I had a couple good days at the end of last week with my buddy Scott D and a few others doing a dove shoot with a a selection of different guns. One thing I really enjoyed was one full day in which we only used spring piston guns. First time I’d done that in a while, but it is something I like to do every now and again. Being so caught up with all the new PCPs, I like to remind myself how I got started, and what the majority of airgunners still shoot.
It’s true that PCPs are easier to shoot accurately, they can be more powerful, are more effective with larger calibers and are often multi-shot and fast to cycle. But the fact that with a springer you needn’t worry about an air source, they are affordable, and they help tighten up your shooting skills. I was going back and forth between the RWS 34, Ruger Air Hawk, and Umarex Octane in .177 and .22 and found that I was consistently racking up the doves out to 45 yards. I didn’t get the numbers I do with my PCP’s hunting the same area, mostly because my limit with a springer is 45 yards, outside of this my accuracy falls off. Fewer shots means fewer birds, yet I still racked up respectable numbers.
Shooting the spring piston guns made me really pay attention to technique; breathing, trigger work, cheek weld to the stock of course, but especially my hold on the forestock. When shooting off a rest such as a fencepost or rail, I’d lay my hand on the fence and place the rifles forestock in the same position every time, with a very loose hold. This so called artillery hold makes a big difference, especially when shooting off the rest. All three of us (Me, Scott, Rossi) are primarily PCP shooters these days, however as we started getting familiarized with the guns our results started to become quite good. But while these guys were anxious to get back to their PCP’s, I actually made myself a promise that I was going to start using my springers a bit more this year!
I also don’t shoot .177 very much these days, but two of the three guns were in the minor caliber. Both the JSB Exacts and the H&N Hunter Extreme yielded up good results, though sometimes the birds would fly a ways before dropping. This wasn’t always a negative, as birds shot on the roof would fly off before dropping. The .22 did seem to deliver quicker results dropping birds on the spots, but I’m not sure they resulted in a higher kill percentage. I also shot some birds with Polymag pellets, and these were quite effective in both calibers.
There were several different types of birds flying around; though not as many feral pigeons as usual and not as many mourning doves either. The huge swarms of starlings were absent, and fewer Eurasians. But there were more whitewings (also a migratory game bird) than typically seen. As much fun as the shooting was, we couldn’t last too long under the intense Arizona summer sun. We were trying to get out shortly after first light and pack it up by lunch, going back out in the late afternoon. This was my first time shooting these dairy farms in summer, I generally don’t go out until October; there were still lots of birds out, but not as many…. putting this into perspective, birds numbered in the hundreds rather than the thousands but it was still nonstop shooting.
I was filming hunts for a couple of different projects, and after we were finished my friend and colleague Rossi Morreale and I drove over and spent the afternoon at Airguns of Arizona visiting with Robert, Greg, Kip, Shawn and the team, We had a great time shooting guns and shooting the breeze! I also went to look at their new van, the traveling gun shop. I love this concept, the AOA guys are taking their guns to the people by supporting gun shows, competitions, and other events. An absolutely great idea, if you get a chance to check it out when they visit your area take advantage of it!
These avian pest control sessions are a great opportunity for me to test new rifles as they are so target rich. I can take a gun out for an hour and get 30-40 birds at any range I want to try. And it’s appreciated, the farmer thanked us and told us to keep up the good work. I think I should mention something here though, because we talk about the need to cull these pest birds some people think they can roll up to any dairy farm with their guns and be meet with open arms……. this is not the case. The dairy owners don’t want a lot of strangers roaming about with gun (even Airguns) shooting around their workers, animals, equipment, and buildings. The best bet is to find a guy with permission to bring you out….. but a lot of guys don’t want to do this anymore because they find that the guys they bring out try to go back on their own, which has resulted in both being tossed out and the permission lost. If you find someone to bring you out, have the common courtesy to not try to impose yourself on a permission they took the time to cultivate!
Next week I’m back with the Wildcat and on my way to South Dakota to shoot prairie dogs for several days. Taking six guns and five air bottles long with enough gear to keep me shooting all day every day for the week. Getting ready for that trip I’ll be working the guns up over the chrony, then Chairgun, then validating them in the field. I like to make a cheater card for each gun, so that I feel confident going from 30 yards out past 100 yards.
Also wanted to do a little self promotion (excuse me for this)and to mention a few of the articles I have coming out; This month in my Predator Xtreme column I talk about Bullpups, in Fur Fish Game it’s a deer cull in Virginia with big bores, in Fish&Game/Sportsman I have a review of some of my favorite guns (some Daystates and FX guns in there, and the Bushbuck 🙂 ). Coming out in the British magazine Airgunner July 18th is an article on my recent Iguana cull in Puerto Rico (last month was turkey hunting in California). If you get a chance check these out, I appreciate the support and like the editors to see that there’s a growing interest in our sport.
By the way, I see over on Jock’s blog that he has an introduction to AOA’s Kip Perow…. Go give it a read! I’ve hunted a lot with Kip over the last few years, he’s a great guy and an asset to the airgunning world, a guy worth knowing. I’m out for this week, catch up with you all next week!