I would like to share a story that I feel will interest most fellow airgun enthusiasts. I have a passion for airguns. I don’t know why, just that I always have. The disease started at the age of 8 when I received my Daisy Red Rider. Much like the Christmas Story movie I was certain the blued steel beauty could take polar bear if needed. Like most seasoned air gunners today my lust was further promoted by the pages of  Robert Beeman’s wonderful catalogs. In one of the early versions the HW 35L was prominently displayed and Mr Beeman’s Oh-So-Seductive text drew me in. I was 16. I worked long and hard at my father’s tire recapping plant, pulling molds and wrapping hot rubber around freshly buffed carcasses. Very difficult, hot work. I loved it though, and at the end of the summer I had made and saved enough to order my dream rifle. My mother sent in the check for the airgun, the Blue Ring scope, professional mounts and a muzzle brake! The customary 6-8 weeks for delivery might as well have been a year as the wait was excruciating. Finally when I had almost given up hope after school one day on the staircase inside the front door laid a big rectangular brown box! Elation is the closest adjective i can think of but it still comes short. I opened up my new prize and inside was the fulfillment of my dreams…my new HW35L. This rifle would become my new best friend plinking rocks, bugs, leaves and the occasional bird in my parents’ large back yard. At the time we lived in the country so taking pigeons and sparrows off of the wires presented no real threat to anyone. We could even dove hunt in our back yard until the city annexed the property, bummer.

Vintage HW35L breech. Note the Made In West-Germany markings!

Vintage HW35L breech. Note the Made In West-Germany markings!

I grew up with that rifle hunting rabbits and squirrels. I even popped a coyote with it but it ran off, at that age I still had visions of immense power that the German machine could produce and surely the Beeman folks underestimated the true energy the 35 was producing. I grew older and girls, school, job and other annoyances would take all of my time and attention. I still on occasion would take my baby out of its case, wipe her down and pop off a few pellets down the back yard at an imaginary target or rat. I’d take in the smell of the wafting, burnt compression cylinder oil and be taken back to my younger days in a Walter Mitty like trance. The call for dinner would come and I would be whisked back to reality. That was the state of how it was for many a year my love of airguns never wavered however and I always kept up to date with the next issue of the Beeman brochures and other literature.

Then came the call from my wife upon returning from her work as a teacher. She entered the house to find that we had been broken into and most of my guns and her jewelry had been stolen. My HW35L was gone. The crooks could have taken any other gun and it would have not hurt me as much as the loss of my childhood that was taken that day. That gun was part of the catalyst that drove me into the airgun trade. I was 28 at the the time. Since then I have a new, wonderful wife, wonderful sons and a flourishing airgun business that employs the best men in the industry. Quality human beings that I am honored to work with. My brother as my partner and a man by the name of Greg that has been with me since he was 14 years old. He is now 33. And the best customers and manufactures in the world. I am truly blessed!

Enter November 2014…I am making my daily rounds with the men and as I pass by Kip, one of our spring gun repair tech’s work bench, and I notice a stock that you don’t see very often, a 35L walnut stock. I stopped picked it up and started to tell Kip the story of my beloved gun and how this one brought back some fine memories. I then told Kip that i had put a mark on mine by the trigger guard not on purpose mind you and as I turned the rifle over to show him where well you guessed it. THE SAME MARK was on this stock.

Same mark in stock!

Same mark in stock!

I then explained that mine had an X scribed into the wood under the compression tube. Yep you guessed it again the X was there. I then asked if the gun was scoped and was swiftly shown the famous Blue Ring scope that came on my rifle. Well what to do? This was my baby back in my arms; I almost cried. A call was made to the owner of the gun who had sent it in for rebuilding. I explained how this was once my rifle and how did he come into its possession. He explained that about 25 years ago a man came into his fathers gun store and sold it to him for cheap and he had kept it for himself and enjoyed it very much. I did not blame him and I asked him if I could send him a brand new 35E in its place as the old L model could not have the same sentimental value to him as it did me!! He agreed and the deal was done.

Robert Buchanan and his HW35L!

Robert Buchanan and his HW35L!

I am once again the proud owner of my childhood sweetheart! It rests safely in my collection next to airguns costing 10 times as much, but worth 10 times less.

35LWall

35L hangs proudly on the wall!

