Why I’m an airgunner

by B.B. Pelletier

It started when, at the age of 9, I “inherited” my recently deceased father’s Benjamin 107 air pistol. There was no formal ceremony, nor was I named in his will. Indeed, my lawyer father had no will for himself. I simply came into possession of the front-pumper pneumatic because neither my mother nor my two sisters cared about it, and I did. It was all brass, covered with silver nickel and had wooden grips. My mother probably figured that since she couldn’t pump it there was no chance that her 9-year-old son would be able to. But I could! I could get at least three pump strokes into the pistol, which was enough to send a metal dart out the muzzle with enough force to stick in a dart board 15 ft away.


The Benjamin 107 was a fancy airgun for a 9-year-old boy.

Alas, I wasn’t satisfied with the 107. As nice as it was, it didn’t seem real to me. I wanted a Daisy BB gun; and from the first moment I saw one and knew what it was, I specifically wanted a Daisy No. 25 pump gun with blued steel and a wooden stock.

And I got one! From a boy who wanted to impress my older sister, and sold me his No. 25 for $5. But he forgot to tell me to oil it; and when it lost power a few days later, I tried to fix it — creating an instant basket case. I sold that mess for 25 cents just to get it out of my sight. The kid who bought it broughi it back a few days later after his dad had fixed it for him. That act turned me into a No. 25 collector; and, yes, I realize that I said last week that I didn’t collect anything, but apparently I misspoke…at least about Daisy No. 25s.

My mother then took pity on me and bought me a Kruger cap-firing BB pistol. It propelled a BB when a toy cap was fired at the breech. I used roll caps that had about a 40% operational rate. When the barrel was clean and the cap did fire, the BBs came out at almost 50 fps.


A poor excuse for a BB gun, the all-plastic, cap-firing Kruger was a failure.

The final air rifle of my youth was a Slavia of some sort. It was a .177 and not that powerful. I was in high school and by now far more interested in firearms than airguns, so it made a very small impression on my life.

Fast forward to my college years. I needed a job and a girl I knew at San Jose State told me about Frontier Village — a Western amusement park in San Jose. She said they were hiring. I applied and got hired.

I was a ride operator for 6 months, but I befriended the outlaw, a bad guy named Dakota, who introduced me to the world of Colt single-actions. That lead to my learning to reload, because my first single-aciton was a .38 Special. And nobody had any blanks to fit it. So, I rolled my own.


As the deputy marshal of Frontier Village, I won all my gun fights. It was in the script.

To condense the story, I owned 3 genuine Colt SAAs during the time that I worked at the Village. And I acquired 6 more when I went into the Army. I only mention that to say that this was not my airgun era. The Army afforded me the opportunity to shoot many different weapons — to the point that I filled my quota of interest for full-auto guns. I wasn’t allowed to spray and pray when I shot them. I was always being evaluated for score. So, it was like work, a situation that I had developed a strong aversion to.

But in my free time, I could go out to any open range and run it for myself and my friends. That greatly reinforced my interest in firearms.

Then, in Germany, I happened to buy a book called Airgun Digest, written and edited by Robert Beeman. Up to that point, I didn’t know what was going on in the airgun world. And, in the biggest irony, I lived almost 4 years in Erlangen, the home of the BSF airgun factory.

One day, while walking through the walled city of Rottenberg, I happened upon the first and only gun store I saw in Germany. I went in and encountered world-class airguns for the very first time. The Walther LGV and LGR target rifles, both were too expensive for a young family man, but the Diana model 10 pistol was just my size. I bought it and began an adult love affair with airguns that continues to this day!


The Diana model 10 air pistol turned me into a confirmed airgunner.

Why I remain an airgunner
First of all, this isn’t an either/or choice. You can shoot both firearms and airguns, which is what I do. I just shoot airguns about 100x more than I do firearms. It’s too easy to shoot airguns all the time. When there’s no place shoot my .45/70 Trapdoor Springfield, I can often shoot my Quackenbush .458, which uses the same bullet and has about a third the power.

