Airguns are too easy!

by B.B. Pelletier

I have a lot of interests besides airguns. Recently, a friend gave me a small electric RC helicopter that awakened a desire to fly. It’s good when I get to encounter new things, because it reminds me of the difficulties new airgunners face when they enter our hobby. Keeping that in mind helps me write more clearly.

Well, with RC helicopters there’s a lot to learn. You don’t just take up this hobby and immediately move up to the biggest and best equipment. You can’t, because flying an advanced RC helicopter takes experience and skill. If you were to buy the biggest whomptydoodle RC helicopter on the market, you wouldn’t even know enough to get it prepared to fly! That’s good, because the moment you did you’d crash.


A newbie doesn’t stand a chance flying one of these.

The same cannot be said about airguns. Any fool with money can buy an FWB 700 rifle identical to the rifle an Olympic shooter would use. Or, he can buy a USFT rifle without a clue how to use it or what it even does. He would be at no risk to himself or his equipment to own and shoot an Evanix AR-6 rifle, as long as he practiced the basics of safe shooting.


But anyone can shoot one of these.

With a .90 RC helicopter capable of 3D flight (that’s a really big radio-controlled helicopter that can fly full aerobatics that even full-sized helicopters cannot duplicate), a beginner would have a flaming mass of ruined parts in no time. Life would severely correct the beginner’s lack of experience and start him or her on a very expensive learning path.

But, anyone with money can buy an RWS Diana 350 Magnum – shoot it for an hour – and then complain to the world that it doesn’t do everything the reports said it could. The air rifle doesn’t burst into flames or reach back and slap the silly shooter in the face.

That’s where the questions come from. Here’s one I get all the time. “I’m having a hard time choosing between a .177 Benjamin Super Streak or a Career III 707 in .22. I want something that’ll be accurate out to at least 75 yards but also quiet enough to not disturb the tenants in the next apartment. Which airgun should I buy?”

You SHOULD buy an IZH 61 or a Beeman R7 and learn how to shoot before talking about shooting 75 yards with an air rifle. That’s what you SHOULD do!

But you don’t want to do that. You want to go to the head of the line by starting at the top of the hobby. Tell me – where in your apartment do you even have 75 yards to shoot?

If we were playing violins, you’d want to own a Stradivarius, despite the fact you sound more like a jug band. Thank God a Strad costs millions of dollars, so only the very best violinists can afford to play them. And half of them don’t even own the instruments they play – they’re on loan for a lifetime by others who appreciate talent.


Even a Stradivarius requires talent to make beautiful music.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that you should be denied the best equipment until you prove yourself as a shooter. I’m simply saying that in our hobby it’s too easy to own the very best without the skill to use it. Then, when he gets his Strad, he scratches the bow across the strings and says, “I don’t see what everyone is talking about. This thing don’t sound so purdy.” No, it don’t!

Now, that small RC helicopter my friend gave me is at the bottom of the heap of beginning RC helicopters. It is the RC helicopter equivalent of a Crosman 760. It doesn’t even have the ability to hover. But guess what? After flying it for three months, I discovered that on my own, and I learned something about RC helicopters. I’m now ready to move up to one that can hover. But I’m far from being ready to fly that whomptydoodle model that looks so sexy in the hands of an expert. I may never get that far in the hobby – but at least I know it. That’s what three months of experience has taught me.

My bio information listed at the top right of this blog says there are no stupid questions. I’ll stick by that, because I want you to be able to ask about anything. That’s what this blog is here for. But sometimes questions are asked before the person doing the asking has bothered to learn anything about the subject. I don’t call those questions stupid, but they’re uninformed. Here’s an example, “I want to be able to hunt whitetail deer with an air rifle. I notice that a round ball shot out of a Big Bore 909 goes faster than a 200-grain pellet. I want to be able to kill deer out to at least 250 yards, so would I be better off using round balls instead of pellets?”

No – you would be better off:

1. Moving out of your apartment in Manhattan, where the whitetail deer are scarce.

2. Learning something about ballistics before using just one fact – velocity – to invent a universe that doesn’t really exist.

3. Learning to shoot.

4. Waiting until you’re 18 years old, so you can do all of this legally.

Today’s blog sounds like a rant and it probably is. But I had to get it off my chest. I still love all of you and I want you to continue to ask your questions and try new things.

I, on the other hand, will concentrate on hovering.

63 Responses to “Airguns are too easy!”

  • andreas Says:

    B.B., this was a nice blog! I understand you completely. This equipment madness exists in every hobby that requires some equipment.

    I am also a guitarist and a motorcyclist. I caught myself dreaming and planning to get that perfect guitar or that perfect bike many times, but fortunately I am able to pull myself together.

    I think it takes one piece of unnecessary expensive equipment that you mistakenly baught to kick you to your senses…

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Andreas,

    When you join the military will you be able to follow this blog? Because I will soon be able to test the AirForce gun you have so patiently waited for.

    BV.B.

  • Michael in Florida Says:

    BB,

    Well said! I love the questions that pop up day after day on ALL the blogs and forums.

    “I just ordered a BlaBla55. Can anyone tell me anything about it?”

    My question (to myself) is “Why in the world would you order something, and THEN do the research on that product?

