Chances are, an air gun was your first introduction to firearms. Mine was a multi-pump pneumatic Remington Airmaster I received for Christmas when I was 12.
I brought that thing everywhere with me. I have so many fond memories about that air rifle like shooting my first bullseye and winning a marksmanship competition at camp.
Although we typically associate them with young shooters, here are six reasons to consider bringing these little air-powered guns back into your recreational shooting lineup.
1. Low Cost
Relative to traditional firearms, air guns are inexpensive to purchase and operate. Even the cheapest 9 mm handguns, one of the most popular choices for all-purpose shooting, will cost you hundreds of dollars to purchase. The selection at Gander Outdoors offers air gun options from simple $25 air pistols up to $300 for the most decked-out air rifle.
Where you will really save money, though, is ammunition. On the cheap end, 0.22 LR caliber rimfire rounds, one of the most commonly shot rounds in the world, will run you about $7 per 100 rounds.
Those 9 mm rounds will run you about$20+ per 100 rounds. For an air gun, pellets (good for hunting and accurate target shooting) will run you about $7 per 500 rounds whereas a huge container of BB’s (less accurate, all-purpose rounds) will only cost about $9 for 6,000 rounds!
Over years of enjoying air gun shooting, you can save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in ammunition expense if you opt for an air gun over a 9 mm or even a 0.22 caliber gun.
2. Air Gun Variations Model Traditional Firearms
Air guns offer more models than you might expect. It’s not just the traditional Daisy Red Ryder lever-action BB gun anymore.
You can choose from handguns, rifles with different barrel lengths, and even tactical models like the one seen above. Whatever your needs or personal preferences are, there is an air gun model out there for you.
3. Hunting/Pest Control
With the right caliber and power, air guns are ethical options for hunting small game such as squirrels and small game birds. As I also found out on my friend’s farm, they are a solid option for mouse and rat control.
First of all, make sure you have the proper hunting license for your state if you are hunting small game. Secondly, make sure you are using hunting-specific pellets (like those pictured above) to ensure accuracy and proper round design for an ethical kill.
BB’s are inaccurate and should never be used for these purposes. Lastly, use an air gun with sufficient power to make an ethical shot. A muzzle velocity of 750 f.p.s. should be the minimum. Practice target shooting at increasing distances to determine the upper limit of your accuracy so that you do not attempt a shot on an animal outside of your range.
Air guns are great options for honing your marksmanship skills because there is not much room for error. These guns are light so it’s difficult to keep them steady. The rounds are also light so if you are shooting outside, environmental factors, such as wind, make a much larger impact on your shot. This is a great way to cheaply practice core shooting skills that will translate to your traditional firearms.
If you’re a competitive person like myself, there are a variety of national and international air rifle competitions that emphasize different skills. Field target competitions emphasize hunting skills where targets (ranging 10-50 yards) resemble game animals and shooters are required to hit a ‘kill zone’ as small as ½” in diameter. BR-50 competition is another unique marksmanship opportunity.
BR stands for “bench rest”, which is how you will be handling your air gun. You will have 30 minutes to shoot 50 rounds at 50 individual 1” targets with three target zones at 25 yards. Because you only have one opportunity at each target and you are under a time limit, this can be a thrilling and challenging competition for even the best shooters.
5. No Recoil Fatigue
If you’ve shot 100 rounds through your 9 mm handgun, 50 rounds through your 12-gauge shotgun, or even 25 rounds through your 35-Remington, you know what recoil fatigue feels like.
This dull soreness or tingling interferes with your ability to keep firing your gun accurately and ultimately, you enjoy it less and less. Air rifles have (virtually) no recoil which allows you to have hours of fun with none of the annoying or painful consequences of recoil fatigue.
6. Introduce your Kids to Shooting
Air guns are the best way to introduce kids to shooting and share a common interest. Due to their small caliber and no use of gunpowder, there is far less chance for injury. The typically smaller size of air guns also makes them easy for kids to handle and operate.
I learned the keys to gun safety from my dad when I received my air rifle for Christmas. Having ownership of the gun, kids are more invested in understanding the rules of safe operation (they must if they want to keep using it).
Always make sure to have your child wear safety glasses, use a trigger lock to which only you have the key (until they are old enough), teach them to act as though the gun is always loaded (i.e. barrel down), and practice having them quickly engage the safety when you call out “safety on!” Follow these core safety steps and you will have many enjoyable hours of sharing recreational shooting with your kid.
Do you have fond memories of air gun shooting as a kid? Do you use an air gun now? Leave a comment below to share your experiences.