About Jock Elliott

Located in upstate New York, I never met a projectile launcher I didn't like. Besides fooling around with airguns, bows, and blowguns, I pick banjo and guitar. I share my life with my wife, son, and a variety of furry creatures.

Posts by Jock Elliott

When I spoke to Darren Schollmeyer on the phone, he said, “I don’t know how you can make this sound sexy.”

Perhaps it isn’t sexy, but it certainly is essential: in many ways, Schollmeyer functions as the glue that holds the sales department at Airguns of Arizona together.

Schollmeyer explains, “My primary job is to talk to customers, but I also handle a lot of the back end of the business, the billing, the grunt work, making sure that orders are properly process (the detail stuff in the sales process that a lot of folks find annoying); I kind of watch over the sales department.”Darren2

He adds, “I know Robert Buchanan because his son and mine are in the Boy Scouts together. In 2010 I had my own company but things went south. Robert needed help because AoA is growing.”

“So pretty quickly, I find myself testing guns, scoping guns, and answering the phone at the same time. I clawed my way through it, but I can tell you that when you are testing guns every day, you learn very quickly. The first time you fire a springer followed by shooting a precharged gun, you go ‘Whoa!’ I did that for three years before moving more into a sales and sales management role here at AoA.”

Schollmeyer says, “I’ve been a salesman my entire life, and I am proud of that, but – emphatically – that doesn’t mean selling people stuff they don’t need. If I have one talent, I know that I am good at finding the right product for the right person that is going to make them happy at the end of the day. That means I have to know the products very well, and I have to listen very carefully to the customers to discover what they need and want.”

Now, here’s the weird part: Schollmeyer is not an airgun enthusiast. “Oh, I’ll go on pigeon shoots, participate in some airgun benchrest, and sometimes shoot a CO2 lever action with my boys, and I enjoy it, but on weekends, you’ll most likely find me doing something with my three sons or my wife. I’m assistant scout master of a troop with 50 boys, and that generally means camping once a month.”

He says, “At AoA, we pride ourselves on not being order takers. When you call AoA, everyone you talk to could be considered an airgun expert. We want to make sure that the person who is calling is getting the right product for their need.”

Darren1“Toward that end,” he adds, “the first Wednesday of every month, we close the shop at noon, have some lunch together and have training and product seminars. Everybody gets to see all the latest stuff, to touch it, and to shoot it, that way, no one in the shop is talking about something they don’t know about. When it comes to airguns, there are dozens of tools in the chest, and they all meet different tasks.”

The way Schollmeyer explains it, I think his assessment is wrong — picking up the phone and talking to someone who has in-depth product knowledge is pretty sexy.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

— Jock Elliott

Like so many of the Airguns of Arizona team, Jared Clark wears multiple hats. He answers the phone and talks to people about their airgunning needs, deals with all incoming shipments, and manages the warehouse and inventory.Jared1

He got into airguns through a somewhat unusual route. “We lived in the city, so we didn’t have a lot of room,” Clark says. “I got into airsoft with a bunch of friends, and we used to put on our goggles and shoot each other in the back yard.”

He adds, “My family knew the Buchanans. Robert gave me a Beeman .177 airgun, and I started shooting lemons off my mom’s lemon tree. I sometimes shot birds, but mainly I am a target shooter.

“Airguns of Arizona hired me as a shipper when I was 14 years old,” Clark says. “Steve was covering shipping, and they wanted to get a part-time guy to do the shipping and handling. That was in 2004.”

“Except for one year after high school when I went to junior college and played baseball, I’ve been there ever since, and my job has been constantly evolving. I do a bit of everything. We all cover for each other, although I try to stay away from repairs. One of the great things is that I get to test airguns every day.”

Now Clark is in charge of the warehouse – keeping track of inventory, labeling things, keeping it clean, and informing Greg what needs to be ordered. Since he is in charge of incoming shipments, if you send to Airguns of Arizona, Clark will see it first.

Two years ago at the Extreme Benchrest competition, a fellow named Giles from a YouTube airgun channel wanted to interview someone from AoA, and Clark was nominated.