    Most questions compare apple to oranges, and sound something like “If it takes three flat tires to fill a washing machine, how many pancakes does it take to fill a canoe?”

    We all appreciate what you do and the patience that you exhibit when you do it.

    Remember what Mr. Garrison of South Park, Colorado says….”There are no studpid questions, just stupid people…”

    jk
    Regards,
    Michael in Florida

  • mechredd Says:

    I have a cheap RC heli that can move in full 3D space including hover. Thank god it is made of foam, and the roaters are easily replaceable, because I tend to crash more than I land.

  • Wayne Says:

    I am in the Army, currently stationed in Iraq. I am avid reader of this blog, and am able to follow the it without any difficulty. After 9 months in Baghdad, I dream of getting back to my “real guns.” At least I can shoot them whenever I want.
    As for Michael, everyone knows how many pancakes it takes to fill a canoe: blue.

  • Michael in Florida Says:

    Wayne,

    You’re the first person to ever answer that question correctly!

    Keep your head down and your powder dry. We are all very proud of you.

    Kind regards,
    Michael

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Michael in Fla.,

    Yes, you did get it! You lifted my spirits!

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Mechredd,

    Any crash I can repair without resorting to new parts is a good crash.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Wayne,

    Gonna shoot “real” guns when you get home, eh? Now a lot of people are wondering what a guy in combat would consider to be a real gun.

    B.B.

  • Wayne Says:

    The kind I can shoot with my wife and kids, of course. Knocking a can around the back yard . . . that’s real shootin’!
    I reload and I enjoy shooting a variety of pistol and rifle cartridges, but the guns that get the most use at my house are my Hurricane, Daisy 717, RWS 54, and Benjamin 392. Those are the ones I use keep my shooting skills up, any time I feel like it.
    That’s what is most important to me – simply being able to shoot.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB, when will you post a blog about strapping a Drozd Blackbird to your RC helo?

    Yuk yuk.

    Nate in Cincy.

  • twotalon Says:

    B.B.
    Reminds me of the questions I see on the metal detecting forums all the time……..
    “Want to get a detector. Which is the best”
    They have no idea what they want, and give you no information about how or where they are going to use it. They expect it to do everything for them, and they will not need to know how to operate it.
    They get a big surprise when they find out that it’s not as easy as it looks on the TV commercials.

    twotalon

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB-

    Great post. I’ve seen from reading this blog you do get some “interesting” questions. To tell you the truth, I know I have asked a few of them!! (See yesterdays comments about whacking the barrel of my RS2 :) It is very nice however to have someone to ask these questions to. Hopefully, as I learn more about airgunning, which I am quickly becoming fascinated with, I will start to ask better questions.

    Thanks again,

    Aaron in MI

  • Anonymous Says:

    siiggghhh!!…so true b.b.
    Cowboy dad here. I’m a photographer by trade, who appreicated the recent blogs you did no photographing airguns…getting people to realize it isn’t as easy as it looks.
    I deal constantly with people who feel they can do anything I can with a camera because pretty well anyone can set their camera on ‘P’ and get an acceptable exposure.
    An acceptable exposure doesn’t equate to a properly lit, well composed image…not by a long shot.
    Funny thing as well. I used to fly control-line stunt planes. I do remember a friend who thought he could do it…went out and bought a prebuilt Smoothie (anyone who flies these things will know what this is), with a 52″ wingspan.
    It went up…it came down…in about 100 pieces. He actually claimed that there must have been something wrong with the lines…and never tried the hobby again just so he wouldn’t have to admit HE crashed.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Aaron,

    You keep right on asking anything that you want. That’s how we all learn.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    twotalon,

    I didn’t know you are a treasure hunter, too, did I? I own a Minelab Explorer and a Whites 6000 Di Pro.

    Been doing it for 43 years!

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Cowboy dad,

    When I was four years old, my father bought a control line model. He said it was for me, but I never got to touch it.

    He had our paperboy build it. On the first flight it went straight up, then down and broke into a million pieces. He gave the wreck to the paperboy for his trouble!

    Maybe that’s why I like the new RC models.

    I haven’t thought about that incident for at least 10 years.

    B.B.

  • andreas Says:

    B.B.,

    Even if you hadn’t asked today I was planning on letting you and the frequent readers here know that you won’t be seeing me around much for the next two years.

    It is highly impossible that I will be able to follow the blogs. I don’t think I will have internet access in the army… and especially for the first year, days off are hard to get and infrequent.

    Thank you everyone for adding useful information and creating these wonderful conversations about the hobby we love! I appreciate your time and good character.

    Tom, I have to thank you for making me the shooter I am today. You taught me how to relax properly, how to be still, how to maintain mental health while firing, and how to make sure that I hit my target every time.

    Also you taught me to appreciate the limitations of my rifle and the limitations of myself as a shooter and how to overcome them.

    These qualities will come in handy in the military and you pushed me to create them!

    Shoot safe and in good health everyone! Thanks for everything!

  • wayne Says:

    andreas & wayne,

    Get home safe to your loved ones….keep your head on, and straight…bless you as you move forward..I HATE WAR!!

    B.B.

    As someone who asked many of the dumb questions…I am sorry…I am now reading more before I just ask..(it is too easy to just ask the pro, even if you don’t know what or how to ask…sorry..)

