free admission to the show. She even did this from horseback while riding in an arena. The name “Annie Oakley” became synonymous with a free ticket to any show if a hole was punched in. A genuine card shot by Annie now brings several thousand dollars at auction.

Annie Oakley card

She split playing cards at 30 paces (90 feet) with bullets. Want to see what that looks like? Let’s watch Kirsten Weiss do it!

I have seen both Ray Apelles and his father, Hans, (I think — I mean Hans is Ray’s father for sure, I just think I remember him making this same trick shot) split playing cards with a pellet rifle from 10 meters. I’ve also seen Ray snuff a burning candle from 10 meters without touching the wick. To the best of my recollection these shots were taken with a 10-meter target rifle.

To warm up on that day Ray shot the heads off stalks of tall grass at about 20 yards outdoors. The wind moved the stalks, making the shot more challenging. This he did with a Benjamin Discovery. Then we started shooting for real

I saw Ray hit and drop a field target with a one-inch kill zone from 104 yards on a windy day. He shot across Paul Capello’s brother’s pond in the Catskills. We filmed this for the first season of American Airgunner. We started at 66 yards, which was across the widest part of the pond, but Ray never missed. It looked too easy, so we switched to lengthways where we got 104 yards. The day was windy and Ray took 11 shots to connect, but he finally did and dropped the target.

Splitting a lead bullet

At the last airgun show held at the Damascus Isaac Walton League in Maryland we had a big bore shoot and one of the shots was a trick shot where the shooter hit the edge of a double-edged axe to split the bullet. We started setting up that shot by placing balloons on either side of the axe blade so we could see when the bullet split, A couple shooters did break both balloons but the most common result was one balloon popped and the other one didn’t. Then we used clay pigeons that lasted longer because when they were hit the pieces fell apart but remained where they were placed. But I must confess — that was the worst trick shot I have ever seen.

Aerial targets

One trick shot that’s very popular is when a shooter hits a target that’s thrown into the air. Lucky McDaniel used to toss smaller and smaller targets until his students could hit a BB thrown in the air with another BB they shot. 

In the movie Winchester ’73 actor Jimmy Stewart is supposed to have hit a coin tossed up with the rifle that’s the title of the show. Trick shooter Herb Parsons stood next to Stewart and actually made the shots. After hitting the coin Stewart asked for it to be thrown up again. When it was he shot and the coin never moved. He said he guessed he shot through the hole. When the crown laughed he asked for a postage stamp to be placed over the hole and the coin thrown again. When they picked it up the stamp had a hole in it. That shot was one of Herb Parsons’ stock tricks and he actually did it in the movie in one take for each shot.

Parsons learned from Adolph (Ad) Toepperwein (Americanized to Topperwein), the man shown at the top of this article. On December 22, 1907, in San Antonio, Texas, Topperwein  shot at 72,500 small wood blocks that were hand-thrown into the air over 68-1/2 hours straight. He missed nine, setting a record that stood for many decades.

Build a Custom Airgun

Archery too?

The best trick shot I ever saw was made by archer Byron Ferguson who shot an arrow through a diamond ring. You can see this shot done live on the Super People television show in Tokyo in 2007. Byron wasn’t told about this shot until he got on the show, yet he did it perfectly.


Airguns make the perfect tools for trick shooting, as they are cheap and safer than firearms. These are just a few of the trick shots I have seen and read about. I have made a few myself, but they were due to dumb luck more than skill.

How about you? Tell us the impossible shots you have made.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

66 thoughts on “Trick shots”

  1. I’ve actually shot 1, yes that’s ONE trick shot . . . and no, I haven’t just yet tried to duplicate it. I had a friend who, during our recent Pandemic practiced with his modified RAW 1000X, a two solid hours each morning and then again another two hours in the afternoon. He shot .177 pellet through the regulation hole (maybe a quarter inch in diameter), and that’s the only shot he ever took. I never personally saw him miss the regulation shot at 10 meters, 25 yards or 35 yards. He just stalwartly stood or shot from across his knees seated, and hitting that little little yellow metal birdy, time after time, day after day. One afternoon as I was taking a short break in my plinking, he said to me, “hey Orv, come on over and give it a try”. I tried to demure, but he knew that I was hooked, so I sat and took the shot. Bullseye! Right through the hole on one try at 25 yards. A trick shot? For me it certainly was. He offered, but I haven’t taken any more shots with his RAW. I’ll stick with my TX200 for target accuracy or my Dragonfly MK2 just for plinking. I have a lot of fun shooting, I just don’t believe that I’m crazy enough to take the same target, hour by hour, day after day. Fun for some, but for me, a bit more action seems to challenge me just fine. Orv