Jared2“They thought it went pretty well,” Clark says, “so now I have done five or six video productions that involve unboxing, touring the product, shooting for accuracy and velocity strings. The first one was a Daystate Wolverine B. It was intimidating at first, but the guy who does the camera work helped me to feel at ease, and it has been growing on me. I actually kind of like doing it now.”

For his after-hours airgunning, Clark likes to compete in airgun benchrest, and he is keen to try his hand at field target. He owns an FX Superswift and is enthusiastic about it. “I love the balance, the light weight, and the simplicity of the magazine.”

Whenever he gets the opportunity, he enjoys dove hunting at the local dairy farms. “It’s a lot of fun, and a service to the farmers,” Clark says.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

  • Jock Elliott

Boy, some guys just don’t get the word. What word? You know: the typical narrative involved in an airgunners career. It usually goes something like this: “Well, I started out with a Daisy (or an inexpensive) Crosman, and after many years of scrimping and saving, I finally got an adult precision airgun.”

Shane1Shane Kellar, whose chief responsibilities encompass working with dealers and setting up the Extreme Benchrest competition every year, has a vastly different story to tell. “I’ve known the owners of Airguns of Arizona – Robert and Steve – my entire life. When Robert first started selling airguns, my Dad bought me a German made spring gun. I would shoot a hundred to two hundred pellets a day. At 12 years old, I was dropping little green army men in the backyard with that springer and a 3-9 scope. I didn’t know the difference between a good air rifle and a bad air rifle, but I knew I could shoot it well.”

My reaction: HOLY SMOKES! A German springer at 12 years old? Wow!

Kellar adds, “When I graduated from high school, I got a Beeman rifle from Robert. That was my only knowledge of air rifles. I wasn’t familiar with precharged, and I didn’t know that there were different qualities of air rifles.”

He says, “I was working in the banking industry, doing mortgages and home equity loans, when the crash came, and I was laid off. Robert was looking for someone to do shipping, so I started to do that. The phones got really busy, so I started helping the guys out. They said: if you don’t know, just ask – so I started asking lots of questions. And of course I had lots of opportunities to shoot different air rifles”

“Within a month, I bought a Daystate Huntsman left hand and an FX pump. Within six months, I had three precharged rifles, the Huntsman, an Air Wolf, and an FX Cyclone. I did lots of reading about airguns, learning about them, and eventually I began to take them apart, so now I know how to fix just about any of them.”

Today, Kellar’s favorite precharged rifles are the FX Royale and the Daystate Regal. And when it comes to springers, he is right back to his roots; the last springer he would part with is an HW35e.

When he isn’t on the phone with dealers across the country and thinking about next year’s Extreme Benchrest competition, Kellar enjoys competing in air rifle bench rest whenever he can get the opportunity. He helped to start the Phoenix Benchrest Club, and he participates with them on a monthly basis.Shane2

Perhaps his favorite thing, though, is “going out with a couple of my cousins to one of the local dairies and helping them to eliminate their pigeon problem. It’s a win-win: the dairies appreciate getting rid of a pest, and we have a heck of a lot of fun.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

FZ200 Frear Park 008

Has it really been nearly seven years and over 350 blogs? That can’t be true. It seems like just yesterday I got a phone call from www.airgunsofarizona.com They had seen my writing in one of the magazines – perhaps it was Precision Shooting or The Accurate Rifle – and they wondered if I would like to do a weekly blog for them.

It didn’t take long to say “Yes,” and a wonderful partnership was born. Airguns of Arizona would send me air rifles, air pistols, and various accessories, and I would write about them. The good folks at AoA were remarkably light-handed. Not once – ever – did they ask me to change how I wrote about something. Their attitude was always: “tell the truth,” and that policy, I think, has served everyone well.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to write about hundreds of air rifles and air pistols. I’ve also written repeatedly about safety – a big thing in my universe. Make no mistake about it: airguns should be handled with all the care and respect you would give a firearm. You owe it do yourself and those around you, at all times and without exception.