    Your inventory of articles is amazing…and it gets larger everyday…the more I use it the better at using it I get…sort of learning to learn…

    So, at the future “Ashland Air Rifle Range”, if we open to the general public, we will have to screen the skill level and match the gun to that level, the person who works the counter will have to have good people reading skills…

    We want people to have a fun and hit there target as often as possible…then they want to come back, and move up into higher level air rifles..sort of what you do for us, but in person it should be easier…It seems we all want to keep testing our skill level…the air gun hobby allows that very well…

    Safe at home in Ashland Or.

    Wayne,

    Ashland Air Rifle Range & Rentals

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Andreas,

    If you are going into basic training, you’re right about not having internet access. But after training I think you will have access somehow. I am going to run the test you asked for anyway, so some day several months from now if you get on the internet, use the search function and you’ll find it.

    When you get out we all expect to hear from you on a regular basis.

    And remember this – it’s only a game. They’ll try to mess with your mind to learn about your personality. Remember to laugh when things seem to go poorly and you’ll get through a lot easier.

    Tom

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Wayne,

    Having run numerous public ranges I offer this. Always assume a new person knows nothing – even when their age and gender would make you think otherwise.

    When a person tells you how much they know about shooting – be warned. They probably know nothing. The ones who do know, know enough to keep their mouths shut.

    Finally – keep your eyes on the muzzle – not the shooter. Be close enough to grab and restrain it when you are teaching someone.

    Good luck,

    B.B.

  • twotalon Says:

    B.B.
    I have 2 Sovs and a QXT.
    I don’t realy like the term “treasure hunter”. It conjures images of the guys who spend their whole lifetime and hordes of money in search of a fortune that they will never find.
    I prefer to think of myself as a “hobby detectorist”. It’s just for fun , and I have no expectations of ever getting rich. The unexpected and unusual finds are what I like most.
    Think of it as electronic crackerjacks…
    I’m Art(NWOH) on Find’s Sov forum.

    Mostly dispensing metal now with the Talons rather than looking for it with the Minelabs.

    HH
    twotalon

  • Bruce Says:

    To Wayne and Andreas: God Speed to both of you.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Twotalon,

    You have to remember that when I started with a Metrotech beat frequency ocillator in the 1960s, commercial metal detectors were still in their infancy. True they had used one to search for the bullet in president McKinley’s body, but that was a room-sized apparatus.

    I used to follow summer carnivals around northern California and coin-shoot (another old term) the shake they laid down on the midway. As long as the sun was shining I could usually find those bright silver quarters with the Metrotech.

    I’ve been through a lot of machines and brands since them and even done some two-box deep-searching and some divining.

    More fun than profit, I’m afraid, but it kept me off the streets.

    B.B.

  • wayne Says:

    B.B.

    Good advice again….
    “Finally – keep your eyes on the muzzle – not the shooter. Be close enough to grab and restrain it when you are teaching someone.”

    I would not have thought of that, but probably would have learned it the hard way….thanks again…….

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    This is interesting. I suppose it would make a certain amount of sense to get the best equipment if you were really committed rather than spending for layers of increasingly sophisticated material. On the other hand, my own experience bears you out. When I was in high school, based on a good initial showing on the rifle team, my Dad paid $700 for an Anschutz 1407. But things never panned out. After one year that was undistinguished to say the least, I hung it up, sold the rifle, and didn’t touch a gun for 20 years.

    I do have good memories of that rifle which deserved a better shooter. Do the Anschutz air rifles compare to the smallbores? You don’t hear much about the brand in airgunning.

    That’s a nice looking helicopter in the photo. How much does one of them run you? Next thing you know, you will be like Gerard Manley Hopkins’s falcon:

    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
    Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

    Andreas, good luck in the army and watch your a– as the saying goes. Wayne, that’s pretty cool to be connected with our soldiers in Iraq.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Wow, another member of the Rc Heli community, I have been shooting and flying for a little over a year and your blog has helped my shooting a ton, as for the flying, the “helifreak” forums will teach you everything you’ll need to know. I currently fly a trex -450, a 500 and soon a 600. It is too cool that a fellow air-gunner has joined the Rc heli hobby also.

    P.S: I’m Iwreckhelis on helifreak and my avatar is a galloping green llama.See you there!

    -ExplodingSquirrel-

  • Anonymous Says:

    This blog just keeps getting better! I found it recently after re-discovering my passion for air gunning. B.B., you told me a couple of weeks ago that I am below the mean age of an airgunner. I’m finding that to hold true for most of my hobbies. I fly R/C airplanes (I dont fly helis yet but I do practice on “Real Flight” simulator-if you havent already you may want to look into it, great supplement to the process of learning to fly), I even have a few control liners around that come out every now and then (for those VERY FEW who still fly these, I have a Nemesis [flying wing], Combat Streak, and a Nobler [w/ailerons] – old school stick built, not ARFs), I bought my Bounty Hunter Red Barron Jr. detector with paper route money when I was 12, in 1985. Upgraded to a White a few years ago. I have an 18 yr old nephew that I drag along on outings with all of these hobbies and he seems to be enjoying himself but dosent really have the passion I always had for my hobbies. I hope that passion never goes away for me. Anyway, I catch myself trying to jump ahead and skip steps as I start new things all the time. I try to rationalize why I can get away with jumping ahead just because I want the best stuff. I think this is human and hopefully will be lessen with age and maturity. As for researching prior to purchasing…for me researching is half of the fun it all. I love reading reviews (which I usually take with a grain of salt), comparing specs, pondering variables. I do it to a fault, overanalyzing until I am almost confused.
    Life is great!