Thanks for talking the time to share in my story,

Robert Buchanan

Owner, Airguns of Arizona

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

Wow! Fantastic! That’s awesome! — Plus a few other superlatives could be used to describe this year’s show.  Before getting into specifics, I would like to acknowledge the folks in this industry.  For 4 days they have tons of people visiting their booths and the primary focus is on bringing in sales and writing up business as it should be.  However, these folks are always willing to take time to sit down and share their thoughts with us in the media.  It makes me proud to be a part of this great industry.  And, for those pundits going around saying the shooting part of the industry is drying up, a few statistics they need to be aware of:  SHOT Show is the 5th largest trade show in Vegas and this year’s show had the second highest attendance with 64,000; second only to last year’s 67,000.  There were over 1600 exhibitors with 150 of them being new this year.  While firearms sales seemed to have peaked in 2013, ammunition sales were higher in 2014.  This is an $8 billion dollar a year industry and it is estimated that women now make about 25% of the purchases.  Hardly seems like an industry that is in decline…

Moving on, let me describe some of the great stuff seen in my travels around the approximately 13 acres of items on display.  The trend this year seemed to be in the direction of big bore PCP air rifles with several of the major names introducing a version.  Airforce came out with the Texan, a .45 caliber single-shot capable of delivering 500 foot pounds of energy.  Crosman introduced their Bulldog, a .357 rotary magazine fed bullpup design claiming 180 fpe.  Daystate has added the Bullpup utilizing electronic firing controls in multiple calibers that includes a .30 version. FX introduced the Bobcat Mk2 with an externally adjustable regulator allowing the user to custom tune the rifle and it is available in .30 as well.  Then there was Hatsan’s .35 caliber BT Carnivore, a rotary magazine fed model utilizing their QuietEnergy technology.  I understand Marksman introduced a large caliber model as well although I did not have an opportunity to check it out.  A new company out of Las Vegas was not exhibiting at the show, but I did have a chance to see their contribution to the big bore realm outside of the show venue.  Innovairtech has built a bolt action single shot .357 that uses stainless steel pressurized cartridges instead of having an on board HPA cylinder.  Just fill the cartridge to the desired pressure, drop a lead bullet into the nose of the cartridge and it is ready to insert into the rifle.  Designs are underway to produce a magazine fed version in the future.  Our friends here at Airguns of Arizona also have something exciting to unveil in the big bore arena and there will be more available on that soon.

There is so much more to cover that will have to come in other blogs, but I did want to mention a couple of stand-outs for me.  UmarexUSA introduced a Colt licensed Peacemaker replica in a blue or nickel finish.  This CO2 BB pistol is beautifully done and I can hardly wait to get my hands on one.  Lastly, as I was passing the Wolf Ammunition booth some very good looking Russian-made PCPs with hand-checkered walnut stocks caught my eye. Very little information was available at the show and I’ll see what I can find out and report on later.

For my first contribution to this blog I thought I’d tell you a little about the annual trade show held in Las Vegas where new items related to the airgun industry are showcased.  Each January for 4 days, the National Shooting Sports Foundation sponsors a huge trade show known as the SHOT Show.  Over 60,000 exhibitors/vendors, buyers and media from around the world gather to celebrate all things related to the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades. When I say “all things” I am not kidding.  We are talking everything from Anti-tank weapons (military sales only…) to Zippo (they own Case knives) and everything in between; including such diverse items as hiking boots, hunting dog training gear, ATVs and jerky spices/game processing supplies.  If you’ve seen it in a sporting goods or gun store, it can be ordered in quantity at this show.  Being a trade show it is not open to the public and no cash & carry sales happen on the show floor.

Manufacturers use this forum to introduce their newest creations that we consumers see on the store shelves later in the year.  All the major players (with the exception of Daisy) come to Vegas to show off their latest-and-greatest wares.  AofA exhibits every year and it is great to catch up with Robert and the gang.

As the biggest show of its type held in North America, literally thousands of firearms are on display and they must be rendered inoperable.  No live ammunition is allowed in the convention center and even though there is a large section of the show dedicated to law enforcement equipment, LEOs in attendance may not be armed.  Of course, there is a huge presence of local police and private security.  Even lowly pellets are not exempt from the rules.  My friend Dick over at Predator International wanted to display an open tin of his Polymags and the only way the promoters would allow it was if he poured a clear epoxy over the tin to turn the pellets into a solid mass.

Sometimes the products on display are so new that attendees are handling prototypes.  It is always interesting to see how the prototypes changed between SHOT and the store shelves.  Also, seeing the innovations taking place across every segment of the industry each year is amazing.

