Fun with Airguns – Airgun Silhouette: Champagne Competition on a Beer Budget

Monday, May 26, 2008

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy competition. I like pitting my shooting skills against others and seeing how well I do. The problem is, it usually costs like a zillion dollars to get the gear you need to be truly competitive.

Not so with air pistol silhouette. You can get involved in challenging, fun, world-class competition for right around $200.

The concept behind silhouette is really simple. You shoot at metal cutouts of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rams at various distances. If you knock one down, you get a point. If you miss, you get zilch. The person with the most points wins.

Chickens, which measure just 3/4 inch high and 1 inch wide, are shot at 10 yards, pigs at 12.5 yards, turkeys at 15 yards, and rams at 18 yards. A typical match involves shooting at 10 of each animal: 10 chickens, 10 pigs and so forth. In case of ties, additional targets are shot to determine the winner.

IHMSA – the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association — began sponsoring matches for air pistols in 2001. There are six categories of IHMSA air pistol silhouette competition. Three are generally shot from the Creedmoor position (although other positions are allowed). Creedmoor looks pretty strange: competitors typically lie on their backs and brace the pistol against their calf or thigh.

Airgun shooter demonstrating the Creedmore position. Photo courtesy of Steve Ware.

Creedmoor classes include: Production, for open-sight pistols costing $235 or less suggested retail price; Unlimited (open sights only), for pistols with open sights above $235 SRP; and Unlimited Any Sight, for pistols of any price using any type of optical sighting device such as a scope or red dot sight or iron sight. There are also three standing classes: Standing, for $235 (or less SRP) open sight guns, Unlimited Standing for any gun with any sighting device, and Unlimited Standing Iron Sight. In any Standing class, you must shoot from a standing position (Kinda figures, doesn’t it?).

Competitors shooting in the Unlimited Any Sight class tend to shoot with long-eye-relief pistol scopes from the Creedmoor position. By contrast, Unlimited Standing competitors often equip their pistols with rifle scopes, shooting the air pistol close to their faces with one hand on the pistol grip and another on top of the scope.

What really sets IHMSA’s air pistol silhouette apart from similar competition offered by other organizations is the definition of a production class in which the price of the air pistol cannot exceed $235 suggested retail price. This has the effect of leveling the playing field; people with less expensive pistols are not competing head-to-head kilobuck match pistols. (There are, however, many examples of the lower priced pistols beating the expensive pistols in the non-production classes.) In addition, shooters are classed based on their ability, so a beginner isn’t forced to compete against an expert. For more information about IHMSA, visit

Two pistols that qualify for the production class are the Daisy 747, a single-stroke pneumatic, and the Crosman 2300S, which is powered by 12-gram CO2 cartridges. The Daisy has the advantage of being self-contained, but the Crosman has the advantage of the built-in scope rail, which makes it much easier if you want to mount a scope.

I own both of these pistols, and you really can’t go wrong with either one.

Until next time, aim true and shoot straight.

Jock Elliott


  1. Paul Newson says:

    Dear Jock
    Thank you for your informative article, a little about my situation.
    I live in Phuket Thailand and my friends and I are retired and considering starting a club in our area for Air pistol silhouette as a recreation . Having been a competitive hand gun shooter when I lived in Australia I miss the sport. As you can imagine obtaining hand guns in Thailand is possible but difficult and reloading is not an option. However air pistol is a viable option, after some research we are considering purchasing the Crosman 1701P or the PY-78-263 with red/green dot? type sights, is that a good choice? also any info that you have in having a club would be appreciated. Our shooting field would be outdoors which will add its own challengers
    Thank you for your time.
    Kindest regards

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      For a highly accurate self-contained iron sight silhouette pistol, the Daisy 747 is hard to be. As to setting up your club, I suggest contacting:

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