The build quality of selected airguns puts most affordable firearms to shame. Try to find a firearm that can hold a candle to a TX200 some time. Even a Weatherby Mark V falls short in my opinion. And the TX sells for a fraction of what the Kimber costs.

So, I’ll remain an airgunner. I will also remain a firearm shooter. And I will use one discipline to reinforce the other. For me, the airguns make shooting firearms all the more satisfying.

75 thoughts on “Why I’m an airgunner

  1. Regarding today’s topic, I have question. For those that don’t like killing anything, AT ALL – so no hunting and not even pest control (I am pretty sure I am not the only one here), why do we like shooting and guns or airguns – especially the quality ones? I’ve been trying to answer this but I guess I really don’t know. I just know I like shooting and enjoy looking at high quality guns. Hope I am not too weird here πŸ™‚


    • tdung,

      You are not weird. In fact, you’re pretty normal as far as shooters are concerned. There are a surprising number of people who do not hunt but enjoy shooting & looking at guns. There are even vegetarians who like to shoot guns πŸ™‚

      Edith


    • tdung,

      Shooting is the same as archery and darts. Man has an inborn desire to be accurate, even to the throwing of a ball. Shooting is nothng more than a form of this.

      I no longer hunt, though I’m not opposed to it. And I don’t shoot pests anymore, though I would if they threatened my home. You are probably among the majority of shooters.

      B.B.


    • As far as whacking pests…I guess it is a throwback. Man has a latent desire to guard his cave. There is a bit of wild, savage pride in outsmarting a beast (starling) that has been damaging your territory.


      • I have not killed anything with a air rifle since I was a kid, granted I am just getting back into the sport after some 25-30 years. But I have to admit the caveman is coming out in me and I do want to shoot something. But, maybe I am a softy now, I have live trapped several possums and a coon in the last few weeks, and they all were taken on a little vacation, alive and happy. I do wish I had a gun when I saw a snake last week.


    • tdung,

      Your question, “why do we like shooting when we never intend to kill anything?” struck a chord with me.

      I hunted most of my life with firearms. Quit hunting years ago. Quit shooting firearms because of ammo cost and the inconvenience of getting to a decent range. Don’t miss the hassle of cleaning guns after a trip to the field or range either.

      Bought an airgun for pest elimination and re-discovered my love of shooting. Why? For me grabbing a gun and heading outside rekindles many fond memories. Shooting paper and cans is an activity that many of my friends enjoy as well so it’s a wonderful way to pass the time with buddies. The other reason I love to shoot is because it’s a hobby that I’ll never master. Some days I’m on and other days I’m humbled. This keeps me interested since I know with practice I’ll get better but will never be perfect.

      You may be weird but you have a lot of company.

      kevin



      • I spent Sunday afternoon shooting with five friends at a private shooting range. It started as a chance to try out a new Sig P232 and sight in a .22mag, but I brought along a P17 and my new S200 as well. We burned through two boxes of ammo and at least as many pellets before thunderstorms shut things down. I heard over and over again how accurate the two air guns were, and I believe we had as much fun with them as with the powder burners. Though I occasionally hunt and shoot pests, for me this is a fascination with precision equipment and the challenge of learning to use it well.

        Jay



    • C-S:
      “Blump” your descriptive use of the English language is coming on well πŸ™‚
      Reactive targets like old coffee mugs and cheap ornaments in an upturned metal bucket(Catches splinters and saves time cleaning up) are very satisfying to shoot at.
      We have lots of charity shops that sell second hand cheap Tut ornaments.
      The amount I have bought they must think my house is the height of bad taste πŸ™‚
      DaveUK


      • I just have to tell you about one occasion I was buying some ornamental targets from my local charity shop.
        I almost let slip the intended fate of this ‘Fine’ porcelain.
        The guy was putting this set of ornamental Woodland animals I had bought in a paper bag and said,
        “These could be collectors pieces one day”
        Spotting an open goal I replied,
        “I might be collecting the pieces sooner than you think”
        Thank goodness he didn’t get the joke πŸ™‚
        DaveUK



