Flying Rats



70-2X Possible Score
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If they could, statues would hate them.

Statue cleaners surely do.

And the owner of the park bench in my backyard does.

It’s not just their droppings.

The lost but still pest-laden feathers attract the grandchildren.

And the neighborhood cat, coming across one that is temporarily grounded, leaves a mess that, again, attracts the grandchildren.

I’m talking about pigeons or, as we call them, flying rats.

My goal in all this is not to destroy them but simply to encourage the critters to perch somewhere other than on the power lines over the park bench in my back yard, away from the nearby utility pole, and to engage in their ritual mating dances on someone else’s patio.

Enter the 1911 handgun, specifically the “air soft” variant.

It shoots 6mm diameter plastic “BBs” that, barring a hit in the eye, are annoying but little else. The kids use these in shooting games and they say it stings but, again, that’s the only effect. (The kids wear protection, particularly for their eyes, in case you are wondering.)

And how do I know they’re telling the truth? Well, because I tested one on my open palm and, yes, it stings “real good” when only a foot from the muzzle. But even so, ten minutes later there’s no mark, nothing to distinguish the point of impact.

At fifty feet, that small light ball will have lost a great deal of its velocity so, if it stings at a couple of feet, then at fifty it must be less. I haven’t tried it on myself at that distance but the pigeons indicate it is startling but otherwise harmless.

Specifically, when thumped that pigeon will take off — after a quick “WTF?” reaction; watch the eyes to see it — which is almost instantly followed by two or three nearby companions also taking flight.

And if you immediately plink another, they’ll all be gone.

The 1911 model I have is from WalMart. We’re talking “cheap, cheap, cheap.” The packaging is long gone and there are no markings, no brand names, nothing to identify the manufacturer. I’ll go out on a limb and guess it was made in China but even that’s just a guess.

Even so, I get fairly reasonable accuracy at fifty feet.

But, mind you, the very lightweight plastic ball at this low velocity is going to be pushed around by the wind. And not by a small amount.

There are two aspects that, nonetheless, make annoying the pigeons in this way successful.

First, there’s the general intelligence of the quarry. If you thump one pigeon, it will be startled and take flight. That will, in turn, startle a couple of its neighbors so you’ll see 3-4 actually skedaddle.

Those that remain will be looking around trying to figure out what panic-ed the others but, for the most part, they’ll stay put.

And now, if you wait a minute or so instead of shooting right away, those that didn’t take flight will forget their now departed neighbors were ever there. You can then drive off another 3-4 with the next well-placed strike.

Patience is good. Choosing a target well away from the others is good. Waiting for the quarry to spread out is good.

You can be a strategist and improve your score!

The second reason its possible to surprise these critters at fifty feet in spite of the wind is because you can see the ball in flight and know what the wind is doing. On your next shot, adjust your aim accordingly and try again.

It’s not uncommon to need 5-6 shots to “scope in” where to aim for a particular target. Depending on the wind and elevation, I may be aiming as much as a foot below or above, and another foot to the left or right.

Fortunately, the pigeons seem unaware of the missed shots. I’ve watched many a fluorescent green pellet zoom right past a pigeon’s head but not seen them react in any way.

Don’t expect much of a trigger on these guns. It’ll make the typical plastic against plastic “scrinch” noise and the break is as ugly as it gets. And then there’s the over-travel!

But then again, if you can hit a pigeon at fifty feet with one of these — and if I can do it, so can you — then maybe your hold and trigger control are gettin’ pretty good.

Practice makes perfect, you know?

One tip: If you buy the pellets in the 6500 bulk ammunition jar, put it in big tub whenever you open it.

There are 6500+2 reasons for this, the latter being broom and dust pan.

And may your pigeons come home to roost … NOT!

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