Maintaining firearm proficiency with airguns

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

My wife, Edith, and I have to renew our Texas Concealed Handgun Licenses in another month. So we have been practicing in the house with BB and pellet guns. This was more for Edith than for me because I usually get out to the firing range several times each month, and I shoot handguns quite often. You can never practice too much, but I wasn’t the one who was concerned.

Edith doesn’t shoot as much as I do. Most of the time she is glued to her keyboard, working on the Pyramyd Air website in one capacity or another. She has her own Glock model 36 in .45 ACP as a carry gun, and we tricked it out with a better trigger, laser designator and a Wolff barrel that allows the use of my reloads without the gun blowing up (the notorious Glock kaboom). She was concerned about the upcoming qualification and felt she needed to get ready. And who am I to argue with more shooting opportunities?

So, we went though several training sessions at home. We started with the Winchester Model 12 BB pistol that I actually bought after testing because it shot so well. At the time I reported it, I felt the pistol would make an excellent trainer for just such a purpose.

That was what I thought; but when it came time to train, we found the gun wanting. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely correct. What we found was Edith and I both tended to spray the BBs around the target instead of getting the smaller groups I had gotten in the test. I had run out of 2-inch Shoot-N-C targets that I used with this pistol in the report and the nickel-sized bulls I drew on the target paper did not seem to attract the shots as well as the larger bulls had.

So things did not work out the way I had envisioned. This was not good. Edith relies on me to fix her shooting problems — not to pontificate or theorize, but to give her help that actually works. So far I was 0 for 1.

Next, I selected the Magnum Research Desert Eagle. I chose it because of the blowback, which was also the reason I’d selected the Winchester model 12. But the Desert Eagle is a pellet pistol with a rifled barrel, and I know that it’s very accurate.

Unfortunately, it bears very little resemblance to a Glock M36 or a 1911 pistol in any way other than they are all handguns. The Desert Eagle is very large. It’s like trying to hold a boat oar in your hand. In fact, except for the excessive weight of the firearm, the plastic pellet pistol is just as inconvenient. Don’t bother correcting me on this — I own and use a Desert Eagle .357 Magnum pistol as well. It’s big and it does weigh a lot, and personal favoritism won’t change that. I like the gun — just not as a trainer for a Glock or a 1911. Now I was 0 for 2.

That forced me to think outside the box, but probably still pressed up tight against the flap. What about trying a Colt 1911A1? Besides all the BB guns that are made on the 1911 frame, Umarex makes a genuine Colt-branded pellet pistol. The size is perfect for my purposes, and this is a pellet pistol with a rifled barrel — so you know the accuracy will be there. The one drawback is that this pistol doesn’t have blowback. We weren’t after the sensation of recoil — we wanted the slide to cock the hammer automatically so all trigger-pulls would be light and crisp. Instead, we had to cock the hammer ourselves.

In the end, that wasn’t the hinderance I thought it would be. It was easy to cock the hammer before every shot, and the pistol was very well behaved. The first thing we both learned after picking this pistol was we both needed to concentrate on the sight picture more. And Edith made the discovery that if she pulled the trigger with the first joint of her finger, she pulled all the shots to the left. But if she used the pad of her trigger finger, the shots stayed centered on target like they were supposed to. This was real progress.

Over to the firearm
You tell yourself that you’ll practice many times each week, but then the weeks end before you get to it. So the day you progress from airgun to firearm is a large and sudden jump. It doesn’t have to be that way, but for us it was.

In Texas, the Concealed Handgun License requires you to shoot 50 rounds for qualification. Twenty are at 3 yards, 20 more at 7 yards and 10 at 15 yards. So that’s what we did at the range. We hung the silhouette target and proceeded to shoot at each mandatory distance. When I say “we,” I mean Edith. I was there in the capacity of technical advisor and brass catcher.

Edith started with her Glock and fired a complete 50 rounds with it. She started at 3 yards and progressed back, which is how the qualification is shot. We were both impressed with her results, as they were well-centered and much tighter than they were 5 years ago when she qualified the first time.

The lighter trigger on her Glock accounted for a lot since it’s no longer the heavy DAO it once was. But she was using a perfect 2-hand isosceles hold and taking good aim. That much she had gotten from the airgun practice. I was surprised that she wasn’t affected by the noise and recoil, but she told me that after the first shot goes off she becomes accustomed to everything and doesn’t let it bother her anymore. I wish I could do that!