  2. I had the honor and pleasure to meet John Satterwhite at a tournament in north Little Rock, he gave an exhibition during lunch break.

    He was a great entertainer and exhibition shooter.

    I was fortunate enough to see Bob and Becky Munden give an exhibition, he was arrogant, but if he said he could do it, he would prove it.

    Growing up in Louisiana, in the early 80’s, I had the chance to shoot against Jerry Miculek a few times, before he became a professional shooter and the fastest man with a revolver.

    When he first started shooting action pistol events, he was fast on the gun, but he could not move and reload at the same time, (back then they would let you reload while moving, safety rules change over time).

    It didn’t take but one or two matches before he mastered that, and he became unstoppable.

    When he showed up, you paid your entry fee and enjoyed the show, as he was going to take first place…

    My best trick shot?
    About 8 years ago, In Mississippi on video, hitting an empty .45 acp hull at 50 yards with peep sights using a Mossburg M44US .22 rifle. (The black target poster below the hull was my reference point I could see, I just had to hold a little high).

    And shooting .22 hulls at 25 yards with a Chinese BAM 50 in .22 (a Chinese copy of. Daystate Huntsman.)

    In 2007 Tom started a review of the “Chuntsman” B51, the same gun but with a thumb hole stock.
    They were so bad it never made it past part 2 of his review…


    Best shot not on video?
    Putting a .22 pellet into the mouth of an empty 30.06 hull at 25 yards..

    Using the same Chinese B-50.

    Shoot safe, have fun..






  3. Tom,

    No trick shots for me. Hard enough getting the pellets into a consistent hole offhand (which happens very rarely).


    PS Section Aerial targets 2nd paragraph 6th sentence: “When the crown (crowd) laughed he asked for a postage stamp to be placed over the hole and the coin thrown again.”

  4. What actually is a ‘Trick Shot’? Seriously, what is it? 🙂

    For example, if it’s performing a highly unusual shot, as opposed to shooting as one normally does, then, I would argue that Adolph Topperwein’s amazing ability was, to miss a wooden block thrown into the air, on average, every 8055th time! 🙂

    If, however, it’s the other way round, then, surely, Adolph Topperwein’s amazing ability was, to repeatedly pull a trigger for 2 days and 15 hours,

    Or was it that he managed to persuade someone to throw a wooden block into the air, on average every 18 seconds, for that incredible length of time? ! 🙂

    So, my question remains: what does it take to call a shot a ‘Trick Shot’? 🙂

    PS I am only interested in the definition of a Trick Shot as far as shooting guns is concerned, not eg billiards, golf, computer games, etc… 🙂

    • 3hi,

      You are over thinking it.

      What is a trick shot? It is a shot that many would consider very difficult, but have never really tried, for the amusement of others. It can be performed with a firearm, airgun, bow, slingshot, whatever.
      Shooter 1721 performs them all the time on his Youtube channel.

      The most important element of the trick shot is the audience.

      • Oh yeah RidgeRunner, how very true. I hadn’t thought of the importance of the audience! 🙂

        Continuing along that line, I think the biggest trick, is pulled off by the event organiser who succeeds in collecting an admission fee. 🙂

        Top players at that game must be that well known brewery that has a series of albums named after them in which world records are collected, Guinness. 🙂

        • Hihihi, please brave the spinning wheel and come to today’s blog. B.B. needs you, and we all could use a dose of your interesting perspective!
          And I’m reminded of how you destroyed that remote controlled truck for some reason.