          • C-S:
            The biggest’game’I have shot was a badly made and painted Porcelain Shire horse and cart.
            How they could managed to paint a patronising expression on a horse I do not know.
            This is a win win situation.
            Charity wins by selling Tut to me.
            I win by shooting it and ridding the earth of this crime against fine pottery πŸ™‚
            DaveUK



  2. Hi BB:
    It is fascinating to read about your background which lead you to where you are today.Thank you.

    As you know choice is not that easy in the UK when it comes to what a guy can own and shoot.
    That is how I got into air gun shooting.
    However that would do air gunning in Britain a great dis service if I begrudgingly said it was only because of tough firearms laws we did it.
    Owning and shooting a quality air rifle or pistol can tick almost as many boxes as a firearm without all the hassle.
    DaveUK


    • DaveUK,
      I’m curious. What does this mean, “…can tick almost as many boxes…”? Is this a typo or a British expression for something? You Brits have a unique way of describing things that are fun. Is “Brits” a condescending term? If it is I won’t use it anymore. I mean no disrespect.
      -CJr


      • CJr:
        ‘Brits’is OK,it is very hard to offend a Brit.
        In fact the only thing that really offends Brits is folk who get easily offended πŸ™‚

        ‘Ticking the boxes’ is a euphemism which is based on a check list with boxes that
        you tick.
        For instance I would make a list of what I would like from a springer Air rifle.
        The R9 would meet a lot of my criteria on the list and therefore ‘Tick a lot of boxes’.
        The same phrase can be used when evaluating anything.
        Cars,Boats,fishing rods,Hollywood Hotties,Motorbikes,Houses,Razor blades and of course Hollywood Hotties….Didn’t I just write that?
        Anyway you see what I mean
        DaveUK


  3. To all of you who enjoy the ability to buy fine air guns or cartridge guns I say enjoy it while you can. That ability can disappear faster than you can imagine.

    I used to have a great job and made 55 – 65 K per year. My wife worked also and made 30k per year. So we could buy pretty much what ever we wanted and I had 55 or more guns of all types.

    Then I got cancer in 2005. By 2007 I had won the battle with cancer but had sold all but about 10 of my guns along with lots of other stuff to pay medical bills. I was also left disabled and unable to work as a result of the radiation and chemo.

    So now I am on SS disability and get less than 1/3 of what I made back in 2005. Actually between 1/4 and 1/3 what I made then.

    Not complaining mind you. Glad to be alive! Just saying that if you are fortunate enough to be able to buy and enjoy real good guns of any type, be thankful to God for it! It is a privilege afforded to you which can go away in a heart beat for many different reasons!

    I shoot because I have always from about 3 years old loved to shoot. I am glad for pellet guns which allow me to shoot on a 10 meter range in my basement! In order to hunt any more I would need a 4 wheeler and a state permit to hunt from a vehicle. Can’t afford it and have no place to store one either so that is out.

    Thank God for pellet guns and that I owned several nice ones I could not sell. Like my Beeman R9 and my Drulov DU 10 pistol. And I managed to scrimp and save and acquire a Disco. So I have one real nice example of all three types, springer, CO2, and PCP. Also owned several inexpensive ones I could not sell like a Daisy 953 Targetpro and others. Now days most of my shooting is confined to my basement range but I still really enjoy it and am thankful to God for it!


    • pcp4me -i dont think that you need 55 airguns to be happy (and i see that you are happy ),your story touched me but in the same time your story is not “sad story”about seling airguns -this is a story about your triumf against cancer ,we love our stuff but they are just that stuff


    • pcp4me
      Sounds like the treatment beat you up worse than mine did. I was fortunate enough to be retired and with some pretty good insurance. Still playing the waiting game with checkups every so often.

      twotalon


    • pcp4me,

      Amen to what you said. On March 28 I was healthy and hearty and the next day I began a journey that I never thought I would take. I don’t have cancer, but a dying pancreas isn’t very good, either.