07-01-13-01-Glock-target
Edith’s 50-shot target with her Glock 36 was well-centered. We attribute this to the airgun training.

1911
After completing the 50-shot course, we switched over to the Taurus PT1911 and she went at a second silhouette target. This time she used my reloads and blew the center from the target right away. Then at 7 yards she started to pull some shots to the left. This was when we discovered she was using the finger joint instead of the pad. She told me afterward she does that because she worries about the 1911 grip safety being depressed. That distracts her, which is when the trigger finger goes through too far. Edith has large hands and the 1911 grip is on the small side.

At 15 yards, her shots were even more to the left, so I knew she was pulling them. By the time we stopped, she had fired a total of 90 rounds, which is a heck of a lot of .45 ACP ammo.

Taurus PT1911A1 target
With the 1911, Edith started by blowing the center out of the target; but as she tired, she started pulling shots to the left. We stopped after 40 shots.

Either target would have qualified her that day, though she lacked 10 final shots with the 1911. She was justifiably pleased with her performance, as was I. No more scattering shots — everything was centered until fatigue set in.

Airgun training a success!
The training we did with airguns was successful in preparing Edith to shoot the firearms. It got her used to trigger control, breathing and the sight picture, which turned out to have a dramatic effect on the results.

We make no claims that airguns will get you ready for the muzzle blast or the recoil of a firearm — especially not one as big as a .45 ACP. But, by getting the other things under control, the few things we weren’t able to practice made very little difference to the outcome. Edith is the one who asked me to write today’s report because she feels that training with airguns really helped get her ready. Looking at the targets, I would certainly agree.

43 thoughts on “Maintaining firearm proficiency with airguns

  1. I’m no longer worried about Edith being HOME ALONE. :-)

    That’s good shooting for someone that spends most of their time on a keyboard.

    I hope and pray that everyone here has a good enough marriage to want to teach their spouses how to shoot well. I also hope we all recognize the value of this ability. So important in my opinion.

    kevin


  2. Trigger control, breathing, and sight picture are fundamentals that are mastered with dry-fire. If you can’t master these fundamentals without the muzzle blast or recoil of a firearm, then you certainly won’t master them with the muzzle blast and recoil. So airgun training requires no justification. It simply isolates certain fundamental issues.

    Victor



      • Matt61,

        I have a 23 foot pistol range in my home office. I simulate 10-meter shooting by making my own scaled down targets. Around the pellet trap is a three inch wide perimeter wood frame. A couple years ago, when I was healthier, I never shot outside of the trap. More recently I had one pellet hit the frame, so I stopped (balance matters). I’m going to add foam to the frame to absorb the pellet, instead of having it bounce back.

        From my point of view, you don’t have to have a high-end precision class airgun to develop your marksmanship skills. You just need a gun that will group reasonably well (possibly 2 or 3 times the diameter of the 10-ring, but with no flyers). Now you have two choices: You can either relax the size of your scoring rings to more realistically reflect the guns potential accuracy, or you can shoot from a closer distance, again such that the scoring rings realistically reflect the guns accuracy.

        What matters is that you can measure your performance (better or worse). Even if your bulls have scoring rings (scaled or not), you don’t have to keep score. The most important thing is that you work on mastering the fundamentals that I’ve outlined before.

        Victor


  3. I like the fact that her carry is a .45 ACP instead of a punky .380 or 9 mm. One of these days our government might pull their heads out and decide they are worth the extra expense and issue our troops real weapons again.


  4. I think its great that the airguns were used first.

    That’s how I was able to get my daughters to shoot fire arms. My oldest loves the bow and arrow. She likes the quiet stuff. So she always was concerned about the noise and recoil of fire arms. The youngest daughter is small like my wife. But she will go after a challenge with authority.

    They both wanted to shoot firearms but they were afraid. We started with air guns first. The good ole 760 then some co2 cartridge guns. Then the pcps. Last but not least the springer rifles. Which do have some of the characteristics of fire arms.
    Now they both shoot the Winchester 190 in long rifle. (the oldest girl likes to shoot at soda cans popping off the 17 rounds as fast as she can pull the trigger) Reminds me of when I was a kid. The youngest just likes to take single shots at the cans. She actually stops and concentrates before she shoots.
    The older girl has now shot the .410 shotgun a couple of times and likes that. They both were hesitant to try the fire arms but I believe the air guns definitely helped.

