history

Plinking at
 tin cans still
 age-old sport

by Don Norris




I read that story about Bob Ross's first .22 rifle in the April issue, so I thought I'd add my two cents about plinking.

The Stringers don't carry much news on violence and mayhem in The Mirror. A year or so ago, when they did a feature series on memories of World War II, they had three members who had served but had never pulled a trigger in anger or in fright. Their stories were good but, actually, the Stringers found that those servicemen who were in the thick of it, close enough to see the enemy, just didn't care to remember those morbid details. One cannot blame them.

So shooting at tin cans is acceptable for a storyline. It's not violent, and in fact, there is great fun in popping tin cans, making one hop all the way down range until it gets too holey to move. Actually my buddy and I have a competition, moving cans downrange, with a pair of .22 autoloading pistols.

It takes about three magazines of 10 rounds, each, to bring a dirty tincan to its just demise. Sixty rounds, a dollar twenty in ammo. About one minute of firing.

The reason we're so good at moving tin cans is because we take advantage of modern technology: Mounted atop each of those plinkers is a device called a red-dot sight, which (contrary to what you're thinking) does NOT project a red dot downfield, but instead projects a miniscule red dot onto the single lens of its sight. Wherever that red dot is, the bullet goes.

This type of activity came about as a result of many years of shooting in a competition called IPSC -- international practical shooting. Here, there are two to a dozen cardboard targets in front of the shooter, from 2 to 60 yards away. When the buzzer goes off, one draws a handgun and shoots each target as fast as he can. Guns are either .38 Supers or .45 1918A-1s.

About six or seven years ago the industry produced its first red-dot sight, and then it became a fact that the gunner who had one mounted on his competition piece won the match. So if you didn't get one, you might as well stay home. A reddot cost about $350 or $400 at that time.

But cost wasn't a factor, for at that stage of development of IPSC shooting, you had to have invested three thousand in a competition handgun. Even so, that increased one's odds of winning, but it was no guarantee.

About this time, my partner and I passed our 60th birthdays, and could no longer keep up with the physical demands of the game -- like running from station to station, falling and firing prone, get up and run, crawl though a culvert and come out firing -- it was getting to be a game for young athletes, and with the advent of reddots, those shooters without iron sights -- purists -- might as well hang 'em up.

Well, the ruckus raised about the cost of all this high technology and new athleticism finally brought about a change: they created a new class, called "stock guns" -- which were still modified, but within reason.

Anyway, we retired from active competition, but continued to shoot our own course, mostly on weekday afternoons when everybody else was earning a living. And then, when the weather went bad, we'd switch to .22s because you don't have to pick up that brass. And targets became tin cans. It's a blast.

The new reddot sights were now mounted on the .22s, and woe to the poor tin can that gets tossed downrange. Lead flies almost before it hits the ground.

And you know what the irony of all this is? When we've shot up some three or four hundred rounds of .22s, we wipe down the guns, clean up the range, pick up all those holey tincans, squash 'em flat and drop 'em off at the recyclers. All of 'em except the one above, that I took home to photograph.


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