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Despite an elbow injury (nothing to do with drinking) Olympian Sarah Scherer finished 15th in London in smallbore (.22 caliber) competition. She and seven other Olympians are set to participate in the 2012 Winter Airgun Championships. [Press release after the jump.] So I guess we can say that airguns aren’t as dorky as they used to be. In fact, our industry contacts tell us that Stoeger airguns are selling like, uh, guns. And why not? Some of them are damn good varmint rifles (to a point). And it’s a whole lot easier to set up an airgun range in your basement or backyard than anything involving gunpowder. So how about it? Do you own an airgun? Would you buy one? Would you give the same answer if Sarah asked you?

Press release:

With high temperatures in Colorado Springs expected to be in the mid-60s throughout the week, it won’t feel anything like winter for participants of the 2012 Winter Airgun Championships, but more than 225 athletes are expected to arrive ready to test their shooting mettle among the nation’s best airgun competitors.

USA Shooting will welcome back to competition three 2012 Olympians including Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.), Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) and Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.) Scherer made the Olympic finals in her first Games and finished seventh despite a severe elbow injury that even left her participation in doubt in lead-up to her event. Furrer’s specialty is the smallbore (.22 caliber) event where she finished 15th in London. Mowrer made the team in the Free Pistol event finishing 15th but is looking to make his mark in air pistol events as well as we enter the new quad.

“Since the Olympic Games, I took a nice long break from shooting, and am finally getting back into practice,” said Furrer. “I am planning on making air rifle more of a priority this quad, so I figured I would kick off the year with an air rifle championship! I’ve been busy trying to keep up with school so I haven’t practiced as much as I would have liked, but I have to start somewhere. I am using this match to ramp back into training and competing on the national/international circuit. This is a great competition to test out some new techniques I’ve been working on and to target what I need to work on from here.”

In addition, two other pistol Olympians will be among those stepping to the firing line later this week. Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.) was a 2008 Olympian where he finished fourth in the men’s air pistol. The ageless Libby Callahan (Columbian, S.C.), a four-time Olympian, will compete as well. Callahan, 60, made Olympic history in 2008 becoming the oldest U.S. women to compete in the Olympic Games at the age of 56. Also, Morgan Wallizer (formerly Hicks) is competing in Air Pistol after making the 2004 Olympic Team in Rifle. She recently took up residence at the Olympic Training Center.

Other Olympians competing include three-time Olympic medalist Katy Emmons along with Petra Zubasling. Emmons has earned both a gold and silver medal in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event having stepped to the top of the podium in 2008 while finishing fourth this past summer in London. Shooting for her native Czech Republic, Emmons also won a silver medal in the Smallbore Three-Position Rifle event in Beijing as well. Emmons and her husband, Matt, have a combined six medals between them. Zubasling is a collegiate shooter for the No. 2-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers who competed for Italy in London finishing 12th in both air and smallbore rifle events. She owns a 599/600 and a pair of 597s thus far in the collegiate rifle season.

A total of 34 shooters representing USA Shooting’s National, Junior and Development Teams will be competing. Competitive edge for this weekend’s event will go to the numerous collegiate shooters in attendance led by Scherer who is demonstrating her air rifle prowess yet again for the defending NCAA National Rifle Champions, the TCU Horned Frogs. Through six air rifle matches, Scherer hasn’t shot lower than 596/600 and owns a 599 and two 598s on the year thus far. Five other Horned Frog teammates including fellow National Team athlete Sarah Beard (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Junior Team member Catherine Greene (Coventry, R.I.) will join Scherer in Colorado Springs.

“I am just excited to shoot again in Colorado,” said Scherer. “I have set some performance goals for myself continuing with my NCAA season.”

Kentucky freshman and Junior Team member Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) shot a personal-best and school-record tying 597 in his last match against TCU and will be looking to replicate that performance at the Olympic Training Center. He’ll be joined by Wildcat and Junior teammate Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.) who shot a 592/600 back on Oct. 13. Other collegiate notables are a Mountaineer contingent that includes not only Zubasling but Junior Team member Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) along with Thomas Kyanko (Wellsburg, W. Va.), Meelis Kiisk (Paide, Estonia) and Daniel Sojka (Cracow, Poland). All five of these Mountaineers have shot a 590 or above during the first half of the collegiate season.

Sixteen athletes having shot 590 or better during the collegiate rifle season to date will be competing come Friday. For a list of NCAA top scores as of November 18, click here.