    Steve

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi BB!

    When you ask PA about carrying the Tanaka SAA revolvers, please also ask if they’d offer a good quality fast draw belt & holster as well…low slung, tie down, hammer loop, perhaps with an angled metal lip to keep me from shooting myself in the leg or foot with an airsoft BB. (Then I could really indulge my childhood fantasies of being a fast-draw western action hero!) Just a thought for us old timers out here, who grew up on Audie Murphy and The Range Rider films….

    Thanks,

    –Joe B.

    PS. I bought an inexpensive little RC plane from Radio Shack last March and still haven’t had the courage to fly it. It’s not good in any wind and in my mind I keep seeing it going through my neighbor’s window, even though I have over 3 acres of yard to fly it in. I bought it after photographing some pro RCers on the slopes of Haleakala, our local mountain here on Maui. So beautiful their planes were. One of them also had a flying wing, Steve.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Matt61,

    For some reason you don’t hear about the Walther air rifles and pistols as much as the Steyrs, FWBs and Anschutzs. They do win titles – just maybe not as many.

    As for the cost for THAT helicopter – you don’t want to know. That’s no model you can buy. That one was handbuilt and probably costs a Corvette or so.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Exploding Squirrel,

    Don’t get too excited yet. The copter I own is the little one sold in the mall by Brookstone. It’s the one you can crash again and again and it keeps on taking it. Well, I’ve been proving them right about that.

    However, I do have a trade in the works where I’ll get a nitro heli with all the bells and whistles and he’ll get an airgun. I don’t even know the size of the thing yet – just that it has training wheels. I’ll pick it up at Roanoke in November. I think it has a collective, so I’ll have to learn that. Maybe I’ll invest in a test stand for hover practice.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Steve,

    It sounds like you do the research before you make your move. My rant wasn’t directed toward you. In fact, I think I was just venting, because I really do want to hear from everyone.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    I too find humour with the post I see on blogs/forums: “I just ordered a xxxxx air rifle, what can you tell me about it?”

    Just let it roll off you Tom, and keep up the great work on this blog!

  • Nick Carter Says:

    Thanks BB!
    I get this all the time as I seel benchtop CNC mills. People email me a picture of a part that’s just a tad complex (say a titanium turbofan) and ask what they should buy in order to make it. I always patiently explain that they first need to learn basic manual machining, some material science, then CNC part programming and CAD work. Then after all that they need to learn fixturing as well as learning all about the various machines out there and what their limitations and features are. I get an email like that maybe once a week.

    Of course what they really want is a mind reading robot that will spit out parts like something in Star Trek.

    Oh well…
    Nick

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    ExplodingSquirrel,

    Don’t have much choice with this trade – nitro is what he has. I suppose I could pull the pug on the trade, though.

    I see myself flying electric, too. And I know the heli I have is incapable of almost everything but flight in the direction it wants to go. However, it taught me that there had to be more, so I have started my research.

    I will look into that Blade CX2. My cheapie cost all of $29, so you know what a toy it is. All it did was awaken a desire to fly. About 20 years ago I was getting into ultralites, but that fizzled as the money piled up. I did solo a Cessna, but I didn’t get my pilot’s certificate.

    Cost isn’t my chief concern with the RC helis, but learning is. I want to go up the chain of difficulty and gain flight experience before trying to move too fast – sort of what I was saying in the blog. And I have zero aspirations of turning pro or writing about them. I just want to fly for me.

    I will log on to helifreak. Thanks.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Nick,

    You mean you don’t just cut away everything that doesn’t look like a titanium turbofan?

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Didn’t JFK Jr. come to grief by flying a plane that was too hot for him and by flying it at night when he was not instrument-rated?

    This remote flying is one way to avoid the dangers of flight.

    As Clint Eastwood says in one of his films, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

    Matt

  • Anonymous Says:

    By the way, there was a recent article on the discovery of why Stradivarius violins are superior based on CAT scans. Apparently, the wood is of more even density. Either the trees were better 300 years ago or the aging process improved them.

    Matt61

  • Ozark Says:

    BB -
    Great rant! Loved it. Reminds me of a quote I heard once by Mr. Boortz – ‘if you took all your knowledge of economics (or airguns or r/c, etc) and stuffed it in the butt of a mosquito, it would roll around like a BB (no pun inteneded!) in the belly of an aircraft carrier’ – or something to that effect. I was wetting the seat in my car when I heard that one.
    My wife bought me one of the RTF (ready to fly) battery powered foam park fliers – and it really is a challenge! I crashed it many times, but I learned just trying to go in a circle with the plane coming and going was hard enough, let alone trying to do barrel rolls or a split-s. Here in SW MO it’s just a pain to wait for wind-free days to fly it, so those indoor helis look like great fun!
    Geoff

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Geoff,

    Flying in circles indoors is about it for me with this little one. I can trim it to a degree and change the direction of the circle, as well as elevation. I have flown for 10 minutes in my living room, but without precision.

