by B.B. Pelletier
The right guns for training
Let’s talk about the guns you will use to teach a person. Airguns are ideal for teaching because of their safety and their lack of noise or recoil. It’s very important that you use a gun that is inherently accurate, because the student has to see improvement as he or she progresses.
Most BB guns are out, except for the Daisy Avanti Champion 499. It’s good enough for a world-class shooter to practice with!
In pellet guns, I like the IZH 61 a lot. It’s small, light, easy to cock and can hit a dime every time at 20 yards – if the shooter can.
If you want to use guns you already have, here’s a short list of what does NOT work:
1. Guns that shoots both pellets and BBs.
2. Sporting spring-piston guns that aren’t recoilless, except the IZH 61.
3. BB guns, except the 499.
Here’s a short list of what works well in a training program:
1. Multi-pump pneumatics with rifled barrels that do NOT also shoot BBs.
2. Most CO2 rifles, unless they are repeaters with hard triggers, such as the 1077 (sorry).
3. Some older spring-piston guns made specifically for target shooting, such as the Diana 70 and 72 or Marksman 1790-series guns (which they have just re-introduced as the Beeman Sportsman S500).
4. Single-stroke pneumatics with rifled barrels that do NOT also shoot BBs.
Single-shots are the best, because they force the student to reload the gun many times. This reinforces safe gun-handling practices.
The size of the gun is important. No gun can be too small, but it is very easy to be too big. The main concern is the length of pull. That’s the distance from the back of the butt to the trigger. An adult target rifle usually has around a 12-inch pull, but less is okay. A sporting pull is around 14 inches, and that’s too long for most target shooters.
Watch the weight!
Weight can be a big issue with smaller shooters. We used to have small kids come out to shoot who weren’t physically developed enough to handle a gun over 3 lbs. The 499 would have been great, but ours was an NRA program that used pellet guns only. For these kids, we rested the rifles across cardboard boxes with V notches cut on both sides for the gun to lay in. They shot them rested in the box that was sitting on a table. These kids could not go on to join our junior team until they grew a little larger, but we did teach them safety and the fundamentals.
I’ll talk about sights and triggers in the next post.