by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s blog is targeted toward our younger readers — I think (and hope!). Edith has been reading hundreds of Pyramyd Air customer gun reviews for the past week, trying to get caught up with a huge backlog. She has encountered several dozen complaints that should never have been lodged in the first place. They’re complaining about a product being exactly what it’s advertised to be, instead of what the buyer really wanted!

Think about that, because it’s also something that I encounter quite often in comments from new blog readers. A guy orders something and is then put off when it arrives, because it is exactly as advertised instead of being the fantasy he concocted while shopping. I’m using the male pronoun purposely because this is a trait I see only in young men.

It may not sound like anything worthy of discussion on this blog, but I believe this is at the root of a lot of potential new airgunners being put off airgunning forever. If that’s true, it matters a lot, because it will keep this hobby from growing!

First example
To keep from embarrassing anyone, the following customer complaint is fictitious, but it is no more bizarre than many of the real ones I have read.

This Crosman 2100B is a piece of junk! I wish it was a breakbarrel and instead of 650 f.p.s. would shoot 1,200 f.p.s. with .25 caliber hunting pellets. The only thing I like about it is the price. Keep that.

To me, this review was obviously written by a very young man, someone probably under the age of 18, and this is his first experience with buying something for himself. The complaint is a thinly disguised plea for life to conform to his imagination, rather than the harsh reality that it is. I think this is what happens when too many video games have instilled the false belief that things always turn out for the best. After all, didn’t the magic scorpion turn into the Jewel of Osiris when he poured the Potion of Hope on it?

If he really wanted what he said, why didn’t he buy an AirForce Condor in .25 caliber? It might not have achieved quite 1,200 f.p.s. with .25-caliber hunting pellets, but it would have come closer than any other pellet rifle on today’s market. Of course, it also wouldn’t have been a breakbarrel, but do you know what that means? The young man telling himself a second lie. This one is that spring-piston guns can achieve similar velocities as precharged guns, because he can’t stand thinking about the extra expense and added effort that goes into owning and using PCPs.

He told himself all these falsehoods for one reason. Money. He hasn’t got any. The Crosman 2100 was all he could afford, but the dream rifle that doesn’t exist anywhere is what he really wants — or thinks he does.

Without analyzing the young man’s desires, let’s move on. There are plenty more where this came from.

Second example
I get this next one a lot. It starts out as a question from a new reader and it more or less goes like this.

I am new to airgunning and am considering buying my first air rifle. Can you please evaluate the following guns for me and give your reasons for what you say about each one?

Remington Vantage air rifle
Gamo Varmint Hunter
Hatsan 125TH air rifle combo
Walther Talon Magnum

When I see a list like this, I immediately know what’s happening. You probably do, too. This young man wants “The mostest, powerfulest air rifle” he can afford. Notice that he didn’t put one RWS Diana rifle on his list, even though there are some like the RWS Diana 350 Magnum that are in the same power class. Every rifle on his list comes with a scope, which tells me he also thinks he needs a scope to hit what he shoots.

Has he ever read about the artillery hold — or even thought about it? I doubt it.

Does he read the description that says each of these rifles is hard to cock? No! And what’s more, that information wouldn’t mean anything if he did read it, because he has never held a powerful airgun in his hands.

For that matter, has he read and understood what each of these powerful air rifles weighs? Once again, the answer is “no.”

When we get a comment like this on the blog, all the veteran readers take turns trying to persuade the new airgunner to reconsider his choices. It’s extremely frustrating, because what normally happens is that he posts a second list a few days later. One or two of the original guns will be on the new list, and he will have added others — hoping that we will now see his point of view.

We continue to try to persuade him to rethink his priorities, but he’s in a group of young men that is much larger than just airguns. In the world of firearms, these same new shooters are buying S&W .500 Magnum revolvers and .338 Lapua Magnun rifles, or .44 Magnum revolvers and 7mm Remington Magnum rifles, if they have less to spend. They end up selling their new guns after fewer than 50 shots, convinced that shooting is a harsh and painful pursuit.

I don’t see any way to reach people with this kind of mindset, short of mentoring them one at a time. They don’t read, as a rule. Or if they do, they only read things that support their personal viewpoints. Many of these are the guys who are so vocal on the forums but have zero experience to back up what they say. If you watch the forums over a long period, you’ll notice that they come, are active and very vocal for a brief period, and then disappear forever.

If a young person shows up at my rifle range and wants to learn about shooting, he’ll be overwhelmed by all the voluntary assistance and mentoring he receives. It has actually happened a few times. But getting him to come is the hard part.

Third example
I once had to finish a gutshot deer for a drunken neighborhood man who had wounded it with a single barrel shotgun (in our suburban neighborhood where hunting was not permitted!). He shot it with only two rounds in his pocket and hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to finish the job. After the animal was dead I told the young man that it was time to clean the deer, so he whipped out a bowie knife and made for the throat.

“Whoa!” I shouted at him. “What are you trying to do?”

“I’m going to slit its throat to bleed it out,” was the reply.

I then instructed him in the correct method of cleaning a deer, by opening its gut and dumping all the intestines, organs and pooled blood out on the ground. Then I watched him squirm when I made him reach up and cut the deer’s diaphragm, so he could reach up even farther and cut the esophagus and windpipe, releasing the remainder of the internal organs from the carcass. You would have thought you were watching a teenage girl in biology class being asked to dissect a frog!

I could have done all this for him, of course, but he had just ended this deer’s life and I wanted the full impact of what he had done to sink in. Now, let me show you what this looks like among new airgunners who are making choices of what airguns to buy.

They buy an air rifle without sights, then complain bitterly that it came that way — without sights. Now they have to pay even more money for a scope!

Hello? Did you read the description that clearly said the gun has no sights?

Of course not. They were too busy daydreaming about making fantastic shots like the ones they see on the internet.

So, they get their new scopes and struggle through mounting them. Then they shoot the new gun for the first time and are bitterly disappointed because it doesn’t print the tight little groups they’re so used to seeing elsewhere.

Well, of course it doesn’t! All the while, they’ve been mixing the groups shot by guns like the Air Arms TX200 and the Air Venturi Bronco with the power of the mega-magnums, whose velocities have mesmerized them. They couldn’t find as many groups posted from the powerful guns, so they just assumed they were the same as the ones they did find.

Someone recently commented that I always tout the Bronco because of the royalties I must get from the sales. Edith set him straight right away. There are no royalties in airguns! This is not rock music, my friends. This is a little niche hobby that doesn’t gross as much as quilting or the Sno-Cone industry! I “tout” the Bronco for just one reason: It’s accurate.

At the end of the day, if someone buys a Bronco I know it’s going to be accurate for them — no matter what level of shooting experience they have. That’s so much better than listening to a bunch of whining and crying because the gun of their dreams turned out to be a nightmare in their hands.

The school of hard knocks
The bane of youth is that there is no body of experience to temper their desires. I went through it and so did most of you. We made a lot of mistakes that became the price of our wisdom, such as it is. It seems there’s no shortcut through this kind of learning, either.