I have shot golf balls for years with 22 lr rifles and pistols at 10-20yards for fun.. In fact this activity has become a ritual at our local range when the weekend group shows up.
At long range, there is no better way to develop your shooting skills and have a real blast with a bunch of shooting buddies. The golf balls we shoot with pistols are always on a dirt berm. They are not suspended or sitting on something like a bottle.
When I hit a golf ball in the center it usually goes straight up just like it would if you hit it with a golf club. I have hit hundreds, maybe thousands of golf balls in my day, some with dead center hits and I have never seen either the 22, 17 hmr, or the 9mm pistol completely penetrate at 30 yards. The bullet always remains in the ball.
Long range golf balls
If you really want to challenge yourself, and your buddies, move those golf balls out to 200 yards or so. My shooting buddies and I have since migrated from pistols at 30 yards and are now shooting golf balls at 218 yards to be exact.
This activity has some how become a game that brings several long range rimfire shooters together every Saturday morning. In our game, you can use whatever rifle you brought with you. We mostly shoot rimfire due to the challenge and the cost because we like to shoot A LOT.
Safety concerning golf ball flight or ricochet is no longer a concern out at 200 yards. Even at that distance, with balls shot with a 223, I have never seen a bullet ricochet or cause the ball to go in any other direction than to the side or directly away from the shooter. I have never seen either the bullet or the ball come back toward the shooters.
How long will golf balls last ?
They can take a lot of abuse. I have shot the same golf ball 3 weekends in a row while leaving it on the berm at a public range for the entire period. Believe me, this thing was shot many times. I couldn’t find it on the fourth weekend. I don’t think it was destroyed. Someone probably hit it just right and it flew backwards over the berm.
I have honestly shot these things until nothing is left but a deformed mass of hard rubber or whatever the material in the center is made of. Because they can be used over and over you won’t find a more cost effective target. You can buy the recycled ones for about thirty cents each. Where else can you find a challenging reactive target for pennies?
Probably the best thing about this game is it forces you to bring your A game. Unless you have a 0.5 moa gun you are already at a disadvantage when you start. Any flaws in technique stick out like a sore thumb . This little game forces you to strive for perfection in you technique.
What equipment is required?
Some guys use 223s, others use their 22s, I use my 17 hmr savage fvsr. A golf ball is about 1 inch in diameter when means you would need a 0.5 moa rifle at 200 and perfect shooting skills to hit the ball most of the time. My rifle is about .75 moa at 50 yards and I make contact about half the time.
One of the things that make this game fun is that there are very few rules. Since the targets are so small, if you can hit them at this distance with anything, nobody argues with your methodology. You can use whatever rifle and caliber you have.
Most of us shoot rim fire due to the cost of ammo because we all like to shoot a lot. You can use any kind of rest including a lead sled, shoot from any position, with any optic. Most people use a bipod with a rear bag. I use a savage fvsr in 17hmr with a bipod and monopod on the rear of the stock with outstanding results.
What are the rules?
The only rules we have are to ensure the safety of everyone there. You must shoot from the firing line and you can’t load until the line is called hot. The person who hits the most golf balls out of 20 shots wins. That’s pretty much the entire rule book.
Fair warning, when shooting at balls on a dirt bank as we do, it is possible to hit close enough, especially with a .223 or larger caliber to splatter dirt and make the ball move which is an indication of a hit.
If you have access to one, always use a spotter with a good spotting scope to call the shots or just allow rimfire rifles only. The prize is bragging rights until the next match starts and there might be a few side bets going on during the match.
Is this game realistic for average shooters?
In our group, we have no 0.5 MOA rifles although we have a few that are close. We realize that by shooting at 1 inch golf balls at 200 we are way beyond the capability of our rifles, even with perfect technique. Actually I think this is what makes the game so much fun.
You know you can’t hit the ball every shot so you push yourself to make sure your technique is perfect. All of us were / are shooters with average ability.
None of us are state champs or even regional champs although most have won notice at local competitions. You would be surprised what you can do with the right equipment and a true focus on aiming small.
So yes, the average shooter can become as competent as anyone in a short time span. Try it and don’t give up. I guarantee your shooting ability will improve. Since playing the golf ball game everyone’s ability has improved tremendously. Maybe it’s the old saying – aim small, miss small.
How expensive is shooting golf balls?
Once in a while we will put the orange clay pigeons out at 200 and after shooting at golf balls, these things look like elephants. The pigeons are 4 inches in diameter and are real blast to shoot because the blow up when you hit them. They are also very inexpensive at around thirty cents each and are completely biodegradable. Check out a case of them here on Amazon.
They disappear very quickly, then we focus on the fragments of what is left. At this writing the best price of used golf balls I could find on Amazon was around 25 – 50 cents each. Check it out here on Amazon.
At this price that is a lot lower than a penny a hit. You won’t find a more cost effective reactive target than this.
What is the real benefit of this game?
If you enjoy spending time with old friends shooting on the weekends this might be something you want to look at. We have all shot in pistol and rifle competition through out the years and some of us are still good enough to compete, in some cases win, but the nearest major competition shoots that we would be interested in are at least a 2 hour drive.
When we were younger we made those drives easily and often but as time passes your priorities change and your desire to win transforms to a desire to enjoy. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be on Saturday morning than shooting with a bunch of friends at my local range.
My hope for you is that someday you will find a game you enjoy as much as I enjoy this one. Happy shooting.