    I want to hover, turn precisely and stop again, and to fly where I want. After that, who knows?

    B.B.

  • Ozark Says:

    Wayne mentioned above about shooting his Webley Hurricane – so I looked it up and it sure sounds like an interesting shoot, but the pyramid site just says it was due to be re-manufactured in 2006.

    I forgot to mention above – that’s pretty classy – loaning a million dollar violin for a lifetime to someone with talent who can make it sing. Bravo!

    Geoff

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Geoff,

    Edvard Marton, the famous Hungarian violinist who played for a skater while standing center ice at the last Olympics has a Strad on loan from his country for life. Yehudi Menuhin was given his choice of any available Strad in the world when he turned 12 by his patron. His was a gift.

    But both men can PLAY!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    This might be my favoite blog of all time. I work in a bicycle shop and the ability to purchase inappropriate equipment is only limited by your platinum card’s limit.

    Nick,

    I somehow managed to aquire a benchtop lathe–are they good?

    Oh, and can I use it to make depleted uranium crosbow points for a CO2 powered arrow launcher if it’s not shoulder fired?

    Derrick

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Derrick,

    You know, the height of stupidity would be my hippo-carcass sitting on a Euro-racer graphite frame on 27-inch wheels. That’s why I bought a “comfort bike.”

    To hell with the image – give me something I will RIDE!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    We were joking about this exact thing in the shop today with a good customer. He’s a big guy and he understands the term “suitable equipment”.

    Pro bicycle racers get their stuff for free, are paid to use it, get it serviced daily by highly skilled technicians, and get fresh replacements anytime they or the mechanics think it’s warranted. They also weigh about 140 lbs. Yet, you and I can buy the exact same stuff. Except when we shell out that kind of money, we expect it to last forever, never have to service it, never have to do anything but use it. When it eventually needs TLC we ham-fist it ourselves then go cry about it on 32 different forums. Cause, you know, it’s junk.

    Derrick

  • Anonymous Says:

    If you guys like model planes, this video on youtube may interest you. The guys that built this B-29 used 4 chainsaw engines. It’s quite spectacular. I don’t think the real Stratfortress could fly upside down like this baby. Enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtIL_VjBUGo

  • Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know why this is, but aigunners are apparently of a very particular breed. This post and the one regarding watches in particular seem to prove it. I love my airguns, enjoy firearms to an extent. Military connections. Ride a Cannondale cyclocross as my primary bike. Play the viola and violin (recreationally now, but in an orchestra in the past) and just love the intricacies of the instrument. Watches of course, though welding has put me off wearing them… Who doesn’t love RC helicopters, though a Discovery channel program had an RC F-14 featured that was a real jet and the controller was doing maneuvers that would have made Tom Cruise proud…. I met another cyclocross afficionado and saw he had an amazing collection of air rifles, I said “next you’ll tell me you’re into Formula 1″ to which he replied, “actually I really only pay attention to World Rally..(not much of a miss in terms of off mainstream)” I thought maybe I had located a lost relative! Anyway, it’s always great to be in the company of people who appreciate many of the same things.

    Western PA

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Western PA,

    Are you suggesting that airgunners are (shudder) alike in some way? I don’t know as I like that. I always thought I was an individualist.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.,

    add “considering one’s self an individualist” to the list. I’ve had that tag my whole life, “You always have got to do something or get something to stand out or apart..” seems to be one phrase I’ve heard quite a bit growing up and as I’ve aged. Example given: I couldn’t just get a yellow lab, a jack russell, a husky, or a shepherd (all great dogs and extremely common in my region) I had to get the retired greyhound – quirks and all. But watching her run down a rabbit with a 25 yard headstart through a cornfield was one of the most awesome sights I’ve ever seen, and she did it so many times I lost count.

    Western PA

  • /Dave Says:

    Hi BB,

    Funny you should mention RC helicoters. I recently purchased and am learning to fly a Blade 400, 3D electric helicopter. I spend more time fixing it than flying it for now (lost count of rebuilds already). I fly a Mosquito coax inside and the 400 in the back yard. Keep up the good work and stay off the walls with your new chopper!

    /Dave

  • Anonymous Says:

    Tee hee. I am one of those beginners you talk about. I owned a crossman pumpmaster as a teen. Now, over a decade later, I just bought the new crossman Discovery.

    Don’t be so hard on us. Its guys like us that keep businesses like pyramidair thriving. I COULD cancel my $400+ order and instead get a $100 rifle but then neither pyramid nor I would be happy would we? :-)

    If its harmless, let us spend our money as inefficiently as we want. After all, this is America we’re talking about – land of inefficiencies!

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Beginner,

    I guess I shouldn’t have ranted like that. This hobby is stronger because of new people like you.

    How do you like your Discovery? It was developed for beginners, and I’d like to hear how you feel about it.

    B.B.

  • Beginner Says:

    Hi BB,

    Well, I’d love to comment on the Discovery, but its been in shipping limbo for 2 weeks. FedEx doesn’t quite know where it is right now :-|

    Somewhere you mentioned that the sweet spot for the Discovery is around 1700psi…how would I go about determining the optimal pressure?