    But they will both ask what guns do we get to shoot this coming weekend. I always tell them its up to them. And they will pick both the air guns and the fire arms now. So I think that is good progress.
    But there is always one catch. I have to shoot the bow and arrow also. Well that is no problem for me. And I will say my daughter has been a good bow and arrow teacher also.

    ( Hmm maybe I should change my user name to Shootingfun1 )



  5. BB,
    What trigger kit do you have in Edith’s 36? Also, was there any fitting involved in changing to the Wolfe barrel? I shoot reloads in my 30 with the standard barrel. They are not really hot loads and I have never had a problem but maybe I should be more concerned.

    I have not tried any of the action pistols as a trainer. However, I do have a Colt 22 conversion kit that I love. Several years ago I decided I wanted a 22 upper for my Clark 45 and started looking at the gun shows. I bought this one at Market Hall. The dealer selling it had two or three for sale. This one had an Armoloy type finish. The dealer had it priced for less that the the blued kits. He said the one with the Armoloy finish had been blue printed and refinished and wasn’t worth as much since these have become collectable. I bought it and I love it. I have read a lot about Colt brand conversion kits. Most reports talk about jams and poor accuracy. My kit has never jammed and is at least as accurate as my pistol with the 45 upper. I get a good degree of recoil with the blow back action. I use the 22 conversion kit to practice and to tell you the truth, I probably shoot it more than my 45 upper.

    Now I need an equally good 22 conversion kit for my Glocks.

    David Enoch


    • David,

      Tom’s at the range this morning, so I’ll try to answer your questions.

      We ordered the trigger kit, laser and extended slide release (he forgot to mention that in the blog) through a local gun store that had a Glock-certified gunsmith. He also installed everything. The store had the barrel on order for a really long time & never got it in stock. I went online & ordered it myself and gave it to the gunsmith to install. This barrel was recommended by the gun store as the one to use for my model Glock.

      Not all Glocks have problems with the kaboom syndrome. My model specifically has a problem. The barrel stops the kaboom from happening. When I saw the YouTube videos of the Glock kaboom, I refused to shoot my gun until the barrel was replaced. The last thing I want is to be afraid to shoot my gun! We’ve taken a $400 gun and added $600 in upgrades to it.

      Edith



      • I know the feeling. My $500 Mosin sniper rifle is coming back from the gunsmith with a $500 bill and that doesn’t include my $100 drop in trigger. Who would have thought that the Mosin would soak up that much money. But it’s worth it for the history, and it seems that my little gamble has paid off. The gunsmith says the scope is a reproduction which I don’t care about. It’s all about the rifle, and the gunsmith says that if it’s a reproduction, it’s a good one. That makes it likely that the sellers were accurate in saying that the rifle was rearsenaled as a sniper rifle after WWII. (So the she-devil that sold it was speaking the truth.) Its 1931 manufacture gives it about 100% chance that it was in the war, and it’s a sniper rifle to boot. And the gunsmith says it’s accurate too. How exciting. With the terrible hot weather, I can pretend its summer on the Eastern Front which were supposed to be bad although not as bad as the winters.

        Matt61


      • Edith,
        Tom sure picked a good day to be at the range. I didn’t want to come back in after lunch. You should drive up to the range and join him. We don’t get that many days like today here in the Metroplex in July!

        David Enoch


      • Edith,

        I know that you said that not all Glocks have this problem, but do you happen to know if it’s specific to .45 caliber Glocks?

        Thanks,
        Victor


  6. Edith,

    I wish my 25 yard bullseye targets looked like that first target! WE have plenty of openings on my team if you decided to come back to NJ!

    Hey RidgeRunner, I was planning to use my Mauser 380 HSC for concealed carry. Whatdaya mean, “wimpie”!

    :)

    Fred DPRoNJ


    • One of the local sheriff’s departments used to carry 9 mm. One day a deputy confronted a man with a hatchet who was wired out on PCP. The man buried the hatchet in the deputy’s shoulder after the deputy put two rounds in his chest. They now carry .45 ACPs.

