A newbie blunders into airguns
by B.B. Pelletier
Today we have a guest blog by a new airgunner who goes by the handle NewBlue19. It’s important to see airgunning through a new shooter’s eyes, and I welcome all guest blogs like this. I found it eye opening, and I think you will, too.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Take it away, NewBlue19!
I’m impulsive by nature. Despite being in my thirties, I’ve never outgrown that trait. In early November 2011, I was reminiscing about how much fun I had shooting a cheap pellet rifle with my dad that he had purchased when I was about 12.
I immediately went online, searched “air rifle” and was rewarded with thousands of sites selling, reviewing and recommending assorted air guns. Some were vendors while others were forums for experienced shooters. YouTube offered hundreds of videos of 12-year-old kids nailing a can from 60 yards away. I was hooked, and an hour later had placed an order for a Remington NPSS in .22. It had digital camo stock, a 3-9x scope and a raised rubber cheek piece! I had no idea what kind of shooting I was going to be doing; but with this awesome-looking rifle, I was going to be the terror of my backyard.
While waiting for the rifle to arrive, I began to do some actual research online. I found useful informative sites like Pyramyd Air, AirgunWeb, and a few others. I began to learn the difference between breakbarrels, sidelevers, PCPs and multi-pumps. I read up on the artillery hold, hold sensitivity, learned what f.p.s. (feet per second) and f.p.e. (foot-pounds of muzzle energy) really mean. I watched videos on mounting scopes and sighting them in, and I finally realized that I had probably made my first blunder. The Remington that I had just ordered just might be a little/or a lot of overkill for my tiny suburban backyard.
At this point, I had read that Tom Gaylord as wells as AirgunWeb’s Rick Eutsler recommended the Air Venturi Bronco to new shooters. They mentioned the good sights, the light trigger and the easy cocking. But do I listen? Of course not! I understood where they were coming from, but I didn’t like the blond stock or the lower velocity. Instead, I ordered the Stoeger X5 air rifle in .177 from Pyramyd Air as a starter gun to learn to shoot with it. I do not regret getting the X5, as it’s a nice, quiet, lightweight, accurate plinker. However, I had just made newbie blunder No. 2.
As a 12-year-old shooting with dad, I had no concept of good trigger management, trigger-pull weight or length of trigger travel. I was happy to just knock over the soda can and considered myself a success when I did. As an adult, I now want to hit the dead center of the can or get nice tight shot groups on paper.
With both the Remington and Stoeger rifles now delivered and scoped, off I went to zero them in at 10 yds. I quickly realized that blunder No. 2 (heavy trigger) applied equally to both rifles. Reviews for both rifles clearly stated that both rifles had long, heavy triggers. As a newbie, I had no idea what that meant. I’m a grown man! I can pull a 5-lb. trigger!
Sure, all of us can pull a 5-lb. trigger, but it takes extra concentration and good trigger management to group well with a trigger like that. Since getting both rifles, I’ve had a chance to shoot rifles with better triggers from RWS and Beeman. The difference is easily noticeable. Had I listened to what Tom and Rick had repeatedly said, I would have gotten the Bronco as a starter rifle. It would have been easier and quicker to master and probably a little more fun to shoot.
I asked to write this guest blog in order to share my experiences as a new airgunner. I figure that maybe other newbies could save a little time, money and effort by not repeating the same mistakes I make as I go along — and experienced guys could get a laugh and sagely nod their heads at my hiccups. I think that experienced people sometimes forget the learning curve involved in undertaking a new hobby and the inevitable mistakes that occur while gaining that same experience. So, what did my first two blunders teach me?
Blunder No. 1 taught me to match the air rifle to the type of shooting, environment and distances I’d be shooting. Suburban backyard plinking with neighbors stacked all around you doesn’t require a relatively heavy 4-ft. long rifle. Add in the fact that I don’t eat wild game or know how to clean or skin it, I won’t need a “hunting rifle” anytime soon. Finally, figure in the 20-25 yard depth of my backyard and a busybody retiree living next door, and the Bronco (or Stoeger) would have been plenty of rifle for me. The $260 I spent on the Remington and $30 in assorted .22 pellets would have gotten me more than halfway to a really nice upgrade from the Stoeger when I was ready to make the leap.
Blunder No. 2 taught me to take the time to read the useful, knowledgeable reviews that some of the experienced reviewers leave. Not the ones that simply state “dime-sized groups at 25 yds” or “killed a tree rat with my second shot out the box.” Both are more boastful than useful. I’m referring to the well thought out reviews that cover fit, finish, triggers and any possible issues the reviewer encountered. If several experienced guys state the same thing, they probably have a point. Why fight or have to overcome an issue or shortcoming when you can just avoid it altogether? The information and experience is out there. We new airgunners just have to sort through it and use it.
I hope my experience will benefit some of you in the future.
Afterword from B.B.
Thank you, NewBlue19. I appreciate a newcomer’s viewpoint because it’s been many years since I shared your perspective. I know what you mean when you say a 5-lb. trigger doesn’t sound like much until you actually try it. Until you see the crosshairs walk off-target because of a heavy trigger-pull or until you group seven shots all to the lower left of the target with a certain handgun (lower right, if you’re a lefty), it’s impossible to know how this stuff really works.
So, factor that in to your research. You may read something that’s the honest truth and also a good description, but until you gain a little experience with the same stuff, it just won’t mean as much to you.