How Pyramyd Air got started – Part 1

By Joshua Ungier

Introduction by B.B. Pelletier

Joshua Ungier, the owner of Pyramyd Air, has an interesting story to tell us about how he founded this business. Anyone who knows Josh knows that he has led a colorful life, so I was glad when he offered to share this story with you. We’ll tell it in sections, starting with his childhood, which was somewhat different than most of ours.

My childhood
I grew up in the part of Russia that today is known as the Ukraine. As a kid, I was a typical know-it-all. I had no toys. We were so poor that even fleas abandoned us. Of course, there was no food, either. Stalin was starving us to death. I was not aware of this, though, because my parents made sure I ate. They had lost all of their families to the Nazis, but my mom and dad made sure I survived. I was way too young to comprehend any of this. My dad told me many stories later, when I could understand and appreciate the scope of the atrocities that were committed.

One thing my friends and I did not lack was firearms. They lay scattered all over the fields, ravines and woods. Among them, the remains of the soldiers–both German and Russian shared the same fate. They were now skeletons. Some still wore the rotting remains of uniforms.

As the German Army retreated ahead of advancing Russian troops, they dumped thousand of tons of weapons and ammo throughout the countryside. It was easy to find a mint Luger still in its Cosmoline, along with thousands of rounds packed in Wehrmacht boxes. Or, perhaps, we might find a Russian PPSH submachine gun. We found Schmeisser submachine guns, Bergman Bayard pistols and more. Some boxes contained magazines, boots, officers’ daggers with swastikas and a bunch of other stuff we had no idea about. Some of the stuff we found back then is worth thousands of dollars today; but, of course, at that time, it had no value beyond captivating a kid’s imagination.


The P08 is commonly called the Luger, after its inventor. A mint one is worth a lot today.


The Soviet PPSH submachine gun was widely distributed among Soviet troops during World War II.

Up to this point in my life, I ‘d never heard of airguns. We didn’t need them. My three buddies and I had our weapons hidden in an old mausoleum at the cemetery, which had been abandoned long before the war, so no one was ever there to bother us. Militia, as the police were called in Russia, were either too drunk or too busy harassing people to pay attention to the noises of our shooting. They bothered us only once, and they never found out where our hiding place was. My dad, instead of scolding us for doing what we did, gave us safety instructions on to how to “play” without getting hurt. He knew we would continue to find more guns and equipment, and it was safer if we knew what we were doing. There was never an accident. And that’s how I grew up with firearms.

When I was nine, my family moved to Poland. That was the first time I ever saw an airgun. I remember that it was a German airgun–a Weihrauch! Don’t ask me which model, because I don’t remember. All I remember is that it was the most beautiful rifle I’d ever seen. And it was so quiet! Also, I knew we couldn’t afford it. I did mention to my father once about the air rifle. He looked at me and started laughing, “What would you like for dinner?” he asked. “Food or an air rifle?” I got the message.

A friend got this Weihrauch for his birthday and invited me to go shooting. We climbed onto the roof of the building he lived in and placed a hand-drawn piece of paper with a bullseye on a brick wall, which turned out to be a big mistake. Philip reached into his pocket and produced a round tin of lead BBs. There were no pellets to be had. He showed me how to cock it, load it and I knew how to do the rest.

We then shot all day long. The ricochet from his third shot nailed him squarely in the chest. Brick wall, you know? That did not deter us. There was a tiny bruise on his chest, but the bragging rights were his. He thought the girls would love to see a wound like that on him.

I was thirteen at the time and got hooked on airguns for life. Hundreds of thousand of shots later I’m still hooked. Now, I can play with airguns all I want, because I own the store!

Some day, I’ll tell you how that happened.

33 thoughts on “How Pyramyd Air got started – Part 1


  1. I used to work with an older gentleman who was born in Russia. I asked him when he moved to the US, and he told me that his family first went to Germany, then to the US. How long ago? 45 years, he says. And this was in 1988. Hmmm….

    Some time later I did mention that 1943 was – uh, a time during which one wouldn’t expect a lot of civilian travel between Germany and Russia. That’s when he told me the whole story.

