Too much jargon in airgunning?

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Merry Christmas from Edith and me!

FOR SALE: M-ROD .25 with super-fine LDC. Has HDD and is as quiet as an incontinent mouse. Shoots MOA all day. Great for backyard safaris. Check me out on the BOI, where I go by Stinky.

Huh?

If you understood any of that, you’ve spent too much time reading about airguns on the internet and far too little time shooting them. Yes, it all has meaning, but that’s my point today. It shouldn’t.

I think we use far too much jargon in out hobby; and as a result, we turn off newcomers, who feel they can never understand what the insiders are saying. I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own. I received a Christmas present of a book about the AR-15 rifle, and I’m darned if I understand half of what’s in it! And I have five decades of shooting experience behind me. I used to own an arms room with 110 M16 rifles, among other things, and I still don’t know the inside jokes, references and jargon bantered about by today’s AR enthusiast.

And here’s the sad part — I asked for this book specifically to learn about ARs because, when I went online, I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying. How bad is it when the book that’s supposed to decipher the code is written in the same code?

A long time ago, I learned a very important life lesson. If I don’t understand something after giving it my best effort, the likelihood is that nobody else understands it, either. But nobody wants to say anything because they think they’re the only ones who cannot see the emperor’s fine new clothes. Once one person opens up and reveals his lack of understanding, the entire facade usually melts away and everyone realizes that the whole thing was confusing to everyone. But nobody wants to be that first person for fear it’s really something everyone else understands.

This is especially important to writers — or at least it should be. We should never take for granted that our readers all understand what things like shrouds and double-action-only actions mean. We should always give either an explanation of the term, or at least enough contextual clues so the reader can puzzle things out. A shrouded barrel is one in which the true barrel is contained within an outer jacket that contains the air blast and attenuates the muzzle report. That makes a shroud a type of silencer, and we can either explain that fact, or make reference to how quiet the gun is when it fires because of the shroud. There need to be multiple ways of revealing things, or the writing soon becomes boring and starts reading like an owner’s manual.

When I make reference to double-action triggers, I find that a significant percentage of my readers do not fully understand what that term means. Even the longtime veteran shooters sometimes don’t know. When that happens, it doesn’t get fixed with context. It needs an entire blog to clear up the mystery, and I discover quite a lot of folks are relieved by learning the meaning of the term.

Can the blog also explore advanced topics?
If every report has to explain everything, is it possible to delve into a more technical topic and examine it thoroughly? I think it is, but what has to happen is the topic must be fully developed with the explanatory info either all up front or explained as we go. Just to pick one example, we’re now looking into the effects of the rifling twist rate on accuracy and velocity. So far, I’ve written three reports that each look at one twist rate from the standpoint of velocity. Nobody has complained (in the comments, at least) that the information is too simple. In fact, just the opposite. Readers have noted that the test data are difficult to understand, which forces me to write a special fourth report that analyzes the results of the first three tests.

By the time this test is complete, we’ll have explored a topic that has never before been documented in print — namely, the effects of the rifling twist rate on diabolo pellets in an airgun. I have already seen several comments that say, in essence, “Surely airgun manufacturers have conducted their own tests to determine the optimum twist rates for the guns they make.” Since all four smallbore airgun calibers have had the identical twist rate for over a century, I think it’s pretty obvious they haven’t. Either that or the twist rate doesn’t have much of an affect on a diabolo pellet, and they have each quietly discovered this fact. Either way, we’re going to explore the topic and do so without resorting to insider jargon or offhand references to “facts” that “everybody knows.” In short, you can learn about airguns without the need to know a lot about the shooting sports. You’ll need to pay attention and give some thought to what you read, but nobody will be excluded from the discussion.

Other things
This is also why I write the way that I do. It would be so much easier for me to just write, “a 0.50-inch group,” but I always want to explain that the group was measured between the centers of the two holes that are farthest apart. And I’m certainly not going to refer to accuracy potential as “1 moa,” the way they do on the forums! That just gets too confusing for some people.

I also refuse to obfuscate or misdirect in my writing. So, while many airgunners call them Lead Dust Collectors or just LDC (with an implied wink), I will refer to them as silencers because that’s what they are.

There used to be a column in Guns & Ammo (I think) called Pinwheels and Fliers. How many people today would even know what that means? I remember having to write an entire report on what fliers are because there are so many interpretations.

