Getting Better by Going Small

One way I have found to get better at shooting is to make the target smaller, and make the caliber smaller if you can. An example – this past weekend I spent a couple of hours shooting bumblebees with a regular old Daisy BB gun. I stood on my driveway while the bees flew around the gutters on the back of my house, which are full of pollen these days. I figure most of the shots were from about 20 feet, and although they did go out to maybe twice that, I didn’t have any success out much farther than 25 feet.

Shooting bees with a BB gun is as hard as it sounds. In fact, I played around with the photo above, so that the bee is just about life size, to give you an idea of what you’re up against. But with practice, you can get pretty good at it. It uses a lot of the skills you need for wing shooting or trap – you basically follow the bee with both eyes open, and use the front sight of the gun like the bead on a shotgun. The difference is a clay pigeon doesn’t bob and weave.

I hit two bees while in flight, and believe me, when you can shoot that way, then when they land, they’re toast. A third bee landed on the under side of the gutter, and my first shot hit him mid thorax.

A quick word, if you try this – remember Rule 4! Always know what is behind the bees in case you miss. In my case, there’s 20 acres of woods, but if I slide around trying to get a better shot, the end of the parabola is probably in a neighbor’s yard, so I hold fire and move back around.

This isn’t my only Go Small drill. I also cut out some pieces of aluminum in the shape of a tombstone target, but sized much smaller. By making a 2 inch target, and setting it at 33 yards, I simulate a 2 foot target at 400 yards. Once I work out how high to hold, I can usually get hits half the time after that. The aluminum makes a nice ping, and down it goes.

My son and his friends had a ball with me Saturday, shooting these tombstone targets. Then I set out some 5 inch clay pigeons, and they didn’t stand a chance. Once they could Go Small, the bigger targets were easy.

We started out a couple of years ago, shooting 8 inch aluminum pie pans hung on the back fence, about 40 yards from the driveway. Unless it’s windy and they are swinging and fluttering, though, these don’t seem quite the challenge they once were.

Now, I’m not the first to discover this. I remember reading Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko, one of the founders of Seal Team Six. His standard was to use 3 x 5 index cards as targets for his Seal Team, since it represented the size of the target zone on a terrorist. It stuck with me, so I must give credit to Dead Eye Dick. Thanks!

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