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

With airguns home IS the range! — Part1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The indoor range
  • Quiet airguns
  • The 499
  • Quiet traps
  • Build your own trap
  • What about more powerful airguns?
  • You don’t have to just shoot paper indoors
  • Safety
  • Distance
  • Pellet trap
  • Lighting
  • Shooting table
  • Shooting at home is fun!
  • Your turn

Some of you are sitting at home right now, bored out of your gourds! Have you forgotten that you are airgunners? This is your time to shine!

This is a refresh of an article I wrote for the website in 2006 — 14 years ago. Things have changed a lot since then, so I have updated it.

The indoor range

With the right airguns, it’s not only possible to shoot at home, you’ll wish you’d started years ago. I’m not talking about your backyard today. Some folks have large private backyards that let them shoot without disturbing their neighbors. But many people like me are squeezed into closer quarters with neighbors who may call the police if they see someone outside with a gun. However, a home is still a castle, and yours can have a shooting range inside. read more

The basics of shooting: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Accuracy from gross to fine
  • Rough airguns
  • Smooth airguns
  • Trigger
  • Cleaning the barrel
  • Sight picture training
  • The triangulation system
  • Making a triangulation sighting bar
  • Conduct of the exercise
  • A simpler, faster way to begin
  • Style of the sights doesn’t matter
  • The results you want
  • Summary
  • read more

    2019 Pyramyd Air Cup: Part 1

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Vendor's Row
    There were more vendors than ever this year! They were arranged on streets under pop-ups.

    This report covers:

    • Big
    • Downrange
    • Down to the public ranges
    • Repeating crossbow pistol
    • American Airgunner
    • Air-air-air!
    • Gee whiz!
    • Summary


    I knew it was going to be good when I first saw it driving up. I saw rows of colorful tents arranged like a country fair. They turned out to be several streets with vendors on each side, and as the morning advanced they were filled with representatives from their companies. We had been told that the Pyramyd Air Cup site was bigger this year and I have to report that it certainly was!

    In fact, on day two I was shown the other side of the facility and discovered that what I was on was the small side. The real facility is several times larger than what I had seen on the first day. And that other side includes a clubhouse/event center that has an indoor swimming pool! The banquet Saturday evening was held in that facility.

    Camping sites were in the woods on this side of the road and equipped with everything a RV or tent camper could desire. You guys who camped there please correct me if I’m wrong, but I saw hundreds of well-equipped hookups.

    The Cup started on a Friday with competitors shooting in both the inaugural benchrest competition and the Gunslynger that has run for many years. There were a large number of competitors on the line when I arrived at 8:30.

    Benchrest briefing
    I’m looking at half of the benchrest competitors. The other half is behind me. This is the pre-match safety briefing.


    The benchrest targets were 100 yards downrange and the wind was blowing 10+ m.p.h. with frequent gusting. Everyone was having their pellets blown to the left — sometimes by several inches.

    The range flags were blowing right to left at 100 yards!


    I stopped by the Leapers booth and saw a new 4-16 scope with improved light transmission. It has an etched-glass reticle and the adjustment knobs are calibrated in the same increments as the reticle lines. This makes adjusting the scope easier, as no mental conversion is required. They are sending one to me to test for you, and I can’t wait. Did I mention that it is very compact — only a little longer than a Bug Buster.

    I also saw a new high-tech bipod that I will soon be reviewing for you. This one is really slick and after my experiment with the Daisy Buck a few weeks back, I’m excited to try it

    Down to the public ranges

    This venue is huge! I bet the public shooting ranges are a quarter-mile from the competition and Vendors’ Row. Pyramyd Air had several range carts to ferry people, so I hopped on one and went down to the public ranges. These are where you can try many different airguns that Pyramyrd Air and some of the other vendors provide. The also had a sales office down there and everything they sell was marked down by 20 percent with free shipping! But I also saw some things that hadn’t yet been seen by the public.

    Repeating crossbow pistol

    The first new thing was a 6-shot repeating crossbow pistol from Europe. It is way cool and so new that it doesn’t have a name yet, but it sells in Europe under the name Steambow. I was surprised by how accurate it is and also by the power — 16+ foot-pounds!

    This crossbow pistol is every bit as much fun as it appears in this picture. BB wants to to test one! Heck — he wants to own one!