Sloppy terminology
I have been talking about the jargon we use to discuss our hobby among friends. But there’s another language problem, and that one is using words correctly. Don’t say that you are “patterning” a rifle when you are shooting groups. Patterns are the hits from shotguns, recorded on paper. Groups are shots fired using a single projectile from either a long gun or a handgun.

And metal is engraved, but wood is usually carved. Only when a machine like a laser engraver is used can the wood be said to be engraved.

The word rifling is singular, even though it describes multiple lands and grooves in a barrel. So there aren’t rifling(s).

One term that confuses even me is scope mount. There are scope bases and scope rings, and sometimes they are combined. When they are, I use the term mounts to describe them. And how do you differentiate the prepared “base” that’s already on a rifle from the scope “base” you had to buy and install yourself? This is where our hobby gets tricky.

What we got for Christmas
Okay, enough with the rant. What did Santa bring this year?

Actually, this year I didn’t get any guns, which is pretty unusual. But Edith got one! It’s more of a gag gift, and the story is interesting.

Edith wasn’t much of a gun nut before she married me. But after we were were married, she got on board with firearms and especially airguns, starting with the Sheridan Blue Streak I gave her that she used to kill mice and rats prowling our garden. Well, one airgun she became familiar with was the Schimel — a single-shot CO2 pistol that’s built in the style of the German Luger. So, since she knew the Schimel before the Luger, whenever she sees a Luger at a gun show or in a movie she always says, “Look — a Schimel!”

I tested a Schimel for The Airgun Letter back when we published it, so Edith actually knows the Schimel much better than she does the Luger. When I saw a Schimel on a dealer’s table at a local gun show a couple months ago, I bought it for her. It’s going into a shadow box on the wall of her office, so she’ll always have her Schimel.

Schimel CO2 pistol
The Schimel GP22 is a single-shot .22-caliber pellet pistol that’s the size and weight of a Luger. The toggle link on top lifts up to load the pellet.

Translating the opening
What the person was trying to say in the beginning of this blog is they want to sell a Benjamin Marauder in .25 caliber. It has a silencer and a hammer debounce device, so it’s very quiet when it shoots. It’s capable of shooting half-inch groups at 50 yards and also great for shooting in the backyard, because it doesn’t disturb the neighbors. “Stinky” wants you to know that he has a good reputation on the Yellow Forum Board of Inquiry for being a fair and honest dealer.

Merry Christmas!

30 thoughts on “Too much jargon in airgunning?

  1. FOR SALE: M-ROD .25 with super-fine LDC. Has HDD and is as quiet as an incontinent mouse. Shoots MOA all day. Great for backyard safaris. Check me out on the BOI, where I go by Stinky.

    Well, it started off okay… .25 cal Marauder… No idea of “LDC” (if it were BDC I’d be thinking Ballistic Drop Compensation/Computer).

    No idea why an airgun would have a Hard Disk Drive… And I believe most small rodents are incontinent (they leave a scent trail by dribbling all over).

    Minute-of-Angle, okay… “Board of Inquiry”?


    • Well,
      HDD= Hammer Debounce Device

      MOA= minute of angle=1 inch at 100 yards, or 1/2 inch at 50 yards.

      PCP= precharged pneumatic

      LDC= lead dust collector, which seems to be some way to differentiate an airgun suppressor from a firearms suppressor.

      Regarding double action only, this is just a problem for the uninitiated. This feature is best described to people with only vague knowledge as how a 1911 .45acp operates.

      The problem is the reader, not the writer in this case. If your curious about a term, just drop it in your search engine followed by AIRGUN and it usually will give you an answer without having to read the whole darn page or forum.

      All the acronyms and contractions of words will soon be a blessing in disguise if you are active in forums. It saves you from writing long winded posts such as this one that maybe 2 people will read.


  2. B.B. and Edith,
    Merry Christmas to you and all! I hope you gave and received many fun toys this year.
    I’m surprised ‘stinky’ didn’t say his rifle was a quarter bore instead of .25cal.
    -hank



  3. B.B., good blog.
    The Schimel can now join the chocolate Glock (except I don’t recommend eating the Schimel).

    I bought a tin of Crosman Destroyer EX pellets. The picture on the tin suggests a bit of difference between the EX and the non-EX versions, but I need a good dissecting microscope to see any real difference in .177 caliber pellets; a magnifying glass is not sufficient for my eyes.