Along the way, I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to airgun designers and manufacturers and to interview airgunning champions about how they shoot and train. Exploring the previous years of posts in the blog will uncover a wealth of useful information. For those who are new to airgunning, checkout Airguns 101 — http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/airguns-101 . It comprises a basic course in the essentials of airgunning. Originally the material there was destined to be included in a book, but last year, faced with a tough winter and little opportunity to shoot, I turned the chapters in the book-to-be into a series of blogs.

And that brings me to a common misconception about the blog. Many people assumed that, because I was writing for Airguns of Arizona, that I am located in Arizona. Nope. I’m in upstate New York, where we have winter. As a write this, there is snow on the ground and the wind is howling. Some years, we had “open” winters which allowed me to keep shooting. Other years, I concentrated on pistols during the snowy months. Last year, it was Airguns 101 that kept the blog going.

The folks at Airguns of Arizona have been absolutely wonderful to deal with: kind, patient, and helpful. I couldn’t ask for better partners in doing a blog. And the readers have been wonderful as well, offering useful comments and asking insightful questions.

Early in 2014, however, I found out that sometime during 2013 or late 2012, I had a heart attack. I didn’t know that I had a heart attack, but it left me with permanent scar tissue on the heart muscle. So I’ve decided to slow down and give up doing a regular weekly blog. I will still show up here from time to time, testing guns and interviewing people. So I won’t be gone from the blog, just not here as often.

In meantime, I am continuing to pursue my passion for combining my Christian faith with photographing the sky. After all, “the Heavens declare the Glory of God.” Here’s a link to my free e-book with the same name: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/about-jock-elliott You don’t have to sign up or give your email. You’ll also find a link to my one-and-only YouTube video.

LX100 Pickering Lane Sunset 007

So am I riding off into the sunset? Actually, it’s more like I’m riding off to photograph the sunset. But I’ll be back from time to time, and I wish all of you my very best.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

It is my heartfelt wish that you were very good this year, and Santa showed up with a Ho-Ho-Ho and a nice new air pistol or air rifle for you to enjoy.

So with that in mind, it seems proper to revisit the issue of cleaning and maintaining your newest airgun. Jared Clark of Airguns of Arizona was kind enough to share his expertise with me.

“The very first rule,” he says, “is, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Virtually all of the precharged rifles and pistols and many of the springer rifles and pistols go out the door at www.airgunsofarizona.com having already been checked out by the expert staff there. They shoot the gun, chronograph it, and make sure that all is well before it is sent to you. By the time it gets to your door, it’s ready to shoot, so shoot your new gun and enjoy it!

Clark says, “With precharged guns, let the gun tell you when it needs to be cleaned. I have some guns with upwards of 10,000 pellets through them with no cleanings, but if I start to have accuracy problems, maybe it is time to clean the barrel.”

When it is time to clean the barrel, Clark recommends using a pull-through with a non-petroleum-based cleaner/degreaser on a patch. Run a couple of patches with the cleaner degreaser, then dry patches until you are getting mostly white cotton patches coming out the other side.

He says, “With really inexpensive springers, you might have some gunk in the barrel from the manufacturing process, so it doesn’t really hurt to clean, but most of the time you really don’t gain much.”

He adds, “Over time, make sure your precharged gun is holding air. Check the gauge to make sure everything is tight. In my experience, seals tend to last the longest when guns are used often.”

The big issue with springers is making sure that the stock screws are snug. Loose stock screws are the number one cause of accuracy problems in springers, according to Clark. It’s worthwhile to buy good tools like the Chapman gunsmithing kit for maintaining your airguns and tightening up those stock screws. If you are plagued by continually loosening stock screws, Clark recommends Vibratite for helping to keep them snug.

For springers over time, Clark recommends a drop or two of spring lube on the spring once a year.

He also recommends Napier VP90 as a basic treatment for the metal surfaces of any airgun that helps to seal them and prevent rust. It can be sprayed directly on the metal or sprayed on a cleaning cloth and wiped on.

Clark also flags a couple of things that airgunners should never do: don’t dry-fire springers and only dry-fire a precharged airgun when there is air in reservoir.