    The real news with the Steambow, however, is not the pistol. There is also a full-sized crossbow that is cocked buy CO2 pressure! I saw it cocked and shot several times, and I even shot it myself a couple times. It is supposed to be highly accurate. I don’t know how long we will have to wait to see this reach the market but I can tell you that Pyramyd Air is working on it as fast as possible.

    big Steambow
    The full-sized bow is cocked via CO2 pressure. This is a bow that will compete with top-quality crossbows like the Sub-1 and the Ravin.

    There is more than one version of the full-sized bow coming to market, so there will be more to say as the details are refined.

    American Airgunner

    The American Airgunner television show was at the Cup and host Rossi Morreale was competing in several events. When he wasn’t doing that he was interviewing people all around the event. You’ll get to see parts of the Cup online and in next year’s show.


    The guns at the Cup run on air and Pyramyd had several of their compressors going all the time, filling large tanks. Even so, they were hard-pressed to keep up with the demands of so many shooters.

    These Air Venturi compressors were going most of the day, filling dozens of large carbon fiber tanks. read more

    Johnson Indoor Target Gun: Part 5

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Johnson Indoor Target Gun
    The Johnson Indoor Target Gun is a catapult BB gun that was made in the late 1940s for youth target practice.

    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • The test
    • First shot
    • Second shot
    • Adjusted down again
    • Rubber band broke
    • Now for a group
    • Proof of the pudding
    • Summary

    Well, all the work we did was to get to this point. Today I shoot the Johnson Indoor Target Gun for accuracy.

    The test

    I shot at a target about 10 feet away. I was seated and used the UTG Monopod as a rest.

    Since these BBs are only moving 126-129 f.p.s., or so, I used an aluminum foil target like the one I made for the Sharpshooter catapult gun test. We know slow-moving balls will penetrate aluminum foil readily. The target was backed by a cardboard box that stopped every BB, and then sent them back at me. More work is required on the backstop to catch the BBs successfully.

    I only used a single type of BB for this test. There could be a difference in accuracy, I suppose, but it seems to me that catapults are far more forgiving of what they shoot. So, I chose Air Venturi Steel BBs.

    I shot only 5 shots instead of 10. When you see the target you’ll understand why. The aim point was at 6 o’clock on the dot drawn on the foil. Let’s get started.

    First shot

    The first shot went high, so I took a picture of the target to show you. Fortunately the Johnson has adjustable sights.

    Johnson first shot
    The first shot (long arrow) hit considerably above the aim point (short arrow).

    Johnson sight
    The rear sight adjusts for elevation. Unscrew the knurled disk and slide it up and down. The first shot was with the sight set on the top line (blue arrow). For shot two the sight was set as seen here. Shot three was with the sight set on the red arrow line.

    Second shot

    Shot two was to the right and not that much lower than shot one. I could see the rear sight needed to be lowered a lot! That’s why I showed all the sight settings in the picture above.

    second shot
    As you can see, shot two moved to the right but not down by much.

    Adjusted down again

    This time I really dropped the sight. And it paid off with a shot through the dot I was aiming at! The picture is really dark, so I lightened it.

    Nailed it on shot three.

    Rubber band broke

    On this shot the rubber band broke, so I had to make a new one. I don’t think it affected the accuracy of the shot, however, and the shots that follow will confirm that.

    Because of all the work I had done in the previous tests I knew exactly how to replace the rubber band. It only took five minutes before I had the gun back up and running.

    Now for a group

    Since the last shot was on target, I decided to just shoot 4 more shots without changing anything. Even though the rubber band had to be replaced, it had no affect on the sights. The gun was still sighted-in.

    Four more shots went downrange. Shot 3 was a called pull to the left. When I was done I had a tight little group to show. Five shots had gone into a group measuring just 0.358-inches between centers. Sure, it was only shot at a distance of 10 feet, but that’s the nature of this gun.

    Five BBs went into a group measuring 0.358-inches at 10 feel. Shot number three was a called pull to the left. read more

    Action targets throughout history

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    A history of airguns

    This report covers:

    • Bleed, break or fall
    • History
    • Live animals
    • Ad Topperwein
    • Shooting was king!
    • End of the Civil War
    • Early mechanical target
    • Quackenbush bell and mechanical targets
    • Targets 2, 3 and 4
    • Target 3
    • Target 4
    • Quackenbush targets 5 and 6
    • Targets 7 and 8
    • One more galley target
    • Summary

    Bleed, break or fall

    “Airgun targets have to bleed, break or fall.” said Leigh Wilcox of the now-defunct Airgun Express, many years ago. Leigh was one of many who felt that punching paper was like watching paint dry. A lot of you readers feel the same, as we have seen in this blog recently. Today’s report was requested by reader GunFun1, but I know that a lot of you are looking forward to it.


