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Air Guns Do it yourself

Do it yourself

field target
A small field target.

This report covers:

  • Field target
  • Local airgunners
  • Point one
  • More
  • Airgun show
  • Not my way
  • Summary

This report will be a little different. With a title like today’s you probably think I’m going to talk about fixing or modifying some airgun, but that’s not what this is. Today’s report is all about how you can bring more airgunning into the place where you live.

Field target

I’ll start with field target. My wife and I used to go to gun club events to demonstrate adult airguns. It was a way of getting the message out that airguns aren’t just for kids. Some clubs took it well and others didn’t — which is what should be expected. The last club we visited was the Isaac Walton League in Damascus, Maryland. They asked us to demonstrate adult airguns during their multi-day Chevy Team Sportsman’s Challenge, which is a three-gun shooting competition.

As an aside I will note that a few of the competitors did come over to see what we were doing. However, once they discovered that hitting a field target from the offhand position was harder than any of their competitions, they left quickly and never returned.

Local airgunners

Three of the Isaac Walton members stayed on the airgun demo range with Edith and me the entire time we were there. They were very interested in the field targets we brought to demo the airguns and when we left they asked us if we could help them start a field target club. So we did.

I knew that Trooper Walsh who was a field target club match director in Virginia had some older field targets he had used to start his club, so I called him and asked if we could borrow them to start up our club. He said yes and the Damascus Ikes Field Target Association, or DIFTA, was started.

Trooper brought the targets up before our first shoot and helped us set up some field target lanes. Then he showed up again on the day of the match and shot with us. We decided to charge the competitors $5 for all members of the Damascus Isaac Walton League and $10 for non members. With the money we purchased first, second and third-place trophies for each match and set aside any extra money to purchase new field targets.

We shot two matches the first year and I think six matches the next year, at which time we had enough targets of our own to return the loaners to Trooper Walsh. From that point on DIFTA was an independent field target club under the umbrella of the American Airgun Field Target Association (AAFTA).

Point one

I did not know these three guys before I went to that Isaac Walton conservation/shooting club. And once we started DIFTA I met other airgunners in the area I also did not know. So you don’t know what you don’t know until you know, but when you know you’ll know, ya know? My point is, there are more airgunners around than any of us know about. And there are other shooters around who can potentially become airgunners when there is a club to show them the way.

AAFTA position
This shooter is seated in the traditional AAFTA seated shooting position.

We also started a youth ten-meter rifle club. The Damascus Isaac Walton League had a youth marksman club previously but it was for rimfire shooters. Airguns scaled it down nicely so the clubhouse could host the training and matches. That junior marksmanship club got up to almost 20 members who went on to compete at the local, regional and state level.

After DIFTA started all of us four founders discovered that we liked shooting 10-meter target pistols. I was already shooting in an NRA-sanctioned air pistol club in northern Virginia, so I helped the guys build the target backstops for a local indoor 10-meter pistol club. We met at the Isaac Walton League clubhouse every Monday night after work.

That club had 6-10 shooters every night and after shooting our targets for about an hour we competed in what we called the “Dollar Dance” at the end of the evening. That was one shot, and the highest score or closest to the center of the bull won all the dollars. For some reason every time I won the attendance was off, but I guess that’s life.

So a 10-meter air pistol club was born out of a field target club. We competed with the club that was established in Virginia and even attracted Virginia shooters up to Maryland to shoot with us. And wait, there is more!

More

There were about 20 guys at this point in both Maryland and northern Virginia who were interested in airguns. Not everyone was interested in the same thing, but airguns were at the heart of all of the interests. So, I thought, why not an airgun show?

Stock up on Air Gun Ammo

Airgun show

We started an airgun show at the Isaac Walton League and used the two-story clubhouse for the booths. It was a one-day show so overnight guards were not required, and that worked very well. I often tell folks how to put on an airgun show and they tell me there are no airgunners in their area, but what I have found is they don’t know the airgunners that are in their area. That is a big difference.

We had people driving in from other states (New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida)  and at the second show we had the owner of Umarex pay us a visit. He and his wife came from Germany to visit his sister who lived nearby, so he stopped in to see the show.

