On shooting galleries........

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Bob Wright

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I spent mucho dinero on shooting galleries when I was a youngster. I remember the .22 rifles, all taking the .22 short gallery load.

My recollection of the round was that it was full power .22 short loaded with a light gallery bullet. The bullets were compressed iron and clay. They had the correct ogive to feed in most rifles. The iron particles often made sparks when the bullet hit the steel target, and also when it hit the concrete floor. I especially liked the spark effect.

As to rifles, the first I remember were the Winchester "pump", of slide action rifles. I don't recall the Model number right now, but they were the the one with the visible, external hammer, and were "Gallery Specials" in .22 Short only. I remember the Remington .22 Autos, those on the Browning patent, with bottom ejection. My wright wrist (I shot left handed) would get powder fouling from the ejected cases. I very proudly bore these as "powder burns." Made me about as macho as an eight or nine year old youngster can get. Once a fair came through town and they had those Remington Nylon stocked rifles, which I disdained by that time.

At that time there was a Navy Base near Memphis, and often Marines frequented those galleries. I must confess I was generally able to out shoot those young Marines.

Targets were steel, various shapes. There were ducks, smoking pipes, lollipop shaped targets, etc. There was a swinging gong that had the center ring loudly when hit. Also ducks on a rotating wheel. My favorite was the ducks in the water. They were mounted on some type of chain so when they were down they would reset while the chain was under the water level. The concrete was always wet from the bullet splash.

The barker or operator of the gallery wore a big pocketed apron fr the ammo supply. Cartridges were loaded from brass tubes, like the Spencer carbine. The Winchesters had the magazine tube under the barrel, while the Remingtons fed from the buttstock.

As a safety precaution, the rifles had an under barrel lug with a chain attached and that attached to the shooting bench. Length was carefully calculated to prevent the rifle being turned toward the crowd.

One time I saw a Smith & wesson K-22 being used at the gallery. A steel tube was fitted under the butt of the revolver, with "ears" fit under the stocks. The tube fit into a ball in the table, and could be rotated left and right, and elevated up or down to accommodate the shooter's height. I believe the shooter was allowed twelve shots, but don't remember the price, think maybe fifty cents. I had learned to shoot a revolver by then and did pretty well with that venture.

And nobody ever thought of shooting glasses or ear protection.

Ah, the good ol' days!

Bob Wright
 

Colonialgirl

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Wesley Chapel, Florida
Quote: "At that time there was a Navy Base near Memphis, and often Marines frequented those galleries. I must confess I was generally able to out shoot those young Marines."

AHHH Yes !! Millington, TN; North and South Side Navy Base. My Dad was stationed there when I was in the 2nd and 3rd grade; He taught Math in the Navy School there; We lived on the South Side.
 

eveled

Hunter
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Apr 3, 2012
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Thanks for sharing the detailed memories.

I didn’t know about the special bullets.

I’ve seen a lot of “Gallery Guns” for sale. None have ever had any evidence of having had a chain attached.

The only ones Ive ever seen were air operated. The only game has been to shoot a paper target with a big star. You had to completely take out all traces of the star. Not only boring but impossible.

I’d love to shoot at a real one.
 

Mobuck

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missouri
"The only game has been to shoot a paper target with a big star. You had to completely take out all traces of the star. Not only boring but impossible."
The last one of those I tried was soon after I returned from trip on which I actually put a goodly number of full auto rounds downrange. I knew what I was doing and thought I'd cut the star completely out but the Carney still found a tiny smidge of the red star on the target. The trick to shooting full auto is to NOT 'chase your misses' while on the trigger. This is one reason why the later versions of the AR15(M4) had the 3 shot burst feature.
 
Joined
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Those shoot the star out with the air powered BB guns were not that tough with practice. Trick for me was not shooting for the center but making
a circle around it. The star shape was to get people to focus more on the center of the target, once you got past being visually sucked into that,
it was about a 50/50 thing.
 

Bob Wright

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Memphis, TN USA
The "Shoot out the Star" galleries were carnival/fair time concessions on a temporary set-up, and offered pretty expensive prizes, few of which were ever awarded. The shooting gallery at our Fairgrounds gave no prizes. Just the fun of shootin'.

Bob Wright
 

contender

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Lake Lure NC USA
I enjoyed the shooting galleries when I went to any fairs myself.

The pump .22's, that shot only shorts,, Winchester model 62 Gallery. I used to own a pristine example of one that had never been used at a fair. Kinda rare & expensive when found. Mine got stolen.

I figured out the star thing,, and after I won several times,, the carney guy politely asked me to "stop" with the bribery of cash & a good stuffed animal.

Controlled fire, outside the star, and it'd be funny watching the guy's face.
 

Rich/WIS

Bearcat
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Sep 23, 2022
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Corbin, KY
Had a Rem 550-G that was salvaged from a defunct shooting gallery. Looked like the standard Rem 550 but only shot the short cartridge. Was hell on rats at the local dump (pre land-fill days).
 

Johnnu2

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NYS
I can still smell the smell of freshly fired gunpowder as I approached the vendor's area where the gallery was....
Here's my attempt at keeping that memory alive... It's a Winchester but probably not an actual gallery gun:



J.
 

jyo

Bearcat
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Jan 5, 2011
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I remember very well the shooting galleries near the Santa Monica CA pier in my youth---real 22 rifles shooting frangible 22 short ammo that broke into dust upon hitting the steel targets---real fun---I was just a kid and my dad was a "gun guy" so we spent a lot of time there---there was quite an entertainment area with all sorts of walk-around fun, but we always went straight to the shooting galleries! There was a Jewish style deli there that we got pastrami sandwiches after---all long gone now... A perfect day at the beach to my young self!
 

Dave Schwaab

Bearcat
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Nov 2, 2014
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A couple of years ago, I saw an attempt to bring back shooting galleries. Someone set up a shop in the local mall as a shooting gallery, using AirSoft AR-15s on rows of little metal targets at about 4 or 5 yards. Nice setup, but it didn't work out. I guess shooting AirSoft guns just isn't the same. Take away the carnival atmosphere and the stuffed animal prizes and they were doomed from the start.
 

Joe Chartreuse

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May 1, 2022
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New Jersey
I too remember the carnival galleries as described the OP, and loved them. Later, I though it strange that I was such a good shot with them, because as I got older I ran into several of these carny / fair guns. Horrible balance and the sights were messed with. Either way i LOVED those galleries with all of their cool targets. The current air powered "shoot out the star" galleries ( and I haven't seen but one or two lately) aren't really all that much fun.
 

Diabloman

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Mar 19, 2022
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Ohio Territory
As a kid back home on the ranch we had several 1903 Savage 22lr. pump rifles. We shot the "blazes" out of those
guns. We had a ton of 22 Short & 22 long ammo. The 1903's were called Gallery Guns if I remember right. FWIW
 

eveled

Hunter
Joined
Apr 3, 2012
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I remember hearing that the best shooting galleries used Winchester guns. Winchester made them sign a contract that they wouldn’t mess with the sights or bend the barrels.
 
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