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Air Guns Fun with AirForce and Firebird: Part Two

Fun with AirForce and Firebird: Part Two

Part 1

Today Ian McKee whose blog name is 45Bravo tells us about the rest of the fun shoot that AirForce Airguns and Firebird targets held near Ft. Worth a couple weeks ago.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me at blogger@pyramydair.com.

Take it away, Ian

Fun with AirForce and Firebird: Part Two
by Ian McKee

This report covers:

  • Gremlins
  • The course of fire
  • The rules
  • Final event
  • The RAWs made the day
  • Summary

Today we will recount the second day of the AirForce and Firebird fun shoot. 

Again, AirForce and Firebird personnel fed us a hearty breakfast as shooters started arriving. A few from the previous day returned, but many new faces  attended day two.


As Ton Jones, Rick Rehm and the AirForce crew were setting up the equipment and filling tanks, the gremlins came out of the woodwork and started gumming up the works. 

First the utility outlets at the firing line we had been using for the high pressure air compressor were not working, so we moved to an alternate outlet. After we had two of the tanks topped off and the third tank filled to about 3600 psi, the compressor shut down for some reason. The ambient air temperature was in the low 70’s so overheating was not the problem. 

Being unable to resolve the problem and taking into account the number of shooters that turned out for the event, the limited air supply on hand demanded an executive decision to alter the day’s planned events. Instead of a short range speed event with .22 caliber RAW Micro Hunters, and then a long range event with AirForce big bores and RAW HM1000X .25 caliber rifles, the decision was made to just have head-to-head competitions, two prizes were chosen at random from the table, the winner gets to choose between the two prizes, and the loser gets the other prize. 

While the course of fire was being reset to accommodate the new plans, it gave us time to meet each other, and some of the people behind the scenes such as the local sponsors — GSM Outdoors, AirForce Airguns and Firebird Targets, and others that donated prizes for the competitors.

Many fine prizes were donated for the event. There were several UTG scopes of various models, plus scopes from Lucid Optics, Athlon Optics, and Crimson Trace. There were also Shokz (formerly AfterShokz) bone conduction headphones. If you haven’t tried these you need to. They transmit the sounds through your skull, not through your ears. There were also a couple of quality shooting mats, and some self-sealing reactive targets. 

prize table
Some of the prizes to be awarded during the event.

The course of fire

They eventually settled on a set of steel 2 inch flipper targets (the auto reset kind where you shoot the lower targets and they flip up onto a steel bar and you shoot the top target to reset them),  at an unknown distance, then the first three KYL (Know Your Limits) targets, also at a further unknown distance. 

KYL target
The KYL targets start at 2 inches in diameter and reduce in size by ¼ inch until the smallest target is only ¼ inch wide.

Then two Texas Star targets were placed at well over 100 yards. Shooters had to activate the Firebird target on each target to move to the next one. The Firebird targets were on opposite sides of the Texas Stars, so after you hit the first target, the star started swinging, you had to either time your shots well, or wait for the target to stop swinging to connect with the last Firebird target.

The first person to clear the course wins. Simple right? Well, not with the help of another gremlin, a 10 mph gusting crosswind.

The shooters ranged from 12 years old and up. The 12 year old boy was shooting against his 17 year old sister. Their parents were competing as well. It is great to see the sport being carried on by younger generations..

family photo
The Shive family with Trick Shot Rick Rehm, and Dan Meeker, the owner of Firebird Targets.

The contest started with a literal bang! I was in the first pairing, and since the ranges to the targets was unknown, I started with the near targets first and worked out my holdovers as the ranges increased. 

The person I was shooting against was thinking outside of the box and, after cleaning the close targets, he shot one of the exploding disks on the far Texas Star, making it unbalanced and spinning. He would come back to it after it had slowed while he shot the intervening targets. 

The problem (for him) was he shot MY star instead of his own. I looked to the RO (Range Officer) and he said it counted in my favor. Keep shooting!

I actually own a set of the flipper targets that were closest, so I estimated the distance to them as about 60 yds, and cleaned that target with no real issues. The KYL targets I figured to be a little over 80 yards, and once I found the correct hold over, they fell relatively easy as my friends and I have been shooting the KYL at 75 yards lately with both pellets and .22 rimfire. 

It took me several shots to walk my hits to the base of the Texas Star, then use that hold over for my aim point. The star was WELL past 100 yards and I normally don’t shoot .25 caliber, much less shoot that far. After several misses from error in judging the flight time of the pellet to my still swinging star, I was finally able to connect with the Firebird target that went off with a resounding boom, and huge plume of smoke. 

My opponent and I congratulated each other, chose our prizes, and readied the equipment for the next shooters. 

The rules

The rules were the shooting continued until someone connected with their last exploding target. Some relays took longer and more shots than others. To save time, we decided to start loading magazines for the shooters so they didn’t have to stop shooting and take time to reload the magazines themselves. That sped things up considerably. 

loading mags
Reloading magazines for the competitors in the two shooting houses as darkness approaches.

Final event

After the prizes were handed out, and the sun was starting to set, one last event was announced. Each shooter got one magazine of 12 shots. We competed head-to-head to see who could score hits on two separate eight inch steel plates with Firebirds attached. These were both at unknown distances (well over 150 yards to the first plate, and close to 200 yards plus or minus a few feet for the second plate). The prize was an Accu-Tac bipod, which is about a $400 value.

We ran the relays as fast as we could, several shooters were able to connect with the first exploding target, finally after a couple of shooter rotations someone finally connected with the single far target.

Hunting Guide

The RAWs made the day

Luckily the gremlins only sabotaged the support equipment. The two RAW rifles just kept pounding away, shooting everything we could put through them as fast as we could hand shooters magazines. No maintenance, no lube, just loading, filling and shooting. A true test of their robust construction. 


I think everyone had a great time, and made new friends. That’s what this hobby is about. And as a side note, everyone brought home some nice prizes.

Shoot safe, and have FUN!


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.

23 thoughts on “Fun with AirForce and Firebird: Part Two”

  1. Ian,

    Thank you for letting us have a look over your shoulder as you participated in the event. The competition was carried out using only the RAW Micro Hunters? Or did they still switch to to the RAW HM1000X for the long range shots?


  2. Ian,

    Thank you for the report! I really like to read about events like this one. Those gremlins! There are always some on events like that. It is amazing – everything is working fine and the next day during such event suddenly it DOES NOT WORK! 🙂 Murphy’s law?

    • Wow, that would be fun. I think it could probably get expensive really fast.

      Not to mention, I don’t think the neighbors if you have any would be very happy with you.

      Luckily, they do sell a couple of different size targets with different levels of bang for your buck.

      Although they are a lot of fun if you put one behind the bull’s-eye of an unsuspecting buddy, and he doesn’t know that you’ve put one there.

      Consequently, when he shoots his card, especially in benchrest shooting, and he happens to connect with the one bull that has a Firebird behind it. It is very surprising when you’re not expecting it.


  3. I am looking for information on an unusual airgun that came with a large collection I bought. It is a Sarsilmaz SSS Special Mod 500. It is a lap loading side lever with a checkered walnut stock and a plastic pistol grip. The cocking stroke is short. I only shot a few shots. It sounds like it is dieseling. The velocities I got were in the 475 to 500 fps range.

  4. 45Bravo,

    Another enjoyable read. Thank you Ian.

    Glad folks were able to adapt.

    It does reinforce my belief and TRUST in the US Navy SEAL concept of: 1 is none 2 is one….

    I wish i had been there with my collection of filled cylinders to help out and of course to shoot ;^)



  5. Ian,
    I’m late to the party here, but thank you for a most interesting report.
    My favorite part was what you said here:
    “It is great to see the sport being carried on by younger generations.”
    Yes, for sure, “Amen” to that! 🙂
    Blessings to you,

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