      The 45 ACP came about because when we took over the Philippines, we were no more loved than the Spanish. When the Filipino’s jumped out of the jungle at close range with their big knives and our NCOs and officers shot them with the .38 specials they were carrying, which are of about the same caliber and power, they would keep on coming. At the behest of the government, Mr. Browning developed the .45 ACP.

      The .380 is a chopped down 9 mm. Yes, it can be lethal, but so can a Bic Stick. You may only get one shot. Personally, I want to do everything I can to make that one shot count. There are some very nice .45 ACPs that are just as easy to conceal carry. Believe me, when you are scared, you are not going to notice the difference in recoil.


      • RidgeRunner,

        You’re correct about not noticing the recoil.

        When we lived in Maryland, we had all sorts of unwanted critters that needed to be dispatched. I usually found it difficult to pump the Sheridan Blue Streak 8 times. But I had the strength of Hercules when I was in the thick of a real-life situation requiring immediate action! I bet I could have pumped the gun a LOT more than 8 times.

        Edith


        • You must feel much better with your .45 than with a Sheridan Blue Streak. I think you’ve explained why soldiers never really complained about the weight of the Garand or the BAR.

          Matt61


      • According to Chris Kyle’s book, the Filipinos would wear wooden armor and get high on drugs which both increased their resistance to pistol shots.

        Matt61


        • Matt61,

          You hit on something that I’ve thought about. A person who’s attacking you or breaking into your home may very well be high on drugs. I have read numerous news reports of high-flying druggies who’ve been repeatedly shot, tased and pepper-sprayed…only to keep on attacking.

          Edith


          • Edith,

            Sometimes they just need to be sufficiently “inspired”, as in EVIL and crazy. But none of this matters, including what caliber you use, if you can’t hit your mark. Practice matters.

            Victor


          • Even “Jeff Cooper guys” who prefer to carry .45s, still don’t trust it to do the job all the time. “That,” he used to say, “is why we shoot twice.” The failure-to-stop scenario (whether driven by drugs or any other phenomenon) is also where the technique of the single shot to the central nervous system came from; one of Cooper’s students described a fight in which he hit solidly twice in the torso to no effect, and had the presence of mind to change to change his tactics, slow down, and place a precision shot on the bridge of the nose, which was instantly decisive. Cooper recognized this as a solid “plan B” to follow any failure of “plan A”, and began teaching it. (Unfortunately, this seems to have “developed” into a competition technique that appears to miss the point, with practitioners sending that third shot on its way well before any sort of real-time assessment could possibly be made.)

            We tend to make way too much hay of cartridge choice anyway, in general. It certainly seems that based on actual gunfight data, most common cartridges will satisfy “plan A” most of the time, and any of them will work if you can hit the precision shot with “plan B”. I can tell myself that I’d never trust my life to a 380, but even I would bloody well prefer a 380 to bare hands, thanks. And once you get to the 9x19mm and above, they’re all so close in data that in ideal circumstances it’s probably a wash. My confession is that, ultimately, data does not impress me. If it did, I’d be tempted not to carry in the first place; I am instead interested in stacking the deck as much as I can before the “comfortable” consideration outweighs the “comforting” consideration. :-)

            I am very grateful to have the “morgue monsters” around, to show us what happens when someone is shot with this or that cartridge in real life. It seems like much more secure science than the “Jell-O junkies” that produce mathematical models from ballistic gelatin, although the latter can produce much more controlled comparisons regarding shooting through obstacles like glass, clothing, doors, etc. But here’s the thing I don’t get about the “morgue monster” database: all the episodes are for a single torso hit, and yet who in the last forty years has advocated shooting only once with a pistol? Are we deliberately excluding data from a demographic that may represent the specifically well-trained?

            Which brings me right back to statistics not being particularly impressive–a position I’m pretty comfortable with. :-)

            Anyway, Edith: I’m tickled you like your G36. I’m a bit curious about the reference to the 1911 grip being on the small side; it is, by comparison to most things, but the G36 was designed specifically for people who wanted a less blocky and more 1911-like grip profile. And although I know this is against the common wisdom, I’ve never known a small grip to be a problem for large hands: I have quite large hands myself, and I actually go to the trouble to have my 1911s “slim-lined” to make them even smaller. I do notice that when shooting at speed. Ross Seyfried once said that he favors keeping the grip as small as possible: “if I could take two wraps around it that would be better!”.


