by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Edith Gaylord — 1948 — 2015
This report covers:
- Edith learns to shoot
- Home protection
- The Airgun Letter
- Field target
- The Pyramyd AIR Blog is born
- Edith the huntress
Edith learns to shoot
Today I’ll talk about Edith’s shooting. When I met her in 1982, she wasn’t a shooter. She was very neutral on the subject of shooting. When we started talking about marriage I told her I was an active shooter and there would be guns in the house. She said she didn’t mind, but I had to teach her how to handle them safely. She told me the only shooting she had ever done was with a .22 rimfire Ruger pistol owned by her first husband. She said she didn’t feel one way or the other about the experience, but the little shooting she had done seemed like fun. So we started slowly on my Sheridan Blue Streak, learning the basics of safe gun handling.
We were married in Denver in May of 1982 and lived there for 10 months while I looked for a job. I wanted to find something that used my military training, which was as an armor officer (tanks) and also as a logistician. There aren’t many jobs in the civilian world for tankers, but logistics is always hot. In the civilian world logistics usually means supplies and transportation, but in the army it means designing integrated systems whose support is designed into them from the start. Just to give a you quick overview, Hillman automobiles failed to sell well in the U.S. because of a lack of support (logistics), while Volkswagen Beetles became extremely popular around the world for the same reason. It wasn’t that VWs were more reliable than Hillmans — they just had better support wherever they went and were designed to be easily maintained.
I finally found a job teaching logistics and acquisition management to the Department of Defense in Maryland, and we moved there in 1983. Our house was somewhat in the country and had a problem with field mice. We had 8 cats at the time, but most of them were indifferent to mice. A couple, however, were very cruel. They would catch the mice and rip out their livers. Then they played with them until they expired on the floor! Edith could not stand that, so she asked me to please kill any mice the cats brought in.
But I worked during the day, so we stepped up the training intervals on my Sheridan Blue Streak so she could take over. We practiced shooting at small targets at close range until she could hit a dime offhand at 15-20 feet, most of the time. She wrapped a yellow twist tie around the triggerguard so she could identify the gun, because the box of pellets for the rifle was also yellow.
She was a bird lover and began leaving bird seed on our front porch so she could watch the birds feed. One day she was surprised when a bird that had been feeding suddenly vanished from the porch. A few feathers were left behind and Edith suspected foul play. So she sat in the dining room overlooking the porch and finally saw a rat come up onto the porch and grab a small feeding bird! She had been attracting birds for the rats to kill and eat! That put her on the warpath, so she decided to get even.
The rats were coming into our area from a nearby forest that was being cleared to make way for new homes. So Edith took up a hide outdoors with the Sheridan pumped and ready to go. She killed 3 adult rats in less than a week by watching the porch from this hidden position. Now she was baiting them!
Then she found 5 baby rats lined up on one of the steps leading up to the porch. They were just sunning themselves, so each one got a pellet in the head. Finally there was just a single adult left, but it was wary and she couldn’t seem to catch it exposed. So she changed tactics and approached from a different direction. When she made the kill, she called me at work to let me know she had made a one-shot kill offhand at 25 feet! That was a proud moment for both of us, and we never saw another rat in the 21 years we lived there.
The Airgun Letter
In the early ’90s my subscription to the only U.S. airgun magazine was cancelled when the magazine folded. I was distraught but Edith said I should write an airgun magazine of my own. I didn’t think I knew enough about airguns to do that, so she handed me a legal tablet and told me to write the titles of the articles I thought I could write about. Three legal sheets later The Airgun Letter was born. It turned out I didn’t have to know a lot about airguns — as long as I knew something about guns and shooting in general.
We published 99 editions of that newsletter from 1994 until 2002. We also published 6 Airgun Revue magazines — each 100 pages long. And let’s not forget the Beeman R1 book that was published in 1995. Edith and I wound up printing and binding all publications except the book ourselves, to control the quality of the photos. We were doing Print on Demand a long time before it became popular.
