I’ve never known a writer who didn’t also enjoy reading, and without duress, I’ll confess to being an unrepentant bookaholic. The definition of a true bookaholic, by the way, is that if you stop at a bookstore on the way home, you lie to your significant other and tell her you were at a bar!
So when I’m not shooting airguns, I enjoy reading about them. Here are some of my favorite books about airgunning.
American Air Rifles (2001) by James House deserves a place on every airgunner’s bookshelf. This 204-page book focuses specifically on American airguns and includes chapters on Air Rifles: Then and Now; American Multi-Pump Pneumatics; Sights, Sighting, and Safety; Pellets; Evaluation of .177 Rifles; Evaluation of .20 and .22 Rifles; The Pellet’s Punch; The Pellet’s Path; Fun and Games, and Hunting and Pest Control. House writes in an engaging style and has done considerable research for this book which he presents in charts and tables.
The thing I like best about American Air Rifles is that you come away with the overall impression that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have tons of fun with air rifles. A modest investment in a Benjamin, Sheridan, Crosman or Daisy can yield huge returns in shooting pleasure over many years. It’s good to be reminded of that, and House’s book does an excellent job of driving the point home.
If you are a CO2 airgun enthusiast, Houses book CO2 Pistols & Rifles (2003) also deserves a spot on your shelf. It presents a wealth of information, including impressions of shooting CO2 classics. A note: this book was competed and published before the new 88-gram CO2 air rifles reached the American market.
Every airgunner should have a copy of Steve Hanson’s Airgun Odyssey (2003) This remarkable volume delivers a staggering amount of information in 175 pages in chapters such as Airgun Evolution and Trends; Airgun Propulsion Systems; Airgun Pellets, Testing and Ballistics; Airgun Varmint Hunting & Pest Control; American Field Target; Introduction to BR400 (benchrest competition); Airgun Tests/Current Production Models; Airgun Tests/Classic & Discontinued Guns; Spring-Piston Airgun Tuning (by Ken Reeves) Building a New PCP Airgun for the Sport of American Field Target (by Larry Durham), and a couple of appendices.
There is a lot to like about Hanson’s book, but I am most impressed with is the enormous amount of data presented in the two Airgun Tests chapters. Most of the testing – focusing primarily on spring-piston air rifles and which must have been simply a huge amount of work – was done at 40 yards indoors shooting from an Ultimate Tripod. The result is, in my opinion, absolutely fascinating.
Finally, at the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my book Elliott on Airguns. It is a collection of 30 articles that I wrote for Precision Shooting and The Accurate Rifle magazines from May, 2001 through January, 2005. Whether you like springers, PCPs, single-stroke pneumatics, classic multi-pump rifles, or the Daisy Red Ryder, there’s something for everyone. I sure had a lot of fun writing those articles, and as nearly as I can tell, readers are enjoying them too.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott