Skills Check: Card-Cutting Trick Shot

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posted on December 5, 2018
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This article, "Cutting the Cards," appeared originally as a Skills Check column in the March 2017 issue of Shooting Illustrated. To subscribe to Shooting Illustrated, visit the NRA membership page here and select Shooting Illustrated as your member magazine.

One of my shooting heroes is Ed McGivern, the author of “Fast And Fancy Revolver Shooting” and an exhibition shooter without peer. At the height of his prowess in the 1930s, he performed shooting feats such as taping over the hole in a washer, tossing it into the air and shooting through the hole in the washer and launching a tin can 20 feet into the air and shooting it six times with his revolver before it hit the ground.

These seemingly impossible feats were the result of hundreds of thousands of rounds fired in practice and a lifetime of shooting. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had the time or money it takes to achieve this level of excellence. I do, however, have a trick shot you can learn by investing less than a box of ammunition.

You’ll need a piece of cardboard, a deck of playing cards, a box of ammunition and your favorite hand cannon to perform this “trick” of cutting playing cards in half. I like to shoot the face cards because they’re more visually interesting than the number cards. I cut a slot in the cardboard target backer that’s about the length of a playing card then insert a card far enough into the slot to hold it edge-on. Stepping back about 3 yards, I aim at the edge of the card and fire.

That sounds pretty simple but, as is usually the case, there’s more to it than that. You’ll need to carefully apply your marksmanship skills to make this shot. Concentrate on the front sight, put the edge of the card in the center of the sight, carefully press the trigger and follow-through (stay on the front sight after the shot breaks.) I’ve found any ammunition will do, but I seem to get better results and a cleaner cut through the cards if I use wadcutter, semi-wadcutter or other flat-point bullets.

The two parts of the card tend to fly about when shot and sometimes I’ve been unable to find one of the card halves. (I can only assume these pieces have disappeared into the same dimension where springs go when I lose them while working on guns.) You might want to have a friend help you out by spotting the card pieces because, remember, you’re going to be concentrating on the front sight and not jerking your head up at the shot to keep track of the cards.

Card-cutting isn’t nearly as hard as it seems and it’s a trick you can use to show off your shooting skills—all without investing years of practice. Give it a try; I think you’ll find it’s a fun way to hone your shooting skills.

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