Finally, do not, under any circumstances, take your brand-new airgun apart. You will void the warranty and Airguns of Arizona will charge you a fee to put it back together.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock

 

LX100 creche 001

It has become, it appears, a tradition – every year one of the cable TV stations runs a marathon of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Based on Jean’s Shepherd’s wonderful book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, it tells the story of a young boy who wanted for Christmas “a Red Ryder range model carbine with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.” Every time he expresses his heartfelt desire to an adult, he receives the rejoinder: “you’ll shoot your eye out.”

If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, do your utmost to see it. You’re in for a treat.

It’s been said that life imitates art, and that’s certainly true of A Christmas Story. When Shepherd consulted with folks at Daisy about the film, they told him that he had not remembered correctly, that he had confused the Red Ryder and the model 107 Buck Jones, which had the compass and sundial. Shepherd insisted he was right. Daisy made a sample for him and then decided to actually produce Red Ryder air rifles with the compass and sundial in 1983 and 1984. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these rare models, just remember: it came after the movie.

There is a scene near the end of the movie in which Christmas has come, all the presents have been opened, and Ralphie has not received his BB gun. Then his Dad says, “What’s that over there?” It turns out to be the Red Ryder, what Ralphie says is “the best present I have ever gotten.”

The same thing happened to me, well before the movie was ever made. I was ten, sitting in the living room with my Dad. The opening of presents was over, and I was disappointed. I hadn’t gotten my BB gun. But, just like in the movie, my Dad said, “Wait a minute, there’s another present over here.”

And he pulled a long, slim box from behind the couch. In it was my first Daisy. It was beginning of many happy hours for me and my Dad. It was a Daisy Pump 25. We shot it into cardboard boxes in the basement of the apartment building where we lived. I remember the thrill when I smacked a small, pocket-sized matchbox with a BB and got it to tumble through the air.

I took that BB gun with me went I spent summers in Vermont with my grandparents. The boy across the road had a Daisy Red Ryder, and we spent many a happy day roaming the woods and fields with our BB guns. I can’t even begin to count how many tubes of BBs I ran through that Pump 25, but eventually the internal parts became so worn that it would automatically discharge a BB as soon as the pump handle was returned to its original position. This, however, did not deter me: I would make like The Rifleman – bang-bang-bang-bang!

Eventually that Pump 25 was retired, but it was beginning of a lifetime of shooting enjoyment and – eventually – to me writing this blog.

If you have any great airgunning memories – from the holidays or otherwise – and would like to share them for possible use in this blog, you can reach me at jock(dot)Elliott(at)gmail(dot)com I would love to hear from you.

It is my heartfelt wish that all the readers of this blog find peace, love, and joy with family and friends this holiday season. Here at El Rancho Elliott, we celebrate Christmas, but whatever tradition you celebrate, may you and yours be blessed.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

shane

By all accounts, the 2014 Extreme Benchrest match was a rip-roaring success. More than 100 shooters from 16 states and 6 countries came to Arizona to compete in Extreme Benchrest (75 yards!), 25-meter benchrest, outdoor speed silhouette, field target and a 10-yard indoor pistol match.

The event, which has been held the last 4 years, is a team effort by the staff of www.airgunsofarizona.com and bolstered by a number of clubs that helped to make all of it possible: Phoenix Benchrest for running the 25 Meter event, Precision Airguns and Supplies for sponsoring the Speed Silhouette event, Quail Creek Airgun club for running the Dirty Bird and Milbro dart events and the Airgunners of Arizona FT club for running the Field Target event.

Shane Kellar was match director for Extreme Benchrest. “My biggest concern was that something would go wrong and throw the timing off. We were running from sun up to sun down – from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm – and any glitch would result in the last relay of shooters running out of daylight.”

You might well think that the responsibility to run the match might take all the competitive spirit out of a person, but not Kellar. He entered and won both the speed silhouette match and the 25 meter benchrest.

