by Tom Gaylord
Exclusively for PyramydAir. Copyright ©2012. All Rights Reserved.
I recently read a very informative guide to target shooting that was written more than a century ago. It was written in question/answer format and the author wrote both the questions and the answers. It read well because the right questions were asked, and they were asked in such a way that the reader could understand exactly what the person was asking. I enjoyed the format and also found it very informative. I hope you do, too.
New airgunner's question: I'm thinking of getting an airgun -- but the more I read and research on the internet, the more confused I become. Could you please help me decide which airgun will be right for me?
Answer: I'd be glad to help. What kind of shooting would you like to do?
Q: Well that's the problem. I don't know. I'm also new to shooting and don't know what there is. I've seen people shoot on TV and in the movies, of course; but, frankly, I doubt much of that is real.
A: You're right about that! TV and the movies portray a very small section of the shooting sports, and most is shown incorrectly. They like to add effects for dramatic appeal, but the reality is both different and far more attractive than they make it appear.
Q: I sensed that, but I don't know anybody who shoots. I'm on my own. If I were buying a car, I could always take it on a test drive, but you can't do that with airguns -- at least not as far as I know.
A: You say you could take a car on a test drive, but to do that you would need to have a license to drive. And you could only test-drive cars on the road. Most dealerships won't allow you to go off-road or do anything dangerous with their cars. So, buying cars and buying airguns isn't a direct comparison.
Q: Okay, that brings up an important point. I don't need a license to own an airgun, do I? So how do I get the training I need?
A: Good question! I'm glad to see you thinking about it that way and not just supposing that because you're an adult living in the United States you're automatically qualified to operate an airgun. I'll tell you what --next time we meet, I'll give you a lesson on the safe operation of airguns. When you understand all that I teach about safe airgun operations, you'll be farther along in your quest to become an airgunner.
Q: Great! I'm up for that.
A: Okay, we'll do it. Right now, let's explore a little more about the kind of shooting you'd probably enjoy so you and I can narrow the field. When you're ready to make a purchase, you will be better informed. Let me ask you a basic question: Have you ever played darts?
Q: You mean the throwing kind? Yes, I've played a few times.
A: Did you like it?
Q: I suppose. I didn't get into it as a hobby, if that's what you mean.
A: Okay. So what about shooting guns seems attractive to you?
Q: Well, you're going to think this is stupid, but when I saw the movie Quigley Down Under I was fascinated by all the long-range shooting. I don't have the time or inclination to buy a Sharps rifle and learn to shoot like Quigley; but I thought that, with an airgun, I could sort of scale that down and even shoot a little in my backyard.
A: That's not stupid at all. You don't know how many people saw that movie and felt the same as you. Only you were smart enough to realize that you can reduce the distance to the target and still have the same challenge with an airgun. You just told me something very important about yourself.
Q: What's that?
A: You're more interested in shooting rifles than handguns. That narrows the field a lot.
Q: I've never even thought about that. I guess you're right -- I want to shoot a rifle.
A: I know even more about you from what you've said. You want to shoot a rifle, and you want to do so with great precision.
Q: Exactly. I wouldn't have said it that way, but that's what I want. So how does that help us?
A: It allows us to rule out hunting at this time. The gun you get doesn't have to meet any particular power requirement. As long as it's accurate, that will be the most important thing to you.
Q: Hold on a minute! Just because I want to shoot long-range, let's not rule out some hunting. My wife always has a vegetable garden; and we agreed that if I get an airgun, it'll be my responsibility to eliminate the rabbits and other pests.
A: No problem. Any airgun we choose will be able to do that. However, knowing that you're interested in pest elimination is another important piece of information. It'll help us decide on the right caliber for you.
Q: Oh boy, does that ever open a can of worms. I've read so much about why you should choose this caliber or that one that I'm twisted up in knots!
A: No problem. When the time comes, I'll recommend a caliber that I think is best for what you want to do -- and I'll give you my justification for selecting it. You can cross-examine me and go a different way if you aren't convinced.
I think we're off to a good start. Remember, next time I'm going to cover the basics of safe airgun operations, and I have a homework assignment for you. I want you to read this series of blog articles that I wrote for a single mother of two young boys who wanted to start shooting. Mom wanted to be their teacher, but she was a novice. In this series, I walked her through everything she needed to do, step-by-step. If you read this before we meet again, most of the work in the next lesson will be a review. I'll send you to the last report, and the links to the others are at the top of the page. I recommend reading them starting with the first one and going forward because they build on each other.
Q: Before you go, I have one last question. You asked if I ever played darts. What was that about?
A: If you enjoyed darts more than a little I would have explored formal target shooting with you. Your answers don't seem to lead in that direction, so I dropped the subject; but you should know that airguns are one of the shooting sports in the Olympics. There's also a World Cup championship circuit that airgun target shooters follow.
New airgunner: I see. Yeah, I probably would not be interested in shooting just at paper targets all the time. Like I said, Quigley was what got me started thinking about shooting. Well, thanks for your time and I'll see you after I read all those blog reports.
Part 2 coming soon...