Char­lie Port­lock has re­dis­cov­ered his love of hand­guns with some great plink­ing chal­lenges

Air Gunner - - Contents -

More air­gun games from Char­lie Port­lock - this time for CO2 pis­tols

My step- mother ( not evil ex­actly, just con­vent- raised) of­ten de­scribed me as ‘gun mad’. I re­sent this now, as I did then, not least be­cause I wasn’t gun mad at all; “It’s ac­tu­ally a ri­fle …,” I usu­ally quipped, but the sour frown told me that my tact­ful cor­rec­tion had missed its mark. Some peo­ple are deaf to rea­son. There was a con­stant power strug­gle be­tween my fa­ther’s rel­a­tively hands- off ap­proach in al­low­ing me free­dom to roam, and her more au­to­cratic style of child man­age­ment. Suf­fice it to say that the good will out, and as long as I com­pleted my list of chores I was fairly free to do as I pleased, roam­ing the fields un­hin­dered. Her dis­tant call­ing of my name, if ever it reached me through the densely packed trees could re­ally have been any­thing at all, so un­pre­dictable were the cross­winds in that par­tic­u­lar part of Sus­sex.

Speak­ing of neme­ses, my first pis­tol, the bril­liant Webley Neme­sis, was a trea­sured pos­ses­sion for six glo­ri­ous months be­fore it was stolen by a car­pet fit­ter – proved, com­pen­sated, but never re­cov­ered. It’s taken me un­til now to ex­plore pis­tol shoot­ing again and those early ex­pe­ri­ences with the Webley have set the bar rather high, but it’s been great to get back into pis­tol shoot­ing, not least be­cause it’s ex­tremely chal­leng­ing.

This month is all about games for CO2 pis­tols. There’s so much that you can do with a semi- auto that just doesn’t work quite as well with a break- bar­rel.


There’s a great scene in the film ‘Lethal Weapon’ where ( Mur­taugh) Danny Glover and Riggs ( Mel Gib­son) are show­ing off their pis­tol skills on the range. The X9 is the per­fect pis­tol for this, be­ing a copy of Riggs’ Beretta 92. De­spite its rel­a­tively low shot count per CO2 can­is­ter (circa 40), it’s the most fun I’ve had plink­ing in ages. Stand six yards away, and make a face on a piece of card­board, you could draw one out be­fore­hand. The win­ner is the pret­ti­est/ugli­est de­pend­ing on your pref­er­ence. Sim­ple fun.

20 (16) QUES­TIONS

A main­stay of long haul car jour­neys, 20 ques­tions re­quires one player to think of a fa­mous per­son ( alive or dead) and the other

player has 20 yes/no ques­tions to guess that per­son cor­rectly. Think, ‘Are they alive?’, ‘Are they fe­male?’, ‘ Were they known for their mous­taches?’ etc.

In this case, each con­tes­tant writes down their choice on a piece

” you can’t do much bet­ter than a semi- auto, blow- back CO2 pis­tol like the X9”

of paper, folds it up and places it in a cen­tral lo­ca­tion. They be­gin with a full mag­a­zine (15 for the X9) and take it in turns to hit a tin can at 6 yards be­fore they’re able to ask their ques­tion. If they miss, then they’re not al­lowed to ask. The first per­son to guess the an­swer wins a pint/£1 or an am­mu­ni­tion ad­van­tage in the next round. This game will also work with break­bar­rels and ri­fles of course.


This one re­quires a big gar­den, or very good back­stops in a smaller one and is great fun. You set up a course of re­ac­tive tar­gets like tin cans, gongs, cym­bals etc., and then move through the course to an agreed time limit. The most hits wins. It’s im­por­tant that each tar­get is placed se­quen­tially and that the shooter doesn’t move be­yond its line un­til it is hit. This keeps par­tic­i­pants from rush­ing for­ward too fast and tak­ing shots from too close a range. Watch out for ric­o­chets and def­i­nitely wear some eye pro­tec­tion.

You’ll need to shoot it through a few times, and time your­selves to get just the right amount of chal­lenge. Each tar­get will need to be in front of the shooter and no shoot­ing back­wards to­wards the safe area is al­lowed, for good rea­son. I find that a course of 12 tar­gets of grad­u­ally de­creas­ing size is more than enough of a chal­lenge, es­pe­cially when there’s a time limit. You can also try Hol­ly­wood mode which in­volves ex­tra points per mov­ing shot, com­mando role (with the pis­tol on safe of course) and pithy re­mark. Great fun and dif­fi­cult!


This both a game and an easy way to rig a per­ma­nent, mower- proof tar­get range in the gar­den. Again, this is de­pen­dent upon the se­cu­rity of your back­stop which must be soft to stop BB ric­o­chets. I use low- hang­ing trees, but it’s per­fectly fea­si­ble to rig a sim­i­lar thing on a wash­ing line or pieces of string tied to a fence.

Beer or drinks cans work par­tic­u­larly well be­cause they ab­sorb much of the BB’s en­ergy, and make a sat­is­fy­ing sound. I num­ber each can from 1-10, and then shoot them in num­ber or­der, each one be­ing worth its re­spec­tive num­ber. The most points wins. If it’s too easy, just in­crease the range a lit­tle and be sure to place each can about 12” (30cm apart) to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal hits.

This can be a game in it­self or can form part of a wider se­ries of chal­lenges, as in the Move it! game above.


Pis­tols are a new fron­tier for me and in terms of safe, ki­netic plink­ing you can’t do much bet­ter than a semi- auto, blow- back CO2 pis­tol like the X9. There’s some­thing en­gag­ing about the mo­bil­ity of this BB pis­tol and its rel­a­tively low power makes for a great ad­di­tion to the gar­den­gun­ning cabi­net. Just be sure to re­cy­cle those old CO2 can­is­ters with your metal. For the en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious, it’s even pos­si­ble to find can­is­ters that are made us­ing CO2 byprod­ucts from in­dus­try that are al­most car­bon neu­tral by de­sign (check out www.gen­uinein­no­va­ En­joy your shoot­ing!

ABOVE: If you don’t have trees then a wash­ing line is fine

BE­LOW: You don’t need much equip­ment for the games to work

ABOVE: Smile! Five yards was still too far

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