How and when PA got started – Part 5
by B.B. Pelletier
Today we’ll hear Part 5 of how Pyramyd Air began. This story is written by the company’s owner and founder, Joshua Ungier.
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by Joshua Ungier
This story picks up at the point where I left you at the end of Part 4 in February, 2010.
I believe what really started PA was my non-stop traveling to Russia and Germany, sometimes for a month at the time. One day my wife asked me not to go to Russia anymore, or at least not to go for awhile. I had been on the road a lot that year, and to be honest I got really tired of frequent travel. Freezing in Siberia one day and the next day boiling in beautiful Uzbekistan was really a lot of fun but after a while it got old.
After seeing the sleek IZH-60 in a window display in Moscow, I decided to buy one for myself and bring it back to Ohio. Well, it didn’t happen. That rifle is still in Russia. The paperwork required and the little time I had to register it and get a permit that was not issued in time were the reason I missed out. In the meantime, my former partners produced a series of air pistols that were sold in the USA.
After my partners and I split to pursue different business directions, I had a eureka moment. It was an epiphany. I liked airguns. Period. And you can shoot at home without wrecking your house. Although I have a very large basement that in one area offers almost a 30-yard range, shooting a firearm of any caliber bigger than a .22 long rifle has, sometimes, disastrous consequences — like ventilating a perfectly good cinderblock wall. The only good that comes from shooting a .44 Magnum Ruger Super Blackhawk in the basement is that you do not need to dust your rafters after firing a round. Just vacuum the dust off the floor. Don’t ask!
Being a gardener, I live for spring. My backyard, over time, has become a mini-farm. I grow everything from strawberries to watermelons and tomatoes. I also grow cherries and peaches and varieties of grapes, and, with them, the rodents that come to help me with the harvest. For years I’ve avoided killing the rodents by fencing off the area. They quickly learned to scale a wire fence or dig under. Short of putting razor wire and Claymore mines (face toward enemy, remember) around my tomatoes and strawberries, I figured I would have to breed attack cats.
“Get an airgun,” my friend Jerry suggested.
“You are nuts,” I answered. “I have plenty of real stuff in my safe.”
“Right,” he responded. “I can see the morning paper tomorrow.
“Insane resident of Pepper Pike shoots a chipmunk eating blueberries in his suburban garden. Several automobiles and houses in direct line of fire were severely damaged by the .50 caliber projectile continuing far beyond the vaporized remains of the annoying chipmunk.”
“Yes, unfortunately I can see that,” Jerry continued. “You are very possessive over your rhubarb. Get on the internet and buy an air rifle!” he concluded.
And I listened. After spending a week on the internet and visiting many auction sites, I found and bought the meanest, baddest and most powerful monster air rifle on the planet — very gently used .22 cal. Webley Patriot. It came with almost a full tin of Beeman Crow Magnum pellets. Needless to say, within a few weeks I had the yard to myself again. I did not count how many chipmunks met their maker that year. Local laws clearly state that one cannot discharge FIREARMS within city limits. Airguns are in a totally different category.
The Webley Patriot spring rifle was a large, powerful airgun.
Then I got the idea to contact some gardeners and orchard owners around my farm and beyond. That Friday I took my Patriot out to my 65-acre farm. Groundhogs were destroying the lower fields and both banks of the Black River that meanders through the property. Erosion was catastrophic. The dam holding back my 8-acre lake was in jeopardy!
Later that fall, I was preparing the lower field for spring when the front end of my John Deere took a dive into a hole big enough to swallow its front wheel all the way to the axle. It took a pickup full of dirt to level it off. On the river, the critters were denuding the banks of vegetation, leaving nothing to stop erosion. The area where most of them lived was on the steep bank on the east side of the Black River. That bank is peppered with holes leading to their burrows. Some holes were frightening in size. I set up a camo pup tent under a large willow across the river from that bank. The distance from my hide to the furthest hole was 32 yards. I wanted to see if using the air rifle would be as successful as my AR-15 is at 337 yards.
Over the years, more and more houses have been built around my farm, and shooting long-range firearms became a problem. Instead of seeking confrontations with my new neighbors, I decided to mothball my guns. A lot of young families have moved into spec-built houses that are not far enough away for a Lapua round. Because of these conditions, my Dragunov and other toys have been silent for a long time. But I digress.
On the way to the farm, I stopped at a gift shop and bought a pack of 25 brown party balloons with, coincidentally, a bulls eye with a cupid’s arrow through it. Is that coincidence or is it karma? I inflated a dozen of them and set them up in the field at 30 yards about 5 inches off the ground. It was fun to zero my rifle with the balloons moving in the wind. After I was satisfied with the results, I went back to the pup tent. A 20-lb. bag of sand was set up as a rest. The prone position was very comfortable. The most I had to elevate the rifle was 5 inches, and I had a horizontal sweep of practically 7 ft. I switched my cell phone to vibrate and looked over the 22-ft. span of the river separating two banks. There was no wind, just a soft sound of the water caressing numerous rocks.
Then one of the chucks peered out of his hole. His nose was sniffing furiously. I reached for my rifle only to remember that it was not ready. It was not loaded and the pellets were not accessible. They were still in a closed tin! Without taking my eyes off the critter, I reached for the rifle. The rodent scooted back into his hole. I slowly cocked the rifle, then opened a tin and reached for a pellet. The critter reappeared at the hole a moment later, sniffed the air again then came all the way out and slowly sashayed to the river, a mere 10 feet away from his burrow. I inserted a pellet into the breech and started to close the barrel.
The rodent stopped at the water’s edge as I closed the breech. Click! I put him in my sights as he looked up to find the source of the noise; at that moment he joined leagues of woodchucks in woodchuck heaven. He dropped where he stood!
The noise from a Patriot air rifle in close quarters rivals a .22 rimfire. Sound ricocheted off the bank and came back to me very loudly. It had not sounded that loud in an open field. I thought that that was it, that it would scare the rest of them into hiding. But that was not the case. A second animal came out no more than a minute later. I waited for him to get to the water’s edge. When he did, I was ready. With my sights on his head, I whistled very softly. As soon as he picked up his head to investigate, a Crow Mag tore through his heart and into the bank behind him. He dropped motionless where he was. That scene was repeated 11 more times over the next four hours. Every groundhog was dispatched with a single shot. It was getting dark, and the drive home was an hour. I left my tent right where it was anchored.
Next morning, I returned. This time I also brought a 10/22 Ruger for the second shot, if necessary. As it turned out, though, it was never necessary. By this time, I was very impressed with the air rifle. I removed 20 rodents in two days. Some were quite large. When the story got around about an air rifle that could take down groundhogs, the nurseries I had contacted got interested and I saw an opportunity.
A week later, I called Webley & Scott. A soft, very British voice on the other end said, “Webley and Scott. May we help you?”
“Yes,” I said. “My name is Joshua Ungier. I own a company called Pyramyd Air. I like your rifle very much and, perhaps, I could sell them for you in USA.”
“Let me switch you to our export manager,” the soft voice said.
“Thank you very much.”
“This is Tony Hall. How can I be of help to you, Joshua?” I heard a voice saying. It was a nice voice.