On a warm Sunday afternoon back in October, 2010, back when there weren’t large white bears roaming my yard (well, maybe that’s a teeny bit of an exaggeration, but it was 8.8 degrees F. just the other morning), I got to do something that is becoming increasing rare for me: I got to shoot my own guns.
Now, I realize that this might be kind of a cheesy thing to say, but I spend so much time reviewing various airguns for this blog that it has become really uncommon for me to drag out a bunch of my own guns and shoot them just for the sheer joy of sending a few shots down range.
But it happened that a warm, fairly calm afternoon popped up one Sunday afternoon in late October, so I began pulling a few of my favorites out of their gun cabinets to see how they are behaving.
The first gun I decided to try is my “Quigley” Sheridan. This is a modern Sheridan that Larry Durham very kindly fitted with a globe front sight and a tang vernier rear sight. Shooting .20 caliber JSB Exact pellets off a casual rest, I managed to put three shots in a group that measured only 5/8 inch edge to edge at 35 yards, but the next two shots expanded the group to nearly 2.5 inches. The problem with shooting an air rifle with non-glass, non-magnifying sights is an optical one. It’s simply hard to see the target. Perhaps I’ll start experimenting with shooting with my left eye in the future.
The second air rifle to come out of the closet was a modern “Steroid” Sheridan with a 10X scope. At 35 yards, 5 JSB Exact pellets landed in a group that measured 1-1/8 inch from edge to edge. Four of the shots measured only ¾ inch edge to edge, certainly good enough for defending the garden or the bird feeder.
I then decided to give my scoped Beeman R7 a try. At 35 yards, shooting Crosman Premier Light .177 pellets, I could only squeeze out a 1.5 inch edge to edge 5 shot group. Clearly I was not having my best luck with a spring-piston air rifle that day.
Then the guys who inhabit the back room of my brain handed me an idea: why not try a recoilless springer? Once again, I dove into the basement and emerged, this time, with my trusty FWB150. This time I put all 5 JSB Exact pellets into a group that measured just ¾ inch edge to edge. This was clearly more like it!
My final candidate for the day was the always reliable Benjamin Marauder. Shooting again from the same casual rest, I began launching Crosman Premier Heavy pellets at the target 35 yards away. After 5 shots, I strolled down to the pellet trap to admire my work. The group (seen above) measured just 3/8 inch edge to edge. That works out to about 2/10 inch center to center.
So what did I learn from all this? First, that it’s always fun to put a few shots downrange on a nice afternoon. Second, there’s a reason why people use scopes on rifles (so they can see better!), and third, for wicked consistent accuracy, it’s hard to beat a precharged pneumatic shooting the right pellet.
May you soon find a nice afternoon to enjoy a little casual shooting. In the meantime, there’s this big white bear in my yard . . .
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott