A recent survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that handgun and rifle shooters spend the vast majority of their target-shooting time plinking. They define plinking as “shooting informally and non-competitively.”
For a lot of us, there might not be much difference between plinking and practicing. And the survey didn’t ask about hunting. This was strictly a report on the types of shooting people do at targets, from formal competitions down to just popping tin cans.
The bottom line is that the survey found that more people just go out to plink than any other type of shooting. That was especially true of handgun shooting, where there were more than three times as many plinkers as people who sight in. Training was just a little bit behind sighting in.
Among rifle shooters, sighting in was almost as popular as plinking, and benchrest shooting was about half as common as plinking.
It’s probably no surprise that plinking wasn’t one of the categories shotgunners said they did. You don’t find a lot of 12-gauge shooters who just step out to the back 40 to fling a couple hundred rounds at tin cans. But I was a little surprised that there are more shotgunners who sight in than shoot sporting clays, trap or skeet. I suppose that’s more common where shotguns are the firearm of choice for deer hunting, and patterning certainly counts as sighting in.
As for the rifle and handgun shooters, though, I can definitely understand the urge to plink. I’ve got a line of cans strung from a wire in my own back yard, and I trot out there from time to time to try to hit ‘em. And then there’s Tannerite. Nothing is as satisfying at the end of a plinking session as an earth-shattering explosion. Yeah, I completely understand the allure of plinking.