I wish I could tell you that I had to crawl with great stealth to my shooting position, but it simply isn’t true. The insertion point was unguarded, and I was able walk to where I would put my quarry in my sights. I rested my weapon and looked through the twelve power scope. The targets were there – five of them – standing as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Little did they know that someone stalked them at a distance.
Centering the crosshairs on the sentry on the right, I took note of the movement of the wind in the grass, the rustle in the leaves, so I held a little to the left. The first stage of the trigger disappeared under my finger. Then, just a little more pressure, the shot was gone. The round knocked the sentry down, but his companions remained unaware of his fate.
I slid the scope over to the next target and repeated the process, but the shot missed. I tried three more times and bagged three out of five targets, but two escaped. Nevermind, I thought: I’ll be back, and next time I won’t miss.
Now, before you conclude that I was engaged in perpetrating some sort of crime, let me that I was engaged in minisniping, a shooting sport that will drive you nuts in a delightful, I-can’t-wait-to-try-this-again sort of way.
The world found out about minisniping when Peter Capstick published an article in the October, 1984, issue of Guns & Ammo magazine. In it, he laid out the rules for a competition that had seduced Capstick and his shooting buddies: get some used 9mm casings, stick them primer end down on a bit of modeling clay, back off 35 yards, and shoot at them off a rest with a scoped 10 meter match air rifle.
The thing that makes the game so much fun and so frustrating at the same time is the combination of the small target, the distance, and the nature of the match air rifles. Olympic match air rifles are wickedly accurate at 10 meters, the distance at which Olympians compete. But match rifles are also slow – generally launching pellets at around 550-600 feet per second. When the pellet gets 105 feet down range (35 yards), the wind has had (relatively speaking) a lot of time to play with the projectile, taking your carefully aimed shot and knocking it into a cocked hat.
If you want to minisnipe well, you better learn to read the wind. It’s easy to create wind flags by sticking some wooden dowels in the ground and taping some toilet paper to the top of each. Put some backing paper behind your 9mm targets so you can see where your shots landed, and maybe you’ll be able to compensate for your misses. Of course, if you want to be a purist, forget the wind flags and dope the wind by reading the environmental clues such as the movement of leaves and grass.
When it comes to airguns to use for minisniping, Capstick and his friends used the classic match rifles of the day like the FWB 300. My minisniper of choice is an FWB 150 in an FWB 300 stock. Any of the modern match rifles will make a superb (but expensive) minisniper so long as it can be easily scoped.
If you don’t already own a match air rifle, the Beeman R7 is a relatively low cost alternative that launches pellets in the 550-600 fps range (you’ll need a scope). The Daisy Avanti series entry level match rifles can be easily scoped and work well, although they shoot slower at around 500 fps. If you want to try minisniping with an air pistol, the Crosman 2300S or 2300T both are very accurate and can be easily fitted with a scope. A bipod is a useful addition to the Crosman pistols as well.
For additional information about minisniping, including downloadable targets, visit www.minisniping.org. You’ll also find two articles about minisniping in my book Elliott on Airguns.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott