Yet more fun and original games from the ever-inventive Charlie Portlock
Charlie Portlock is back inventing some very amusing plinking games
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.
PICTURES OF MATCHSTICK MEN
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.
BACK IT UP!
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!