This piece on the practice of 'plinking' originally appeared in Shooting Wire. If a firearm is part of your preparedness planning and you don't have a .22, you're doing it wrong. Plinking teaches a lot in terms of field positions and gun handling -- and it's fun. Do it safely and learn from it.
This CBC Brazilian clone is a copy of the Remington Nylon 66 -- a great old plinker and field gun.
Ever hear of 'plinking?' It's an enjoyable pastime involving guns, a safe place to shoot and unconventional reactive targets – and it's something shooters have been doing since there have been guns.
Many years ago – doubtless in the 1970s – I read an article in a gun magazine. I don't recall the name of the magazine nor the name of the writer. The piece was "How to Cheat at Plinking." It was a masterpiece of shooting humor at a time when it was hard to find humor in a gun magazine.
The author's premise was looking good while plinking while having ready-made excuses for misses – along with misdirection and subterfuge. He recommended, for example, shooting at 'pre-plunk' cans – cans with holes already in them – so you could argue that the bullet you fired went through an existing hole.
This Glenfield 75 is a carbine version of the Marlin Model 60, a wonderful plinker. It's shown here on the Range Systems Sight-Bloc ready to be sighted in.
He wrote of shooting at GI surplus canned water and shooting at the small candy wafers as aerial targets. Of course he used .22 LR birdshot rounds because shooting over the horizon was a problem. Likewise, he had a way of explaining the crimped end of the expended brass.
My first shooting experience was plinking. My father liked to take his old Springfield 87A and whatever ammo he had – the gun shot as a bolt action using .22 Short and Long and sometimes worked semi-auto with .22 Long Rifle. The barrel seemed very long and the stock had a long length of pull, something that appealed to his sleeve length and far-sightedness.
My older sister shot that rifle too and it was a real family shooting experience. We used the old "dumps" left from strip mining as backstops and shot whatever targets were around – often people used strip mines as trash dumps. The targets don't present like a paper target: cans can be on their sides with an end angling toward the muzzle or any old which-way, making a sight picture a thinking exercise.
Field shooting positions and irregular targets are helpful when learning to shoot as a hunter or for defensive and law enforcement applications. We avoiding shooting glass targets – while reactive, they leave sharp edges laying around. We also avoided shooting over the horizon or at targets on the water – strip mined land often had "strip pits," bodies of water in the valley between dump piles. The exception was when we could use the dump on the other side or the end of a pit as a backstop from skipping rounds off the water.
Newer guns are terrific plinking choices. This Smith & Wesson Victory .22 is plenty accurate and fun to shoot -- while being easy to maintain.
I've gone around and set targets on the far bank to walk back around to the firing point and practice skipping rounds off the water into the bank. It was especially instructive in cold weather when the surface of the pit was frozen. The dump across the water was high enough to catch the incoming rounds.
The mined land has since been 'reclaimed,' taking a recreational resource away. Now people have regular trash service, a good thing, but it also those targets away. Vendors have stepped into the breach, bringing out reactive targets you can buy. They're great replacements for shooting at trash.
What do you need to plink? A gun, eye and ear protection, a safe place to shoot, ammo and some targets. It's helpful to zero the gun with the ammo you're using. Our local gun club has a rimfire-and-black powder range with steel targets set up. It's handy because you can zero the rimfire or black powder plinker you have, then take shots at the steel.
Plinking is not serious. It's not training, per se, but it can be practice in trigger control, sight alignment and sight picture (especially on the irregular target). Plinking is also fun and fun is an important aspect of shooting.
I find myself trying to reclaim my youth by shooting older .22s, but the current crop of guns work fine and have the advantage of factory warranties and parts availability.
Give it a try. Be safe and have fun.
-- Rich Grassi