    He lived in a small Russian village with his family, this was under Stalin. A number of villagers had “disappeared” in his memory, because of an imprudent word or joke that the authorities found out about. Eventually his village was overrun by the Germans, and so they lived for quite a while under Nazi occupation. As the Russian army advanced and the Germans prepared to evacuate, the villagers got together and concluded that living under the Nazi’s was better than living under the Stalinists, so when the Germans left the villagers went with them.

    After the war, in Germany, his family was supposed to be repatriated to Russia (which would have meant death) as per an agreement among the Allies. When an American soldier showed up with a truck and told them to ‘load up’, his mother started hootin’ and hollerin’ that they weren’t ready, their stuff wasn’t packed, and just come back tomorrow. The American left, and that night they left all their stuff and took off through the woods. They eventually made their way to another location where they were permitted to stay, they probably lied about their identity or became generic ‘displaced persons’ or something like that.


  2. This is a good story. I’ll be watching,’cause I’m curious what led you from a childhood of shooting dated military guns to running a top-notch airgun store. Shoot, I’m curious WHY you picked air over powder too. JP


  3. Josh,

    this is a most interesting and harrowing story. Something almost all Americans (at least those generations that didn’t have to live through the depression here and not know where their next meal was going to come from) can’t appreciate. Thank you for sharing with us Blog members. As Rich said above, I can’t wait to read the rest of your abbreviated biography.

    Fred



  4. My family went through the war aswell. Talk to anyone with a European background and they all have similar stories of nazis, fascists and soviets doing something terrible. Only in the United States and Canada were people not affected. The last war fought on American soil was the civil war! Pearl Harbour doesn’t count, it was an attack that led to war in the Pacific. People over here really don’t know how good they did and do have it!


  5. Mr Ungier,

    Thanks for sharing such a formative part of your life.

    What a wake up call for those of us that sometimes take life for granted in the United States of America.

    kevin


  6. I agree Mathhew, so many here take for granted the good fortune they’ve had.
    I have a friend who grew up in London and experienced the blitz.
    I think we all have an idea of how bad that would be.
    What I didn’t realize was how long it takes to rebuild after something like that (New Orleans I imagine is the closest Americans have come).
    He relates, and has photos from the year he emigrated to Canada, 1955. In that year, 10 years after WWII there were still entire blocks of London that had been razed during the bombing where reconstruction had not started.
    CowBoyStar Dad


  7. Thank you Mr. Ungier.

    For those who are not familiar with the Russian history of WWII, they should discover it. Read the works of a quality historian. As Americans we are well aware of the documentation of the Allied Forces as well as the Holocoust. But the Russian story is one of a whole nations determination to fight to the death on thier own soil, on the verge of total annialation.

    For Mr. Ungier to transend that experience and come to the USA and become a successful businessman is a wonderful story of perserverence against all odds. A true lesson for all. God I love this country.

    Strength and honor in these tough times.

    Rusty Barrel.


  8. Mr Ungier,

    Thank you so very much for sharing your story with us. When my children get hoem from school this afternonn, we’re going to sit sdown and discuss your story and what it means to them, how fortunate we all are to be Americans.

    Mr B.


  9. I too was born right after WW2 in the Philippines. My earliest memories was going to bomb out schools and playing in rusty tanks.

    During summer, we would go to my grand father’s farm where we would explore Japanese caves to pick up souveniers: granades, guns, gas masks, helmets… These were our toys. Japanese and American rifles and ordnance littered the jungle near my grand father’s farm.

    It is a miracle that my brothers, cousins and I were not blown up playing with our new found “toys”.

    Our guardian angels must have been working overtime.

    Stingray


  10. Thanks Joshua! We are indeed very fortunate to be where we are today in North America. And we didn’t earn it. It is a gift from our parents, grand parents and on up the line, from those who suffered much and gave much before they were lucky enough to be able to come here to escape the atrocities in their own countries. Many of us and the generations to come cannot/will not appreciate what we have because it came so easy to us, it’s too easily taken for granted, because, unlike you, we never had to live it, except in stories.

    Thanks again Joshua for refreshing our memories and for reminding us how much we have to be grateful for, how much we have to protect, and how much we should not take for granted.

