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.
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.
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.