      Today I am back in the hospital for a blood clot and this is the third hospital I’ve been to this year. Until 2010 I never even saw a doctor once a year.

      Stuff does happen quick!

      Hang in there, pal. We’ll both get through this.

      B.B.



    • Glad you won the battle! πŸ™‚ You are fortunate to have 10 guns and a 10 m range in your basement (don’t find many basements here in SWGA). I’ve been a 100% disabled vet and on SS disability since ’95. I really enjoy shooting but I only own a 2240, most other things that priority. I know what you mean about loss of income, myself and then wife going on disability a year ago. Hope you stay well, keep up the good fight! πŸ™‚

      rikib


  4. pcp4me,

    Thanks for your post. You are also so right when you said, ” That ability can disappear faster than you can imagine.” Not that anything like that has happened to me, but that we sure don’t seem to appreciate the things we have with good health being at the top of the list.

    Thank you again sir for the wake up call.

    Mr B.


  5. Hi folks,

    I just saw the spell check and am wondering, actually hoping that it was added last night sometime, cause this is the first time I’ve seen it. A welcome addition for me. Thanks Edith!

    Mr B.


    • Mr B:
      My other spell checker(Her indoors)is now happy.
      No more shouting through the house,”Lin,how do you spell this?” and “Lin,how do you spell that?”
      Lin says thank you Edith πŸ™‚
      DaveUK


      • DaveUK,
        I’ve installed two spell checkers on my wife’s laptop and she still always asks me “how do I spell …”, she gets annoyed when I tell her to just try what she thinks. I try to explain that the computer will offer suggestions, she just says, “Well why can’t you just tell me.” Oh well I’ve tried. πŸ™‚

        rikib


  6. BB,

    Great read for this morning. It’s always good to see where the beginings of other peoples’ hobbies/careers are. My first air rifle was a crosman 760 and I still have it. It doesn’t work anymore, but that will be fixed soon.

    pcp4me,

    I confirm you statement that things can change overnight in regards to the ability to buy airguns. I am no longer able to do that presently and its frustrating. Glad to see you kicked the big C. You’re a survivor.

    Twotalon,

    You too. glad to see you beat Cancer as well.

    C-S,

    Your English is improving by the day, nice work.

    All, I’ve got work!! I start a couple jobs this week, so you won’t have to put up with me so much. Check back with y’all tonight.

    Be well and shoot small.

    KA



  7. Interesting how common the attitude is that you either shoot wimpy bb guns or you are a macho firearm guy. Guess it’s tough to pigeon hole someone that does both. Short circuits the common man.

    I’m an airgunner because of convenience, cost and most importantly accuracy. My firearm credo was, “If the gun isn’t accurate I don’t need it.” Still applies to airguns. It’s amazing how accurate some airguns can be.

    B.B.,
    Sorry to hear you got stuck with a bad Weatherby Mark V. Can’t get lucky every time. LOL!

    kevin


  8. I too fall into the camp of liking firearms/shooting, but not really wanting to kill anything (though I would if it was necessary for my families survival…either shooting an animal for food…or the two legged predator type).
    I like the concentration involved of trying to hit those little dots they call a ’10’ on an International air rifle target. Or trying to see how small a group I can produce at 30yds+
    And a quality air gun has the same tactile appeal of a premium watch/fountain pen/etc.
    I gotta admit, when I joined our local range, even though they said air rifles were welcome I half expected to be on the receiving end of giggles and smirks. But everyone there, from black powder shooters to pistol packers to one fellow shooting a MacMillan .50 has shown us nothing but respect for our shooting choice.
    The black powder guys especially like to check out our gear and our results. I don’t know if they too feel a bit ‘off-centre’ compared to most shooters, but I have found them all very friendly.
    Maybe there is something to the saying “an armed society is a polite society” πŸ˜‰


  9. Very good points today! I love to shoot, but gave up hunting while in college. I was fox hunting in a Minnesota winter. This involves going out on a 0 degree day in snow camo, digging a hole and burying oneself in a snowbank overlooking a fox trail. All went well until I had the fox dead in my sights of my Remington .22. At that point I realized I had won the game. To kill the fox would be anticlimactic and pointless.

