I’m not exactly a gun person, but don’t have anything against them under the right circumstances — target shooting, hunting for food, etc. Although I don’t own any, I did earn an Expert Marksmanship badge when I was in the Army and I had a BB gun as a kid (note: I didn’t shoot my eye out). My psychotic stepfather owned quite a few, both pistols and rifles, and we’d sometimes go out in the woods and shoot targets, usually beer cans. But until this morning, I didn’t realize there was a name for doing that: plinking. Wikipedia describes plinking as “informal target shooting done at nonstandard targets such as tin cans, glass bottles, and balloons filled with water. The term is an onomatopoeia of the sound a bullet or other projectile makes when hitting a tin can, or other similar target, referring to the sharp, metallic sound, known as a ‘plink.'” It’s certainly a satisfying sound, and nicely validates your aim.
My stepdad also took me skeet shooting a couple of times, and that was fun, too, though I don’t remember being very good at it; I recall missing more often than not. Apparently, someone figured out a way to combine the two, The Targeteer Beer Can Target Launcher. I recently stumbled upon an old ad for this, Flying Beer Can Targets, which was sold through the Sunset House mail order catalog from 1964.
It seems like a great way to combine target shooting, skeet and recycling (or at least repurposing). It was actually patented in 1960 and Vox Box, a packaging blog, has the full story on the Targeteer Beer Can Launcher. It also seems like you could use it to shoot beer cans at another target, which may be why they weren’t more popular. I’m also afraid my stepfather would have drank the beer right before using them as a target, which wouldn’t necessarily be the best idea, in my experience guns and beer generally don’t, or shouldn’t, mix.