The speed silhouette is, in my view, a fascinating competition. The objective is to knock down 16 silhouettes in the shortest time possible. Competitors shoot from front rests only and must shoot either single shot rifles or, in the case of repeaters, with magazines empty. They can’t stage any pellets; they have to start with them in a tin. They shoot at chickens at 30 yards, pigs at 40 yards, turkeys at 50 yards, and rams at 60 yards. At the starter’s signal, shooters begin loading their guns or their magazines, and the match is on.

In years past, individuals with stop watches would stand by the benches, start the watches at the beginning of the match and then click the watches off as the individual shooters finished the course. But as shooters got better and better, and times got closer and closer, it became obvious that a better timing system was needed.

So Kellar and Greg Glover of Airguns of Arizona developed a new timing system. The rangemaster punches a button and a master clock starts for all 20 benches. As each shooter finishes, they punch a button to stop the clock for their shooting position. It’s very similar to the timing system used for Olympic swimmers. “Greg and I were pretty stressed, hoping the new system would behave flawlessly,” Kellar says. It did, and after the first relay, he was able to relax.

Shooting an FX Verminator that was launching JSB .22 15.89 gr pellets at around 850 fps and loading pellets directly into the breech, Kellar was able to drop the 16 silhouette targets in just over a minute: 1:07.34. “I missed two shots and dry fired once,” he says.

In the 25 meter benchrest match, he shot an FX Royale BR, which was sending .22 caliber JSB 18 gr pellets downrange at 885 fps. After three relays, his total score was 736 (out of 750) with 25Xs. He was tied for scores and Xs with another shooter, so the tie was decided by look at the first card. The first person not to shoot a 10 comes in second.

He says, “Obviously I wanted to shoot well, but even more important, I wanted to make sure that the 100 people who showed up had a great experience. I am deeply grateful to all the folks from AoA and all the clubs who bent over backwards to make that happen.”

“It’s very gratifying to have shooters come up to us after the match and say they had a great time. We listen to their feedback and plan on incorporating a lot of their suggestions into next year’s match.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

It was my wife who interrupted my train of thought. “Did you see this thing on the news? A boy got shot in Cleveland, and they say he had a pellet gun.”

“Oh boy,” I thought. “This sucks.”

The facts of the case, as reported by the Associated Press on Nov. 26, appear to be as follows: “Tamir Rice was shot Saturday (Nov. 22, 2014) by an officer responding to a call about someone with a gun near a playground. Police say the boy’s airsoft gun looked like a real firearm and was missing an orange safety indicator. Police say Tamir pulled it from his waistband after being told to raise his hands.”

A couple of Crosman airsoft pistols showing the orange indicator tip.

A couple of Crosman airsoft pistols showing the orange indicator tip.

What was originally reported to be a pellet gun turned out to be an airsoft pistol. Airsoft rifles and pistols are replicas of firearms that shoot 6 mm plastic BBs. Airsoft guns are considered to be non-lethal and, for the most part, non-injurious (eye protection is required and the only other airsoft injury that I have heard of is a chipped tooth), and they are used for target shooting, scenario play, firearms practice, and force-on-force training by various government agencies. By law, all airsoft pistols and rifles sold in the United States are equipped with an orange safety tip that indicates that they are not actual firearms. A Wikipedia report on the shooting says that the orange safety tip on Rice’s airsoft pistol was “removed.”

This is a lamentable situation; any way you play it, it is a tragedy for everyone involved: for Tamir Rice, his family, and for the officers involved in the shooting.

My daughter, a grown woman with a career of her own, said emphatically, “He (meaning Tamir Rice) shouldn’t be dead.”

I spoke with a friend who is a gun-carrying sworn officer to find out some of the basics of police training. Police are trained to regard any situation with a firearm as serious and to regard any report of a weapon as a real weapon until proven otherwise. They are also trained to consider “context.” A person with a gun in the woods may have a reason to be there (he’s hunting), whereas a person with a gun outside a grocery store or on a playground is a far different situation.

“Perception is incredibly important,” my friend said. “If you point an airsoft gun out a window and someone sees it and thinks it is a real gun, people are going to treat you like it is a real gun. It doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is what the other person perceives.”

