by B.B. Pelletier

Guest blogger
In the same vein as Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck if…,” my wife, Edith, would like to share her observations of how to identify a dyed-in-the-wool airgunner.

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by Edith (Mrs. B.B.)

When we were publishing the Airgun Letter, I noticed that airgunners are often drawn to the same things. While going to airgun shows, my husband would find lots of common ground with airgunners on things unrelated to airgunning. It was uncanny how many guys liked the same things.

At the show in Roanoke, Virginia, a number of us joined show coordinator Fred Liady and his wife, Dee, for dinner at a great Italian restaurant. Although there were several of us at the table, the most memorable were Josh and Boris from Pyramyd Air (if you’ve spoken to either one of them, you’re nodding in agreement). The conversation somehow switched to tractors. My husband loves the old ones, and Josh mentioned that he had vintage tractors and was rebuilding them. That was the first time I realized that airgunners had a lot of common interests outside this niche hobby.

You know you’re an airgunner if…watching a stirling engine is hypnotic
From the earliest days of our marriage, I noticed that Tom was fascinated by engines. If it was well-made or functioned in a unique or unexpected way, he was as captivated as a two-year-old flushing a roll of toilet paper.

The first time I witnessed his fascination with a stirling engine was when he saw a tiny one churning away atop a cup of steaming coffee. It was as if Australopithecus had just witnessed the first spark of fire made by his own hands. He was giddy…laughing and smiling at such wonderment. Ever since that time, I’ve been forced to look at every stirling engine he’s found at flea markets or seen in a catalog. Yes, they’re unique, but we have no use for one. And, no, we don’t own one. I’ve already got a houseful of airguns, so the thought of stocking up on hundreds of stirling engines has very little appeal.

You know you’re an airgunner if…you can easily identify any vintage tractor at great distance
Tractors were just as fascinating as stirling engines. Whenever we drive anywhere, he’ll point out old tractors on the side of the road or abandoned in a field. When he sees one for sale, the first thing I say is, “No, you can’t buy it.” We live on a lot the size of a postage stamp. What are we gonna do with a Johnny-popper the size of our back porch? My “just say no” attitude hasn’t stopped Tom from seeking out old tractors, reading tractor books and talking about them in terms of endearment.

I once tested the tractor-airgun link at a show. Tom was part of a small cluster of airgunners gathered before the show opened. I walked up to one of the guys that I knew and said we’d seen a certain vintage tractor while driving to the show. Immediately, the conversation turned to tractors. I rest my case.

You know you’re an airgunner if…you can identify the make and model of most airguns at 50 paces
When we lived in Maryland, we attended a weekly flea market held in the parking lot at a local mall. It was huge, and we bought quite a few collectible airguns over the years.

One time, Tom and I were standing in an aisle and he noticed an airgun at the bottom of a pile of rakes and other assorted garden and household tools, and he said it was a Daisy No. 25. Doesn’t sound unusual? The pile of stuff was three aisles over–about 50 yards. It’s staggering how he can identify a gun by the muzzle at this distance.

Yet, at the same flea market, we often went our separate ways and hooked up again an hour later. In order to do that (pre-cell phone days), I looked down each aisle to find Tom. When I did, I would call his name every 5-10 seconds, raise my right hand and waive in an exaggerated fashion as I walked toward him. It was comical to those who observed my metronome-like behavior. Tom would slowly turn around while standing in place to identify the source of the sound and to see if he could figure out which one of the people might be me. I had to get within 10-15 feet before he’d recognize me. He has visual agnosia (an inability to recognize familiar/common faces or shapes), but that applies ONLY to me. It does not apply to friends, other family members or airguns. We’ve now been married 27 years and nothing has changed. I had the same experience at Wal-Mart just last week. He was 20 yards away but didn’t know who I was until he followed the sound of my voice and got within 15 feet of me.

Visual agnosia is not common to airgunners, as far as I know, but the ability to identify airguns by the smallest visible part from distances that would make eagles jealous is a known trait.

You know you’re an airgunner if…you think it’s okay to spend $1,000 on a gun but highway robbery to pay $5.00 for a tin of pellets
Airgunners are not stingy, miserly or cheap. In fact, they often spend large quantities to acquire their prized possessions. But, they try to economize in areas that make no sense to me. Here are some examples.

When we were publishing the Airgun Letter, a man who was not a subscriber asked if we could fax him a past article about an Air Arms gun. He’d bought the gun and heard that we’d written a lot of useful info about it. At the time, we sold back issues of the newsletter for $2.25. He could give me a credit card or send a check, and I’d send him the newsletter. He told me he couldn’t afford to buy the back issue because he’d also ordered a custom Maccari stock for the gun. In all, he had over $1,000 in this rig. I didn’t fax the article, but I would soon find out that it was not considered irrational for an airgunner to spend a huge wad while economizing on the least expensive part of the hobby.

Another airgunner called to chat. He didn’t want anything from us, just wanted to talk to a fellow collector. When I asked what he was shooting in his gun, he told me he didn’t have pellets yet and was driving up to Rick Willnecker’s place in Pennsylvania to buy some. The caller lived in Virginia, so I was surprised that he’d drive several hours to buy pellets. When I mentioned this, he told me that he could save $1.00 a tin by driving up to Rick’s. He wasn’t buying a case or a large quantity…just a few tins. Whatever he saved on pellets would be spent on gas. Because I’ve heard this rationale more than once (not just about pellets but also about scopes, rings and other accessories), I have to include it as typical airgunner behavior.

That’s it for today. I’m sure other common traits will occur to me. If so, I’ll compile them in a future blog. If nothing else, this blog should serve many of you quite well. Print it out, show it to your spouse as evidence that you are part of an elite group with distinctive traits.