It is an exciting place to be in an exciting venue and I feel fortunate to be able to participate in it.  After a whole day of touching everything gun-related, and seeing what the manufacturing world has to offer in the way of things connected to this hobby/passion you can hang out at the casinos and win your fortune!  So far it hasn’t happened to me – but there is always next year!

Alright, so I’ll stick with a good thing and just concentrate on walking the million+ square foot show floor visiting as many of the 1600+ exhibitors as possible.  Look for a follow up blog after I return from the show for a sneak preview of what is on the airgunning horizon.

Remember to exercise and protect your freedoms or risk losing them…

Before we get to today’s blog, and before you all pick up on AOA writing another entry, we need to make an announcement. Nearly seven years ago, we set out on a journey here on this very blog. At the helm was a highly qualified and keen spirited writer by the name of Jock Elliott. (Now before we press on, Jock is fine, and all is well.) Years break down to months, and months to weeks, and every week brought another great story, product review, announcement or the odd rant…every week…without fail. Jock is consistent that way, and for his efforts we should all be thankful. I know each of us at AOA could never express the thanks we have as the task of writing is not for the weak spirited, and the commitment to a weekly article would be difficult for anyone, and to do it with the grace and style ole Uncle Jock has would be near impossible. But alas, following several long and heartfelt conversations, Jock has requested to make his retirement a little more official, and without any hard feelings has stepped down from the weekly duties here. We could never allow him to get away completely, and we were able to tie him down with a less-formal commitment to jump in and share an article when possible. His first task, er…request by AOA will be to formally share his journey here and we ask that everyone chime in and give him the thanks he deserves. I don’t think he will stray too far, as his passion for airguns still burns strong!

Meanwhile, we have some new ideas, new articles, new techniques and even new writers lined up. Amazing how much it took to fill Jock’s well worn shoes! So stay tuned and let us know your comments as we continue on this awesome airgun journey! Now on to today’s blog…

 

For those of us who come from the firearm sport into airguns, or those who are just coming into shooting sports, there are many opinions and yet very little good information out there about maintaining airgun barrels. Powder burners are conditioned to spend a great deal of time addressing the barrel, where carbon build up and high heat make the barrel a nasty place! But airguns, on the other side of the coin, have no heat and no explosive reactions to overcome. So what to do about the barrel?

First off, put away your Hoppes #9 and any other cleaning fluid that works best in the firearm world! Oh, they’ll clean your airgun barrel as good or better, but the long term will result in total ruin of your seals and in case you didn’t know, an airgun of any type, without its seals, is a glorified paperweight! So unless you want to rebuild or pay someone else to rebuild your airgun, keep away from solvents that can harm o-rings or seals.

The same goes for big bristly brushes attached to steel rods. Unless you have a specific issue to attack, airguns don’t require abrasive action, so keep away from these things as well. It is not that the barrels are softer than firearms, but they often contain seals, or have seals nearby, and rubber or plastic does not hold up to even the softest touch by a wire brush!

So here we are, back where we started. How do you clean an airgun barrel, and is it even necessary?

Starting with the last question, the answer is yes. It is still necessary to maintain a clean barrel on an airgun. But you have to consider the fact that pellets leave behind little trace, so a clean barrel will remain so for a long time. Our rule of thumb here at Airguns of Arizona is that a new barrel will likely have remnants of oil and gunk from the manufacturing processes and storage procedures at the factories. This should be removed before use to achieve the best possible outcome in accuracy. But, once that is all gone, and the rifle is shooting well, we don’t recommend a schedule to keep with cleaning the bore. Like we tell many new and seasoned shooters, let the airgun tell you when it needs a good cleaning. If your accuracy is holding strong, leave it alone. When you start to see your groups widen and you know its not you or the conditions, by all means go straight to the barrel for cleaning and see if the problem goes away. Why, you might ask? Well, a mirror shine, ultra clean barrel may actually shoot worse than a slightly dirty one! It is quite common in our testing to clean a barrel and have the accuracy disappear. Then, after a handful of pellets have been run through the barrel, the accuracy snaps back in and you are back in the hunt. With lead pellets, there are no harmful chemicals in the barrel corroding the steel, so there is no issue with avoiding cleaning until necessary for accuracy.