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Beginner,

    You need a chronograph to determine the best range for a PCP. You overfill a little, then shoot until the pellet climbs into the desired velocity range. Then fill the gun at that point to determine how much pressure was inside. Whenever you fill, you can tell the moment the gun starts taking on air because the fill pressure gauge slows down. On some guns it bumps and clicks when the inlet valve opens. The pressure at that instant is the pressure that was in the gun. That’s your starting pressure.

    B.B.

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    I just stumbled across this, & didn't know you were into R/C helicopters.

    I have been flying R/Cs for over 20 years now, & while it has been mostly planes, I do have 4 electric helicopters too.

    My favorite planes were always the gas/nitro powered aerobatic ones.

    I have owned over 50 different planes over the years, & at one time I had over 30 at once, ranging in sizes fron .25 to 1/4 scale, with my favorites (in no particular order)being;

    Extra 300
    Edge 540
    Breitling
    Cap 231 & 232
    Chipmunk
    Pitts bi-plane
    Rebel bi-plane
    & a few war birds…
    P-51 Mustang
    P-38 Lightning
    F-15
    F-16

    I can do every aerobatic maneuver in the book, from knife edge loops to inverted flat spins, & even the Lomcevak, "which is Czech for headache" because it involves flipping he plane tail over nose.

    About 6 years ago, I actually went up in a real Extra 300 with a pilot by the name of Mark Leseberg, & got to experience all of those manuevers & then some, thanks to him & aerobaticexperience.com out of Boulder City, just a few miles south east of Las Vegas.

    http://aerobaticexperience.com/index_1.htm

    A guy by the name of Craig Fordem owns the company, but Mark was one of his pilots at the time when I went & was the pilot that took me up & wrung me out. lol

    Mark is a very well known & accomplished R/C pilot, but is an outstanding pilot in the real deal too.

    If you look at the first picture on that web site, you'll see the one I went up in, the white & purple one.

    That was with out a doubt, the most exhilerating thing I have ever experienced in my life, next to flying my paraglider.

    We pulled a 9 G swing!
    6 positive Gs at the bottom of one loop, & then 3 negative Gs at the bottom of an outside loop, where you're upside down/inverted at the bottom of it, & then finished it with a nice mellow flight over the Hoover dam, inverted of course! ;)

    If you ever come back to Vegas again & are up for it, I highly suggest it.

    Here is some more info on it;

    http://aerobaticexperience.com/thrillrides.htm

    BTW… The videos are NOTHING compared to what they'll really do, if you're up to it.
    I even got to take the stick for a while too. :)

    A good friend of mine who I flew R/Cs with who was in the Airforce, had just came back from serving in the Middle East for a few months, so as a welcome home present, I got some of our other R/C friends together & took up a collection, so we could get him a ride with Mark.

    After he got back on the ground & I saw the huge grin on his face, I just had to do it too. ;)

    Best roller coaster on earth!

    Anyways, if you have any questions regarding R/Cs, please feel free to ask me.
    I have a good amount of experience & would be glad to help.

    I've recently decided to sell all my gas/nitro planes & stick with the electric ones now, & recommend to most people who are just getting into it, to do the same.

    The reasons are simple.
    Gas/nitro planes require a lot more equiptment, attention, adjustments, & can be a little tempermental at times.
    You need gas/nitro, glow plugs, a glow plug igniter, a fuel pump, & a starter, NONE of what is needed with electric.

    With electric, you just need a battery (or batteries), a charger for them, & your set.

    MUCH less to load, unload, & carry.
    Electric R/Cs didn't use to have much power or flight time, but they have come a long way in the recent years, have plenty of power & flihgt time for most people, not to mention, they are safer, & you don't have to clean them up with Windex & paper towels for 20 minutes when your done.

    Gas/nitro planes & helis make a heck of a mess due to the 2 cycle oil in the fule, that tend to get everywhere on the plane or heli.

    When you're done with electric models, you just pick them up, put them in your car or truck, & that's that.

    Another big benefit with electric models, is that they're a lot more quiet, & since they're lighter & can fly a lot slower, you can take off & land in a much smaller space. Since you don't need as large of a runway or flying area, so you can fly them just about anywhere. Parks, schools, & even decent sized parking lots in any major city, but if you're out in the country or have a good size piece of property, your set.

    - The BBA -

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    I forgot to ask, what helicopter are you currently flying & how are you doing with it?

    - The BBA -

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    BBA,

    This started as a joke and progressed into an interest for me. My friend Mac who you met at the SHOT Show bought me an indoor mini-heli when we went to the NRA Annual Meetings in May. I’ve been flying it indoors ever since. I have progressed to semi-control in a room with still air, but a $30 heli doesn’t have a lot of control to begin with. That is as far as it has gone.

    BV.B.

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    I have one like that too for rainy days.

    Mine is the Havoc.
    Not much control, but very easy to fly & pretty fun for a $28.00 R/C.

    If you really want to progress with it, get a computer flight sim that comes with the controller, & practice, practice, practice, & then practice some more, & THEN get a good but inexpensive RTF (ready to fly)heli like the Sabre. Alo, have them set it up & trim it out for you in the store, & make sure you tell them to set it up VERY docile. This will make it much easier to control, & then when you master it, you can always crank it up to be more responsive little by little, until it's maxed out, & really have some fun with it.

