by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

I just returned from the Pyramyd Air Cup late Monday morning, and I’m beat (I got up at 2 A.M. to get ready for my early flight home). I was so exhausted that I couldn’t finish the blog post I’d planned, so my wife, Edith, pitched in and wrote a guest blog. In fact, this blog topic was her suggestion for a blog I could write in the future, so it was on the docket anyway.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, Edith.

This report covers:

  • Have spring-piston air rifles reached their limits?
  • New worlds being conquered daily
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
  • The future of airguns is an open book

Here’s a quote from the classic airgun book Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World: “It may be assumed, therefore, that the spring-air design has about reached the perfection of its form.”

The above quote was written when .177-caliber airguns were delivering less than 650 fps — less than half the velocity of many springers sold today.

Have spring-piston air rifles reached their limits?
This subhead was the topic of a blog B.B. wrote on March 22, 2006 (and there’s a sister blog on May 10, 2013). So, is that all there is? Have we reached the end of the road when it comes to airgun technology? Not if you do something about it.

New worlds being conquered daily
It’s said that Alexander the Great cried when he discovered that there were no new worlds to conquer.

Airgunners have been tooling around to improve, invent and innovate in ways most manufacturers cannot afford because the cost of labor devoted to such efforts would kill them (if the stockholders didn’t revolt first).

That’s why people such as Lloyd Sikes, Dennis Quackenbush, Gene Lundy, Tim McMurray, Jim Maccari, Dave Rensing, Tom Gore, Big Bore Bob Dean, Ray and Hans Apelles, John McCaslin, Bob Moss, Gary Barnes, Robert Law and of course Dr. Robert Beeman are among an important group that disregarded accepted limits and advanced airgunning in ways others couldn’t imagine. (Pardon me for not mentioning all the movers and shakers — the list is too long.)

But it doesn’t stop here. There are plenty more innovations to come because there will be new people entering the realm without any preconceived notions.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Doing new things is hard. If it’s easy, you’re probably doing it wrong! The advancements being made by the people I listed above didn’t happen overnight and didn’t happen without some serious birth pangs.

Almost all of the innovation and inventions come from ordinary people who are not endowed with lottery winnings and large inheritances. They’re regular folks like you and me — with families, limited funds, working on weekends and evenings, and trying to make it in life.

I doubt Jim Maccari sat down one day and immediately came up with his now-famous black tar. I can only imagine how many different things he tried.

Tim McMurray didn’t instantly develop his Steroid Streak mods. It took years of trial and error. I suppose he could have quit after the first hour/week/month/year, but he didn’t.

Lloyd Sikes took several years and some significant changes (and some setbacks) to bring his inventions to fruition.

Tom Gore had so many gas-piston versions before coming up with the final one, that I recall a time when there was a new one almost on a daily basis.

I’ve read plenty of comments on the blog from readers who have great ideas but assume they’re unable to do anything about them. Yes, it’s hard, but that’s not a good enough excuse to not do it. Persistence.

If you have an idea but are afraid of failure, then not trying at all is already a failure. You’ve already NOT done it. But if you try and then fail, at least you gave it a shot. And just because you failed doesn’t mean you can’t try again. And again.

The future of airguns is an open book
Expect airguns to change. People used to be creative and inventive because they HAD to. Necessity was truly the mother of invention.

Then, we got lazy and let the big corporations take over invention because they had the resources. The internet and the recent advent of affordable 3D printers will result in such a flurry of invention that we’ll catapult into an age of what used to be viewed as science fiction.

In the same way that desktop publishing changed people from readers into mini-publishing houses, the internet and 3D printers will change people from bystanders into inventors and small manufacturing plants — and changing the world of airguns into something W.H.B. Smith could never have envisioned.

Get ready for a rocket ride into the future. Just because someone else said it can’t happen doesn’t mean it can’t happen. But you have to get off the sofa and take that first step.