Charlie Portlock has rediscovered his love of handguns with some great plinking challenges
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!
IN THE TREES!
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.genuineinnovations.com). 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