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. read more


Shooting the Rocket Shot target

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Rocket Shot target
  • Wind is bad
  • Emplacing the target
  • Loading the can
  • Crosman Super Match pellets
  • Shooting the target
  • Afterward
  • Overall impression

This report took me some time to schedule. I needed to find a safe place to shoot aerial targets with a pellet gun, and I needed good weather. We have had a lot of foul weather in Texas this year, so everything took time to line up. But last Saturday, it did.

Rocket Shot target

You first saw the Rocket Shot target in the Part 1 report on this year’s Malvern airgun show. I bought one with the intention of testing it for you and also putting it into my column in Shotgun News.

Rocket Shot is a spring-loaded soda-can-launcher that throws an empty can about 10-12 feet in the air when the paddle is hit. It sets up easily, loads easily and is more fun to shoot than I imagined. When I watched the company owners shooting the target on their website, it looked easy; but I’m the world’s worst instinct shooter, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me.

Wind is bad

I hoped for a day without wind, but in Texas such days are uncommon. There was a mild breeze of 5-10 mph that blew the cans as soon as they came out of the launcher. Aluminum soda cans weigh very little and are pushed by the lightest breeze. When I first set up the target, the cans were moving sideways as they rose and fell, which made them very hard to hit. But after I placed the target with the wind at my back the movement of the cans became irrelevant.

Emplacing the target

The Rocket Shot target is simple to set up. Just jam the attached steel rod into the ground. Our ground was still loose from a lot of rain, so it was easy to push it down.

It works best when it stands straight up and down. Don’t lean it forward or backward relative to the shooter. The paddle is the trigger that launches the can. It has to be straight up and down so it can set itself when the can is loaded. That way, it’ll go off when the paddle is hit with very little energy.

Loading the can

The can is placed on the round launcher at the end of the coiled spring, then pushed straight down until the paddle catches the sear. If the unit isn’t standing straight up and down, this will be difficult or even impossible to do.

Crosman Super Match pellets

I decided to shoot Crosman Super Match pellets. They seemed to be a natural match for the rifle, plus their lower cost is important in this case since we envision shooting a lot of them. As it turned out, they were an ideal choice.

Shooting the target

Once the can’s loaded, you just shoot the steel paddle below the target and the can pops straight up about 10 feet . Ah — but that’s the trick! In fact, that is the ENTIRE point of the Rocket Shot target — an instinct target that sharpens your skills and is also fun. Your first inclination is to use the rifle’s sights to hit the paddle. That’s fine, except there’s no time to use the sights when the can’s moving. You have to aim instinctively to hit the moving can.

I started shooting the Rocket Shot with a Crosman 1077 rifle, which has to be nearly the perfect airgun for this game. It has 12 shots and, although it isn’t semiautomatic like the manufacturer claims, it has a very easy double-action revolver trigger that, once broken in, fires as fast as you pull it. I have my rifle set up with an 88-gram CO2 cartridge, which means I get hundreds of shots before changing cartridges. That turns out to be very important — as I’ll discuss in a bit.

At first, I had a Tasco Pro Point dot sight mounted on the 1077. But an optical sight is useless against a moving target. It not only didn’t help — it was a major hindrance. Off it came, and I started hitting targets almost immediately. Not many, mind you, but enough to keep things interesting.

Instead of shooting just one shot at the moving can, I shot 3 or 4 time on most launches. The 1077’s trigger is so light and fast that it’s not a problem to keep up that kind of pace. That meant I could only shoot at 3 targets before running out of pellets in the 12-shot clip.

By the way, you get a lot of shots from one soda can — even when you hit it. The aluminum is so soft that the pellet punches a clean hole through both sides; and if the rim of the can isn’t hit, you can reuse it many times. You can still recycle it afterward.

My friend, Otho, shot with me and was able to get on target much quicker. He’s a shotgunner who has natural pointing instincts. I think that’s important in this game. I also think the Rocket Shot may help your shotgunning game.

When one shooter was shooting, the other was loading clips and resetting the targets. Edith took all the videos. That made the day progress much faster than we anticipated.

After Otho and I finished with the 1077, I realized just how many shots had been fired. I went though around 20 clips and Otho shot about 8. At 12 pellets per clip, we had both burned through 336 pellets. That’s the beauty of using the large CO2 cylinder. It still had gas in it when we were done. But we weren’t finished shooting. There was still the Gamo PR-776 pellet revolver to try.

The revolver was much harder to hit with, but we were both used to the target from shooting the 1077. I shot another eight 8-shot clips from the revolver, and Otho shot about four; so there’s another 96 pellets downrange. That brings the total pellets fired in this session to 432! We did that in about 45 minutes of shooting, which is the fastest I’ve ever burned through pellets.

Afterward

After all that shooting, the target is still in perfect condition. I think we hit the launcher 3 or 4 times in the entire session, and all it did was remove a small portion of the graphics. The launcher sustained no damage. The paddle lost paint where it was hit, but nothing more. This appears to be a target that will last for a great many shots.

06-23-15-01-Rocket-Shot
After being shot at more than 400 times, the Rocket Shot target is still in great shape.

I can’t think of a better gun to shoot this target than the Crosman 1077. It has all the power you need; and because you shoot lead pellets, there’s minimal danger of a ricochet or rebound. Couple the rifle with a large CO2 cartridge like I did, and your main concern will be loading the clips.

Overall impression

If I were an airgun company and saw a target like the Rocket Shot, I would try to get it into my product lineup. As fast as we went through pellets and gas, this target would boost the use of those items significantly. I can see one or more of these at a family picnic. The kids could be drafted into loading clips and resetting the cans in exchange for shooting rights.