The history of airguns is fascinating to those who enjoy applied creativity. But sometimes when creativity is carried too far it becomes a liability. And that’s the case with today’s guns.
Rocky Mountain Arms Corporation
In the 1970s the Rocky Mountain Arms Corporation (RMAC) created a little gun for kids who wanted to shoot with their fathers. They referred to it as a .22 caliber, though it shot a number 4 buckshot that is really 0.24 inches rather than 0.223 inches in diameter. That didn’t matter because a 5-pound bag number 4 buckshot was available for a few dollars. For that you got thousands of shots. Nobody worried about the size of the ball that much.
Today I’ll talk about Edith’s shooting. When I met her in 1982, she wasn’t a shooter. She was very neutral on the subject of shooting. When we started talking about marriage I told her I was an active shooter and there would be guns in the house. She said she didn’t mind, but I had to teach her how to handle them safely. She told me the only shooting she had ever done was with a .22 rimfire Ruger pistol owned by her first husband. She said she didn’t feel one way or the other about the experience, but the little shooting she had done seemed like fun. So we started slowly on my Sheridan Blue Streak, learning the basics of safe gun handling.
Before we begin today’s blog, I want to tell you there is a link to the History of airguns table of contents at the top and bottom of this pager. Go there and you will see all the historical report linked.
Before we proceed we need to agree what an airgun is, or the rest of the discussion will be meaningless. Most books about airguns start with the primitive blowpipe, which is also called a blowgun. Does that make you think of natives on tropical islands, hunting birds and monkey in the trees? Would you be surprised to learn that the blowgun was also very popular in Europe during the middle ages? There are tapestries that show hunters using blowguns in exactly the same way as the islanders in the tropics, only they are doing so in European and English forests. The blowgun has been a very popular air-powered weapon all around the world.
Today I announce a new section of the blog that will be dedicated to the history of airguns. Monday’s posting about the Rise of the BB gun was the inaugural report for the series — History of airguns. Today is the second in what Pyramyd Air and I hope will become a favorite of blog readers.
My goal is to document the history of airguns in these reports, and the really neat thing is, we will keep track of all these reports on a special page that holds the table of contents. The articles listed will be links, so all you need to do is hover your cursor and click to get there!
This is a comprehensive report of the early history of the BB gun. The first successful BB gun is thought to be the Markham. It was made in 1886 in Plymouth, Michigan by the Markham Air Rifle Company. The gun was mostly wood with just a few metal parts where they were absolutely needed — such as the mainspring, trigger, barrel, barrel hinge and other assorted small parts. It looked a little like a gun overall, but the shape was fatter all around because of the wooden parts.
Markham BB gun was made of wood with a few metal parts. This is a later 1888 model, but the early guns looked similar.
I was asked by several readers to write this report, but I would have written it anyway eventually. Because Edith Gaylord was a remarkable woman.
For starters, Edith was her middle name. Her first name was Inga — named after the aunt who sponsored her family so they could immigrate from China, where she was born in 1948. Yes, I said China! Inga Edith Gaylord was born in Shanghai, China in a Catholic convent that had been closed, due to the civil war that was raging across that country. Edith’s family lived during a time and under conditions that some younger Americans refuse to believe ever existed.
Writing about the Air Venturi G6 hand pump is one of the most difficult reports I’ve ever attempted, because most airgunners know so little about hand pumps in general, and a lot of it is wrong. Also, because the audience for this subject spans the gamut from rank beginners to people who have owned other hand pumps for years, the spectrum of comprehension is infinite. Some people feel this is nothing more than an expensive bicycle pump, so I have to explain how it is different.
I read online discussions of hand pumps among airgunners, and I can tell that only a few of them have any actual experience. It goes beyond the blind leading the blind — it’s more like the blind writing detailed travel instructions to places they’ve never been.