The point here is that when a show is run it wants to grow. As long a show is publicized it will get attendance. Does it take a lot of volunteers to run a show? More than you might think, but if you have a club putting it on, the necessary people usually come from there.

Not my way

I’ve told you just one way to get things started. There are an infinite variety of other ways. You just need to begin.

Summary

Today I hope I’ve shown you how to grow airgunning in your area. It might sound like a lot of work, but once you connect with other airgunners it gets much easier. Some of the guys and gals you don’t yet know have skills and resources you can only dream of. But you won’t find them until you start searching.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

43 thoughts on “Do it yourself”

  1. B.B.

    I agree whole heartedly!
    Everybody should look up a Field Target Match near them, and go attend, or even participate.
    First one I went to, I had no airgun. I was matched with a great fellow(past national champion, World Championship participant). I borrowed his gun, he told me the holdovers(yes not official) and I had great fun.
    Even hit one target he missed, repeat one target….

    -Yogi

  2. But that’s work, BB!;) I have been kicking around a man vs. man shoot as a future fundraising event for a group I’m in. Silhouettes at 5-15 yards, basically a reduced range Slynger. If I do it you guys will be first to know!

  3. TOM: So glad to have you back. My prayers have been for you to return home with a clean health plate and chomping at the bit to return to us. May you walk with God. Orv.

  4. BB,

    I know they are about. You have been to the airgun shows in and around Roanoke, so you have seen them.

    I myself lack the organizational skills to pull such off. I would be a good helper, but not a good leader. I also tend to be reclusive. I do not play well with others.

    Another issue that happens locally is most around here “graduate” to firearms. Most of the airguns get stuck in the back of the closet and forgotten as the kids move onto rimfires, centerfires and black powder.

  5. Great report, thanks BB! I agree there are probably plenty of folks around us that shoot airguns that we are unaware of. An example is when I mentioned my airgun hobby to my next door neighbor, he told me that he was teaching his young son to shoot with a BB gun. Our back yards are not really suitable for this activity so neither of us shoot there (I usually shoot indoors in the basement). And therefore we might have never known of each other’s airguns if I hadn’t mentioned it. I will likely say something to him about the young man from our church that placed third in the nation in BB gun kneeling position the next time I see him. I think that lad shoots with a local 4-H club.

  6. Must assume that because of B.B.’s humility that he didn’t mention another VERY successful airgun club that he spawned in Ashland, Oregon.

    Many years ago, “Wacky Wayne” Burns was a regular on this blog. With guidance from B.B. Wayne created a venue on his property in Ashland, OR that hosts sanctioned airgun events (Piston Class, WFTF PCP, Hunter PCP Rifle, Open PCP, Hunter Pistol, Freestyle, etc., etc.). These matches have grown exponentially in attendance and have even had attendees from outside the country/USA.

  7. A little off topic, but not much.

    Honest Bob sent me a package by Sleazy Joe’s Postal Service on the 20th of June. It arrived today. Eighteen days to travel half of the continental United States. Let us bring back the Pony Express.

    • RR,

      I ordered something from China that is still 58 days in transit. They show updates along the way.
      Pony express never carried packages. Maybe Honest Bob is not so honest and set the package later. I count only 9 business days between sending and arrival. How many do you count?
      I guess you are forgetting about the 4th of July holiday? Maybe you do not celebrate it??

      -Y

      • Gosh. . . I order via Amazon regularly and often find that the shipping times are from three to five days, even to our extremely rural residence. Amazon sometimes uses USPS for final delivery,
        and then delivery times are extended. Orv.

      • Yogi,

        I know about the Pony Express. Being an old, fat, bald-headed geezer, I used to send letters by them.

        Honest Bob did indeed send the package on June 20th according to Sleazy Joe’s Postal Service. It just took until July 8th to get here. The Postmaster here was amazed. It became lost somewhere between OK and MA for a few days. Once they found it, it did not take long to get here.

        As for the slow boat from China, well…

        • RR,

          “Sleazy Joe” may be feeble minded but he is not sleazy. The current head of USPS was appointed by your orange boy! Your orange boy is the one who is sleazy and convicted! Please use other sources of information other than Fox. I suggest the BBC and Telegraph….

