Going to Extremes

Monday, August 25, 2008

What kind of a nut would shoot 85 yards with an air pistol? You’re about to find out.

On the surface of it, Calvin Lewis of Lakeland Florida seems like a regular guy. Forty-one years old, married, a couple of kids, he works as a quality control manager for a construction company.
But Lewis has a secret: he suffers from a rare, incurable disease: airgunitis fanaticus. He is, in fact, a beady-eyed, unrepentant airgun enthusiast. “I’ve been into airguns my whole life,” he says. But about eight years ago, the enthusiasm ramped up significantly – he started building his own airguns.

Starting with a Crosman 2240, he added a 12-inch high pressure tube, a Quackenbush .25 cal round beech, modified bolt, Lothar Walther .22 barrel, and a Foster quick fill fitting. Lewis now has several barrels for the gun, as well as several grips and stocks, so that it can be changed from a pistol to carbine and back again in fairly short order. The gun uses a one-piece Crosman 262 hammer assembly with a stronger spring.

Since Lewis is a quality control guy and no dummy, he’s also taken all precautions to make sure that the finished gun is safe: the valve has been secured, and so has the end cap and Foster fitting. The tubing has been hydro tested to 5,000 psi to make sure that it won’t burst. Lewis understands that the compressed air inside a precharged pneumatic airgun represents an enormous amount of potential energy, and he doesn’t want it getting loose without permission.

In the .22 pistol configuration, Lewis’ airgun launches JSB Exact 16 gr. pellets at right around 650 fps average.

Here's Lewis' pistol of choice for going to extremes.

When Lewis first heard about the UJ Challenge, he was intrigued. He printed off the target, and shooting from a rest, managed to hit the target 3 shots out of 5 at 50 yards with JSB pellets. He tried again and hit the can 4 times. Switching to Kodiak pellets, once again he connected 4 out of 5 times. Pretty good shooting.

Now here’s where things get a little crazy. When Lewis read “The UJ Challenge – Part II,” in which I suggested reducing the size of the target and shooting at it again, he thought: “Why bother with that? I’ve got the room (he can shoot to 105 yards), I’ll just stick the can out farther.”

The home range of Calvin Lewis where he proved you can hit a soda at 85 yards with an air pistol.

And so he did. Lewis put the can target out at 85 yards. The first time, he hit the can 3 times out of 5. Amazing. Just shows what can happen when you go to extremes.

While I was interviewing Lewis, he was telling me how hot and windy it can get in his part of Florida. I felt sympathy for him, sweltering in the blazing sun, sweat rolling down his face, paying his dues to the gods of accuracy. . . but Lewis had one more surprise for me.

He was shooting from indoors . . . from a rest in his computer room . . . his air conditioned computer room . . . launching pellets off a rickety TV table with a pillow on top . . . probably with a nice cool drink handy. It’s hard to feel sorry about shooting conditions like that, but it’s easy to admire the results.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

- Jock Elliott

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