Airguns 101 – the Basics: Things Not to Do with Your Airgun and Common Newbie Mistakes

Monday, February 10, 2014

Robert Buchanan, proprietor of Airguns of Arizona, told me the he was awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a customer who had taken his brandnew air rifle apart and now was having trouble getting it back together. The customer was outraged when Robert told the customer to send the air rifle back and that there would be a fee for putting it back in working order.

This is a superb example of what not to do with an airgun, and I’ve had similar experiences confirmed to me by other airgun dealers. This had lead me to come up with some Airgun Commandments (violate them at your peril):

Be thou not a Jerk: If you are fortunate enough to have a brand new airgun, do not take it apart. You will void the warranty, and it is extremely likely that the vendor who sold it to you will charge you a fee to fix the problem that you created.

Be thou competent or be thou hands-off: Do not attempt repairs or modifications to any airgun unless you are absolutely certain that you know what you are doing. This means if you have any doubts about your ability to complete the task safety, seek qualified help.

Be thou smart or learn to duck: Do not shoot at resilient spherical objects. I was shooting with my brother-in-law one Sunday afternoon. We got a little bored and decided to see what would happen if we shot at a “super ball,” one of those really resilient, super bouncy balls.

With the first shot, nothing happened, except we heard this really weird sound: pah-whaaaaaaaang! We couldn’t figure out what it was, so we tried again. Pah-whaaaaaaaaang-whack! A spent pellet slammed into the deck just above my brother-in-law’s head. The resilient sphere was returning the pellets directly back at us, and with a good deal of velocity. I’ve also heard of field target shooters getting similar results plinking at tennis balls hung from a tree.

Be thou sensible about thy backstop: Do not shoot BBs or non-lead ammo into a metal pellet trap or other similar hard target; richoching BBs or pellets may come flying back at you. The reason that lead pellets work in pellet traps is that, when the lead pellet hits the hard metal of the trap, the lead greatly deforms, absorbing energy and greatly reducing the likelihood of a bounce-back.

Keepest thine fingers from dangerous orifices: Do not put your finger over the muzzle of a PCP, multi-stroke pneumatic, or single-stroke pneumatic and pull the trigger to see if there is any air left in it. If there is residual air left in it, the result may be a trip to the emergency room.

Thou shalt not fire a break barrel springer before the breech is fully closed: Make sure that the barrel on your break barrel springer (or cocking lever on your sidelever springer or underlever springer) has been completely returned to its original position before you put your finger anywhere near the trigger. Triggering a shot before your spring-piston airgun is in firing position can have catastrophic results, the least of which can be a bent barrel and a broken stock, and the worst of which can be crushed or severed fingers. Further, thou shalt not dry fire a springer (fire it without a pellet in the breech), lest thou damage it.

Common Newbie Mistakes

“Why Won’t the Pellets Fit Anymore?” Check to make sure you have the right caliber pellets — .22 pellets will not fit in a .177 airgun.

“Why Is My Gun Suddenly Shooting All Over the Place?”  Again: check to make sure you have the right pellets. I once carped in my back yard about the “loose” .22 pellets I was using (and how inaccurate they were) when I figured out that the pellets I was using were .20 caliber.

“Why Is My Gun Suddenly Shooting All Over the Place?”  Make sure that all of your scope mounting screws and screws holding the action in the stock are properly tightened.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

— Jock Elliott


  1. Vanve Davenport says:

    Thou Shall Learn How To Put Thy Proper Lid Back On Thy Proper Pellet Tin…Never mismatch your lids …Refer to Common Newbie Mistakes ! 🙂

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I’ve never actually done that one myself, but I can see that it would be incredibly easy to do.Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. RidgeRunner says:

    LOL! I laugh in embarrassment! So many of us have done one or more of these things in our newbie past. These are some very good points to keep in mind.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Rob says:

    I was thinking of buying a 22cal. Fx independent. But I am left handed. How comfortable our hard is it to get used to a right handed rifle?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I don’t know about the difficulties of shooting a righthanded rifle when you are lefthanded. Talk to the good folks at about your options.

    2. RidgeRunner says:

      I am a lefty, but I shoot wrong handed. Although I was raised to do such, I am sure you could quickly teach your mind to deal with it. We have to teach ourselves to use everything else wrong handed.

      P.S. Although I would not consider myself a great shot, I am absolutely horrible left handed.

      1. winggunner says:

        Do not forget the MOST IMPORTANT thing in shooting! Are you Left or Right EYED! Every one has only one domonet(SP)(Strong) eye. You could, God forbid, be right handed and left eyed. or the other way around. I had a friend and fellow skeet shooter that way. He would mount the shotgun on his right shoulder
        and then screw his head around so he could juse his left eye. I still don’t know he could hit anything, but he was a triple A (AAA) shooter.

    3. Rafael says:

      Hey Rob, no hard feeling bud. I am a southpaw too! I’ve just recently discovered that i needed to use the opposite side of the stock to rest my cheek, Lol!! But yea man, it all matter of getting used to it. What i do, i just shoot like a normal righty, and tend to feel awckard at intervals. Lmao!!!

  4. mike halfhill sr says:

    I am torn between the .25 Bobcat and the Royale 500 in the same cal.. My question is, which rifle is the quietest. I guess I’ll be surprised if you do n’t say Bobcat, since the barrel is fully shrouded. thanks for your time, mike.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I don’t have both guns here to compare. Talk to the good folks at They will give you the straight poop.

  5. Wilbert says:

    After shooting I removed the magazine and Aimed at a piece of wood indoor to make sure my brand new .25 mrod wasn’t cocked anymore. Next thing I discovered That there was a pellet left in the barrel.
    Shot through two chairs, one cushion and some other stuff, nearly hit my cat. and a window.
    Two days later I found the bent pellet in a complete different part of my house.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for sharing your story. I presume you have learned your lesson!

      1. Wilbert says:

        Yes I did.
        Bought a triggerlock as Well.
        These things are hunting rifles, not toys.
        Although hunting with them is forbidden here in the netherlands, even on rats….
        Can you believe it?
        What is the email adress of Airguns of Arizona?
        I would like to order a HDD…

      2. Jock Elliott says:


        Click on the email link at the bottom of the main page , just below the phone number.

  6. Wilbert says:

    Thnx Jock, the link shoot us an email didn’t work on my tablet.
    Today I have sent an email to AOA from my companys computer.
    Sorry to mess up this post….

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