Shooting in the garden isn’t just great fun as it also helps sharpen our skills, and Mike Morton has a few suggestions about what to aim at
Plinking is probably the most popular type of shooting that’s carried out in the garden, and it offers several benefits. It’s enjoyable, it’s a great stress-buster and it also helps us get better acquainted with our airguns.
However, provided there’s enough space and a suitable backstop, a garden can be used for so much more, like setting up a new rifle or scope, checking zero on an existing rig or calculating holdover and under. But in order to do all this you’ll need to shoot at an appropriate target, so let’s take a look at a few of the options.
Zeroing/Pellet Drop Targets
Zeroing and Pellet Drop Targets from Gr8fun Targets are so simple in concept, but so very useful in practice. These little cards come with their own reusable holder so they can be just pushed into the ground, and that means they can be used in the field as well.
The targets pull double duty because while one side is geared towards zeroing, the other side features a different type of target that lets you check pellet drop at different distances.
Funnel-type pellet-catchers not only hold a suitable target card, they catch the spent pellets too. They’re usually made of steel and come in various sizes, the most common accepting a standard card measuring 14cm x 14cm.
Because the projectile is punching through the card and striking metal, pellet-catchers are quite noisy, but you can easily deaden the sound by lining the interior with carpet but you’ll need to wedge in some old clothes too because carpet on its own isn’t enough to absorb the noise.
Pocket Zero Target Holder
The Pocket Zero Target Holder from Impact Kinetics is a robust piece of kit that’s made entirely of metal, but can still fold up and be carried in a pocket. It’s versatile too, as it can be staked into the earth or reconfigured so it just sits on the ground, which is perfect for hard surfaces.
The two arms are slotted so you can insert target cards of various sizes – and it can even take a homemade design. I like to use panels cut from old cereal boxes, for example.
The double-headed spinner is one of my personal favourites as it offers both instant feedback and a choice of four targets of different sizes to shoot at, these being the pigeon’s head, the rabbit’s head and their respective counterweights.
While not everybody is comfortable shooting at animal-themed spinners, there are numerous alternatives featuring circular or square-shaped paddles.
Most of the pellets that strike a target like this will be stopped dead and fall to the ground, but there is a minor risk of ricochet, so spinners need to be placed with care to ensure no spent ammo leaves your property.
Wooden Airgun Targets
Custom Targets produces a range of targets that have been laser-cut from splinter-resistant hardboard to create a variety of killzones of different shapes and sizes. There’s very little surrounding wood to support each target, and the challenge is to place a pellet so it cleanly removes the killzone.
Some of the designs are truly tiny and it can take far more shots than you might think to do a clean sweep of the whole target.
A resettable target will either fall backwards with a hit to the main killzone or, like the Nockover Hunter Practice Rabbit seen here, offer a killlzone that will fall away from the main body of the target when it’s struck.
Some targets need to be reset by tugging on a cord that’s been trailed back to the firing point, while others require a follow-up shot to a second killzone to reset the first. Both types need to be positioned perfectly upright for the knockdown/reset mechanism to function properly.
FireCap makes a series of targets that use toy ring caps to mark a successful hit with a noisy, but satisfying explosion. One such target is the Ground Spike. Just stake it in the ground, lift the target plate and fit the caps over the firing pins.
You can then close the target plate and get shooting – the plate will be blown up and out of the way after a successful hit and detonation – all ready for you to add another ring and shoot again.
While all the above designs are intended to hold a target and be shot at, there are plenty of other things that make excellent targets that are challenging and fun to shoot – you only need to look around your house for inspiration or use your imagination.
A paintball sitting on a golf tee offers a decent challenge – it’s messy, but then that’s part of the fun – and it’s biodegradable too. Boiled sweets are a good alternative.
More tips on airgun target practice
- Zeroing a scope: The ultimate how-to
- How to improve your airgun’s accuracy
- Re-zeroing a rifle: Ask the experts
- Achieving a more consistent aim
- Plinking: Best options for garden range