Competition in the four contested airgun events begins Friday at 8 a.m. with Men’s Air Rifle and will conclude after three event days on Sunday with the final of the Junior Women’s Air Pistol. Qualification begins at 8:00 am on Friday and Saturday with a 7:00 am start set for Sunday. Event finals begin at 12:30 pm Friday and Saturday and get underway at 11:30 am on Sunday. For all USA Shooting event results, check the MATCH RESULTS section of the USA Shooting website.

Awards will be presented to the top three finishers in both the Open and Junior categories. Awards for the Open and Junior Categories will be presented at the conclusion of each match day. High scoring awards will be presented to the top Visitor, Collegiate, Disabled, and Senior, provided there are at least three competitors in each category, on the last day of the match.

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    • Try sitting with your back to the screen holding up a hand held mirror over your shoulder while you look at her. Now, are you saying to us that you would ‘yes’ if she asked to see your gun?

      • In the spirit of giving and the Christmas Season I would say yes if she told me to smack it on the bed post first!!!!

    • What were we talking about again, I got all distracted and stuff!! 😉

      Seriously though, I am thinking of getting some air rifles, not like hers of course, for the kids.
      easy to instruct them in the back yard weather permitting and no big organized trip to the range.
      If we want bang, then we can go to the range but the principles of shooting are the same really…

      • Yea I want to get me a decent Beeman .22cal but I have an SKS and a case of hollow points on layaway at my local gun shop so the Beeman will be after the first of the year.
        Between it and ordering a Nigthawk frame, slide and all the internals to build my own T3 Talon Thin my tax return will go bye bye in less than 24 hrs. Oh well. They are an investment in our future and our safety after all. And dadgummit they are just plain fun!!!

  1. I only own some cheap Umarex Makarov because getting a real pistol here requires too many hoops to jump through that I’m not willing to do.

    I’ll stick to real firearms.

  2. Back when barry got elected the first time I bought a break barrel .177 pellet rifle and trap from the china mart as a result of the ammo draught for “real” guns. It continues to be an eye opening experience.

    Loads of accuracy and power. Would not hesitate to use it for pest control and small game hunting. And there are airguns out there with enough power to hunt big game with. And there’s no paper trail on the guns.

    After my experience I wouldn’t be without an air gun even though I have a safe full of “real guns.”

    • No paper trail unless you live in the People’s Demokratik Republik of NJ, where they are considered to be firearms and require paperwork to buy. Slingshots are illegal in NJ if that gives you an idea of how bad things are there.

  3. Part of the silent battle we fight for social acceptance. Eroding the meaning of GUN. Biathlon got rid of centerfire. Olympics does only. 22 and air. Then it will ONLY be air. Slow but sure we lose.

    • Olympic Modern Pentathalon doesn’t even use air. It’s a laser-pointer with a blank puff of air to simulate recoil.

    • I see your point, but I wonder if the surge in popularity of gun ownership and shooting sports doesn’t have something to do with; the wars in the middle east, shooter video games, laser tag, paint ball and air soft. Aside from war, these are all competitions growing in popularity.

  4. I’ve got three air rifles. Two .177 cal and one .22 cal. I’ve also got an expensive airsoft AR-15. I have a lot of fun shooting all of them. While they don’t replace firearms, they definitely add to my enjoyment of the shooting sports. Not to mention I find they help to maintain, or even increase, my level of marksmanship.

  5. I had a crosman pellet rifle before my dad let me shoot the Marlin 22. I also still have an old Benjamin pump but all the seals are worn out on it. Killed a few squirrels with both, lots of plinking and good memories.

  6. As a yout, grandpa let me shoot his break action air rifle. Iron sights, pretty accurate. It was worlds away from my Daisy 1894. This year I picked up a Gamo that shoots 1000-1250 fps with that familiar crack of breaking the sound barrier. Took it to the range to see what it could do. Really impressed that it shot close groups easily at 50 yds. There’s no doubt about the fun factor and being able to shoot it in the back yard when it’s tough to get to the range. One crazy thing though, I won’t buy the PBA pellets because they’re $12/100. It has also been a great way to introduce the kids, cousins and scouts to shootings. Of course safety being our #1 priority.

    • heeey, I got one from Gamo too. I had trouble at first getting used to the gas piston thing and finding the right way to hold it but I’m very happy with it now. non-lead PBA is pretty expensive, I’ll stick to lead. my sand bag backstops catch all of them anyway.