    Then, if you get hooked, you can move up from there, but that is probably the best & inexpensive ways to start out. Well… as about as inexpensive as it gets. lol

    I highly recommend Real Flight G2 for your flight sim, & the Sabre RTF for your first heli.
    I've had both, so I AM speaking from experience on them.

    In fact, I still have my Sabre RTF.

    It doesn't have "true" pitch control, but you basically fly it the same way, & it will teach you the skills you will need to fly an R/C heli, without spending a fortune & over complicating things, or overwhelming you with too many things to have to concentrate on, or worry about. And most hobby stores stock all the replacement parts for it, in case you do manage to ding it up. The parts are pretty reasonable too.

    Don't let a salesman talk you into something else, because the Sabre RTF IS one of the best helicopters to start of with, especially for the price, performance, & availability of replacement parts.

    Keep in mind that R/C helicopters ARE harder to fly than planes, but if you practice with the flight sim enough, you shouldn't have any problems.

    The cool thing about the computer flight sim, is that you can fly a whole bunch of different planes & helicopters, & when you crash, you just hit the reset button, which doesn't cost you a penny. ;)

    Here's a link to the flight sim's home page that will show you the newest version Real Flight G4, but don't rush out & buy it, as I'll explain below.
    Just take a look at it so you can see what it is.

    http://www.realflight.com/

    Here is the heli I recommend;

    http://www.hobbypeople.net/gallery/163130.asp#More

    And get some training wheels for it! When they are put together, it widens the landing skids by a huge margin, so if you're only a foot or two off the ground & get into trouble, you can simply just cut the throttle all the way back & ket it come down. The training gear will keep it from tipping over & whacking the rotors/blades.

    This is what you want;

    http://www.hobbypeople.net/gallery/165251.asp

    The flight sim is $200.00 & the heli is $150.00 but what you can do, is get a used flight sim on ebay for a LOT less!
    I would get their older version Real Flight G2 which you should be able to get on ebay for around $50.00
    The G4 version is a great one, with better graphics, lights, bells & whistles, but the G2 version is all you need.

    Everybody is different. Most people take a while to get the hang of it, & a VERY rare few, pick it up pretty quick, so if you do pursue this, go into it knowing that the chances are, that it's going to take some time to be able to even just take off, make a couple of turns, & land it where you want to.

    Be it the sim or the real thing, the first steps are;

    1) Learn to hover about a foot of the ground with the heli facing away from you, & keeping it about 10 – 15 feet in front of you.
    When you've mastered that, go to step #2.

    2) Hovering a foot or two off the ground, learn to move it VERY slowly forward & backward, & land it within a foot or two of where you planned to.

    3) The same thing only now, left to right.

    4) Now, go a little higher. Do all of this at 3 -5 feet off the ground.

    5) Now, about a foot off the ground, take off & make a SLOW circle to the right or left (which ever you feel more comfortable with) & land it. Then, the other direction.

    ALWAYS start off with the heli facing away from you, & by keeping it just a foot or two off the ground, if you get into trouble, just cut the throttle all the way back & let it come down ASAP!

    If you do this on a nice level area of grass & keep it low, the training gear WILL save you from breaking it.

    Aside from rudder control, the biggest problem most people have when learning to fly R/Cs, is when it's turned around & heading towards them. The reason is because all the turning controls are now backwards! People get confused, then panic, & then whammo! lol

    This is VERY easy to avoid though.
    You simply put yourself IN the heli!

    If you mentally put yourself in the pilots seat, you will automatically steer it the right way, without even thinking about it.

    That is one of the most important things to remember!

    ALWAYS put yourself in the pilot's seat, even when you're at step one!

    Now if you're not very computer savy & don't want to use the flight similator (which I HIGHLY suggest), at least consider this…

    The Sabre RTF is a great (if not one of the best) helicopters to start off with.

    It's cheap, durable, very easy to fly, & replacement parts are pretty cheap & readily available, but with the training gear & following my instructions, you shouldn't have any, or at least too many problems. ;)

    Just don't forget to have them set it up for you like I said…
    AS docile as possible!

    It's simply a matter of putting as little pitch in the rotors/blades as possible, which will make it react & move a lot slower, which will give you more time to think, making the RIGHT corrections & feeding in the correct inputs, smoothly & not too abruptly.

    Hope that helps,

    - The BBA -

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    BBA,

    If only life were that easy! Actually, I’m getting “stuffed” with a 0.30 Nitro heli in an airgun deal. It has the training gear and all the support equipment, but I’m still learning to ride a bicycle and this thing is an 18 wheeler (to me).

    I don’t really want it, but I’m going to try to grow into it.

    Also, I am 100 percent Mac (I use computers for a living, so they have to work all the time :}). Do any flight simulators work on Macs?

    B.B.

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    I'll start off with the easy one.
    I don't use Mac, but I have heard that there ARE flight sims out there for it.
    Just google it, see what you like, & then get one on ebay.

    Now, to the biggie…

    Not to try & burn the other guy, but I have to be honest, & IMO (& the opinion of most experts), I highly recommend against nito for a first timer be it planes or helis, & ESPECIALLY with helis!

    A nitro heli is a LOT more sophisticated than something like that Sabre RTF, & requires a LOT more time, attention, & is a lot harder to fly. Especially a .30 size. Believe it or not, a .60 is much easier to learn on.