            • Kevin,

              I can’t explain why I like a bigger grip, but I do. When I played tennis, I would buy the racquet with the largest grip I could get. Then I’d wrap the grip with a special tape that had self-adhesive foam to make the grip bigger. And I’d wrap the grip 2x with the tape. Strangely, I don’t have gigantic hands.

              Edith


            • If one is considering the old “military ball ammo”, then yes — I’d probably prefer the .45ACP. 9mm ball ammo has a bit of a tendency to just push through without transferring much energy (even though it is maybe 50% faster than the .45).

              Modern (non-military) defensive loads (various flavors of hollow-points, with or without a filling [meant to prevent clothing and such from plugging up a hollow-point preventing expansion]) likely make the 9mm just as effective; which is why I may consider 9mm in a carry gun (once I sign up for the lessons to gain the permit — though I think I’d still favor the .40S&W).

              9mm Short, OTOH, is pushing the limits of what I’d consider really reasonable (AKA, .380ACP). While I would need something smaller than my current crop of “duty size” guns for CCW, I’m not looking at something sized for vest pockets!


  7. One gun I like for training purposes is the Tanfoglio 1911. The metal version, not the cheap plastic version. it field strips like a real gun. Has blowback like the real gun, everything works like the real gun. It may or may not handle like a real gun. I do not know since I am a rifle guy not a pistol guy. But I found that gun gives me all the thrill of a real pistol without all the headaches of having a real powder burner. And I can shoot in in my apartment as much as I feel like as long as I don’t run out of ammo or co2. I usually run out of co2 first.


  8. i agree with victor, dry firing really works and i would not go out and buy an airgun solely as a firearm substitute. however, i like shooting airguns and find the feed back encouraging. for a revolver i have found the s&w 686 about as close to the real thing as they come in the airgun market.

    another option and one many will no doubt disagree with is to look at the airsoft options. a couple years ago i started getting into steel shooting (8″ reactive steel plates at 7 to 25 yards). wanting a backyard practice option i picked up a kwa atp (similar to a glock 17 with much lighter trigger). accuracy is not that great at longer distances, but if you keep the targets small and closer in it seems to have really improved my target transition speeds.


    • Bub,

      Yes, dry fire works and is practiced by all of the best shooters. But what I failed to explicitly say is that shooting an air-pistol with no recoil is the best of all worlds for practice. On the one hand you have no recoil, like when you’re dry-firing, but on the other hand you produce measurable results (actual shots fired at the target).

      Where air-pistols are so great is for learning to shoot rapidly. The first time my wife and I tried shooting an air-pistol for combat training, we were all over the place, and especially in terms of a vertical spread. We had to calm ourselves down and focus on the fundamentals more. Eventually we were getting most of our shots where we wanted them.

      Victor


  9. I like that about the 5 inch bulls attracting the shots. :-) Nice shooting Edith. I tend to pull my .45 shots down, and I believe it is precisely because of the recoil difference from airguns. My first shots with the .45 inevitably go high. So, I overcompensate and start heeling the gun downwards. Generally, things improve, but only after blowing through a lot of expensive ammo. I have yet to try Victor’s killer method of working the wobble area against the trigger squeeze, and I expect that would improve things. Other than the 1911, my airgun training translates perfectly.

    Did you have to draw the pistol as part of the qualification test? Glad to hear about your affinity for the isosceles hold which I favor myself.

    I think it was Wulfraed who explained to me that the Glock’s design does not support part of the case so that they get bulged out from recoil. And this bulge leads to the guns blowing up with reloads. Incidentally, this is a huge inroad into the gun’s reliability claims from my viewpoint. Anyway, is this problem (of the unsupported case) what is fixed by the Wolfe barrel?

    Duskwight, I agree about the importance of shot placement but only up to a point. I’m reminded of the argument that a gun will work if you clean it right. Incidentally, both of these arguments are used for the AR15. Well, I was just reading about a battle in New Guinea in World War II between the Marines and the Japanese. Some outpost was attacked in the middle of the night while a relief column was en route to resupply them. Just as the battle began, the heavens opened up with a torrential downpour. The relief column was practically swimming with each man hanging on to the one ahead, and the defenders were floating out of their foxholes in a sea of mud. I don’t think “It works if you clean it” would do the job here. Similarly for shot placement, it works up to point beyond which this becomes a real burden–such as shooting an elephant with a 7mm caliber. You’re right that a shot to the brainstem or spinal cord should disable an assailant. But both of those targets are extremely small, much more than anyone trains for in close-quarters shooting. And only the brainstem, the target of police snipers, will stop someone instantly. Other than these targets, there’s no predicting. I’ve read some gun magazines with incredible stories about the damage people can take and still keep going. This includes heavy caliber rounds to the head.

