If you know firearms, then you can appreciate the value that a good air gun can have as part of your collection. From plinking to competitive shooting to varmint control, these weapons are as relevant today as they were when first used hundreds of years ago.
Air guns have a long and storied history as a valuable combat and hunting weapon in many countries across the globe. While the use has shifted focus in modern times, they are still a mainstay in shooting competitions (including the Olympics) and are very handy to have around in general.
The beauty of air gun shooting is that it’s quiet, affordable and you don’t need a lot of space. Because air guns aren’t technically considered ‘firearms’, there is more latitude with where and how they can be used. That’s why they’re a perfect choice for practicing or hunting on your own property, provided you have enough safe space to do so. They also allow you to avoid having to go to the range constantly and the potential of scaring the heck out of your neighbors.
The pellets used are inexpensive, don’t degrade over time and come in a variety of calibers, depending on your need. Some provide higher velocity and others greater impact. The range can accommodate most requirements from simply hitting targets to hunting various sizes of game. The ammo also flattens upon impact, which avoids ricochets and is another reason that these weapons are good for smaller space use.
The guns themselves can be pretty slick looking and can be tricked-out with any number of accessories, including optics. They can be remarkably accurate and really earn their keep for distances between 10 – 100 yards. Between rifles and pistols, there are many types to choose from (pump / piston / cartridges) and can be a good choice vs. a traditional .22 for the smaller stuff.
Some things to keep in-mind:
Safety First (obviously)
Although air guns are considered somewhat ‘safer’ than regular firearms, they are not toys and should be treated with the same respect that every gun requires. ALL safety rules should be applied for handling and shooting to help avoid any unfortunate accidents or injuries.
These would include, but are not limited to:
- Having a clear understanding of the weapon & how it operates
- Always pointing the muzzle in a safe direction
- Keeping your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
- Providing proper training & supervision for new and younger shooters
- Knowing what is around you & beyond your target when shooting
A Perfect Introduction
When teaching beginners all of the things they need to know to be a competent shooter, the noise and recoil of a regular gun can be both distracting and intimidating. Since air guns are quieter and produce very little kick, the newbie is able to relax and concentrate more on the fundamentals. It also allows you to potentially skip the range (which again can be intimidating) and shoot more for beneficial repetition and to help promote consistency.
Accuracy & Marksmanship
Building a solid foundation of marksmanship skills can absolutely be enhanced through the use of air gun practice. As with a regular firearm, the shooter needs the ability to develop a good sight picture and apply both breath and trigger control. Calculating holdover and making adjustments for wind also factor into the equation.
Now having said that, air gun shooting can be a lot of fun too. Knocking cans off a log or challenging yourself (plus friends & family) to hit other targets can be a blast – and you’re likely to be sharpening your skills without even knowing it.
Air guns are an excellent choice for controlling pest populations and for small game hunting. They tend to produce less tissue damage (for the keepers) and won’t spook animals due to the low noise level. They’re also perfect for use in confined spaces such as barns and sheds since they’re less likely to blow holes through walls and roofs.
Know the Rules
Although some folks may not consider an air gun to be an actual ‘gun’, there can still be some restrictions in effect as to what you can and can’t do with them. Always be 100% clear on State and local laws when to it comes to the following. Don’t make any assumptions.
- Where you can shoot
- Age restrictions or limitations
- Required supervision
- What game can be hunted
- Licenses or permits
- Transportation & storage rules
- Limits on calibers and/or muzzle energy
All things considered, air guns make a great alternative choice to traditional firearms in certain circumstances and can be a fun and safe way to develop shooting and hunting skills.
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