Yet more fun and orig­i­nal games from the ever-in­ven­tive Char­lie Port­lock

Char­lie Port­lock is back in­vent­ing some very amus­ing plink­ing games

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Tiny tar­gets; they’ll drive you mad, but it’s that very same mad­ness that’ll pro­pel you to great­ness – if you can re­sist the temp­ta­tion to give up al­to­gether. There’s a scene in the 1991 block­buster Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991) in which the great Kevin Cost­ner must shoot the hang­man’s rope con­nected to the noose around his brother’s neck, us­ing only a long­bow and hard oaked stave. It was a dif­fi­cult shot and it was the first of its kind to fea­ture an ‘ar­row cam’. Rec­om­mended. If that kind of shoot­ing sends you scarper­ing to the gun rack then read on be­cause this month we’re all about tiny tar­gets and the joy­ful frus­tra­tion of the nigh on im­pos­si­ble.

Of course, you could say that all tar­gets are tiny if you place them far enough away, but as most peo­ple have lim­ited space, then it’s the smaller the bet­ter if you’re af­ter a chal­lenge. The ideas be­low are of my own in­ven­tion, but I’m sure that you’ve en­coun­tered some sim­i­lar set- ups at some point. I think ev­ery range should fea­ture an ‘im­pos­si­ble’ tar­get that, if bested, should yield some in­cred­i­ble prize. I’ve made an ef­fort to en­sure that they’re all re­al­is­tic on a ‘zero pound’ bud­get and that they’re re­ac­tive in the sense that they give the shooter some feed­back. En­joy.


If you hap­pen to be an Olympic pis­tol shooter or bell tar­get myth, then by all means try this with a break- bar­rel pis­tol from 6 yards. If, like the rest of us, you’re a mere mor­tal then I’d rec­om­mend a break- bar­rel springer at 20 yards.

An old cud­dly toy, a care­worn ac­tion fig­ure or a sim­ple toy sol­dier will pro­vide the vic­tim and it’s up to the shooter to save the day. You could rig up sev­eral tar­gets and award a prize for the most saved within a cer­tain shot count.


With friends, I ex­tend this game by plac­ing ‘guards’ around the area that have to be top­pled within a cer­tain time limit. Many a time has Will Scar­let been saved from the gal­lows only to have his bright young flame ex­tin­guished by the hand axe of some das­tardly Nor­man lord.


The bed­fel­low of the Hang­man, the Pi­ano is less about sal­va­tion and more about pun­ish­ment. Tie a hefty weight like a brick onto your string and place a toy sol­dier be­neath the rope. You get the idea. I like to imag­ine that the toy fig­ure is the one re­spon­si­ble for in­vent­ing Brexit, but that’s just me.

Find­ing a frame sturdy enough to sup­port the brick could be a chal­lenge, but a sim­ple plank placed be­tween gar­den chairs or ta­bles will serve at a pinch. I use an old, fold­ing wooden chair with the slats re­moved which serves me well for a va­ri­ety of plink­ing work.


If shoot­ing with a friend, which you will be, of course, rig two ‘Pianos’ and two sol­diers side by side and then try to beat your com­pan­ion to it. The sur­vivor wins a prize. For more drama, in­crease the drop height and re­place the fig­ure with a Fire­cap tar­get which will yield a sat­is­fy­ing bang when aligned cor­rectly.


Match­sticks are an old air­gun­ning favourite and ‘strike any­where’ matches can even be ig­nited by pass­ing pel­lets – which I’ve men­tioned be­fore. Mount­ing them to a piece of wood and drilling holes can be a bit of a has­sle, though, so I just rum­maged in the tool­box for an ap­pro­pri­ate nail and ham­mered lit­tle holes into the top of some bean tins. There could well be a per­fect di­am­e­ter of nail that en­sures that the match stays put un­til it is hit, where­upon it falls through the hole and is elim­i­nated. I haven’t found it yet, but it’s out there some­where.

Match­heads are a very small tar­get, but as it’s pos­si­ble to miss the head and strike the shaft of the match, I score based upon how much of the tip is left. With my shoot­ing com­pan­ions we start with one tin of five matches each, and have an end­less sup­ply of pel­lets. When all matches are down, the two sets of re­mains are com­pared and the one with the least amount of brown/red vis­i­ble is de­clared the win­ner. You’ll need to se­cure the cans some­how or they’ll top­ple.


For those who crave for the im­pos­si­ble, nail a tight hole and push the match into the tin so that only the tip is ex­posed. Place this at 40 yards and please send us a video of you shoot­ing it clean off.

For an ex­tra bit of fun you can also make a cen­tral hole in the top of the tin and thread some twine through it. String this up for an added chal­lenge once all of the matchstick men have been elim­i­nated.


It can be tempt­ing to set up the string at quite a height to en­sure a sat­is­fy­ing drop, but this kind of tar­get shoot­ing dif­fers greatly from more tra­di­tional ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause your mark is teth­ered on the ver­ti­cal plane, rather than the hor­i­zon­tal. With that in mind, muz­zles could creep ever higher so make sure that you have a solid back­stop what­ever the el­e­va­tion. If you’re re­ally lim­ited on space, then just use shorter string.

“For more drama, in­crease the drop height and re­place the fig­ure with a Fire­cap tar­get”

Your in­gre­di­ents need cost next to noth­ing

ABOVE LEFT: ‘Save me, Robin!’

ABOVE RIGHT: Find the per­fect nail

IN­SET: It’s a match!

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