Sitting silently at the base of an old oak, my thoughts drift back to long ago hunts spent absorbing the sights, smells and sounds of the woods of a nearby farm.  The sound of an acorn husk falling through the leaves causes a return to the present.

The flicking of a silver grey tail over the side of a branch exposes the source of the acorn husk falling.  Shouldering the weapon and peering through the scope at those beady little eyes staring back I focused on the shot placement.  Poosh went the gun and the king of the treetops flipped over back ward and fell to the ground.

Brother squirrel was the victim of a new air rifle.  It is a far cry from the old Red Ryder BB gun of our childhood.  Originally invented as a weapon for hunting, it became a target and learning weapon and not as a serious hunting tool.

Shooting an air gun is great practice for other forms of shooting.  It helps one develop the skills necessary in all kinds of shooting.  One needs to be able to get a proper sight picture, have a smooth trigger pull, and follow through properly.

Because the pellet from an air gun leaves the barrel slower than a firearm, you need to hold steady after squeezing the trigger, a skill that aids all shooters.

Modern air guns often have scopes.  It is advisable to use a scope specifically designed for air guns.   It seems the vibration from an air gun will often damage the reticule of scopes designed for firearms.

Additionally, air guns are inexpensive practice.  It is easy to set up an air gun range in the back yard or indoors.  A number of air gun range set-ups are available in sporting goods stores and through mail order.  One can also suspend soft drink cans from an overhanging wire and shoot them.

Because air guns have less recoil and are quieter than firearms it is possible to concentrate on form and shooting skill without fear of recoil.  There is also little maintenance to an air gun.

There are two popular calibers of air guns.  Some others do exist but are not in common use.  The .177 is the most popular air gun commonly used for target practice and plunking.  It is a popular caliber for the beginner.  The .22 caliber gun is more suited for hunting small game.  The .22 pellet provides more impact and provides a clean humane kill.

Two kinds of systems propel air guns.  One is with an air cartridge and is most popular with the target crowd.  The other requires one to pump up the pressure inside the gun using an arm which folds into the forearm of the weapon.  It provides more consistent accuracy shot after shot.

Standards of velocity are usually marked on the packaging and in the instructions that come with the gun.  A gun using 750 to 900 f.p.s. can take an animal the size of a fox out to a distance of about 50 yards.

A gun with 850 to 900 f.p.s. velocity can take out a rabbit size animal up to 45 yards.

The bare minimum velocity a hunter should use is 650 f.p.s.   It is effective for shots of 25 to 30 feet and is good for squirrel hunters.  Some of the alloy pellets, such as those sold by GAMO, have much higher f.p.s. rates that work even better for hunting situations.

Air gun hunting is a sport that is gaining in popularity because it is a challenge and very interesting to master.  For those of us who like to spend as much time in the woods as possible and not disturb the surroundings, it is an excellent choice.  Air gun hunters can take their quarry and without scaring off any other animal life.



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  1. Some great advice, scopes have to be specific for air rifles or you will break em, spring causes different recoil (if spring)

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