  5. In the 1950’s a friend who lived miles from any neighbors shot Jay birds in flight with a .22 semi auto rifle. I thought this rather amazing until I tried it and found it not hard to do. What I had perceived to be difficult was not once I tried it. It was the first and last time I did it. Obviously shooting a gun at the sky with a range of a mile is not practicing gun safety.


    • Deck,

      Where I live now I would not do such as I can see lights in the hills around me at night, but in my youth where I lived, there were plenty of “hills” to act as backstops.

      I did get accused of shooting someone’s windshield out while they were driving down the road, but I was inside at the time.

  6. I performed what some may consider a trick shot some years ago. I was at the local Sportsman’s Warehouse and was looking at a long bow. The “pro” insisted that I try it on their indoor range, which was about ten yards. He stuck a playing card on the backstop for me to shoot at. The long bow had no sights, balance weights, etcetera. I quickly drew the bow, “aimed” and let fly. I hit the card almost dead center.

    I would have left it at that, but I guess he was so amazed he had to see that again. He kept insisting until I finally took another shot. I missed the card by over a foot.

      • RG,

        As a matter of fact, no. I thought it was a little short for what I considered a long bow. I would like to have one that is at least six feet long. It was only about five feet.

        At present, I have a crossbow and a light (about 30# draw) recurve. I need to practice with that recurve a whole bunch before I invest in a long bow.

        • RR,

          Instead of investing in a longbow, make one. At minimum, a sharp axe, knife and a rasp is all you need to make one in a couple of hours.

          Easy to do, any hardwood on your property would work and you can even craft one out of a (suitable) board from the lumber mill. Hickory, Osage, Elm, Maple, Oak and my favorite, Ironwood all make excellent bows.

          Cut the tree now, split into staves and seal the endgrain so the stave can start drying for when you find your round-tuit.

          Lots of youtube videos but I’d recommend The Traditional Boyer’s Bible series for detailed instructions.

          Last fall I found the ideal Ironwood (hophornbeam) tree that has yielded 8 beautiful staves that have been drying all winter. Now that it’s (mostly) above freezing temperatures in the garage workshop, I’m going to start on a couple styles of bows.

          Making a bow is as much fun as making slingshots 🙂


          • Hank,

            I have most seriously considered making a long bow myself and have not given up on that idea. I think I need to retire though before I take on “another hobby”.

            • RR,

              If you’re serious considering making bows (won’t be just one – promise 😉 ) it would be best to cut the wood as soon as possible as to be completely dry takes a couple of years. You can work with green wood though.

              A 5-6 inch log will yield two staves, an 8 inch four staves. Cut them at least a foot longer than needed, seal the ends and store them horizontally, preferably supported on two pegs placed about 4 feet apart. I have a dozen or so staves hanging on the back wall of the garage. If you stand a stave on end it will take a bend at the lower end – don’t as me how I know this 🙁

              If you want the fool around, try things out and learn the process, make 1/4 scale bows out of firewood and arrows out of bamboo splints. Great projects with the kids. These little bows are not toys though, I’ve taken rabbits and squirrels with them.

              Oh, about retirement. I’ve found that all the projects that you save for when you retire can be overwhelming and you actually have less free time than you did when you were working!


              • LOL! I am more than willing to learn by other’s mistakes. 😉

                I was wondering how large a diameter I should consider. I was hoping a smaller diameter would yield a single stave as I have a bunch of maple “saplings” (two inches in diameter) which have long, relatively straight sections that may be in the seven to eight foot length. How would you recommend sealing the ends?

                Right now, besides airgunning, I am also involved with sport kite flying, motorcycle riding, etcetera. I have to retire to have some time to do MORE stuff.

                • RR,

                  As kids we used to make our low power (15-20 pound) “rabbit bows” out of small diameter green maple saplings.

                  Because we didn’t know any better, and only had a fiberglass/wood laminated recurve for reference, we, by dumb luck hit on a geometry and method that worked for low poundage all wood bows.

                  Two inch is a bit small but doable. The bows we made were constructed backwards to convention – we split the sapling in half and used the inside as the back of the bow. What saved this approach was that the limbs were wide and thin. We’d flatten the back, thin the limbs to about 3/8″ thick (leaving them full with) and feather the last couple of inches to a wedge shape (to help prevent checking). The green roughed out bow was then lashed to a fence rail by the tips with spacers inserted to force a recurve into the limbs and let dry (in the shade, exposed to the breeze) for two weeks to dry. The bow was then tillered (limbs thinned but left as wide as possible) to bend evenly in the limbs but remain stiffer in the tips to make a non-working recurve.

                  Arrows shafts were square (ripped out of construction lumber), fletched with what ever feathers we could find (usually pigeon or seagull), tipped with nails that were flattened on the railway tracks and secured with blasting wire so they could be quickly replaced if bent or stuck in a tree.

                  Lots of fond memories about those bows.


                  • Hank,

                    For myself, I am wanting a “weak” longbow, something in the 20-30# range. I used to have a top-of-the-line compound bow until my left shoulder muscles tore loose. I have had surgery, but it still bothers me some.

                    I do so enjoy archery and I have a light recurve stuck back that I will be playing with this spring. Learning to shoot accurately without sights is something I have always wanted to do.

                    I will not be hunting with these bows as I have much more effective hunting weapons available. I just want to do it for “fun”. I would really like to end up getting into Kyudo.

        • Here’s an interesting snippet that I learned fairly recently from my stepdad on his return from a medieval castle visit:

          Apparently the name ‘longbow’ refers, not to it’s size but, to how it is held, ie longwise or lengthwise. 🙂

          Therefore the device with a bow across the way, or crosswise, is called a ‘crossbow’. 🙂

          To hold something long ways = hold vertically
          To hold something cross ways = hold horizontally

  7. Deck’s entry reminded me of my trick shot involving a Blue Jay. When I was 10 or so, I remember hearing a Blue Jay putting up a noisy fuss in the Walnut tree next to our barn. Looking up, I could see a Momma Blue Jay at her nest crying away and flapping her wings and fussing about something. Looking closer, I could see a snake of some type inching its way closer to her nest. I shot that snake in half with a .22 (powder-burner) without hitting the tree branch!

        • Hank,

          I have seen three species. They are indeed encouraged around my house. I know for a fact that the black racers do indeed enjoy the little birdies, but the snakes around here also eat the small furry woodland creatures (mice and such). I much rather have the snakes.

          When I lived on top of the mountain, there were bunches of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes about. I did not bother them as long as they were not immediately around the house where they might bite my wife.

          What can I say. I like snakes.

          P.S. As a child, my father was bitten by a copperhead. He almost died.

  8. BB,

    Bill Hayes has a couple of slingshot trick shot videos out.

    I’ve pulled off what people have called “trick shots” (lighting matches, cutting cards, hitting moving targets) many times and, though they might be challenging, I never considered them to be “tricks”.

    The way I see it is that the trick to trick shots is consistently; the trick to consistently is good practice. Anybody and everybody can do them.

    Have a great weekend!


    P.S. an ice storm went through our area (southern Ontario) and knocked down all kinds of trees and branches. Major damage 🙁 but an excellent source of slingshot forks 🙂 Just saying.

  9. In 1921 a 63 year old civilian showed up at Camp Perry without a rifle or match grade ammo. Using a pick up 1903 Springfield he had never shot he proceeded to shoot the 20 required rounds into a 36” bull at 1,000 yards. Informed the rules required he continue shooting until he missed it was getting darker while he tried to find more of the standard non match ammo he was using. He finally missed his 72nd shot, a feat not yet equaled I think. The civilian competition was renamed the Farr trophy in his honor.

    I don’t know if Farr was a trick shot artist or just “hell on wheels” with a rifle.


  10. FM don’t call this a “trick shot,” just a very lucky, fluky one. Unlucky for the unfortunate target. As the rememberer remembers, this woulda been around the first half of ’68, the setting the family home in Miami, F-L-A. Young ‘un had been plinking in the backyard with the 38T, shooting with .22 “ashcan” pellets. It seemed by the number of shots fired the gas was almost exhausted. Happened to look up and there was a lone pigeon sitting on a high-tension cable stretched over the neighbor’s yard.

    Not believing there was enough gas to propel the pellet accurately and yet unable to resist the temptation, aimed just above the bird’s body and took the shot. Saw the pellet arcing through the air and then, to FM’s disbelief, it struck with a “twack” sound and the pigeon dropped like a stone into the neighbor’s yard – could not believe the pellet even had enough energy to drop the bird but it did. Best guess is the shooting distance was 15+ yards. Can yet stand in the same spot in the yard today and there is still a high-tension cable going over the one adjacent. That was FM’s miracle shot, never to be duplicated.

    • Basil,

      My lucky shot was also a bird shot and just as unlucky for the bird. And I had a witness.

      We were in my back yard in Ohio and saw a blackbird light on the branch of a tree. We were going out to shoot my .38 Special Colt Army revolver. For fun I held on the base of the bird at about 20-25 feet and squeezed the trigger. We didn’t see the bird fly off so we went over to the base of the tree and looked around. After a minute’s search the bird finally came tumbling out of the tree with its head held on to the body by a thin strip of meat. The wadcutter bullet had chopped off most of the head!


  11. If someone asked me if I had ever made any trick shots, I’d say yes, I shot at a gear shaft that came from a tape deck or a clock that I stuck into this wad of duct seal and hit it with the middle of a .22 pellet from 10 yards. As they say in darts, “better to be lucky than good.”
    A fun trick shot I like to do to break things up is to split pellets across the side edges of pennies, pressed through a pre-slit paper target, and into the duct seal pellet trap. The split pellet makes two holes thru the paper and as Ridgerunner so sagely said above about trick shots, “The most important element of the trick shot is the audience.” It seems more impressive to see the pellet being split than it is to actually perform the shot at ten yards with a good springer, especially in .22. But stretch the shot to 25 yards, using your favorite .22 springer and one shot per coin, I’d call that a real good shot. And it IS a trick shot, because you’re being fancy.

  12. Tom,

    What a great topic! Thank you for writing so much on Annie Oakley. She was one of the most talented skill performers there ever was.

    I love reading all the accounts of fellow readers. I don’t have any trick-shooting stories really, although I know at least a couple people who’ve watched shooters light matches. What I do have is the story of my dad, who grew up a lousy shot with a .22 rifle and BB gun. He enlisted in 1953, and in Basic Training he just barely qualified with the rifle.

    But when he was at the pistol range to qualify with the 1911, he listened very carefully to every word the instructor said, because my dad had never even held a pistol before. After he emptied the first magazine, the instructor came over and asked who taught my dad to shoot. My dad answered that the instructor did, just a few minutes earlier. The instructor didn’t believe that for a second and asked again, was it your pa? No Sir, this is the first I’ve ever handled a pistol. My dad had put 7 shots right on the bullseye, all in a tight clover-leaf. The instructor stopped my dad right there, and my dad qualified Expert.

    That was the first, and last, time my dad ever fired a pistol.


  13. This is not in the realm of “trick shooting” but in that of experimentation. Couple of days ago tried Nielsen hollow point .218 diameter 31.2 gr slugs in the .22 Maximus. Took five shots at the homemade target from 23 yards – two steel can lids taped on top of each other to the backstop. The lids were approximately 2.5” diameter.

    Results, generated by the ProChrono DLX ballistic chrony:

    Shot 1 – 532 FPS, 19.61 FPE
    Shot 2 – 589 FPS, 24.03 FPE
    Shot 3 – 587 FPS, 23.87 FPE
    Shot 4 – 479 FPS, 15.89 FPE – had started out shooting with the rifle pressure gauge reading about 1300 PSI, so when the FPS dropped by over 100, decided it was time to top up to 2000 PSI.

    Shot 5 – 525 FPS, 19.09 FPE. Better, but at this point decided Max could shoot these slugs albeit they fed into the breech very hard. As for accuracy, 3 slugs hit the lid(s) one @ 11 o’clock, two @ 6 o’clock, those making a 0.5” group if it is even worthy of that label; slug 4 hit @ 6 o’clock 3” below the lid’s rim. That was the one which exited the barrel at the slowest speed.

    No idea where the last bullet impacted. Somewhere in the target backstop; just a badly-aimed shot, no doubt. Conclusion: the slugs work well enough for “pesting” at relatively short distances in this rifle.

    Was going to try them in the HW95 break barrel, but FM concluded there would be trouble because the slugs would go into the breech way too tight, if at all. That experiment was quickly cancelled in the spirit of “first, do no harm.”

    Hope this was not bore-ing, though perhaps amateurish. A blessed and peaceful weekend to all.

    • FawltyManual,

      Those are some heavy boolits (slugs) for the .22 caliber Maximus in my opinion. If you are in need to try them for the better BC over same weight pellets for Iguana elimination i would move in the direction of the lower end of the 20s. You would get better MV (Muzzle Velocity) that would give you way a way higher rate of spin for boolit stability and maybe keep more energy down range to boot.

      Those groups at 23 would still probably take out an Iggi ;^)


      • No doubt; have taken them out with Crosman 14.3 grain hollowpoints – the “boolit” would probably be the equivalent of getting hit with a “minny.” Thanks for the input; FM was having a little experimenting fun here.

    • FM,

      I’ve been shooting the JSB Hades pellets in my Maximus with excellent results. The Hades are accurate and expand well, use them for all my pesting.


      • Hank, have had decent results with JSB Straton Jumbo Monster 25.39 grain and JSB Ultra Shock Heavy – also 25.39 grain – in the Max. But all tips and suggestions are appreciated and will try the JSB Hades – have done so with the .177 Max; they did fine in it.

        • FM,

          Interesting that you are shooting the heavier projectiles at low velocities in your Maximus. Do you have a specific reason for doing so?

          I ask because. 22 caliber PCPs are typically happiest (accuracy and efficiency wise) at 880 to 890ish fps. With my Maximus that means pellets around 16 grains.


          • Sorry for the delayed reply; FM gets into lackadaisical mode more and more the older he gets. Was just experimenting to see what Max could do with slugs or “boolits;” agree it is happier with lighter pellets though seems the slugs would be hard-hitting projectiles for some of the pests around here. Iguanas are not that easy to one-shot kill, more so for Fawlty types. Before getting back into airgunnery was dispatching them with a single-shot .22 rimfire using CCI Quiet ammo, which worked well but required more careful shooting. Not that using an airgun is an excuse for careless shooting!

  14. I have to say I’ve done a lot of what I call “Dog Shots”, not trick shots. To me a trick shot would be something I could repeat over and over again. Like by brother who used to shoot quarters out of the air with a 22LR. He also could shoot Skeet with a 22 rifle. But my “dog shots” were all one time things. Not sure I could repeat them. Just me


  15. B.B.,

    Congratulations! What a Trick Shot Blog you pulled off!
    Hmmm! Pulled rabbit out of hat on this one Tom….

    Blessed Good Friday and Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate this astounding gift!

    The rest of you should have a great weekend too!
    Enjoying Tom’s bestest Trick Blog ever.

    Maybe next year he can try with a mirror over his shoulder?


    PS: Don’t personally have any interest in doing trick shots but enjoy the entertainment value that those who do them well provide us all.

    • FM musta been about 7 when he watched “Davy Crockett and The River Pirates” in the theatre; actually believed “Davy,” played by Fess Parker, was able to ricochet a musket ball off a couple knick-knacks and catch it in his mouth. Years later on a rewatch caught how he’d sneaked a ball into his mouth before the “trick shot.” Somehow missed that sneaky trick the first time. Apparently Mike Fink fell for it too. 😉


      • FawltyManual,

        What else could Mike Fink do?
        It was in the Script, Lol!
        I remember seeing that movie when I was a young’n; always thought Fess Parker was great at frontier rolls. Even had a Coonskin Cap. Lots of pretend exploring of the “wilderness” with my old punt & quant on the creek.


  16. Don’t know if it would be considered trick but it sure was hilarious. While plinking in the desert a big black stink bug wandered into the target area. “Let’s see who can hit it first” Every time a bullet hit the sand it was blown up into the air and it changed the direction it was running in when it hit the ground. It was going nowhere but up and down. We were just laughing too much to continue after a half dozen shots and gave up.