While all this was happening, Edie and I put on a public demonstration of precision adult airguns at a local Isaac Walton league that was hosting the Chevy Sportsman’s Challenge (a 3-gun competition). A couple club members were impressed by my TX200 Mark II and with the field targets I used. They asked me to help them start a field target club. That was the Damascus Isaac Walton Field Target club of America, or DIFTA for short. I joined the club to use their firearm range facilities and to help start this field target club.
Edie and I both helped to organize and run FT matches for three years. She handled the scoring and promotion and I was match director. Of course there were many other volunteers who made it happen as well, because a successful club needs lots of support.
Edith only shot in one field target match — a wacky match. Wacky matches aren’t serious. They are for having fun, and Edith certainly did. Shooters use airguns that would never be seen in regular field target competition. She shot a Sharp UF-P CO2 carbine. She loved it because it is so light and compact.
Edith shot a Sharp UF-P in the whacky field target match.
Later she got involved in BR-50, which changed its name to BRV shortly after she started competing. The objective was to hit a bullseye target without touching the edges of the scoring ring. Though the targets were only 25-30 yards away, the negative scoring system (touch a lower scoring ring and get the lower score — made it challenging. Our roles were reversed in this competition. She was the shooter and I supported her by keeping score and promoting the events.
She was right-handed and left-eye dominant, so airgunsmith Gary Barnes built a special offset scope mount for her rifle. Because the scope had to be angled in to coincide with the line of the bore, the rifle could only be sighted for one distance, but in BRV that was all that was required.
Edith competed in BRV with a .177 Barnes Ranger PCP rifle.
Gary Barnes made this special offset scope mount so Edith could sight with her left eye while shooting right-handed.Those two outriggers adjust independently and the scope rings swivel to align with the scope tube in any orientation.
In 2003 Edie and I capitalized on a job offer she received at the SHOT Show and moved to Texas. She worked as the internet content editor for a large catalog-based sporting goods retailer and I worked for AirForce Airguns. She and I both got our concealed carry licenses and she began carrying as soon as she could. She was a fan of the Colt M1911A1 platform, but carried a Glock 36 in .45 ACP because it is so compact. Although she didn’t shoot very often, she was fully accustomed to the sound and recoil of the .45 ACP, which was her favorite caliber.
The Pyramyd AIR Blog is born
As soon as we were settled here in Texas, she came to me with another idea. Why not write about airguns for the internet? I didn’t know much about the internet at the time (still don’t) but she assured me it was just like writing The Airgun Letter without the hassle of printing, binding and mailing. I started out writing articles for Pyramyd AIR, but as soon as they got the software in place, we started this blog. We celebrated our 10th year in operation earlier this year. And it was all due to Edith, working behind the scenes to get me to write about the things I enjoy.
Soon after I started writing this blog Edith joined me here at Pyramyd AIR as a member of their marketing team and as content editor for their website. For the rest of her life she worked here and acted much like an owner of the company. She cared passionately for customer satisfaction and strove to make it happen — even when it was in an area that wasn’t hers.
Edith the huntress
Several years ago Edith saw a Winchester model 94 lever action rifle in a gun store we were visiting. She was captivated by it and thought it looked like the Walther Lever Action pellet rifle. That made me laugh, because the Walther was copied after the highly successful Winchester that’s been around more than a century. The rifle had a Weaver scope mounted on the left side of the action and it fit her very well when she mounted it to her shoulder. We bought it for her and she told me she wanted to hunt pigs with it.
She bought books on cleaning and butchering wild game and was keen to learn how to field dress an animal, once killed. And she had collected many recipes for several different game animals besides hogs.
When she passed away we were making plans for our first pig hunt here in Texas. Her brother, Bob, was going to join us, along with our good friend, Otho Henderson. Because of that wish, I started hunting coyotes with Otho a couple weeks ago. I didn’t tell him, but I did it as a memorial to Edith, who never got to go.
Yes, Edith Gaylord was a shooter and she knew what she was doing, both on and off the range. Shooting was not her greatest passion, but because it was what I did, she educated herself thoroughly and always supported me. What she really enjoyed was passing information along to people who were thirsty for it. She loved this blog — especially reading the grateful comments made by readers when they first discovered us!