Podcast: Pin Shooting

I went Pin Shooting for the first time on Saturday, and I had an absolute blast. Listen to today’s podcast for more information, and check out below for crappy cell-phone video of myself and two of my friends shooting pins.


If the embedded flash player doesn’t play the audio correctly, just hit the link labeled “download” to listen, or you can click this link to download it on iTunes. The embedded flash player doesn’t always like Internet Explorer 6, however audio should play fine in Firefox or Internet Explorer 7.

Video 1: Me shooting. I feel kind of bad, because Greg, who took the video of me, did a way better job with it than I did with them. I’m shooting my Taurus Tracker .357 Magnum, and based on that video, I think I’m hitting the pins too high.

Video 2: This is my buddy and reader Greg shooting, he’s running a stock Beretta 92.
Video 3: My friend and also reader Matt shooting, he had a stock Springfield XD compact in 9mm, and he still managed to win this stage.
I had a great time shooting pins, and now I’m hooked.


  1. It’s about 25 feet, IIRC. It’s at Marion County Fish & Game Association in Indianapolis – I got back from Nevada on Friday and this was shot on Saturday.

  2. Customary pin distance is 7 yards (21 feet) from the rail you shoot from to the front edge of the 4×8 plywood. Pins are usually set back 1 foot from front edge, giving you a 22 foot distance. Some folks use 8 yards, for 25 feet. Depends on preferences. You have to knock the pins OFF THE TABLE, usually by pushing them back 3 feet to the back edge, although any way they fall off counts. This is where all the tomfoolery and sandbagging found in IPSC and other games gets thrown out. Wanna shoot a .22? Feel free. It’ll take you about an hour to knock them off the table. Wanna shoot your .454 Casull? They’re your wrists.

    When I was shooting lots of pins, we shot mostly .45 and 10mm autos (no .40s in existence then. Yes, I’m older than dirt.) with some guys using their .38 super match guns and the hottest loads they could make, and a mix of .357 magnum and .44 special and magnum revolvers. General consensus was you needed a power factor of 180’ish to reliably clear pins with good hits, higher if you wanted to clear them off of shot up tables or after they’d been used for a while (they soak up bullets, getting heavier with each relay, and get all bumpy and rough, so after they’ve been shot 10 or 15 times, they don’t go off very well). Power factor is muzzle velocity x bullet weight divided by 1000 (for convenience). A .45 shooting 200gr bullets at 1000 fps has a 200 PF. This is a measure of momentum, and that’s what it takes to move chunks of wood. I usually loaded for 190 to 220 pf, and cleared pins pretty well.

    Pin shooting is NOT combat shooting, although it does give one much more variety and has some realism. When you drop a shot and accidentally hit the table under them or make a poor edge-hit, pins hop and dance, spin and roll, and worst of all, fall over and present you with a different target (usually a smaller one, sometimes one where the only “sweet spot” that will clear the pin is the top dead center of the pin facing you, which is about the size of a dime). It always seemed a good simulation to me of what would likely happen in a fight, when your opponent is running toward or away from you, or when they’ve gone to cover. When you’ve progressed to clearing a table consistently in under 5 seconds, you are officially good enough with your pistol to be dangerous to unsavory types of all kinds. When you can consistently clear a table in the 3 second range, then I don’t want to meet you in a dark alley unless you’re on MY side. I’ve seen master class shooters do it in just over 2 seconds, and that’s SMOKIN’!

    If you wanna have real fun, try using your home defense shotgun, pump or auto. Times here run in the 4’s for most everybody, and experts can do it under 2 seconds consistently. And those pins SAIL off the table. Twice the energy, 1/3 less time, seldom a need to shoot a pin a second time. That’ll convince you of the Marine’s Rules of Combat, “2. Bring a long gun.”

  3. Yeah, my problem with the magnum wasn’t hitting the pins, it was getting the damn things to fall off the table. Drove me nuts.

    I am going to try a .40 S&W loaded hot next time around and see what kind of damage that does.

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