Too much jargon in airgunning?
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Merry Christmas from Edith and me!
FOR SALE: M-ROD .25 with super-fine LDC. Has HDD and is as quiet as an incontinent mouse. Shoots MOA all day. Great for backyard safaris. Check me out on the BOI, where I go by Stinky.
If you understood any of that, you’ve spent too much time reading about airguns on the internet and far too little time shooting them. Yes, it all has meaning, but that’s my point today. It shouldn’t.
I think we use far too much jargon in out hobby; and as a result, we turn off newcomers, who feel they can never understand what the insiders are saying. I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own. I received a Christmas present of a book about the AR-15 rifle, and I’m darned if I understand half of what’s in it! And I have five decades of shooting experience behind me. I used to own an arms room with 110 M16 rifles, among other things, and I still don’t know the inside jokes, references and jargon bantered about by today’s AR enthusiast.
And here’s the sad part — I asked for this book specifically to learn about ARs because, when I went online, I couldn’t understand most of what they were saying. How bad is it when the book that’s supposed to decipher the code is written in the same code?
A long time ago, I learned a very important life lesson. If I don’t understand something after giving it my best effort, the likelihood is that nobody else understands it, either. But nobody wants to say anything because they think they’re the only ones who cannot see the emperor’s fine new clothes. Once one person opens up and reveals his lack of understanding, the entire facade usually melts away and everyone realizes that the whole thing was confusing to everyone. But nobody wants to be that first person for fear it’s really something everyone else understands.
This is especially important to writers — or at least it should be. We should never take for granted that our readers all understand what things like shrouds and double-action-only actions mean. We should always give either an explanation of the term, or at least enough contextual clues so the reader can puzzle things out. A shrouded barrel is one in which the true barrel is contained within an outer jacket that contains the air blast and attenuates the muzzle report. That makes a shroud a type of silencer, and we can either explain that fact, or make reference to how quiet the gun is when it fires because of the shroud. There need to be multiple ways of revealing things, or the writing soon becomes boring and starts reading like an owner’s manual.
When I make reference to double-action triggers, I find that a significant percentage of my readers do not fully understand what that term means. Even the longtime veteran shooters sometimes don’t know. When that happens, it doesn’t get fixed with context. It needs an entire blog to clear up the mystery, and I discover quite a lot of folks are relieved by learning the meaning of the term.
Can the blog also explore advanced topics?
If every report has to explain everything, is it possible to delve into a more technical topic and examine it thoroughly? I think it is, but what has to happen is the topic must be fully developed with the explanatory info either all up front or explained as we go. Just to pick one example, we’re now looking into the effects of the rifling twist rate on accuracy and velocity. So far, I’ve written three reports that each look at one twist rate from the standpoint of velocity. Nobody has complained (in the comments, at least) that the information is too simple. In fact, just the opposite. Readers have noted that the test data are difficult to understand, which forces me to write a special fourth report that analyzes the results of the first three tests.
By the time this test is complete, we’ll have explored a topic that has never before been documented in print — namely, the effects of the rifling twist rate on diabolo pellets in an airgun. I have already seen several comments that say, in essence, “Surely airgun manufacturers have conducted their own tests to determine the optimum twist rates for the guns they make.” Since all four smallbore airgun calibers have had the identical twist rate for over a century, I think it’s pretty obvious they haven’t. Either that or the twist rate doesn’t have much of an affect on a diabolo pellet, and they have each quietly discovered this fact. Either way, we’re going to explore the topic and do so without resorting to insider jargon or offhand references to “facts” that “everybody knows.” In short, you can learn about airguns without the need to know a lot about the shooting sports. You’ll need to pay attention and give some thought to what you read, but nobody will be excluded from the discussion.
This is also why I write the way that I do. It would be so much easier for me to just write, “a 0.50-inch group,” but I always want to explain that the group was measured between the centers of the two holes that are farthest apart. And I’m certainly not going to refer to accuracy potential as “1 moa,” the way they do on the forums! That just gets too confusing for some people.
I also refuse to obfuscate or misdirect in my writing. So, while many airgunners call them Lead Dust Collectors or just LDC (with an implied wink), I will refer to them as silencers because that’s what they are.
There used to be a column in Guns & Ammo (I think) called Pinwheels and Fliers. How many people today would even know what that means? I remember having to write an entire report on what fliers are because there are so many interpretations.
I have been talking about the jargon we use to discuss our hobby among friends. But there’s another language problem, and that one is using words correctly. Don’t say that you are “patterning” a rifle when you are shooting groups. Patterns are the hits from shotguns, recorded on paper. Groups are shots fired using a single projectile from either a long gun or a handgun.
And metal is engraved, but wood is usually carved. Only when a machine like a laser engraver is used can the wood be said to be engraved.
The word rifling is singular, even though it describes multiple lands and grooves in a barrel. So there aren’t rifling(s).
One term that confuses even me is scope mount. There are scope bases and scope rings, and sometimes they are combined. When they are, I use the term mounts to describe them. And how do you differentiate the prepared “base” that’s already on a rifle from the scope “base” you had to buy and install yourself? This is where our hobby gets tricky.
What we got for Christmas
Okay, enough with the rant. What did Santa bring this year?
Actually, this year I didn’t get any guns, which is pretty unusual. But Edith got one! It’s more of a gag gift, and the story is interesting.
Edith wasn’t much of a gun nut before she married me. But after we were were married, she got on board with firearms and especially airguns, starting with the Sheridan Blue Streak I gave her that she used to kill mice and rats prowling our garden. Well, one airgun she became familiar with was the Schimel — a single-shot CO2 pistol that’s built in the style of the German Luger. So, since she knew the Schimel before the Luger, whenever she sees a Luger at a gun show or in a movie she always says, “Look — a Schimel!”
I tested a Schimel for The Airgun Letter back when we published it, so Edith actually knows the Schimel much better than she does the Luger. When I saw a Schimel on a dealer’s table at a local gun show a couple months ago, I bought it for her. It’s going into a shadow box on the wall of her office, so she’ll always have her Schimel.
The Schimel GP22 is a single-shot .22-caliber pellet pistol that’s the size and weight of a Luger. The toggle link on top lifts up to load the pellet.
Translating the opening
What the person was trying to say in the beginning of this blog is they want to sell a Benjamin Marauder in .25 caliber. It has a silencer and a hammer debounce device, so it’s very quiet when it shoots. It’s capable of shooting half-inch groups at 50 yards and also great for shooting in the backyard, because it doesn’t disturb the neighbors. “Stinky” wants you to know that he has a good reputation on the Yellow Forum Board of Inquiry for being a fair and honest dealer.