    I need to reread the previous blogs about twist rates and velocity. I am wondering if any variation might be better for pellets like the 30 grain solid lead .22 pellet from Pelletman you mentioned back in 2003.
    http://www.pyramydair.com/article/Velocity_and_Pellets_April_2003/2

    Storms are coming so it’s time to say, “Merry Christmas” and unplug everything.

    ~Ken


    • Ken,

      I hadn’t thought about testing solids, but that is a wonderful Idea. I won’t include them in the current test, but perhaps I can return and test them after this test is completed.

      Merry Christmas,

      B.B.


  4. B.B.

    In my opinion slang saves time between pros and confuses noobs.
    There’s also a kind of common slang in local airgun society, but people say that lots of slang and completely jargon speech give away “advanced noob” even worse than not understanding a word of slang. Slang terms and “miltalk”-like abbreviations are used to describe most common technical terms and solutions that everybody knows.
    However when it comes to jargon it is mostly built as that: to speak about guns in completely non-gun terms. It’s a kind of cheap forum chic.

    duskwight


    • duskwight,
      Your command of the English language is downright amazing! I’m beginning to think you really live in the Midwest US. Are you messing with us? :-)
      -Chuckj


  5. Lets take a step back and be fair to our sport. I’d hazard a guess that most hobbies/sports, perhaps almost any topic you select, has its own collection of jargon, acronyms, etc. Take computing, for example.

    As usual, I believe the answer is RTFM.


  6. I got a rock….. (oh wait! That’s Halloween….)

    Yeah, it can get confusing! Like when someone talks about moa and really has no idea that it’s not a size. I see that a lot, when people refer to 1″as moa no matter what the distance, instead of being a castile that’s dependant on the distance. From these people I’d like to buy their I moa at 200 yds rifle.

    /Dave


  7. Howdy Mr. B.B., Ms. Edith & the Gang. In the “Manly Man” world of bikes, I find it VERY entertaining to be in my favorite dive biker bar when a new herd of “Wild Hogs” swagger in with their brandy newby leathers (squeekin’ & creakin’, makin’ more noise than their sled which still has stock pipes) lookin’ like Minnie Pearl (silverback reference) with the price tags hangin’ off ‘em, belly upta the bar & start throwin’ out lingo & terms that make it even more obvious that they have absolutely no clue what they’re talkin’ about. Pretty hard ta keep a straight face as ya listen’ & just nod…alot. Stinky’d fit right in. Mr. B.B. thanx for the flier link. Merry Christmas ya’ll. Shoot/ride safe,
    Beaz


    • Beazer,

      I have to chuckle at those HD riders, also. I currently have an ’88 BMW RS100 and a ’74 Kawasaki H2. Odd combination, I know. The BMW is great for long distances but not too entertaining. The H2 is a blast for rides under 100 miles and I never get tired of the sound. I ride for the fun, not to “look like an outlaw”.

      Paul in Liberty County


      • Howdy Paul, Yup, have buddies that ride metric who are more “biker” than the majority of HD wannabes. IMO, what ya ride don’t matter, it’s why ya ride that does. My favorite: 4 wheels move the body, 2 wheels move the soul. Send your email bbeazer@live.com & I’ll send ya pics of my 85k, 20 year “project” I let go last year. Shoot/ride safe.
        Beaz



  8. This should be required reading for anyone selling/writing about…anything.
    Computers.
    I feel much more at home with a pen and notepad, but of course that don’t work in todays society.
    Invariably I walk into a computer store and tell the salesperson I’m computer illiterate and to keep it simple.
    At which point they launch into a dissertation on baud rates, terrabytes and datagrams).
    Swoosh….over my head it all goes. At which point I say ‘thanks’, and go to the next store, hoping to find a salesperson who understands what ‘I’m a dummy’ means ;-)
    In my job of hawking photo equipment I’ve always taken the stance that the person I’m talking to knows nada…if and when they let me know I’m talking way below their level…then I ramp it up, but not till then.
    Anyhoo…Santa was especially good this year.
    A GSG 1911 .22LR found itself under the tree for dad (me), though of course I know I’ll maybe get to shoot it at best 1/2 the time.
    Santa left a Leapers 4-16×50 tactical scope for each of the boys Marlins.
    And of course to wile away these cold winter days he (Santa) was nice enough to leave a couple of X-Box games…Black Ops 2 and Halo 4…just so we can keep up our shooting skills when it’s -25 (as it is this morning).
    I hope everyone has a great Christmas and that 2013 brings happiness to everyone.


    • I’ve got a 10-spot that says that representative doesn’t know the difference between a bit-rate and a baud-rate (not to be confused with a bawd-rate — which is probably up to $50/hour).

      Baud-rate is state changes per second, and for modems up to around 1200bps they are the same. But all these high-speed modems (including cable and DSL) use multi-state signals… That is, they aren’t just flipping between a low and high tone (0 and 1), but may (simplified) use four tones (00, 01, 10, 11) — so one tone change encodes two bits and the baud rate is half the bps rate. A 16-state system allows 300baud to transfer 1200bps (and 1200baud to transfer 4800bps). Besides using, say, 16-tones, they then start adding multiple phase shifts…


  9. BB,
    The first airgun forum I read was the old Airgun Letters Forum that you and Edith operated. As long as I can remember people have been using slang on the forums. Most of it can be figured out by sticking with the forum a few weeks. There are also post every few weeks asking for explanations of airgun slang and there are always people more than willing to help bring them up to speed. If a new reader will have just a little patience he will figure it out. The new reader also needs to know there are those willing to help if he just asks. Mike Driskill came to my rescue way back then and has been an airgun mentor and friend ever since.

    David Enoch


  10. The first time I saw the Schimel I was a kid and I never got one until I was at a
    gun show and there was a beaten up one,but I didn’t care if it worked I used it
    as a wall hanger.I researched it and found it was introduced in 1949,it fired a .22 round lead ball
    8 oz co2 cart. and it had a tendency to exaust all the gas if the charging lever was not pulled directly
    The co was bought out in 1957 and it was called theAmerican Luger Co.
    It was listed as late as the 1962 Gun Digest. It has been said it was the first American co2 that
    used the small 8 oz co2′s and not the refillable larger such as the Crosman did.The one I have has
    wooden grips, loads just like the fire arm, the toggle cocks the gun.The later ones had plastic grips
    So Edith’s looks good Happy Holidays to all


  11. BB,
    Good points, on which we are all found guilty at times :)!

    For Xmas:
    The P17 seems to be as good as billed; it is hard to believe how inexpensive they are when you get one in your hands. Feels solid and has a very nice trigger for us cretans. A little tricky to load (if you have big, numb fingers) and stiff to cock, but no big deal considering how good it feels when shooting it. One thing, I don’t prefer is the auto safety, but it does feel precise. As much as I hate safeties, they just add insult to injury when they make them feel cheap and flimsy.


    • PS. BB, I assume the P17 is fine to dry-fire? The “manual” says something about putting the muzzle against carpet or cardboard, but I don’t know why that would be necessary?


  12. How about Pyramyd preparing and having for our convenience a Dictionary of air gun terminology ,seems easy enough if you take into account that it could be maintained on Wikipedia concept.


    • Primo,

      Tom wrote an airgun/shooting dictionary for Pyramyd Air several years ago. It’s linked to product descriptions. When a word in the dictionary appears in a product description on their website, the word is supposed to be highlighted and you can hover your cursor over the word to see the meaning. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well…or all the time. We’ve asked them to post the dictionary as a document on a separate page for easy/quick reference. That’s in the pipeline, but we don’t know when it’ll happen.

      Edith



  13. B.B. reminds me to reread his blogs on “dbl action’ and “flyers.” Hope I bookmarked them. What field of interest does not involve many variables, a large associated nomenclature, and the bitter sweet mass of jargon?

    Thank you, B.B., for your ongoing battle against ambiguity.

    As an airgun and firearm newbie, I spend significant time deciphering forum jargon by reading between the lines, search-engining, the occasional guilty question, etc. and not being fluent in “British” is challenging when surfing U.K. forums (i think “np” means “no problem” in the sense of “you’re welcome” over there) and no doubt that’s a two-way street. Frequently, just a few extra words would have clarified much. I recently discovered what “tethered” meant, i.e. shooting pcp while it’s hooked up to an external air tank.

    When I was a boy (50s), I dreamed of the Mustang motorscooter, Jaguar sportscar, and Luger pistol.

    john


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