by B.B. Pelletier

I have a lot of interests besides airguns. Recently, a friend gave me a small electric RC helicopter that awakened a desire to fly. It’s good when I get to encounter new things, because it reminds me of the difficulties new airgunners face when they enter our hobby. Keeping that in mind helps me write more clearly.

Well, with RC helicopters there’s a lot to learn. You don’t just take up this hobby and immediately move up to the biggest and best equipment. You can’t, because flying an advanced RC helicopter takes experience and skill. If you were to buy the biggest whomptydoodle RC helicopter on the market, you wouldn’t even know enough to get it prepared to fly! That’s good, because the moment you did you’d crash.

A newbie doesn’t stand a chance flying one of these.

The same cannot be said about airguns. Any fool with money can buy an FWB 700 rifle identical to the rifle an Olympic shooter would use. Or, he can buy a USFT rifle without a clue how to use it or what it even does. He would be at no risk to himself or his equipment to own and shoot an Evanix AR-6 rifle, as long as he practiced the basics of safe shooting.

But anyone can shoot one of these.

With a .90 RC helicopter capable of 3D flight (that’s a really big radio-controlled helicopter that can fly full aerobatics that even full-sized helicopters cannot duplicate), a beginner would have a flaming mass of ruined parts in no time. Life would severely correct the beginner’s lack of experience and start him or her on a very expensive learning path.

But, anyone with money can buy an RWS Diana 350 Magnum – shoot it for an hour – and then complain to the world that it doesn’t do everything the reports said it could. The air rifle doesn’t burst into flames or reach back and slap the silly shooter in the face.

That’s where the questions come from. Here’s one I get all the time. “I’m having a hard time choosing between a .177 Benjamin Super Streak or a Career III 707 in .22. I want something that’ll be accurate out to at least 75 yards but also quiet enough to not disturb the tenants in the next apartment. Which airgun should I buy?”

You SHOULD buy an IZH 61 or a Beeman R7 and learn how to shoot before talking about shooting 75 yards with an air rifle. That’s what you SHOULD do!

But you don’t want to do that. You want to go to the head of the line by starting at the top of the hobby. Tell me – where in your apartment do you even have 75 yards to shoot?

If we were playing violins, you’d want to own a Stradivarius, despite the fact you sound more like a jug band. Thank God a Strad costs millions of dollars, so only the very best violinists can afford to play them. And half of them don’t even own the instruments they play – they’re on loan for a lifetime by others who appreciate talent.

Even a Stradivarius requires talent to make beautiful music.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that you should be denied the best equipment until you prove yourself as a shooter. I’m simply saying that in our hobby it’s too easy to own the very best without the skill to use it. Then, when he gets his Strad, he scratches the bow across the strings and says, “I don’t see what everyone is talking about. This thing don’t sound so purdy.” No, it don’t!

Now, that small RC helicopter my friend gave me is at the bottom of the heap of beginning RC helicopters. It is the RC helicopter equivalent of a Crosman 760. It doesn’t even have the ability to hover. But guess what? After flying it for three months, I discovered that on my own, and I learned something about RC helicopters. I’m now ready to move up to one that can hover. But I’m far from being ready to fly that whomptydoodle model that looks so sexy in the hands of an expert. I may never get that far in the hobby – but at least I know it. That’s what three months of experience has taught me.

My bio information listed at the top right of this blog says there are no stupid questions. I’ll stick by that, because I want you to be able to ask about anything. That’s what this blog is here for. But sometimes questions are asked before the person doing the asking has bothered to learn anything about the subject. I don’t call those questions stupid, but they’re uninformed. Here’s an example, “I want to be able to hunt whitetail deer with an air rifle. I notice that a round ball shot out of a Big Bore 909 goes faster than a 200-grain pellet. I want to be able to kill deer out to at least 250 yards, so would I be better off using round balls instead of pellets?”

No – you would be better off:

1. Moving out of your apartment in Manhattan, where the whitetail deer are scarce.

2. Learning something about ballistics before using just one fact – velocity – to invent a universe that doesn’t really exist.

3. Learning to shoot.

4. Waiting until you’re 18 years old, so you can do all of this legally.

Today’s blog sounds like a rant and it probably is. But I had to get it off my chest. I still love all of you and I want you to continue to ask your questions and try new things.

I, on the other hand, will concentrate on hovering.