      I practice with mine in my back yard and the sound moderator on the gun keeps it from getting the wrong attention. I wish I could shoot rimfire at home but that would get me into trouble. This is why I dig air rifles.

  7. Have a few, including an FWB 603 Olympic-style taget rifle. This is what led me inexorably to a 10/22, and then to an AR, and then to a 1911, and now a CMP Garand. Yes, airguns are eye openers.

  8. Midway USA had Ruger Air Hawks for $55 on Black Friday. Almost jumped at it, but as my backyard is the size of a postage stamp, it would be just as dangerous as a .22, if legal. My kid’s still working on honing his BB skills.

  9. I don’t own an airgun though I might buy one in the future. Some survival experts have suggested that it is a good tool to have if the SHTF. Their reasons are the relative quietness of the airgun (I’ve read that some are not so quiet), they can kill small game for food, and ammo is cheap and easy to store in mass quantities. They can also be used to “less lethally” intimidate potential thieves from stealing your chickens and vegetables.

  10. A decent air gun(s) can be a lot of fun. I have an RWS .177 cal pistol which is crazy accurate. Only thing is the sound of it drives my cats, the neighbor’s dog and the other neighbor’s cockatiel birds bonkers. It’s a dual-piston type and something about the sound it makes when fired drives the critters nuts. To me it just sounds like a sharp hissing crack, but there must be harmonics outside my poor human ears.
    In South Africa they used to play a game with air rifles where your targets were empty 9mm cases and they are set at specific distances to simulate greater distances, then you shoot in rounds and keep score. You have a specific number of shots per round. I think one variant is iron sights only and another scopes. Eventually the simulated distance can be near a mile and a half, or better, as I recall. Best score is tallied when no one can make the round shot and a winner declared. They named the game “Sniper”.

  11. Last month’s AR had a review of a $600 ($1600 all duded up) airgun. That is the kind of thing that I would like a friend to have, but I would never buy one. Regular old crossman or even a gamo, sure why not? But I agree with Tommy Knocker up there. Airguns are fine as an expansion of shooting sports, not in lieu of real guns.

  12. They’ve never made it to even limited production that I know of, but I’ve seen articles on custom-made .50 airguns with a scuba-style, compressor-filled resivor in the stock. Supposedly based on Napoleonic-era Austrian (I think) large-caliber muzzle-loader airguns that were considered hang-upon-capture war crimes because of the lack of muzzle flash/ smoke cloud. The first use of a “silenced” weapon? (Aside from the longbow, of course, which the French didn’t consider very sporting either.)

  13. I have the venerable Crossman 760 air BB/pellet rifle. My father has a break action .177 caliber pellet rifle complete with rifled barrel. His rifle is quite accurate and a lot of fun to shoot. And talk about cheap shooting!!!!!

    The higher velocity break action pellet rifles — especially in .22 caliber — would be decent survival rifles. They are obviously weak compared to anything that uses gun powder. Nevertheless, they are quite lethal on small game. And they will penetrate a human. While a wound from a pellet rifle isn’t typically life threatening to humans with current emergency response infrastructure in place, their wounds would be a huge deterrent in a SHTF scenario where you cannot count on emergency response infrastructure.

  14. A year ago TTAG published the link below about air guns, as the author I would not make any substantial revisions now, except to say it seem airsoft rifles have improved in quality and are closer to the quality levels seen in airsoft pistols. For fans of the Ar-15 platform, there are a number of high-end air gun options, a few which use your lower receiver, and I believe the sport of indoor air guns using AR-15s in service rifle configuration is growing in popularity as an option for NRA High Power competitors in cold winter climates. After another year of using the SCATT system, I am still a huge fan of it.

