I was going to show you a brand new spotting scope today, but something came up that I want to address. I don’t always respond to your comments these days — there are simply too many of them for me to cover. But I at least scan all of them and I read many of them.
Yesterday it dawned on me as I was reading the comments – many of you are ready to take your test to become full-fledged Jedi knights! A few may even go on to become Jedi masters. Well done, my enthusiastic Padawan learners!
Whenever I write about a technical subject I cringe, thinking of all the questions it will bring. That used to be bad, because I had to answer each any every question myself. But that isn’t the case anymore. I have been following conversations between Bulldawg76, GunFun1 and ChrisUSA and I am amazed at the level of expertise being displayed. I remember when each of them first started commenting on the blog, and they don’t seem like the same people anymore.
According to Wiki, “A bully pulpit is a sufficiently conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.” The phrase was coined by Theodore Roosevelt, who felt the White House was a bully pulpit. In his day, the term bully meant excellent.
When I started my newsletter — The Airgun Letter — in 1994, it was in response to a lack of literature about airguns. There were only a couple books on the subject at that time, and it seemed as if the serious airgunners wanted to hide their passion. Advanced collectors told me what a shame it is to have a reference like the Blue Book of Airguns, because now everybody can know what they know. In the past, they relied on ignorance to grow their collections at low prices. But when everyone can know that a Winsel CO2 pistol is ultra-rare, they stop selling them for $50, and the price climbs to over $1,000.
I was speaking with a group of very advanced airgunners recently and found myself amazed by what we all took for granted. The subject was airgun accuracy and topics like distance, powerplants and pellet shapes came up, but no one in the group seemed to remember the time when none of those things made any difference. They didn’t because there weren’t any pellets on the market that took advantage of them. Until around the 1960s, accuracy with airguns was iffy, at best. The problem was not the guns — it was the ammunition!
Crosman 160 opened my eyes!
I remember buying a new-old-stock Crosman 160 target rifle that had been produced and sold to the U.S. Air Force. The rifle hadn’t been fired since Crosman tested it with CO2 at the factory some time in the 1970s. The Air Force bought an unknown number of 160s that came with slings and the Crosman S331 rear peep sight. Presumedly there was a plan to use these rifle for some type of training, but that must never have happened, because hundreds of them were found in a military warehouse in the 1990s in unused condition. When I opened the gas reservoir to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I found the original cartridges Crosman had used to test the gun before packaging in the 1970s! The rifle was brand new, as were hundreds of others just like it!
I’m writing this from my hospital bed on Saturday, though I hope to be discharged later today. I would like to thank Val Gamerman for covering the blog for me last week. I was unable to do much of anything, and my thanks to all of you for keeping things going. This will be short, because of my situation. Let’s talk about airgun projectile stability today.
When I shot the Benjamin Pioneer airbow at the SHOT Show this year I was amazed by the accuracy it gave. Not just when I shot it, but also there were two cases where one arrow went inside another one at 30 yards. Television’s Mythbusters proved that a regular longbow cannot do that because the arrow is constantly flexing as it flies, but the Pioneer pushes the arrow from the tip (it’s hollow inside) rather than from the back end and it doesn’t flex in flight. That got me thinking about what has been done about airgun projectile stability and what remains to be done.
Man, did I ever bump the beehive with this report! Part 1 certainly got a rise out of a lot of you. And you said what was on your mind. I bet you are the kind of guys who would tell me that my dog is ugly, too.
Okay, I’m rooting for the Hatsan 85 Mossy Oak Break Up rifle that I’m testing. Why? Because according to the advertised specs, it puts out a little more power than an RWS 34 (remember — we aren’t calling them Dianas any longer), yet sells in this combo package for 50 dollars less than just an RWS 34P, by itself. If this rifle is accurate, we have a potential world-beater on our hands.
Shooting galleries have been a major influence in the shooting sports for close to a century and a half, and airguns have had their day in galleries. Reb, our most outspoken reader, once ran a traveling shooting gallery that featured the popular “Shoot out the Red Star” game. I’ll discuss that at the end of the report, but right now I’m going back to the beginning of shooting galleries.
The 15th century
And, who can really say when that was? We know from documents and from tapestries that shooting events were popular in Europe in the 1400s. But those were sporting events that came and went — they weren’t the galleries I am discussing today. The crossbows and guns that were used at those events belonged to the shooters. They were not rented by the gallery to the general public.
This report is for reader Zebra who asked me last week about the power of the antique big bore airguns. He said he read that some were used in battle and had the power to kill soldiers. I answered him and gave a link to the very first report of this airgun history series (Part 1, linked above). It was done way back on August 21, 2015 when this section was started. But I read that report and discovered that it really didn’t answer his question. I had explained how big bore airgun power was determined, but not how powerful the guns actually were. So I’m adding this Part 2 to get to the heart of the question.