Using air pistols for defense training
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
- Why the pseudonym?
- Defense shooting
- The ideal airgun
- The training
- Action targets
Why the pseudonym?
Some new readers may wonder why I still write as B.B. Pelletier, even though I put my real name above. Well, it goes back to the 1990s, when I was writing The Airgun Letter. My style of writing that you all feel comfortable with today was unheard of in 1994, when the newsletter started. At that time the world of airguns was full of cliques that tried to exclude others, or if they couldn’t keep them out they tried to ridicule and discourage them. The internet just gave them a larger overpass to spraypaint. Edith and I didn’t allow that on our Airgun Letter Forum, and it drove these guys nuts! We were hacked and spammed and everything else that’s bad, even though many of our detractors were also living on our forum!
Things became so acrimonious at the end that Edith and I decided I should not write this blog under my own name when it started in 2005. We were concerned that it might invite the same reaction. She came up with the name B.B. Pelletier, which I thought was great. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the name Pelletier is a real one and the first man beheaded by the French in their revolution was named Nicolas Jacques Pelletier.
During the first several years of the blog people who knew me figured it out, so I “outed” myself in 2007 or so. It turned out that the danger wasn’t there because this blog is so large and has good security software to keep things civil and running. But I kept the pen name, and I will continue to use it.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that I’m human and I make mistakes — lots of mistakes! In fact, if we learn from our mistakes then I am always in the classroom. Many of you can outshoot me, I have no doubt, and many others know more about airguns than I do. I’m just the guy who write about them.
Today’s subject is one that puts me ill at ease. It does because I have seen thousands of men and women (but far more men) who go to the range a couple times each year. They put up a full-sized silhouette target on the 25-yard target board, then they back up 15-20 feet and start blasting away! If I point out they are on a 25-yard (75 feet) range, they invariably tell me that most gunfights occur at room distance, which is less than 20 feet. That’s correct but why train that way? The Soviet Army had a saying, “Hard on the training field; easy on the battlefield.”
And why are they holding their handgun with two hands, if the target is so close? They do it because they saw it on TV or on the internet. Everybody does it — it must be right.
Okay, there is common defense shooting and then there is the International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) that runs competitions for defense shooting. And there is the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) that does even more of the same.
When I talk about defense shooting I am not referring to IDPA or IPSC competitions. There are no race guns, quick release holsters, or timers in what I am about to say. Those belong in sports, and they have their place, but I am talking about the person who is most likely carrying a concealed weapon on their person or in their car. They carry this weapon for protection.
IPSC shooters shoot 30,000 to 50,000 rounds of centerfire ammunition each year to prepare for competition. Most people who own a personal defense weapon shoot 20-50 rounds every year or two. Who do you think will function better in a crisis? Even uniformed law enforcement personnel don’t shoot that much more, and many of them dislike the shooting part of the job. They know it’s necessary, but it doesn’t appeal to them.
Until this year, the only air pistols that were suitable for training were the few action pellet pistols that exist. That’s because BBs are too prone to ricochet. Lead pellets are far cheaper to buy than cartridges for a firearm, but even then I hear moans about the cost of a tin of pellets and a couple CO2 cartridges! Well, now we have a better way!
The introduction of the Air Venturi Dust Devil BB has opened up the use of hundreds of realistic action BB pistols for training. Many of these pistols were derived from airsoft guns and are as real as it gets while still sticking with airguns. They fit in the same holsters, and have the same drop free magazines as our firearms.
Now, there may really be a benefit we can derive from owning these fun airguns. And I plan on finding out. But I’m going to do it my way, which is not holding a handgun with two hands and standing 20 feet from a full-sized silhouette.
The ideal airgun
The ideal airgun would be as close to your defense weapon as possible. If I carried a 1911A1 pistol for defense I would be in tall cotton, because there are a host of 1911 BB pistols with blowback and other realistic features. On the other hand, I carry a Micro Desert Eagle and I don’t think there is even one air pistol that copies it. But I have a BUL Cherokee pistol coming which is an Israeli-made copy of the CZ 75, and there are several nice realistic BB guns that are based on that firearm.
My Micro Desert Eagle is a truly small concealed carry sidearm. It’s double action only, for safety. It’s .380 ACP caliber and I can keep all 6 shots inside 6 inches at 25 feet. That’s with a one-hand hold.
The Israeli-made BUL Cherokee is a short-barreled 9mm variation of the ubiquitous CZ75. It’s polymer framed and has a great reputation for reliability and accuracy. But as you see, it’s going to be difficult to conceal.
The state of Texas now allows open carry of sidearms, but not many people do it, and it’s still alarming to see someone armed in public. I know it’s legal, but I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that I am armed. So I need to find ways of training with one of the smaller BB pistols that offer blowback and realistic features — one that I can conceal. All of that searching and choosing is still in front of me.
Jason Bourne may shoot someone between the eyes while he is falling down a 5-story stairwell, but it doesn’t happen in real life. Nor does anything like you see in the John Wick movies. Fast draw is not something I will practice. But one-hand shooting is. And I will practice with both hands because you never know what you have to be able to do when things go bad.
I’ll start with action targets both to improve my natural aiming ability and to keep my interest up. The Codeuce spinners seem perfect for this.
If you carry a sidearm in a holster, by all means practice that way. But if you carry in your pocket — practice that way. For gosh sakes don’t go out and buy some mall ninja holster because it looks cool. This is serious practice.
As my training proceeds I plant to evolve to different types of tarfgets. Air Venturi has a Cowboy Action Diamond Gong target that I’m planning on graduating to, once my accuracy and speed get up to snuff. I am even thinking of taking several of these to my church’s Watchman team for group training!
Now it’s your turn to chime in. I would like to hear your ideas and thoughts.
This is the first time I have felt air pistols were really useful for training. If we can devise a way of doing the training, this could be a big deal for everyone!