    -Chuck


  11. I agree with you Chuck. In Canada there are far to many people who, everytime one of our soldiers bites it in Afghanistan are complaining to whomever will listen that we should bring ‘em home and be done with it.
    And I know the same thing happens in the US regarding Iraq.
    And I’ll be the first to admit that there have been a lot of wars fought in the last 50 years for suspect reasons.
    But nevertheless…if it wasn’t for our fathers and grandfathers and such going off to fight on foreign soil (my dad was a loader on the main gun of a WWII corvette, my grandfather flew a Sopwith Camel in WWI), I fear that the people who complain so vehemently these days would not have the right to do so.
    They seem to feel these freedoms dropped on us from out of the sky.
    Anyways…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
    CowBoyStar Dad


  12. This sounds as if it’s going to be a real life “American Dream” story, and I hope it is.

    I once worked with a family of people whom were refugees from Bosnia. They had no money and no safety. They went from thinking about which of hunger, disease, or bullets would claim them first, to being warm well fed, and safe. They are not rich but feel safe and happy living here, and to them, that is a successful life.



  13. For Vince’s story: I’m too young to fully understand the cold war, and I know little of the history of Russia. It is certainly an insight into Stalin’s Russia to know that people would choose to live with the Nazi regime because of better treatment: it must have been a rough time in Russia back then.



  14. Blogger has a problem posting blogs today. I posted an answer earlier today, but my comment seems to have disappeared. Blogger knows about the problem, and I assume they’re working on a solution.

    Edith (Mrs. B.B.)




  15. Edith,

    As you know, (since I’ve been talking with Tom about it).. Naturalyards will have a garden blog sometime.. and so can you tell us about how you like working with the google blog system..

    Is there one you wish you were using instead? I notice this happens fairly often.. is it just par for the course? or does another blogger system work better.. also anyone else out there.. please comment.

    Wayne


  16. Everyone–I see that the comments only show up when you click the comments link. They do not show up under the general listing of the blog. Strange!

    Wayne,

    I think Blogger is the best software & would not change willingly. Lately, they've been tweaking the software, so that's the problem with the outages.

    Edith (Mrs. B.B.)


  17. Edith,
    It appears that the email feature is working ok, too. I got an email on your first mention of the problem and the second.

    -Chuck


  18. Anonymous, no doubt it was hit or miss. Many German officers were steeped in ‘old fashioned’ military honor that understood both the necessity and inhumanity of war, and would not permit cruelty or killing beyond that dictated by military necessity. Others would have been fully steeped in the Nazi philosophy of the ‘master race’ and considered the Russians to be subhuman chattel, and there would be no objection to any sort of sadistic treatment of them.

    Rommel once tore up orders, directly from Hitler, to execute some British commandos he had captured.


  19. Do everybody know about Tom Cruise’s film “Valkyrie”, which tells about a conspiracy against Hitler?
    Most conspirators were the old aristocratic Prussians, who wanted to kill Hitler and throw the nazi regime down and stop the war for saving Germany’s military honour. The July 20th 1944 assassination attempt failed and Hitler survived. He destroyed the old Prussian aristocracy for revenge and the war continued till Hitler’s suicide and beyond.
    By M.A.


  20. Mr. Ungier,

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. It’s both amazing and disgusting to me how much the typical American takes for granted, and how much most young Americans expect and feel entitled to, with no thought of how our freedoms were paid for. You’ve had an interesting life! Bud’ Zdarov!

    I still lurk in the background here on this blog occasionally, and still shoot regularly. Bought many airguns from your store and contributed to this blog a while back. Time constraints and life get in the way of me being a regular on here anymore, but it’s good to see that the consistant guys are still here helping everyone out. I’m just glad I caught this blog with your story!

    Also, Hi! B.B. and All!

    /Dave


  21. Mr. Ungier,

    Thanks for sharing. Wow, you really came a long ways. I guess we can count ourselves lucky for the freedom that we all enjoy here in the US.

    I always believe that good things happen to good people and so I would like to wish you and your family all the best.

    AJ






  22. Whoa,I have some knowledge of WWII and the stories my parents tell, that they heard from there parents.
    I am always amazed/shocked what people can do and or allow others to do. Loved this part,be waiting for part 2.

    From a loyal customer thank you.



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