A tip of the hat to the Joker, who asked today’s title question about Batman. Reader Kevin Wilmeth asked this last week, “Incidentally, I’d love to see an article some day on exactly how you do get access to the guns you do. Somehow I think I’d find that illuminating.”
Kevin — today is the day! I hope you find my report as interesting as you thought it would be.
When I started out writing about airguns in 1993 — the year before we launched The Airgun Letter — I attended the second airgun show held at Winston Salem, North Carolina. I was an unknown who was trying to promote a newsletter about airguns. The big questions were — who is Tom Gaylord and what does he know about airguns? But that’s for another report. Today we are discussing where I get my airguns.
I was going to report on several military trainers today and it dawned on me that maybe we don’t all think of them in the same way. What is a military trainer? Why do they exist? Or, do they have more than one purpose? Once we better understand what they are, my future reports will make more sense.
The first trainers
The earliest military trainers are probably the half-scale muskets that officers had custom-made for their sons. I mentioned this in an earlier report. They were smaller than the muskets they resembled, but very close copies. They existed for multiple purposes. First, they were to allow the boy to learn the manual of arms while holding something very heavy and real. Second, they allowed the boy to shoot with a suitably sized weapon. And finally, I believe these trainers were talismans that the fathers wanted their sons to get used to holding — like batons of office. Don’t overlook the importance of that. It’s like a cowboy father getting his son his first pair of working boots. It’s a small rite of passage.
Have you ever wanted “them” to do something so much that you talked about it to everyone? And then one day you woke up and saw “they” had done what you asked?
What do you do then?
Today we begin looking at a product I never thought I would be reviewing. It’s the H&N Excite Smart Shot copper-plated lead BB. Yes, I said a lead BB. As in, “Mother, what will you complain about, now that we can no longer shoot our eyes out?” THAT kind of lead BB!
Little boys used to buy lead BBs for their BB guns many years ago. But in the 1920s lead was taken off the market and the BB changed to steel. Lead BBs are good for shooting in antique BBs guns and for collecting, but if you buy BBs today, they are all going to be steel. Until now.
When we think of airguns we think of quiet, low-powered guns that are safer than firearms because of their limited range and reduced tendency to ricochet. But that’s not the whole story. Over a century ago there was a special type of airgun that was used on the battlefield and the high seas to do major damage. I’m referring to the so-called dynamite guns of the late 1890s.
More stable than nitroglycerin
Dynamite was invented in 1866 by Swedish inventor, Alfred Nobel. He took nitroglycerin, another recent invention (1846) and stabilized it by combining it with silica to turn the sensitive liquid into a malleable paste he called dynamite. He discharged the dynamite with one of his blasting caps, originally perfected in 1863 to discharge nitroglycerin with shock rather than heat.
The Texas airgun show is a one-day event. Everyone knows they have to get in quick, set up quick and get everything accomplished in one short day. The Parker County Sportsman Club that hosted the event provided dozens of volunteers to run the ranges, park cars, sell tickets, prepare and serve food and drinks, and generally help anyone who needed it. As a result, the event was set up and running smooth when the doors opened to the public at 9 am. But, unlike last year, there was no line at the door. The tickets were sold at a gate outside the compound because we had vendors in two different buildings this year. Even so I was surprised and a little disappointed when I didn’t see the immediate crush of people at 9.
This will be our final look at the Black Ops Junior Sniper air rifle combo. Today, I’ll mount the scope and shoot the rifle from 25 yards. I thought this report would just be about the rifle and scope; but, in fact, I learned 2 other very important lessons. So, today’s blog will be informative. There are also two short instructional videos.
The scope that comes with this combo is the cheapest kind of optical sight you can buy. It’s a 4x scope with a very skinny tube – less than .75 inches. The rings come already attached, so all I had to do was clamp them to the top of the rifle, and the job was done. That said, I had no idea if the scope would even be on the paper at 25 yards.
I went back to Part 2 and discovered that the rifle gets almost 500 f.p.s. on 3 pumps when shooting BBs. Since I was shooting at 16 and a fraction feet (5 meters), this was more than enough velocity for the test. It also sped up the test a bit.