100 feet?

Monday, January 10, 2011

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


  1. Robert from Arcade says:

    Jock: I also live in up state NY and mostly hunt squirrels in woodlots that range from 5 to 100 acres in size that border farm land , which is often quite densely populated.By populated ,I mean that there are houses , outbuildings, and livestock within 4-500yards in all directions. I like to use the anology of the example of a shot you are often presented with while hunting squirrels in such an area. You see this large squirrel 20 yards away , sitting on a limb ,out in the open with no back stop. Thing is ,you have a over-under .22 RF /20 ga shotgun combination. You thought you brought the perfect gun for hunting squirrels that day. So do you shoot him with the shotgun ,which would be very easy and safe. Or do you use the .22 barrel and risk a pass thru or miss that could send a .22 bullet down range for more than a mile?This past fall I was presented with three such shots one afternoon, and I didn’t let temptation get the better of me. I also came home empty handed. For me the air rifle puts the hunt back into such a situation that the shotgun doesn’t, and if I should miss ,i know that the pellet will lose all it’s energy before it even gets close to being a hazzard to others or their property. Plus ,it is quiet and doesn’t draw attention to me. Like LD ,I need and use my firearms also ,but there are times when an airgun is just right, and quiet target shooting and hunting situations like the one above inside of 100 feet are it.Take care ,Robert.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks, Robert, for the excellent feedback!

  2. bub says:

    100 feet (30 meters) seems to be the sweet spot for airguns for me. That’s the distance I have my Discovery sighted in at. I’m not that good of a shot and at that distance most of the outside variables don’t seem to be much of a problem. No question a large number of airguns are accurate past 100 feet. Maybe we should say 100 feet is the fun distance.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      “The fun distance” — I like it!

  3. Conor says:

    I have my RWS 34p .22 sighted in for 35 yds = 105 feet. I can shoot groups that can be covered by a nickel at that distance, so 30-40 yds would be the “sweet spot” for most airguns(excluding the Airforce Condor, Benjamin Marauder, ect). Although 100 feet is the (as Bub said) “fun distance” it is because I can shoot with my rifle thumb-tacks into a board at 35 yds.

    Although 100 feet is a fun distance, I like shooting pellet tins at 40-75 yds, with the pellets hitting the target 95% of the time.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks for your comments, Conor. I didn’t expect this topic to result in so much response. What a pleasant surprise!

  4. Puddy says:

    I agree – sometimes “less is more…”

  5. WRichard says:

    I’m 52 yrs. old, whenI was 8yrs. old we had no video games and about 5 channels w/ i-2 features on for 30 minutes each after school. ALL my time from 3:00 p.m. central to dark was spent with my Benjiamin .177 pneumatic pellet rifle. By the time I was about 14 yrs. old, and had worn out about 4 pellet rifles, I was ‘ familiar’ with pellet ballistics in that particular pellet rifle. I have shot sparrows at 50-60 yrds and blackbirds out off 200 ft. tree tops regularly. In the coldest winter months. mid-sized black ‘ ducks’ called coots would gather in groups of 100 or more about 500 yards across the cove. With acouple of shots for placement, it was possible to angle the rifle about 45 degrees and kill one dead with a head shot or wound one beyond recovery with a body shot. Sounds like a lucky shot; Right? I’d also finish off the body shot coots before I quite, and most were swimming in a slow circle. Great exercise for the arms, fresh air and knowing it could be done if you tried hard enough. Oh, a .22 rf was out of the question shooting across open water with homes and boats for backstops.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for your comments!

  6. Sean says:

    I need an air rifle to kill some roosting pigeons and feral cats at a commercial property in Tucson. I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.
    Any suggestions for an appropriate rile would be helpful.

    1. Slinging Lead says:


      I would suggest a Benjamin 392. It is .22 cal, which is a good caliber for hunting. Also it is a multi-pump pneumatic. This means you can vary the power by the number of pumps you put into it.

      Do you want to use a scope? If so, I would go with something else.

    2. Conor says:


      Be warned though that the Benjamin 392 gets hard to pump when you put the max pumps(8) in it. My brother has one and it is a BEAST! Pumps # 7-8 gets kinda hard, but it is worth it when you shoot, IT IS POWERFUL! He has the Air Venturi Intermount with a Leapers 6x32ao Mil-dot scope. Powerful and accurate.


    3. Jock Elliott says:


      On Feb. 21, I am doing a special blog that is an extended response to your question.

      I hope you find it useful and informative.

  7. don w says:

    excellent perspective here.

    i live in a rural area of southern California and i can occasionally get away with popping off a rimfire shot and it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots in the area but it’s still safe to say the air rifle does offer better and safer opportunity for those ranges and situations spoken of.

    on the acreage i own i use up to .25 caliber PCP with a great deal of peace of mind that there will be no “accidents”

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks, Don. There seems to be a lot of support for this concept.

  8. nyhunter says:

    i live in upstate ny also. southerntier actually in a very rural area and can pretty much shoot any gun i wish to safely. however i use airgun exclusively for hunting all my small game except turkeys. hopefully the dec will change that! i ave a rather large collection of firearms and an even larger collection of airguns. i just prefer the airgun because its quiet with the exception of my pcps.. i dont have to be apprehensive about taking tree shots.and when people learn i’m hunting with a “BB” gun they just sorta chuckle and say” sure you can hunt here” imagine their suprise when i come out with my limit on grouse and bunnies, or the occasional coyote! and they didn’t even hear a shot!

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for your comments. You should see the expression on some of the guys at the range when I shoot a sub-inch group at 50 yards with an air rifle!

  9. nyhunter says:

    want to really get theeir attention? bring a shin sung and some scrap pieces of 2×4 and put a 28gr eun jin right through it at 30 plus yds!!! the look is priceless!!!! lol

  10. Bill G says:

    Thanks for all the info on airguns,I to own many firearms and we have a coyote problem and dont want to shoot a firearm in the area, I didnt know a airgun was capable of killing a coot dawg at 100yds or less. That abouit answers my questions, Im new to air rifles any sugestions? I was thinking the Benni Maurader .25.any sugestions on amo would be appreciated.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Bill G,

      With careful shot placement, the Benji Marauder .25 should be able to do the job.

  11. Bill G says:

    Thanks Jock,I emailed arizona guns last night and Im waiting on thier reply on weather I can send them a check to by my air gun,Im sorta old school and dontdo the online credit thing, as soon as I FIND OUT HOW TO GET THEM A CHECK IM ALL OVER THE .25 Benni marauder.Im sure Ill be on this sight looking for a few more info things from you guys who know these guns.

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