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May 05, 2008

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Video Clip: Fun With Gnats

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a radio-controlled airplane, I think about chokes, loads, and leads. So imagine my delight at stumbling across this clip of “Gnat Shooting” on YouTube. Gnats, it turns out, have been around in England since 1990, and they have been sighted once or twice in the United States. They’re radio controlled target drones for shotgunners, capable of speeds up to 80 mph.

Several different outfits in the U.K. have complete Gnat-shooting setups they rent out along with shotguns and instructors for corporate team building events. Since “corporate team building” usually means something lame like ropes courses, drumming, building a boat out of cardboard boxes, or at the very best, paintball, I’d call Gnat shooting a definite improvement. I don’t quite see how shooting at a model plane improves a company’s bottom line, but I’m in.

However, something strikes me about this video – besides the tweedy outfits and the bizarre choice of music – none of the planes ever crashes, despite the Gnat’s website statement that “scores soon start to mount up, as direct hits set off explosive pods fitted to the aircraft, giving a highly visual effect. Maximum bonus points are achieved by blowing the target out of the sky!”

If I ever get a chance to shoot a Gnat, I want bonus points. Since Gnats are made from impact resistant plastic and fiberglass and can withstand small explosions, I don’t think you can count on breaking a wing. It would be very difficult to punch pellets through the body to the top-mounted engine, which means shooting the propeller off is your best bet. I’m thinking full choke, a load of HeviShot 4s, and shoot this thing in the beak. How much lead? A Gnat crossing at full speed 40 yards away requires 14 feet – about one Ford Explorer length.

Anyone out there have a better plan for bringing one down?


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Wow, I have a hard enough time hitting a normal clay. That looks like fun though.


Phil this is my second attempt at posting. My computer burped so please forgive a partial. Here is what I was trying to say.

Phil, Phil, Phil....your big bore background is showing. Think about proper blind construction and decoy placement to bring the Gnats in close. Then use a 28 gauge shooting 3/4 ounce loads to take out the fuel tank. Use an open choke and hit them where it hurts.


shoot slugs until one connected

SD Bob

It looks fun! It appears that only one "flash pot" would go off at a time? Seems to me the odds of hitting more than one should be pretty good? Anyone else notice that?


Linebacker ADA Bradely Fighting Vehicle with a stinger pod of 4 stingers, 1 25mm Bushmaster, and 1 M240 7.62 Coax.

And I am not even an Air Defense Artilleryman!!

Great Post Phil, how ironic, just yesterday I took my citori out its case for a good cleaning!!




Taking out a Gnat depends on how much fun the guy behind the controller is having. I once apon a time belonged to a RC Airplane Club and we had some pretty wicked flyers. (I mean skillful) They could do things that would give the Blue Angels nightmares.


The receiver and the fuel tank are likely near the center of gravity. That would be the best point of aim.

Del in KS

Back in '84 I went to advanced NCO school at Ft Benning. One of the courses was on aircraft gunnery. We got to shoot at a plane that was very simular but made of stryrofoam with M60's and Browning 50 cals. The target plane made strafing runs on us. It was amazingly hard to hit. After several thousand rounds of 30 and 50 cal ammo it had exactly 1 bullet hole in a wing. No problem with a shotgun. Try it with a rifle or machinegun.


We got gnats like that here in the Adirondacks. Called blackflies. We use turkey chokes and lead #6's on 'em.

Blue Ox

A 3.5" shell loaded with 00 buckshot right in the beak will make damn sure Maverick won't be requesting any more fly-bys.

Black Rifle Addict

That looks easy...that target is big enough to hit with a bow and arrow!

Trae B.

Tater cannon. Big tater cannon.


SD Bob the pyrotechnics mounted on the Gnat are friction ignited. That means you have to hit one to set it off. If you hit more then one at a time it will set that many off. The web site said that if you hit 3 of them at once it will knock the plane out of the sky.


Hey Guys,
If you think shooting a Gnat down would be fun, just think of how much fun you could have as the control man dive bombing the corporate big wigs!!! Of course, they probably don't know anythng about gun safety so it would get dangerous really quick...

Phil Bourjaily

Thanks all for your suggestions. I'm looking for a picture of the perfect gnat gun but I can't remember where I saw it or if I really did see it. It was an A-5 used to train aerial gunners during the war, mounted on a tall tripod and with machinegun type handles in place of the stock. Am I making this up or did such a gun exist? If so, I want one with an extended magazin.


Ithaca 10 ga. magnum with 2 1/4 oz. no. 4 buckshot. It worked on long range geese years ago before non toxic shot. Failing that, see if you can get your hands on a SAM. You should be able to get one easily enough without filling out forms, possessing CHL, etc. on the black market like every criminal & terrorist.


Hitting one with a bow would be doing something. years ago we had a moving target that we took to shoots. At 15 yards, moving about 15 mph it was amazing how many misses there was. This was a full size deer cutout. I'm thinking any full auto with trasers would do the trick on this.
Somehow i get the feeling the guy flying it is setting off the charges and all depends on who he takes pity on.

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