  17. B.B. & Readership,
    This report got me to try something I’ve contemplated for a while.
    I’m a big fan of Ed McGivern (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_McGivern), and read his excellent book, “Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting.”
    One of his feats was:
    “He could hit a tin can hand-thrown 20 ft in the air five times before it hit the ground.”
    I’ve always wanted to try that, but there’s no place I can do that around here with firearms.
    Yet, as B.B. noted, airguns are a different matter.
    Hence, I loaded up my Crosman 357 and headed out back to see what I could do.
    First off, I was using a lightweight aluminum can, and I could only get it about 12 feet in the air.
    I could barely get off 3 shots before that can hit the ground, and the first 8 of those were misses.
    On the 9th shot, I hit the can. So, I got one hit with the first cylinder full of pellets, then one with the second; on the third, I got zero hits; on the 4th, I got one hit; and on the 5th, I slowed down to 2 shots per throw, and managed to get a whopping 2 hits.
    All told, by expending a total of 50 shots, I only managed to hit the can 5 times.
    I have always admired Ed McGivern’s skill before, I admire it much more now! 🙂

    • thedavemyster,

      So after the first 25 of the 50 shots you expected to at least hit the can half the time…Lol!
      Ain’t gonna happen…keep at it for another 400 hours and you will probably see some improvement.
      Expect we will see you get better cans to throw into the air to get that extra hang time at the top of the arc.
      I do have one question:
      Did you start shooting while the can was on the way up?
      I may need to try that type of shooting it really does sound like FUN!

      Thanks Dave :^)


      • shootski,
        I think you’re right about the 400 hours…and that would be a minimum, hahaha!
        Next time, I’ll use a heavier steel can.
        (Note: I had some of those, but they got shot to pieces last week; our air-conditioner/heater unit went out, and after the repair, I dug out my Henry H001 lever action, and some of those CCI Quiet 22LR rounds that B.B. has tested for us, the ones with air rifle power, about 40 fpe; then the repair guy and his son both outshot me with my own rifle…but that’s OK; it was a good time! =>)
        Since, I have to throw the cans for myself, I throw with my left hand, then raise my right hand with the pistol and start shooting.
        It’s like shooting skeet or trap, and you try to get a target that’s already on the way down; you have to drop below it, and keep up the downswing…most often, I missed those.
        Gravity…she’s a hard mistress. 😉
        Easter Blessings to you,

        • thedavemyster,

          “Gravity…she’s a hard mistress” She sure is!
          As aircraft became more and more powerful getting students to understand that mistress became harder to explain until you were in the air with them doing ACM. The recent Top Gun movie Maverick does a good job of showing how cruel she can be!
          Keep practicing! I need to get a pellet revolver or other multi shot pellet pistol to give this a try…hmmm; i do have an Airsoft 1911. Maybe i can count the dents IF there are any.

          Easter Blessings to you and yours as well!


          • shootski, I just saw that new movie last week; I thought it was really cool that Tom Cruise refused to do the movie unless they allowed Val Kilmer to be in it; that was a class move. 🙂

    • Dave,

      Because pests and small game rarely sit still we did most of our practicing on moving targets. Not surprisingly, my shooting style is based on focusing on the target and using muscle memory to bring the weapon into the correct alignment.

      Shooting at moving targets is not difficult, it just takes some preparation to get into that space.

      An exercise to practice this is to focus on a small object at eye height (I have a 1/2″ dot on the workshop wall), close your eyes, point at target and open your eyes to check your alignment. If you are off center, move your feet to correct your stance. Once you’re on target, close your eyes and feel/memorize your stance. Repeat this exercise frequently (but only if no one is watching 😉 ). Once you get good at horizontal start with high and low targets by bending at the waist.

      When you can consistently point out an object with your finger, try to do the same thing with your pistol/rifle. You will find out very quickly if your hold needs to be corrected or maybe the grip/stock needs to be modified to bring the sights into plane with the target without making large adjustments after opening your eyes.

      Now that you and the gun are in synch, it’s the time for pellets – start close and horizontal. It’s important to see the pellet impact so change the backing cardboard when it gets too perforated.

      Sights are for reference to make sure that you’re in plane with the target, see them in your peripheral vision, don’t get distracted by them (they aren’t going anywhere), focus on where you want to hit. Don’t hesitate, come onto the target and shoot when it feels right.