    A .30 size is usually very responsive & flies like a pist of bumbble bee, where as a .60 is more docile & the larger size will make it easier for you to keep your orientation of what it's doing.

    The only time a smaller heli is easier, is with the docile electric trainers.
    Nitro is a whole nother ball park.

    The bottom line is simple…
    They require a LOT more knowledge, attention, CONSTANT & MORE types of adjustments, & a LOT more mantainence!

    With a nitro heli, you WILL be working on it more than flying it!

    Tuning, tweaking, trimming, ect.
    They ARE a handfull, & unless you have a ton of patience & are 100% dedicated to it, you will get very frustrated with it.

    Evevn if you get lucky, & get one of the rare ones that starts easily, runs & flys very well most of the time… Tyically, most nitro heli pilots spend as much time working on them, than flying them, if not twice the time working on them as opposed to flying them.

    I hate to be the guy to rain on your parade, but that's just how it goes.

    That is why I NEVER got a nitro heli, & stayed with the electrics.

    I tell EVERYONE that says they want to get an R/C heli the same thing…
    Unless you've been dreaming of it for years if not your whole life, & want to spend the years & thousands of dollars it WILL take to do all those fancy 3D maneuvers…

    Go buy an inexpensive electric that is very durable & forgiving, try that out first, & just have some fun & see where you want to go from there.

    You might want to go to a flying field & talk to some heli pilots, & see what they say.

    Look for the best piloys there, & ones who aren't trying to sell you anything. ;)

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    In the last sentence I meant the best “pilots”

    BTW… Why doesn’t this blog have an edit option?

    - The BBA -

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    BBA,

    Oh I am aware that a nitro heli isn’t the way to go. But this is a good friend and I’m doing this for him more than for me. In fact, I;m looking for someplace to offload the heli even now.

    I agree that electric is the way to go.

    And Blogger does have an edit function. Hit the preview button first and read what you have written before you upload it.

    B.B.

  • The Big Bore Addict Says:

    B.B.

    Good to hear you know that. I'd hate to see you find out the hard way.

    Don't get me wrong, even the easy electric trainer helis aren't THAT easy, but nitro… Whoa baby! They are a handful & then some!

    You're making a good choice, selling it & not trying to fly it, because you WILL crash it.

    EVERYONE that trys to start off that way does! EVERYONE!
    In over twenty years of flying R/Cs, I've NEVER seen ONE single exception.

    Even with planes.

    Heck, the first time I flew my first plane (in 1985), I was a natural. On my very first flight, after about ten minutes I was doing rolls, loops, & even did a perfect touch & go on my second approach.
    My friend Brad who was teaching me, kept saying "Lets practice some approaches. OK… Now line it up, cut the throttle 25%, & when you're ten feet off the ground, then throttle back up again & get her back up to a high altitude. DON'T TRY TO LAND!"

    99.9% of the time, I am VERY good at following instrctions, but…
    On my second approach, it just felt SO right. My gut instinct told me I had it, & when I told him I was going to go for it & land it, he said "NOOOOOOO! You'll crash it!" I said "It feels right, it's my plane & I'm going for it!" lol

    To his, mine, & everyones amazement, I actually greased it in flawlessly, then throttled back up & took off again for a perfect touch & go.

    I couldn't stop laughing, because he was more nervous than me, & I WAS THE ONE who bought AND built the plane! lol

    When I set her down he said "Oh my God, I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! THAT WAS PERFECT!
    Then he franticly shouted "OK… Now chop the throttle ALL the way, & get her stopped!"

    When I powered back up & took off, he screamed "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"
    I calmly replied… "A touch & go." ;)

    He said "You got lucky & are going to crash it! Give me the transmitter back!"

    I complied, & then two minutes later, HE did a loop & ripped the wing off!

    I said "Oh my God… What are YOU doing!" as I watched the wing fluttering through the air & the fuselage of my baby plummet into the ground at 60 mph! LMAO!

    Anyways, he gave me one of his planes & I was back up the next week. :)

    Now I was cocky, & thought I had it. So when he was late one day a couple of weeks later, I flew by myself. I didn't crash it, but I DID have a few rough landings & broke a few props (propellers).
    Not a big deal, but eventually I DID crash it.

    So, the moral of the story is, no matter how confident you are… You should always have an instructor there to help you, until HE says you're good enough to fly on you're own.

    The best way to learn, is first with a sim, & then when it comes to the real thing, go with an R/C like that Sabre RTF & have the aid of an instuctor & a "buddy box" if at all possible.

    However, with ALL airborne R/Cs, be it heli or even planes (which are a LOT easier), it's just a matter of time before you eventually crash, even if it's a minor one.

    It just goes with the territory, so don't get too upset, or be too hard on yourself when it happens.

    But like I said… If you do it my way, it WILL be a LOT less expensive, & you'll still have a LOT of fun with it. :)

    BTW… You should print off the detailed instructions I posted in that earlier post about which heli & how to start off.

    That way, you know what to practice on the sim, & if you DO decide to try it without the help of an instructor, or you don't have a choice due to there not being an airfield near you, it WILL help reduce the chances of a serious crash.

    Keep us posted & good luck,

    - The BBA -

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