          Side cockers and underlevers are ergonomically incorrect. 40lbs cocking effort for a 14-15 fpe airgun is ridiculous!
          While PCP’s are not for me. Too deep a rabbbit hole if you are going to improve. However, they are the future! Soon they will make all rimfires obsolete! They are currently, more accurate, cheaper to shoot, less clean-up and quieter. Within 10-20 years I bet Big Bore PCP’s even challenge center fires…

          Have a nice day,

          -Yogi

          • Yogi,
            .
            I stay away from all of the news media bunch. They are all liars and will do such to further their own personal agenda. If the truth was to be known, I am not that enamored with the “orange guy” either. I just look at what is going on around me and know who helps and who doesn’t.

            As far as the airgun world is concerned, my preference in “collecting” is concerned with how it was done, not how they are doing things now. I could care less for all the plastics, pot metal and other cheap, disposable materials they use nowadays. Being an “old school” kinda guy, I tend to keep my stuff for a long time. When it breaks, I fix it. I do not just throw it away and buy another.

    • RidgeRunnner, it’s not just packages, although I did send a package from here (middle Georgia) to my brother in North Carolina; it took two weeks to get to California, where it sat for a week before making its way back…back to my local post office…the postmaster told me that someone had mis-barcoded it as “must be delivered in California”…and since that was impossible, it got returned; they did correctly barcode it (as I watched), and my brother got it a few days later. However, the situation bugged me enough that I later spoke with a friend of mine who works in the post office. He said all was fine until some “genius” decided to “save money” by closing our local distribution center in Macon and making the other distribution center (outside of Atlanta) take on the extra work. He said he called a friend at that place who told him “we were 19 trucks short this morning”…yeah, that’ll really help, LOL! He said packages are being routed to the wrong place multiple times. I said, “Well, t least I’m just sending a letter today, so no problems there, right?”
      Him: “I wish that was so, but sadly not…EVERYTHING has to be routed through the other facility; it’s gonna be painful for a long time.” Hence, the package I shipped to my brother last week went via UPS.
      And yes, he got it a couple of days early. 😉

      • thedavemyster,

        Totally!

        shootski is trying real hard to keep his attention on airgun projectiles and not stray into the Undiscovered Country.
        I ask the Most Esteemed Readership to help shootski in his endeavors to avoid the Hot Topics happening locally and around the world.
        Can we all try our best to keep it near airgun/shooting during this time of turmoil; seemingly everywhere.
        shootski thanks you all in advance and knows how difficult this task will be for us all!

        We owe it to B.B. Peletier as well as his and our Blog.

        My pledge! Who will join me?

        shootski

        • I will! Don’t want you to feel lonely….

          But can I relate a funny anecdote about politics from a bygone era? I once heard and old recording (pre 1980, I think) of an English comedian describing American politics. It went something like: here in England we have the conservative party and the labour party. In America, they have democratic party, which is like our labor party and the republican party, which is like our labor party.

          All I can say is, not no more! Back to airguns.

    • It isn’t “Sleazy Joe’s USPO.

      It is DeJoy’s RapeThuglyCon attempt to defeat the vote-by-mail in elections. DeJoy was a Pumpkinfuhrer appointee who has wrecked much of the material that US Citizens have paid for over decades for the service.

      DeJoy should be imprisoned for his anti-election activities in the name of a Nazi candidate in orange and should spend the rest of his life in a cell for damaging the material of the USPO – particularly mail sorting machines.

      If Joe is guilty of anything, it is not getting the USPO governing board to fire DeJoy and press criminal charges against him for treason, damage to governmental property and plunging the mail into a morass. It is incredible that DeJoy still is in the position of HARMING the mail system; he should be looking at the sun between bars until he dies…

  8. B.B.,

    In many places finding an affordable and workable venue can be one of the greatest hurdles.
    Many places are off limits because of owner, insurance, and governmental (EPA in the USA) rules, requirements, and restrictions on shooting ranges of any type.
    Existing firearm shooting ranges are often the most practical venues but getting a foot in the door is often constrained by existing membership waiting lists.
    Do you and the readership have some different possibilities for viable venues?
    I’m looking at what kinds of possibilities exist in the urban/suburban centers that have large underserved airgunner or potential new airgunner populations.

    shootski

    • shootski,

      And THAT, shootski and RidgeRunner, is why I wrote this report. Because when you start talking to other folks that you never knew were airgunners, things open up. This guy owns a warehouse and has no problem with having a show in his space. He is insured well beyond what you require, but that gal is an underwriter who can back him up with more coverage for a pittance. The dealer fee you will collect for 50 percent of the dealer tables will cover it. The two policemen you just met will advise you on security.

