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Many hunters as myself have a difficult time practicing in between hunting trips. Some may find target practice somewhat boring and lacking the fun that hunting small game can provide. There’s no doubt plinking is one of the greatest American pastimes. Today we will outline just a few ways we have found to make practicing fun and very beneficial to defining good marksmanship. As hunters we need practice at various ranges that can mimic shots that we may find in the field, close and far. Field targets are great practice tools and can also provide a very close representation of hunting situations we may find. The targets we used were rather inexpensive and the rifle we were using was a QB 78 .22 that is Co2 powered, accurate and with very economical shot count.

The targets were set at various ranges from 15 yards all the way out to 55 yards with some being partially obscured with bushes to mimic hiding game animals. These targets come with rings that can change the diameter of the kill zone, we removed them as it may be to challenging to the new shooter.

We shot from the standing position as this is mostly how we are shooting during hunting situations.

Moreover, most hunters as myself are sometimes not familiar with shooting at closer ranges and sometimes having to “hold under” our targets. This is a very important and widely overlooked skill that can ruin chances at getting a kill from simply missing a shot and/or not knowing range.

We too set up some other plinking style objects such as tin cans and junk we had found on the desert floor. Things like this are fun and provide a solid way to see where you are hitting and help the opportunity to change the point of impact.

Lindsey, being fairly new to our sport set out targets such as muffin tins, glass bottles, scrap metal piping, and buckets at various distances. These targets were shot with an array of air powered guns: Colt Peacemaker, EVOL .30, and a QB78 Air Rifle. Each one of these low-cost experiments gave the inexperienced shooter a very expensive education. Distance, velocity and power were able to be roughly determined and too comparisons of inaccuracies could be made with each shot. For a new shooter its important for it to remain fun, safe and free from the pressure of making every shot just right. We can learn from our mistakes and too have the opportunity in finding our own individual shooting style. Reactive targets are a great way to keep interest and allow the shooter to feel some confidence they may not find in simply shooting paper targets. The areas we choose to plink are simply much easier to find with an Airgun as with a firearm as we can be much more discreet and too don’t have as much to pick up after.

We always carry trash bags to pick up after ourselves as its never a pleasant sight to show up to an area with trash and empty shell casings scattered about. This is the kind of thing that leaves an impression on all shooters, so leading by example is one of the most important things we can do for our sport.  Plinking is a fun practice tool for new and veteran Airgunners, too can provide us with the key ingredients that makes a good shooter a great shooter. Enjoying Airguns and sharing the sport with others is the keystone of what keeps it alive and available for all.

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 by Ron Stephen

As the sun is about to set over the Chicken buildings/Ratting grounds. Time to gear up and get ready for the nightly invasion of fury terrorists…

 The buildings are all connected, covering over 2 acres, of Rat-o-mania.
 That’s a LOT of rats!

The silo’s are full of chicken feed that is automatically mechanically distributed through-out the chicken cages containing 25,000 to 50,000 chickens…

Row, after row, after row, of mechanical driven automatic feeders, providing a “Free-for-All-Feeding”. When the lights go out,… the rats COME out, (in DROVES !)

Rows, and rows, and more rows of chickens with open troughs of feed available 24/7. with this much grain spread through-out the building, it’s easy to see why there are thousands of rats each night

Here is where they will be moving up in the rafters, right over your head, behind you, in front of you, beside you, between your feet, and all around you.

 Yes, several times I have considered taping up my pant legs so they don’t go crawling up my leg! EWWwwwww!

OK, So,… moving on.

Weapons of choice.
Low to medium powered single projectile type guns do work very well. Either Co2 or low pressure HPA/PCP guns do very well,… BUT !,… they do have some disadvantages. Those disadvantages include the fact that you will be shooting in near total darkness, using only a flashlight to hunt them by.
Green lights works OK, and are better than standard white lights, but Red lights seem to work a little better. This is because the anatomy of a rats eye has different “Rods and Cones” as compared to Human eyes. Humans see a color spectrum of Red, Blue, Green.
 Rats see a spectrum of Blue, Green, and low I.R.,… (they do not see Red the same way we do).
 They see red as more of a “Grey shade” (almost like a shadow)… and therefore they do not Alert and Spook as quickly when using a red light for spotting them.
Another disadvantage to using a single projectile type of gun is that the rats are being shot at ranges usually in the 15′ to 45′ range. (we are talking FEET, not Yards here). this means that zeroing a gun with a scope for this short of distances is almost impossible. if you zero a scope for only say 25 FEET,… then the “Line of Sight” vs. the “Line of Flight” is extremely narrow. sometimes as low as only 6 to12 INCHES closer or further than you 25′ zero.
 Seems easy right ?,… but here’s the deal,…
 when you DO spot that rat at the perfect zero distance,… he is RARELY sitting still, AANNNNDDD, he is either moving towards you or away from you.
 Now remember,… It’s almost COMPLETELY DARK, and you are trying to find a MOVING rat, moving through the rafters, using a fairly dim red light. By the time you actually ACQUIRE him as a target, he is no longer at that sweet 25 or 30 feet. SOOoooo,…. that means you catch him stopping at say 15 feet from you,… OR,… maybe its 40 feet from you, and you’ve only got 2 or 3 seconds before he starts moving again.
 So at this same moment, is when you are trying to figure out,…
 “OK, Now do I give it 1 mil-dot Hold under ?”,… “or is that 2 1/2 mild dots Hold over”,…. or,… “oh crap,…. nevermind,… he’s moving again” ! LOL !
Trust me,… it’s not as easy as it may seem to be shooting rats at such close quarters. you basically just have to experience it to understand it.
 It can actually be pretty exciting, AND is SOOoooo Much FUN you won’t believe it!
So SCOPED guns present there own challenges in these conditions, and “Open Sights” or “Iron sights” actually are BETTER than scopes.
 Here’s a couple of scoped guns I’ve used for the job…

 Also, Red Dot type sights are a bit better than scopes, because they generally are mounted lower to the bore of the gun, but,… they still do suffer somewhat similar issues as a scoped gun, trying to zero at such close range.
 Should I hold over the dot ?, Under the dot ? Where’d he go? how far is he away? Is he moving towards me? Away from me? man it’s so dark, Where’d he go again ? Do you see him yet ? OOHHHH THERE HE IS, right over your Head ! HEY,  Duck Down and Hold Still While I shoot ! … DANG IT ! My flashlight battery just went dead ! Just stay still where you are, and I’ll try not to hit you !
SO, the moral to the story is, if you will be using a “single projectile shooter” for close range,…Then open sights and a good red light are the best choice.
(Of course there are then the guys who have Night Vision set-ups on there guns, which makes shooting the rats at 20-30-50 yards possible), AND THAT MEANS, you no longer have such a short window of usable zero’d distances….
 but that’s an entirely different subject !
OK,…. so what’s a guy to do ? ? ?
Well,…This type of shooting is absolutely perfect for the old vintage Trapmaster’s , with their limited power and range. Add a little creative ingenuity and a custom fitted weaver rail,… a small flashlight in a scope ring,… and Waa-Laaa ! ! !,..
You’ve got yourself one HECK of a “In the Dark at Close Range Ratter Gun” !
Here’s mine…

A Red Headlight, and/or Handheld light can be very helpful in spotting and chasing them too…

So let’s move on to some recent kills.

And of course,  some of the Smelly Rats come visiting for a free meal too,
 so we happily serve them a hot lead injection also !

Hope you enjoy,