    We discussed some time ago the coincidence that many airgunners also have had past experience driving race cars. The two activities involve the same mix of elements: mechanical and human skill. Maybe it isn’t so much a coincidence after all.

    My only firearm these days is a Trapdoor Springfield .45/70. I can’t afford to shoot that thingh enough to ghet good at it, but would never part with it. It has been handed down to me through generations of my family.

    Les


  10. I got into airguns as a teenager – my best friend had a Crosman 140 and got me hooked. Started with a 2200 but getting an R1 in 1984 really opened up a whole new realm of quality and accuracy. All that time spent honing trigger skills with the airguns translates into better shooting with firearms. Getting a springer to shoot one-hole groups at 25 yards teaches you good breathing, trigger control, and consistency. Another advantage is being able to shoot in the back yard instead of having to go to the range.

    Paul in Liberty County


  11. Thanks everyone for helping with my HW30 issue.

    Replying to SL:
    ———
    SL wrote:
    tdung

    You can get a good sized tub of moly grease at Advance or Auto Zone for about $10. There are better quality grades of moly available, but I don’t know how big a difference it would make. I had occasion to pick up an HW50S lately even though an HW30 was what I was really after. It was very tight cocking and made scraping sounds when I cocked it. I decided to break open the barrel and add a very liberal amount of β€œPhil’s Tenacious Oil” around the breech bolt and surrounding areas. It is made for bicycling but I had it laying around. Then I worked the barrel back and forth which much ferocity. Then I let it sit to soak (with the barrel broken) some more. I bet any good quality oil, allowed to soak into the area (try and keep it out of the actual breech) will halt any future galling. Your cocking may also likely get easier as mine did.

    Perhaps the breech bolt needs to be loosened ever so slightly? From what I understand the barrel should stand where you leave it without moving, but no tighter.
    ——–

    Thanks SL.
    My HW30 does not have the rubbing at the breech bolt areas, but rather the underside area – where the double arm cocking linkage rubs against the barrel base block (and perhaps underside of the compression chamber too, though I am not so sure without removing the stock). I know the HW50S has the same double arm cocking mechanism – do you see any of rubbing marks there? I can see them after about 200 shots. If HW50S does not have this issue then maybe I should upgrade my HW30 to HW50S. My concern is noise level, which HW50S may produce a higher level since it is more powerful. Thanks.



    • One of them goes between the pump tube and the barrel.
      If I remember right, about half way between front and back. It falls out easily.
      Don’t have a clue about the other.

      twotalon



      • twotalon,
        Thanks for the info. The piece of plastic on the right, in the picture, is curved on one side and flat on the other. Can you tell if the curved part goes against the barrel or the tube? The radius of the curve doesn’t seem to match either. I wonder if it is supposed lift where you said it goes to make the barrel free float at the front of the stock.

        Also the one on the left isn’t part of the latching mechanism and probably fell out with the other piece when I removed the barrel and action from the stock.
        -CJr


  12. B.B. – So is that actually you in the picture at Frontier Village? I’ll bet that was a fun job. Hope your hospital visit went well today, I’m sure you can’t wait to put all of this behind you. It sounds like you have some friends on this blog who can identify with you, I’m sure that’s a comfort for all of you.

    I do have an airgunning technique question for any of the blog experts: When you are practicing the artillery hold, your hand is described as being ‘relaxed.’ I think I have furthered my understanding of that statement in that if you rest the rifle on your hand alone, it should not have a tendency to move off target on its’ own. Is that correct? If so, are you actually pointing your hand with your wrist and only relaxing the hand, or relaxing hand and wrist and moving the rest/sandbag around to remove any latent movement off target? Seems like a subtle question, but one that is making a difference with the Princess.