      You don’t like running events, but this other fellow is an auctioneer who has no problem putting things together and the pastor who shoots 10-meter rifle is just itching to put on a show. Saturdays are best for him, which happens to fit your plan perfectly.

      And the guy you never knew was an airgunner has to drive to a different state to compete in field target. He will publicize the show in his Pennysaver advertising newspaper for nothing — just to bring in the guys who want to sell their high-end equipment at prices he wants to pay.

      The marketing gal you just met who also shoots 10-meter rifle will call all the airgun manufacturers and large retailers to get donations for the door prizes and raffle prizes, and the scoutmaster volunteers his troop to cook and serve the food all day.

      When you start talking it up these people pop out of the woodwork. Are there ever problems? Of course, which is why the criminal court judge who is also a shooter will advise you at every step.

      BB

    • Shootski, you asked so here goes. There are several apparently abandoned multiplex theater venues around our neck of the woods. And I suspect this is fairly common in other places (due to the covid nightmare). I wonder if any of those could be converted and used as indoor airgun ranges. One that I am thinking of is adjacent to a large university and a shopping mall. I personally don’t have the resources to give this a try. But perhaps someone else might.

  9. Elmer Fudd,

    Hmmm… I was looking at Warehouse and Commercial property agent listings. My idea is to get a short term lease for an airgun show to get things rolling and bring airgun folks out of the woodwork.
    Are the multiplexs really abandoned or just unused? At least some of the seats would need to be removed. Plus the floors are usually sloped….
    I wonder if there is a possibility of indoor or outdoor URBAN/BrownFIELD Target competitions? What could replace the trees and bushes…also need big wind machines ;^)

    shootski

    • Shootski, I don’t know the actual status of the theaters. We have seen one of them turned into a self-storage type facility. The one I referred to earlier has been closed for years. I was just brainstorming about possibilities for someone to get some good use out of the building. I also would like to see more airgun shows. We seem to get plenty of gun shows. But none that I am aware of are dedicated to airguns.

  10. I recognize that picture of the guy shooting in the traditional position. You came to my very first field target match at Pecan Plantation in Granbury, TX. I started that FT club and had never shot a FT match. I figured only 6 people would show up and we ended up with you there and over 30 people shooting. From that some of the people who came out ended up starting a FT club in Dallas, Arlington (Arlington Sportsman Club), and in Boerne, TX. Turns out there was a pent up desire for FT matches in Texas and air guns in general. Starting a FT club was a great experience. I have met a lot of great people. Strangely the guy in the picture you posted I never saw again after that match. Pretty much everyone else kept coming back.

    • Brazos,

      I remember that match. But I didn’t remember that you had never shot an FT match before starting that club. I have watched it grow over the years.

      Thanks for commenting. Since you have been there and are doing that now, I think you carry more credibility with the readers than I do.

      BB

      • I moved a few years ago and unfortunately the FT matches died after I left. The range is still operating but no FT matches. Good news is the targets found their way to Tulsa to start a new FT club there. I think the main take away from my experience is taking the lead. I had always wanted to shoot FT but no clubs were around me. So I started one. I believe too many people sit on the couch wanting to shoot something like FT but since there are no matches in their area they shrug their shoulders and just read about it on the forums. I guess it is the Texan in me. If I want something, like attending an FT match, and no options to do so my natural instinct is to make it happen. In fact the range we shot exist because of my desire to start an airgun/archery range where I lived. Took three years of hounding the HOA board to make it happen. In fact, over several years after that first match you attended, the HOA came to the airgun/archery range committee and told us we were one of the most popular amenities and they wanted to fix it up. Over a couple of years the HOA spent $100K on the range. All of this because one person, in this case me, wanted something, saw the need, and did something about it. So all of you reading this that want some sort of airgun related activity in your community it’s up to you. Make it happen.

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