Now on to how. We have grown fond of the simple pull through cleaning tool. Airguns range from break barrel spring guns with full access to the barrel from both sides, to tight breech and shrouded muzzle precharged pneumatics where accessing either side of the barrel can be tricky. This is where a cleaning tool like the Napier Pull-Thru shines!

NapierPullThru1

Napier Pull-Thru

Made of a strong cord with a loop on one end and a T-Handle on the other, the Napier Pull-Thru allows you to fish the device through the bore, add a patch/cleaning solution, and then pull it back through to remove the build up of lead and oils. The unit is sleeved by an outer rubber tube, and this gives the device some structure to allow it to slip down the bore. Once the patch is installed, you can pull gently to cinch the patch in the loop before pulling it back through.

When we say cleaning solution, we simply mean just that…cleaner/degreaser. Not harsh solvents needed. We offer the AOA Cleaner/Degreaser, but many use simple household cleaner as well. A couple drops on a patch, pulled through once or twice, followed by a couple dry patches, and you are all set.

What we like about the Napier Pull-Thu over the rest is two-fold. First is the strength of the components and the comfort of the handle. This unit is strong yet easy to use and does not pinch your hand when pulling patches. Next is the flexibility the unit has, which shines on a tight breech system like a precharged gun designed for magazine use. The Napier can be fished out the breech with ease, and a patch installed without trouble.

Patch loaded on a tight PCP breech.

Patch loaded on a tight PCP breech.

Hopefully this clears up the question about cleaning an airgun barrel. We know that many people have their opinion about what works best, and we respect that fact. In our experience, where ease of use and good yet fast results are needed, the Napier Pull-Thru gets our recommendation. The OTIS system comes in a close second, and for those special circumstances like we alluded to above, if you need the power of a rigid cleaning rod, look to the Dewey line as they are coated in a durable rubberized finish to protect your bore, and they pivot on smooth bearings to prevent harm to your fine airgun rifling.

**Teaser Alert…we have a new writer on board, and he will be kicking it off next week!**

Until Next Time,

Get Out and Shoot!

Happy New Year to our loyal readers from all the crew at Airguns of Arizona. Thank you for making 2014 a great year! We are looking forward to 2015, and already have big plans and wheels in motion for making this another great year in airgunning. Stay tuned in for up-and-coming posts, and please continue to comment with questions and feedback. We want this blog to be a service to its readers, and we welcome any thoughts or suggestions to make it even better.

Now we can not leave you without a product review of some sorts, so here ya go!

We often focus all our attention on the big items like air rifles and pistols, and in doing so, we overlook the smallest (yet possibly the largest) component to the airgun hobby…the pellets!!!

JSB is one of the premier makers of pellets today, and they are working hard to satisfy every need the market creates. Their latest design was made to focus attention on the .177 precharged market, where high power has been penalized by a lack of quality pellets in a heavy weight. The US is full of power hungry customers, but we are spoiled with an open market mostly without caliber or power restriction, so .177 is not our go-to choice when power is craved. Elsewhere in the world, however, there are limitations on caliber. India restricts all airguns to .177 exclusively, and other countries as well, so JSB was quick to respond to the growing need for a heavy .177 pellet.

For those who stay in tune with JSB’s line of pellets, you are likely saying “What about the JSB Exact Heavy .177 at 10.34 grains?” or “How about those 13.43 grains JSB Exact Monster .177 pellets?” Isn’t that enough weight for these power crazy airgunners???

JSB-Beast

JSB Beast .177 16.2gr. Pellets

Pavel Kolebac, Owner/Designer/Pelletmaster Supreme of JSB, took it even further with the new JSB Exact BEAST in .177.

JSB Beast a bit long for some magazines!

JSB Beast a bit long for some magazines!

These “little” pellets weigh in at a massive 16.20 grains and will overwhelm most magazines at an impressive 0.31 inches in length.

JSB-Beast-1

JSB Beast Cylindrical Design

The shape is what many call “cylindrical”, and is great for long range ballistics. The head is rounded, and the skirt is shallow, making them bullet-like in looks and function. Use of the Beast pellets should be limited to high power Precharged Pnuematics only, and even then we recommend use in .177 rifles designed to shoot at 25+ ft/lbs of energy. These JSB Beast pellets are good news for shooters using magnum rifles like the AirForce Condor, Daystate Air Ranger Extreme, or some of the Korean models. Each tin comes with 250 of these little beasts, and great care was given in packing them nice and secure for safe delivery.

 

Until Next Time,

Get Out and Shoot!

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