    I will get back to airgun targets in a bit, but first let’s travel back in time to see where action targets began. For that we need to go to Europe around the year 1300, when shooting events lasted for many days and took on a carnival atmosphere.

    The Bogenschuetzen-Gesellschaft (Society of Bowmen or Archers) of Dresden dates from 1286, though there must have been activity prior to that time or else why would the Society form? These were persons of royal lineage (about 400) who gathered annually at a festival to see who was to be the King of the Crossbowmen. The town granted them land, money and special honors because when trouble came, they were the town’s first and best defense.

    The royal Saxony family were members who often competed and even won the event. In fact, they traditionally shot the first shot to open the competition. In 1676 the Crown Prince of Saxony won the match and became the king of the crossbowmen that year. A large gold medal weighing 46 ducats of gold was struck and after that time the winner of the match wore it at the banquet and ball that followed.

    The target was a wooden bird placed atop a tall pole in the middle of the Vogelwiese or bird field (bird meadow). The pole was on a pivot with ropes that could lower it to the ground for scoring. This is probably not the first action target, but it certainly one of the most famous!

    bird target
    An engraving of the 1612 crossbow match in Dresden. From The Crossbow, by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey.

    In 1702 the English ambassador in Dresden made the “Konigschuss” or king’s shot, winning the match. Queen Anne of England had a gold medal with the value of 20 ducats coined to commemorate the win.

    Live animals

    Until the middle of the 20 century live animals were used in target competitions. I won’t go into too much description, but know that turkey shoots in the 19th century in the Appalachian Mountains were at live animals that were tethered behind large logs. The animals could hide behind the logs and the shooters had to find ways to coax them out to take a shot. Often, just the head was presented.

    The clay pigeon was developed to replace live birds that were released from hidden cages on the shooting field. Before the clay pigeon was developed, balls made of glass and hardened pitch were used. They stopped using both because broken glass shards were dangerous and the balls often broke during handling and launching. Clay pigeons still break in handling and launching, but they are more reliable, plus they fit together and can be stored in a smaller space.

    glass ball launcher
    A glass or pitch ball launcher for shotguns and rifles.

    clay pigeon
    The clay pigeon has been standardized for convenience and to fit all launchers.

    Now, I am aware that GunFun1 didn’t ask about all action targets. He is interested in shooting gallery targets, and I am coming to that, but knowing the history of older action targets tells us a lot about the targets that evolved later.

    Ad Topperwein

    Adolph Topperwein was a poor crockery worker in San Antonio, but from December 13 to December 22, 1907, he shot at 72,500 2-1/4-inch pine blocks that were thrown in the air by 3 young men. In all he missed just 9 of the targets — setting an action target shooting record that stood for almost a century.

    Ad Topperwein sits atop the mountain of 72,491 wooden target blocks he hit in 1907.

    Shooting was king!

    In the days I have bracketed in history — 1300-1900, shooting was considered the king of sports. Shooters were revered and most people looked at shooting like they look at archery or darts today — a demonstration of one’s accuracy.

    End of the Civil War

    The American Civil War taught the government that it had better do something about the marksmanship of its young men, because many showed up for basic training with no knowledge of how a firearm works. The South, in sharp contrast, drew on a population of young men that was fascinated with shooting and knew very well how to do it. The difference was survival. In the South people had to shoot for their food and they were interested in what kept them fed. In the North big cities had removed the necessity of shooting and many young men had never fired even one shot.

    General Phil Sheridan decided that had to change for the best interests of the nation, and he was instrumental in forming the National Rifle Association in 1873. Also, he helped some companies promote their airguns as a means of getting a way to target practice at home into the hands of Americans.

    At the same time, the shooting gallery came into existence, or moved forward in the public eye. Many feel it was the Civil War that spawned an interest in guns among North American men, but the development of the gallery gun (AKA Flobert) and the .22 Short cartridge had something to do with it. This made the time ripe for the home gallery target —and they abounded!

    Early mechanical target

    The Dodo mechanical target was one of the earliest and also the most prolific, but could I find a picture of one to show you? It took me 30 minutes of searching to find something close, and they had it listed as a “squirrel” target. What is shown below is a take on the famous Dodo — or at least a very close copy.

    Okay, these are ducks, not “Dodos.” The Dodo target was just two humps of metal with a reset paddle beneath.