Further, police are trained to address the threat – that’s their job. If someone reports “a person with a gun,” the police have to deal with it. To do otherwise, is to risk that the “person with a gun” may kill or injure others.

If the police perceive that they are under threat of deadly physical force – for example, by a person reaching for a gun or pointing a gun at them – they are trained to respond to the threat of deadly physical force with deadly physical force to defend themselves or someone else. Further, they are trained to shoot until the threat is neutralized. A kid who is taking an airsoft gun to a place where it may be perceived as a real weapon is putting himself in harm’s way, and you can’t hit reset afterwards and play the game again.

So what does that mean for the readers of this blog? First, don’t walk around in public areas with an airsoft gun, air rifle or air pistol. Don’t show it and don’t point it at people you don’t know. Keep it on private property (or other areas where it is proper to have it, like a gun range), and don’t leave the property with it. If traveling in a car, make sure that it can’t be seen. And don’t remove, cover, paint or tape over the orange safety tip on airsoft pistols and rifles; it could make a misunderstanding over whether an airsoft “weapon” is real even more dangerous.

If you are a parent, drill these principles into your kid’s heads. Make sure that they understand that’s it is not what they intend, but what others perceive, that can make the difference between fun and tragedy in handling airsoft guns and pellet and BB guns.

Further, if you will be shooting on your property, and there is the possibility that the neighbor may see “a person with a gun,” talk to them ahead of time, and make sure they understand what you are doing, and that you are concerned for everyone’s safety.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

 

If someone were to back at the more than 300 blogs I have written for www.airgunsofarizona and ask “What were the most important ones?” My answer might surprise you.

I have been extremely fortunate in my tenure here. I’ve had the opportunity to test literally hundreds of really neat air rifles and air pistols, to interview champions about their shooting skills and practice routines, to talk with airgun manufacturers, and to do some admittedly zany experiments. It has been, for the most part, a lot of fun.

Sure, not every day has been a trip to Santa’s lap; there have been days when I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, when airguns have misbehaved, or when scope mounts were in active rebellion, but those times have been rare. And I have been blessed to work with the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com, although at a distance of a couple of thousand miles. It is a common misunderstanding among the people who respond to the blog. They think I am in close proximity to Airguns of Arizona; I am not. Airguns of Arizona is just where it is supposed to be – in Arizona. I am in upstate New York.

But if you press me about which blogs have I written that were truly important, I would have to say there is no contest: the important blogs were the ones about safety. When first started writing about airguns well over a decade ago, I mistakenly thought that it had been years since anyone had been killed by misadventure with an airgun. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Deaths from airguns do occur.

In my view, there shouldn’t be any deaths or injuries from airguns because they are completely preventable. Here’s how: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

That’s the Big Secret of airgun safety (in fact, all gun safety): always, always, ALWAYS keep your air rifle or air pistol pointed in a safe direction. If it is pointed in a safe direction, even if somehow, magically, the airgun goes off by itself without human intervention, it can only shoot where it is pointed. It can’t hurt a person or animal or destroy property if it is not pointed at them. And don’t point the airgun someplace where it could ricochet and cause damage that way.

All the other rules of gun safety – treat every gun as if it were loaded, and so forth – follow from rule one: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

Another good rule to follow is to make sure that everyone on the firing line has eye protection.

Kids generally need adult supervision to make sure that they follow rule one. Check that — let me put it a bit stronger: if you are not 100% totally certain that the kids in question will follow rule one all of the time, they need adult supervision.

Now, what does adult supervision entail? Watching from the kitchen window to make sure the kids don’t shoot each other? No. Telling the kids as they go out the door to “be safe?” No.

Adult supervision means being close enough to redirect the muzzle of the airgun if that becomes necessary. Some kids are great at following the rules while others have extremely poor impulse control. Further, kids these days have grown up in general playing video games where they can get away with extremely dangerous behavior, hit reset afterwards, and everything is fine. Unfortunately, in the real world, things can go from fine to disastrous in a few thoughtless moments.

So do the right thing: read about airgun safety in detail here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2013/12/airguns-101-the-basics-safety.html and supervise the kids!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott