The airguns of my youth
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I wanted to tell you about a huge price reduction on the Gamo Viper Express Air Shotgun & Rifle. Pyramyd Air has dropped the price by $60. Get yours while supplies last. If you’ve got carpenter bees, this might do the trick!
This is Alan’s first guest blog for us. He’s been a lover of air power from an early age. He’ll take us down memory lane today, and I’m sure this will bring up fresh childhood memories for many of you. Enjoy!
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
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Although my family lived in a major US city, both sets of my grandparents had farms in Central Illinois. And, growing up I spent most of my summers and school vacations there.
Firearms were still a way of life in that part of the country and had been for as long as anyone could remember. On my 10th birthday, my grandad presented me with what many boys our age dreamed of…my own Daisy BB gun.
I remember my excitement opening the box and finding the Model 1776 Golden Eagle. The Eagles’ peep site was designed to look like a rifle scope and the cool gold paint finish appealed to me. Without question, they made my gun better than my cousins’. Our country was focused on the upcoming Bicentennial, making this model even more special to me.
Ownership or possession of the gun was transferred to me gradually after much safety training and a great deal of time shooting under adult supervision.
Looking back, one of my fondest thoughts surround the time I spent learning to shoot and handle the rifle with my grandfather, uncles and father. Even after I’d earned the right to shoot solo, many evenings were spent with the four of us sitting out front engaged in friendly shooting competitions. Cans were the target of the day, and I was the designated stacker. Since it was my gun, I was also encouraged with extra shots, and shooting advice. Well, at least until I began to dominate the competitions. Pretty soon my Grandpa was stacking cans for extra shots and my uncle was disappearing when his turn came.
That Daisy kept me busy thousands of hours. Totally reliable, it just kept shooting. Chores were paid for in BBs. Out on the farm, my cousins and I learned the ground rules of group shooting and hunting of pests that would prep us for a future of game hunting and shooting clays.
As I began to outgrow the Daisy Golden Eagle, I had a great-uncle who invited us over for a fish-fry and to show me something very special he’d purchased. Uncle Ed liked firearms very much, and his interests included target shooting, small game hunting and shotgunning sports. He had Browning 28 gauges (to be sporting), custom 12 gauge over and unders (to win) and a number of pistols and revolvers that duly impressed me.
On that night, he made me wait until after dinner before unveiling his latest purchase. After all, if he didn’t, who would fry the fresh catfish and carp that he prided himself on? It was a big summer gathering, so we were eating out on the patio. After what seemed to be the longest dinner of my young life, Uncle Ed went into the house and returned several minutes later carrying some type of rifle. Wood-stocked and deeply blued, I was unfamiliar with it’s profile. Proudly handing it to me, he proclaimed that this was the Rolls-Royce of air rifles–the Sheridan Blue Streak.
This was rural Illinois, where Daisys and Crosmans were known items, but a high-quality pump-up pneumatic was something quite special.
The rest of the evening, we sat together at the bench in his backyard range (oh, those were the days!) and he went over its operation. Soon, we were shooting it together. We continued until it was too dark to go on.
The Blue Streak remained Uncle Ed’s rifle for quite some time. Then, one day, after one of our many shooting sessions, he handed the Sheridan to me with the simple words,” I think this should be yours now.” I was elated but struggled to hide my emotions lest they undermine my new found maturity. I thanked him sincerely as one man to another, while inside my 14-year-old head I was jumping in the air screaming WooooHoooo!
The Sheridan Blue Streak was the crown jewel of airguns. Getting one from Uncle Ed as a gift when I was 14 was one of the highlights of my youth!
By this point in my life, my parents had moved out to the country and on to some acreage adjacent to my grandpa’s farm. I had lots of opportunities for shooting the Blue Streak. The .20 cal. pellets were more expensive and harder to come by than other airgun ammo, but as far as I was concerned it was worth it. After all, they looked more like “real” bullets than other pellets. And some claimed them to be optimal over a greater range of applications. So, they did posses a certain sophistication factor.
Back then most people didn’t have access to a chronograph, so power was often defined in penetration. The hard-hitting Daisy No. 25 pump was said to put a BB through a tin can, but the Sheridan did that and more with ease.
In looking back over my shooting life, it was my Daisy BB gun and my family that taught me to love shooting. And it was my Great Uncle Ed and the Sheridan Blue Streak that taught me how to shoot.
Like many kids of that generation, I progressed to firearms and let airguns become a thing of my past. Then, one day, as a 40-year-old man, I met an airgun that would bring them back to the foreground! But that’s a different story.