    Caliber can make up for shot placement. In my ROTC camp, the army personnel said that you don’t even need to hit anyone with a .50 caliber round to take them out; a shot 2 feet overhead will have a lethal concussion. Of course, the .50 caliber is an extreme example, but it is illustrative. The case for the heavy caliber would be solid except that the recoil undercuts shot placement and has a counterbalancing effect. Still, there’s a lot to be said for the heavy calibers.

    Matt61


  10. B.B., I would very much like to see you do more with this topic (maintaining and/or developing firearm proficiency), as it is of particular interest to me, and I’d love to get your extended take on it. The interest is both personal (me, my two young girls, and friends), and in the context of trying to develop a 4-H club in the area, having recently been enabled on the rifle program, which is built around air rifles instead of firearms, and has got me thinking further about the larger subject. (If I do my job well, the rifle curriculum is not the end goal, but rather the starting point. I intend to do the job well.)

    I’m interested in sorting out the right places, within this umbrella topic (it actually strikes me as rather large), for BB guns, pellet guns, and Airsoft guns. It seems to me that they all may have a place, provided that one is clear what the purpose of the exercise is.

    Here’s what I mean by that:

    If the purpose is pure marksmanship, then it seems that rifled pellet guns are the clear answer, for their simple ability to produce as much accuracy as one can hold in his hand. I’d tend to think of these as guns to develop one’s marksmanship ability: sights, trigger, grip, stance, position, and no other considerations. (This is the primary reason I am so in love with my new Bronco–it is exactly, precisely that, and with an ergonomic and ambidextrous safety as a bonus.) For this purpose, the gun’s fidelity to a given firearm’s design is not very important.

    On the other end of the spectrum, if the purpose of the exercise is safe and efficient gun handling, then Airsoft strikes me as the obvious choice, because some Airsoft guns do indeed seem to have a nearly identical “manual of arms” to an existing firearm design. If what I want to do is to maintain my carry skills, it’s far more important to me that the manipulation of the gun I train with be absolutely as close to the one I carry as possible, than pure accuracy at nearly any distance. Carrying a defensive piece in daily practice is (thankfully!) far more about gun handling than gun shooting, and I am very leery about doing anything in my training and maintenance, that is going to be in any way different than what I’d have to do on that horrible day that I fail to avoid a fight. (To paraphrase Clint Smith, that middle of the night when I’ve got a pulse rate of 170, wet spot in my shorts, compelled to navigate immediately to my screaming kid’s bedroom down a dark hallway full of cat toys.) So, I’m very intrigued by at least the 1911 designs, that would seem to feature identical handling to the 45 I’m wearing right now, would fit in the same leather, and would be “fight accurate” enough to confirm hits at close range. And I admit that, fanatical about safety as I am, I’d still feel better about doing volume training with Airsoft, from some of those awkward “every day” positions, than with a live 45. :-)

    Now, please understand I have not yet entered the Airsoft world; I’m still investigating and learning before purchases are made, so I would welcome wisdom from this channel, especially if I’m barking up the wrong tree in general. I love the idea that I could use an Airsoft 1911 that would permit me to “ride the reset” and engage multiple targets, at home or even in the house, as an alternative to dry-fire, which limits me to one snap. (I’m a Jeff Cooper guy, so I train to shoot twice.)

    I’m not sure where BB guns fit, in this spectrum–they seem to be kinda “in the middle”. They seem to have the accuracy disadvantage of smooth barrels, and at least as far as I can see there is nearly always at least one serious difference in manipulation from the inspiring firearm, that would cause me to skip it altogether. (I admit I am intrigued by that CO2 Winchester 1911, and its twin for which I cannot remember the brand now, as they appear to be exceptions to that rule–I think.) And it does seem like there are places where I’d do Airsoft where I wouldn’t do BBs (for safety reasons), lending to the consideration.

    Anyway, despite my obvious opinion and preferences (I’ve never been accused of being brief), I am actually here to learn, because I am still very new to airgunnery. B.B. here has been an enormous help in my getting useful background, recommendations, and–significantly–differences from the firearm world that I know, and for me at least this is a topic that goes very much to the heart of my interest in integrating airguns into an existing whole.

    Please, more of that. (I have lost ground to make up–still can hardly believe it took me this long to wake up to the concept of adult airguns. :-)


    • Kevin,

      I have been involved with the 4H shooting program for the past couple of years. You make some good points, but I have to disagree with you about the inclusion of airsoft guns.

      I used to work in a career that involved weeks away from home, living in hotel rooms. I bought a cheap Daisy airsoft gun that looked like a .45 ACP. I actually wore that thing out shooting it in my hotel rooms to entertain myself. I would use those tiny little orange juice cans for targets.

      This thing could actually hole the cans if you hit them enough times in the same spot. It was a lot of fun, but I would never recommend using an airsoft gun for anything involving children.

      Why? Because it is ingrained in the kids that airsoft guns are made for shooting each other with. They are not guns on even the level of bb guns, but are capable of doing damage to the eyes. But the real danger they present is that it is OK to point them and shoot them at each other, just like paintball guns. A lot of gun safety training can go out the window with an airsoft gun. Kids that target each other harmlessly with airsoft guns become desensitized to the need to practice gun safety with actual guns.

      The 4H program does a good job of teaching gun safety. The safety rules are strictly enforced. A safety infraction will be dealt with immediately with a lecture. A repeat would mean expulsion from the program. No one should have to tolerate their kid being endangered by another kid who doesn’t take rules seriously.

      There is an important part of the program that teaches what performance a student can expect from any given gun: its power and range. The purpose of that is not only to teach what can happen on the firing range, but to help students judge what is safe distances to shoot at when outdoors or hunting. This information is given not only for air guns, but for various types of rifles and shotguns as well. Pistols are not used in 4H shooting: it is too difficult for instructors to control which way the muzzle is pointed. All models of bb guns and pellet guns are alike, and all are single-shot.

      Another important part of the education is the de-mystification of firearms. Examples of different types of rifles and shotguns are taken down for demonstration purposes, and the parts examined and the different types of actions explained. No live ammunition is allowed to be present for these guns.
      However, dummy rounds are shown to demonstrate loading and ejection methods, and to illustrate the differences between shotgun and rifle ammunition.

      The air guns used are Daisy model 499 bb target guns. Guns and bb’s are supplied by the school. After a couple years shooting these, students advance to Avanti PCP target rifles. These are supplied also. The students have the option of bringing their own guns, as long as they are this same exact model. The school will supply pellets, but here again, the students have the option of bringing their own. Compressed air is supplied by the school, as are targets.

      Les


      • To Les, and everyone: my sincere apologies if I somehow misrepresented my intentions with a 4-H program. The entirety of my Airsoft thoughts above apply only to people who are already competent enough to consider training for horribly serious things, beyond the cold-line, square-range environment. (And I’m no sort of gung-ho commando, either: I’m a simple Dad who takes his protective responsibility seriously.)

        Even if, at some point in the future, I managed to wind up with a really exceptional 4-H kid who struck me as ready for that idea (mentally ready for it), I’d never pursue it within that framework anyway, out of simple respect for the program and what it’s trying to accomplish. We’d take it elsewhere.

        I’ve got no interest in confusing the matter of gun safety. There is a reason I myself have never engaged in paintball or Airsoft skirmishing–an opinion that I think has been wildly validated by my brief introduction to Airsoft reviews on YouTube (shudder). The attitude I subscribe to is nicely articulated by Clint Smith here, and anyone who has worked with me before can attest to my level of tolerance in violating the Four Rules, hot range or cold, square or otherwise. Please: I assure you you’re preaching to the choir, okay? :-)

        For 4-H, my first goal is to get the existing program up and running, and then reassess what might come next. (One of the things I like most about 4-H in its concept, is that the activities are not necessarily driven by me, anyway, but by the kids. Who knows what they’ll want to pursue? I figure I’m there to provide a little spark, and work with whatever comes out of that.) The rifle program strikes me as an excellent introduction, for all the reasons you (Les) mentioned. Beyond that, I am thinking that I might be able to introduce some logical next steps, such as improved field positions, the use of a shooting sling (which is a woefully misunderstood art), variations in sighting systems, managing trajectory, and the concept of time pressure. And then there is basic pistol, which could easily be set up to parallel the sequencing of the rifle course, and with a parallel set of “next steps” as well. I’m guessing that in a practical sense it would take some time to get all this in motion, and by the time I actually got there, where to go next would probably be a question that had already answered itself.

