Airgun Basics: Why Airguns?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just why would anyone mess around with airguns?

The short answer is that they are just plain fun, but that scarcely does them justice. The longer answer is that airguns deliver a wealth of shooting fun in a package that is loaded with advantages that appeal to newcomers and experienced shooters alike.

Wallet friendliness – Airguns can accommodate just about any budget. You can pick up an air pistol capable of bouncing soda cans around the back yard for under $40. For less than $200, you can equip yourself to participate in a world-class international shooting sport, air pistol silhouette with the Daisy 747 or Crosman 2300S. Commendably accurate air rifles can be purchased for $100-$400. If you want the best of the best of the best, you can spend thousands of dollars on the most sophisticated air rifles on the planet. Ultimately, you can spend as little or as much as you like.

Tack-driving accuracy – If you have an itch for ultimate accuracy, you can definitely scratch it with airguns. Olympic match air rifles can literally “shoot the eyes out of a gnat,” delivering 0.04″ center-to-center accuracy at 10 meters; field target airgunners can routinely hit a dime at 50 yards, and hunting air rifles that can outshoot .22 rimfires are commonplace. Some dedicated long-range enthusiasts report shooting astonishing small groups at 100 yards and beyond.

Low shooting expense – Depending upon which pellet your airgun “likes,” you’ll find typical shooting costs on the order of 1-3 cents per shot for ammunition. Some airguns, that use consumable gas, cost a bit more, but still the cost per shot is incredibly low.

Convenience and accessibility – Airguns can be legally shot in many places where it is absolutely forbidden to discharge a firearm. By all means, check with your local authorities, but in many jurisdictions you can shoot an airgun in your backyard, basement or garage without running afoul of the law.

Pest control – Air rifles and air pistols are frequently used to safely and humanely kill vermin in situations where a firearm would be disastrous. Pest control professionals, for example, use airguns to dispatch birds and animals in supermarkets before food is contaminated.

A neighbor-friendly report – Most airguns are quieter than firearms, and there is usually no sonic “crack” caused by the pellet breaking the sound barrier. Bottom line: airguns generally won’t disturb the neighbors with raucous noise, but it is certainly incumbent upon you to be considerate and maintain good neighborly relations.

High quality – If you enjoy the look of astonishment and envy on your buddy’s face when you unveil your latest toy, airguns can do the job. The fit, finish, and precision in some models are absolutely spectacular. They can offer pride of ownership comparable to any custom firearm.

Higher perceived safety – While airguns can easily take small and medium sized game, the power levels of the projectiles are generally a fraction of a .22 rimfire. Unlike a bullet shot from a firearm, it is extremely unlikely that a pellet launched by a high-powered air rifle would travel a mile or more, penetrate the wall of a dwelling and cause serious injury. Nevertheless, you should always – without fail – handle an airgun with the same safety procedures as you would a firearm.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

Jock Elliott

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