      When you get stationary targets down pat you can start with moving ones – a 1″ wad of masking tape or something similar suspended from a string works well.

      The biggest problem with shooting moving targets is that people interrupt the flow of the shot to aim, can’t do that in a dynamic situation. You’ll shoot behind every time. Anticipate the trajectory, get in plane with it and follow through as you shoot. The timing will come to you, confidence is the key.

      With “some practice” (LOL!), you will get to the point that you focus on the target, see it’s trajectory and connect the dots without thinking about it. You get to the point that you can “feel” the firing solution.

      Have fun!

      • “The biggest problem with shooting moving targets is that people interrupt the flow of the shot to aim, can’t do that in a dynamic situation. You’ll shoot behind every time.”
        Hank, I think you nailed it there; in trying so hard to aim, I was stopping my flow, not following through, and shooting at where the can just was, instead of where it had moved to…LOL!
        But thanks for all the excellent advice here…now, I just need to put it into practice. 😉

  18. BB,
    I’ve been thinking that trick shots not only require an audience, but an expectation of an outcome (as others have pointed out).
    It reminded me of a cartoon that I saw, a long time ago – picture a young man, with two cans in his left hand and a holstered revolver on his right hip, saying to a pretty girl standing beside him “I used to throw six cans in the air and shoot them, but then I hurt my throwing arm…”
    I always enjoy reading the blog.

    • “I used to throw six cans in the air and shoot them, but then I hurt my throwing arm…”
      Bill, great stuff; thanks; that brought a smile to my face. 🙂

  19. I wish everyone a happy healthy Easter Sunday! 🙂

    If I get a chance later, I’ll print out the Easter picture below (that I’m sending everyone today) and try to shoot all twenty coloured egg shapes, without harming a Hare… 🙂

      • thedavemyster what a nice comment, thanks. 🙂

        Pictured below is how I dealt with those 20 egg shapes, ie today’s 10 metre Easter Sunday 2023 pistol shooting range… 🙂

      • And now for the result:

        I am so happy and relieved to be able to report that not a hair of the hare was harmed in the ‘cracking’ of those 20 coloured egg silhouettes.

        I used a Feinwerkbau 103, which is a 4,5mm single stroke pneumatic target pistol, and 7 grain RWS Club wadcutter shaped pellets to help me spare the hare! 🙂

        Also, I chose to print the picture to A3 size (approximately twice the size of a letter). 🙂

        Finally, it was a team effort. Vickie, my girlfriend, joined in too. 🙂

        So, one could think I cheated in multiple ways, and my reply would be: maybe! 🙂

        All I know, is, it was so much fun (!) to shoot those 40 pellets. 🙂

        • hihihi, that’s excellent shooting, especially with an open-sighted pistol…
          …and what a beauty of a pistol…sweet!!!

          I had some fun with your target; I printed it out a sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper, flipped sideways so I’d have room to add some humorous text. I used my scoped HW30S at 15 yards, which should have been no challenge really; but as sun came out, the wind started gusting (blew down our Easter decorations), so it was harder to crack all the eggs than expected, especially while keeping our furry friend intact; on the shot into the green egg just to the right of him, I think I nearly scared the fur off that little critter! Hahaha! Great fun; thank you! 😉

          • thedavemyster, that green egg was indeed punctured rather close to the hare, phew!
            I have to admit feeling the most nervous with that one myself (as if I were aiming at more than just a bit of paint on paper). 🙂

            By the way, your target was half the size of mine, shot at from a greater distance and in stronger wind, and yet, I see some nicely centred holes – not at all bad! 🙂

            Your turn for the next target picture, ok? 🙂
            By the way, our “..furry friend..” was actually ‘captured’ by a wildlife camera in the far corner of the paddocks. Most times the hare and other animals pass in darkness, thus appear in fuzzy black & white…

              • thedavemyster, it’s a badger. 🙂

                All European ones have that distinctly white stripe running down the middle of the head.

                As for bears, apparently there are some brown bears in the Pyrenean mountains, but here, I have only spotted the three pictured ones… 🙂

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