A while back, a thread popped up on the “Yellow” forum that made me take notice. Larry Durham, otherwise known as LD, was responding to another post, and he said some pretty interesting things.
LD is the designer of the famous LD air pistol as well as the USFT air rifle. He has been around airgunning for many years and has likely forgotten more about airguns than I have learned.
Here is what he had to say back on October 29, 2010: “If you don’t live in some draconian liberal-ruled area, and are not a convicted felon, well then I want to point out that the principle good reason for owning an airgun is because it allows one to enjoy shooting, whether it be target or hunting at relatively short range in comparison to firearms.
I own all manner of firearms, thank God, but none is really quite so suitable for quiet, safe, accurate shooting at short ranges. By short range, I mean inside about 100 feet. Yes, airguns can be stretched beyond 100 feet for sure, but many, if not most are truly in a class by themselves within that distance!
The only firearm I know of that might also be considered very useful at 100 feet is your venerable shotgun, but there is the noise and short range safety aspect that for me, rules it out for casual shooting in most folk’s backyards.
Sure, I know there are sub-powered rimfires that can shoot at airgun power and noise levels, but the accuracy is totally lacking, and cost is up there. Also, for sure there IS danger from airgun pellets well beyond 100 feet, and likely even to a degree, at three times that, but when compared to a rimfire, well, the danger is much easier to compensate for.
So …. please try to understand that there is little need to try to make airguns serve the duties that firearms handle so well, since we can, for the most part, still own firearms and airguns!”
I thought LD had a good point, and, strangely enough, a few days after I asked LD for permission to quote him, a semi-unusual coincidence happened. As I was chatting with a friend who owns a farm, suddenly he began singing the praises of his RWS air rifle. “I have all kinds of firearms,” he said, “but at 75-100 feet, my air rifle is just superb.” He went on to tell me how he has used it to dispatch woodchucks in the garden and pigeons in the barn.
I was a little surprised to have two people within a week say basically the same thing: airguns are really excellent inside a hundred feet. That certainly squares up with my experience. When I get the occasional call to do a pest control favor for a neighbor, I feel most comfortable shooting within 100 feet because I have higher confidence that I will hit the target where it counts. And when I am shooting field target, those 40 and 50 yard targets are a lot less certain than the ones closer in . . . particularly when I am shooting a springer.
Of course, there are those excellent fellows who make an art form of shooting air rifles at longer ranges. For example, Cliff Tharpe routinely hunts ground squirrels and prairies dogs at distances far beyond 100 feet with his precharged air rifles. He told my once that his quarry is so skittish that typically he can’t get closer than 50 yards, and sometimes not even that close.
So, what do you think? Is inside 100 feet a kind of magic spot for the utility of airguns? Feel free to chime in and post a comment.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott