by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
“Hi! I am new to airguns and I have a question. I live near a farm that has lots of feral hogs. Around here, people hunt them with high-powered rifles and shotguns, but I want to try something different. I saw on TV where someone used a Gamo air rifle to kill a wild hog that they said weighed over 200 lbs. I would like to do that, too.
“I bought a Winchester 1250SS at a local discount store. What I want to know from you is, do I need to use the Gamo PBA pellets, or will any pellets work for this? Also, where in the head do I shoot the pig? And can I reuse the PBA pellets that I find? They are very expensive and this would help a lot with my hunting budget. Thank you for your answer. I’m looking forward to going out next week!“
Where do I begin?
You may snicker at this fictional question, but I assure you that it’s not that different from the hundreds of real questions that come into Pyramyd Air every month. Today, I would like to share my thoughts with you.
First and foremost, I think the writer is a young person. Either that or maybe he’s an older person who hasn’t grown up, yet. He knows nothing about hunting, beyond what he’s read on the internet and seen on television. If he did, he would never pose this question. It’s absurd that someone would consider taking a dangerous 200-lb. animal with a pellet gun that has less than a third the power of a .22 short.
No one hunts whitetail deer with .22 shorts — at least no one who then talks about it openly. So, why would anyone hunt a more powerful and more dangerous animal with a pellet that produces less power at the muzzle than the .22 short produces at 75 yards?
Ah, but he saw it being done on television! That makes it true, doesn’t it? Sure it does! Just as true as what you see on Pawn Stars, American Pickers and The Days of Our Lives.
Next, let’s consider that our intrepid hunter has asked us where to shoot the animal. That illustrates the fact that this guy hasn’t got a clue about the anatomy of wild pigs or any other living thing. What’s he going to do when he “gets” his pig?
In my experience, they generally don’t think about that until after they have killed it. Be a waste of time to overthink the thing. You know?
Third, this guy bought his air rifle at a discount store. Nothing wrong with that — except discount stores generally sell the airguns that line the bottom of the barrel. They sell them on the basis of price and the high velocity numbers printed on their colorfully lithographed cartons. Naturally, they’re all .177-caliber guns because that’s pretty much all they carry at discount stores. Besides being fastest, .177 pellets are also the cheapest, which has a great appeal to these bold adventurers.
Speaking of economy, our Ramar of the Jungle asks if he can reuse his pellets. Sure! Why not? It’s not like shooting changes them in any way. Right? (If you’re new here…that’s sarcasm.)
Finally, he casually mentions that his hunting budget is low. I’ll bet it is! Hard to support an active sporting life on grandma’s birthday cash and the funds from your paper route, eh!
This person is trying to bypass the rights of passage, by which knowledge is passed from one generation to the next. No — he woke up this morning and said to himself, “I think I’ll hunt wild pigs. I would hunt alligators, but that would take a boat I don’t have, plus there aren’t as many gators here in Des Moines.”
To put things into perspective, this person needs to learn how to shoot, first of all. When he can put 10 of 10 pellets through a quarter at 25 yards, then we can talk about hunting. And the quarry will be squirrels and cottontails, or rats down at the junkyard — not wild pigs.
What upsets me the most is that a lot of airgun advertising is aimed at people in this category. And they seem to be quite receptive to it. So, zombies and skull-patterned paint jobs override discipline and sportsmanship.
If I were a 30-something marketing manager of a company wanting to sell to this market I would:
1. Keep the cost under $150 for the entire package
2. Advertise the velocity at 1,200 f.p.s. or more
3. Give my products radical and outlandish-sounding names…such as Bone-Crusher, Crack of Doom, Disaster-Blaster
Not the future
These people are not the future of airgunning. They have the attention span of a fruitfly and the personal depth of dew in Death Valley, but they’re a most visible wing of our hobby. When the media…which always looks for the biggest circus act in the tent…spots them, they’ll become the poster children of modern airgunning.
Like it or not, we’re tied to them.