      • Sure, I was always only using for support and keeping it relaxed. What occurred to me specifically was that if I balanced the rifle in my relaxed hand alone, it had a tendency to rotate off target and I had to push the butt stock over to get back and hold on target. I’m thinking that this was adding to my accuracy problems with such a sensitive rifle. I could either move the rest around in order to take all latent forces off of the rifle so that it basically stays on target by itself like it does when rested directly on the sandbag, or I can ‘aim’ my hand while keeping the hand itself relaxed but engaging my wrist, elbow and shoulder. I’m trying to understand which, if either, is the proper technique.


        • Good luck with your quest to knowledge ;)! You can try just that -aim while keeping your hand and wrist relaxed and try to adjust aiming with -left relaxed hand (if you are right handed ) try different techniques…. i really think that scoped 34 is kinda unbalanced (maybe because of stock shape) but this is what i think from my experience


        • And Fused -don t break the spring -that means don t do what i have done- don t over lube the gun with some oil with unknown origin πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ watch out and enjoy while i am waiting -but patience is a virtue so i guess i ll wait :-/


        • Hi Fused,

          Once you “removed all latent forces”, you have found what is referred to as the “natural point of aim”. Adjust your points of contact (bench rests, feet, chest, elbows, etc.) until that natural point of aim is the bull. One trick is to close your eyes as you are getting into position and relax, then open your eye to see what the current natural point of aim is. This applies to any rifle or pistol in any shooting position, not just a sensitive springer.

          Jay



  13. Why do I shoot airguns? Because I like to shoot. No more having to go to the range. If I have 5 minutes to shoot, I can shoot for 5 minutes in the back yard.

    David Enoch



  14. SL,
    I guess my heart broken impasse about the German Shepherd puppy has come to a happy ending. I picked him up tonight! πŸ™‚ So far no problems getting along with our other four dogs, cats well two of them have given him a good smack on the nose but he’ll learn. He’s sleeping here at my feet now, I guess vet bills will probably interfere with some savings for guns. It maybe just me but looking at him it was not a hard choice. “Charlie” and I will have many happy years together! And I won’t have to lube him, buy pellets, CO2, etc., just being funny πŸ™‚ I do have a good vet that gives me a multi-pet discount (like a multi-car discount) πŸ™‚ He even makes house calls in this day and age, also lets me run a tab.

    rikib


  15. I shot .22 rimfire for 55 years, and still would be shooting it, if I had a place to shoot. My firearm range is 70 miles RT, and then its a poor excuse, public wildlife area. The deer clubs have everything else sewed up. I shoot airguns out of necessity. But guess what? I’ve come to realize that it’s all the same, whether its a .45, 30-06, what ever, you still have to put them in the 10 ring no matter what you shoot.
    Bulls-eye size and distance equal everything out. I’ve come to really enjoy air pistol shooting @ 25′, I figured it costs me $35 a year to shoot ( 8mo.) got to love a hobby like that.
    It scratches my itch


    • pirouge,

      Welcome to the blog. You cite the number one reason most of us shoot airguns. More shooting. I am a firearm shooter like you, but I shoot 20-30 times more with airguns than with firearms, and for the same reason you cite.

      Welcome to the blog. The current page is always located here:

      /blog//

      You can also access it from the home page of Pyramyd Air, located here:

      https://www.pyramydair.com/

      There is a blue stripe near the top of the page. Click on Blog and you’ll go to the current page.

      B.B.


  16. I couldn’t agree with you more. Shooting in the backyard, basement or garage is the best to me.
    You can’t forget something, you have a 15min before you have to go pick-up the kids from whatever they had to do… well you have 15min to shoot.
    On a typical day I can have maybe a half hour to shoot but 10mins X 3.

    JF

    Ps : you might wanna try posting on the current day blog where more people will read it. This blog is a few months old and very few of us monitor the old blogs.


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