    In my search I stumbled across another old gallery type target that someone had shot up with a high-powered rifle. But enough was left and it was so attractive that I placed a bid on it. And, I’m the “Great Enabler?”

    chicken target
    While researching this report I found this vintage gallery target and placed a bid.

    Quackenbush bell and mechanical targets

    This is the target that GunFun1 saw in the blog that sparked his interest. Of all old mechanical airgun targets, the Quackenbush targets are perhaps the best-known. They came in 4 variations. The Number 1 is simplest one. It was just a bell target with no other mechanism. It rang when you shot the bell through the center hole. The target is very large (14 inches wide — I have never seen one) and made of wood with a rubber centerpiece that was knocked out with the shot. It is for low-powered airguns firing darts, only. Because they are wood, I imagine they are extremely rare today. They originally sold for $1.50

    Targets 2, 3 and 4

    These are the metal bell targets that GunFun1 saw. The metal face of Number 2 is 12 inches in diameter and, when you ring the bell, a spring-loaded bird pops up above the face. I have seen one for sale at an airgun show and several online. Antique dealers seem to ask $1,400 for these today. They were $2.00 when new.

    Qbush 2 tyarget
    This target was offered for sale at the Toys The Shoot airgun show several years ago.

    Target 3

    Target 3 has a steel face, and is 15 inches in diameter. It weighs 14 lbs. and also has the spring-loaded bird that pops up. That one is rated for rimfire cartridges, though I imagine they were thinking blackpowder rounds at less than 50 foot pounds. I have seen this one for sale at around $1,200 at some airgun shows. They were $5 when new.

    Target 4

    Target 4 was the same as target 3 but without the mechanism. It’s just a bell target. I’ve never seen one. They were $3.00 new.

    Quackenbush targets 5 and 6

    These are very strange mechanical airgun targets. The Number 5 target is self-painting when the shooter desires a fresh target. He pulls on a string and a roller repaints the face of the target. That is — if it works. Because they are very complex and contain liquid paint, they got out of order easily. Less than a thousand were made and they must be extremely rare today.

    Target Number 6 is a pop-up skull target that works like Targets 2 and 3, only a skull pops up instead of a bird.

    Target 6
    Quackenbush Target Number 6. From Quackenbush Guns, by John Groenewold. read more

    Sub-1 crossbow: Part 2

    by Tom Gaylord
    Writing as B.B. Pelletier

    Sub-1 crossbow
    Sub-1 crossbow.

    Part 1

    This report covers:

    • Airgun shows
    • Crossbows
    • A lot to learn
    • Read the manual
    • Lightbulb!
    • Just like an airgun
    • Fire
    • Confidence
    • Shot 2
    • Shot 3
    • Arrow management
    • Summary

    I am not writing a history report today, because there are too many things on my backlog. Not all of these reports are about airguns, as you can see by today’s title, but they are all pertainent to the subject at hand. This one more than most!

    Airgun shows

    First, here is a list of the airgun show dates that I know about.

    Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show April 14

    Malvern Airgun Extravaganza — Arkansas — April 27 & 28 (For more information email [email protected])

    Gene Curtis Memorial Fun Shoot and Airgun Show — This one is not well publicized. It’s at the Tri-County Expo Center in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas May 18-20. I have no phone number or email address link yet.

    Texas Airgun Show Saturday, June 23, followed by a field target shoot on Sunday, June 24.

    Midwest Airgun Show June 30

    Baldwinsville Airgun Show –New York — July (For more information email [email protected])

    Kalamazoo Airgun Show August 19

    Pyramyd Air Cup September 21-23

    North Carolina Airgun Show October 19 & 20


    Back when I decided to write about sharpening straight razors to experience what a new airgunner must feel like, I should have chosen crossbows, instead. The Sub-1 was thrust upon me when the editor of Firearms News asked me for a feature after seeing my report from the SHOT Show. He was intrigued by a crossbow that can put three arrows into less than an inch at 100 yards, as I’m sure most shooters would be.

    A lot to learn

    Because I am an American man, I was born with the full knowledge of firearms in my DNA. That’s a joke, for all of you who just arrived on Earth. But don’t most men act that way?

    Crossbows, on the other hand, are mysterious and arcane. No one is born knowing how they work. You hold this lethal weapon in your hands and, if you make a mistake, it could be disastrous! The same is true of firearms, but as I said, American males are born knowing how to handle them.

    Read the manual read more