        Hopefully, all this will sort itself out and I’ll be confronted with that question in reality, rather than in theory. :-)


  11. Edith,
    Good show. You are quite a lady, and I approve your caliber choice, though the Glock is a disappointing sign of flightiness :)! .45 ACP is the .30-’06 (perhaps not too surprisingly) of handgun calibers, I think, i.e., the one to have if you only want to mess with one.

    I have been trying to disprove the old dog/new trick thing lately by shooting a 1911 lately. Well, that puts me into the 20th century at least, but I still shoot better one handed than two, isosceles (?) or anything else. If you look at the WW1-era manuals, there is a pretty good picture of my highly refined hold (BB would laugh out loud)! A “professional” steel shooter worked patiently with me for a couple of hours and never could get a modern 2-handed hold in any variation through my dense skull to the extent that it worked, but I practice it regularly out of guilt when I think I have an insight and it is getting a little better — the groups are slightly tighter than one handed (maybe — perhaps, I’m just looking for signs of progress), but only heaven knows where they will be (usually a foot below the target is the place I look first… :( ). On the other hand, I think one needs a hand free to swing a machete or hold the reins/steering wheel, anyway :)! I practice with my P17 (and can’t shoot it two-handed either), but I’ve been looking at some of the more realistic 1911 pellet/BB shooters lately. I guess that is my tie-in to make this rambling relevant.

    One other thing. I read somewhere that aside from the wild men in the Philippines, the .45 caliber was spec’d because the .38 proved only marginal for putting down horses in the field (required for humane treatment in the days of cavalry).


  12. Pardon the Royal Grump…

    Stupid Firefox pushed an update out, and now SAGE RSS is misbehaving (the message list is not coming up, so I can’t mark things read without clicking on each message itself).


    • Ah… found an update to Sage, and it looks like I’m back in action… Now to figure out what I’ve missed.


  13. BB, I was wondering about that co2 gun and the results you got the fire time around. I also read reports from another guy that only does c02 pistol “look a likes” or close to it anyway (new and vintage). He liked the Winchester mod. 12 as for looks but didn’t give it the nod because of it not being accurate (for a bb pistol anyway). I was wondering if he got a bad one or you got a good one.


    • Bradly,

      All three air pistols we used to train for this were powered by CO2. From the context of your message, I presume you are referring to the BB pistol. We didn’t like it because it didn’t seem to give the accuracy we needed, and that was for both of us. Oddly, it seemed more accurate when I tested it earlier, than when I used it for this training.

      I think most BB guns are just not accurate enough to be used as trainers — if you are trying to train for accuracy. If all you want is the feel of shooting, they are fine.

      B.B.


    • Bradly,

      I didn’t like the BB guns because a BB flew back and hit my collar bone. While I was wearing safety glasses, a BB hitting the collar bone is a unique kind of pain that I hope to never feel again. The skin is thin in that place, and it really hurt.

      I’m not a weenie crybaby, but that hit made me stop using BB guns at such a close distance.

      Edith


      • Edith…

        My worst experience with a BB gun…

        I shot a rat one time with an old Benji smooth bore pumper that was pumped good. It shot through the rat, bounced off of the concrete behind it, and hit me right on the shin bone. Went through my denim jeans and broke the skin. Never did that again.

        twotalon


      • I understand that! I wonder if using “lead” bb’s would help reduce that. Trouble is, the lead BB’s I’ve shot are “over sized” compared to a steel bb. That said, I believe it is the Gamo lead bb’s I have that isn’t over sized, but they are very hard compared to my Beeman lead bb’s I’ve had.


        • Bradley,

          Today’s lead balls in .177 caliber are all too large for BB guns. They are sized 0.177″, where modern steel BBs are sized 0.171″-0.173″ Gamo lead balls are .177″.

          There are some lead balls that are 4.4mm. That makes then 0.174″. Sometimes they will work in a BB gun, though the guns designed for them are special, with barrels sized to fit the larger sphere.

          B.B.


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