NRA Airgun Range: Bull’s Eye!

With all this talk about guns at the NRA, you’d think that everybody’d be walking around armed, locked and loaded. You’d be wrong. For reasons cited previously, there were no functioning weapons allowed on the show floor (presumably the security teams were armed, but I’m just speculating). So you’ve got 70,000+ people who like guns all together in a place where they can’t shoot guns. What’s an NRA Convention to do? Airguns, baby. Airguns.

I’ve shot a lot of different weapons in my day: 1911’s (natch) polymer guns, rifles, shotguns. But somehow, I’d missed what happened to the modern pellet gun. The NRA and Pyramid Air Gun Malls were happy to educate me.

Each day, Pyramid hosted an indoor range with regulation 10 meter targets (that’s 32.8 feet for those of you stuck, like me, in a non-metric mindset). Tickets were five shots for one buck. Fair enough. They had a variety of air rifles on hand, and a slew of volunteer range officers.

Shooters ranged from  6 to well over 65. One couple directly ahead of me in line had obviously long since passed their golden wedding anniversary and were probably planning whatever comes next. (Platinum? Diamond? Negotiable Securities?)

So I plunked down my cash and took a spin with a Crossman model that looked for all the world like something the Team USA would use to compete at the Olympic level.

This was NOT your father’s Red Ryder B.B. Gun. Nope. This sucker had an air gauge on the side, as it runs on compressed air. No pumping required. It’s a single shot model. Goes for somewhere in the neighborhood of five Benjamins. It was sporting a rather well-turned-out scope that probably doubled the price of the rig.

Unfortunately, the gun rests were folding tables (i.e.: subject to a whole lotta jostling and shaking from all the other shooters). And it was a noisy place, with lots of kids getting their first exposure to firing a “real” gun. Fortunately, none of this mattered.

What you see above, campers, is the honest-to-God, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die target that I shot today. (Go ahead. Click on the image to enlarge it. I’ll wait.)

I shot ten rounds into the one target. (I bought two tickets. Call me “extravagant.”) The instructor had told me the gun shot just a little down and to the right, so I’d need to compensate accordingly. I did.

My first round hit the bull’s eye, center mass. I mean, it looked for all the world as if I’d lined the target up on a drill press. Nailed it. A laser sight wouldn’t have delivered a better shooting experience. Then he told me, “That’s nice. But the real proof of the gun is what happens with your next shots.” So I drilled pellet after pellet down that same hole. Oh, I didn’t hit it in exactly the same spot, every shot. But every one of my shots connected with the bull’s eye.

Imagine how pleased I was when I was able to drill all ten rounds right down the center of the target like that.

Now I’m not a bad shot with a pistol or revolver. In fact, at that distance, I can usually count on drilling 2″ centers, even one-handed. That’s not that impressive. Most of the shooters I know look at what I do and say things like, “Hey! You’re doing much better!” Then they smoke me and cause me to wonder if I’ll EVER be able to nail a target like they do. (Literally. One of the things these guys do for sport is to use their pistols to drive nails into two-by-fours.)

So it was with not a little amount of pride that I saw the results of this time at the range. Strike that. I was bloody elated.

AIrguns have no appreciable recoil. They are relatively inexpensive (unless you’re going for match grade). And they are waaaaay too much fun to shoot.

I’m thinkin’ there might be an airgun in my future.

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