  15. Have quite a few thousand wrapped up in airguns and it all started with rat extermination on a horse farm (long story). Started out with a very accurate Gamo CO2 pellet pistol with lasersight then added a full auto Drozd with a laser. I was dropping Norway roof rats out of trees like VC snipers in Vietnam with that thing. 600 rounds per minute in 6 shot bursts with a battery powered fire control system. That thing is so much fun.
    From there I upgraded to an air force pre charged pneumatic rifle in 22 cal. Fully adjustable power settings and a matchgrade lothar walther barrel with silencer. Air rifles have realy come a long way. Some are running barrels from .25 to 9mm and up to .50cal. They are also running silencers because they are not powder burners. I’m guessing that that will be the next law passed as soon as the politicians find out or someone gets killed by one…

    • One of the regular customers in our local gun shop has a .458cal air rifle. I didn’t catch all the conversation but someone custom builds them.
      Said he had a few thousand in it but had some pretty damn nice pictures of a buck and a doe he killed with it. Looked like the same rifle he had with him so……?
      He said the guy, can’t remember his name now, is listed on most search engines when you look for custom built air rifles. His does have the reservoir, seems like he said 2,000 to 2200psi and adjustable air pressure.

  16. My brother picked up an Anshutz when he was in Germany, single break action, target trigger. Amazingly accurate at 50yds. When I was a kid, I had a Crossman CO2 target pistol with adjustable power and sights, and my brither had Crossman’s Olymoic CO2 rifle (10 meter) that was no challenge to shoot at 10 meters. Effective varmint gun out to 25 yards. Still have my son’s pump BB gun that I’ve used on rats on occassion.

  17. Yes, I have 2 air rifles, and also a CO2 pistol, and yes, my answer to the lovely Ms. Sarah would be the same. Were she to ask about my marital status…… that answer might be subject to change.

  18. I own a .22 silencer and several threaded guns, but I still love the .22 caliber air rifle I bought in Mexico years ago. Powerful enough for squirrel, accurate enough to use aspirin tablets for targets, it lets me shoot in places I couldn’t with even my silenced .22 and it doesn’t inspire the fantods in people who revile guns. Modern airguns are serious business. One should also look at the .58 caliber air rifle in the National Firearms Museum at NRA headquarters in Virginia. Lewis and Clark needed one gun that would function wet, and they killed an elk with this one, after pumpting it 1,500 times. Very cool indeed.

  19. High end airguns make for excellent practice indoors during winter. You need only 10 meters of distance to the target, and a metal box will serve as a pellet trap.

  20. The pellets are key to airguns. Cheap pellets are not that accurate, that’s for sure. You can get pointed ones, the RWS and Beeman types are famous for speed and penetration. I use hollow points that shatter on impact, very effective.

  21. Pump action Crosman BB/Pellet, .177. BBs are wild, pellets are dead on at 20 meters, with scope, 25 cent piece size target. A way to relax for me. Maintain the same safety discipline at all times as with “real firearm”. My first airgun was a Benjamin pump, iron sights, pellets only, .177. Rabbits and squirrels feared me. My Dad taught me patience, and safety.

  22. In highschool, I was able to shoot on East Anchorage High’s rifle team.
    It was one of the highlights of my youth. We used FeinWerkBau .177 (4.5mm) air rifles- that were able of firing ten consecutive shots into the same ragged hole at 10 meters.
    I know, ten meters doesn’t seem far- and it’s not. But the level of skill required to shoot and win at that distance is still awesome.

    I often consiter purchasing either an Anschutz or FWB air rifle and getting back into competition- but haven’t found the 2K+ dollars or the time to retrain.

    I, personally loved air rifle matches- cheap to shoot, quiet, and darn accurate

  23. No airguns! You could knock somebody’s eye out!

    Actually, if I could find a place to shoot one, I’d buy an air rifle in a second.

  24. I want to buy a Benjamin rogue but the price puts me off – I bought a Mannlicher Schonauer carbine for about the half the price of one six months ago. Also, if you check the price of 20 cal pellets, you will find that they cost more than 22 lr budget ammo. Take a $ 600 plus air rifle and compare it to a basic (but accurate and much more powerful) rimfire like a Marlin 60 or a Ruger 10-22 and you can see why airguns are not all that popular over here. The situation is different in Europe and in Asia in countries where firearms are severely restricted, of course.

    • Mehul, I paid 100 bucks for my wally world break barrel. And standard .177 cal pellets are very affordable. I see the pellet gun as a cheap way to practice and not as a replacement for guns.

      The performance of these pellet guns has improved so much since I was a kid I would not hesitate to use one for small game at modest ranges if I found myself in a position to have to hunt again.

  25. I’ve got a small collection of classic match air rifles and pistols. They’re great for marksmanship training, and fun for casual plinking as well.

    For anyone interested in setting up a range in their home, I’d recommend using duct putty as your backstop. It’s a dense putty, used to seal duct work, which you can find at hardware stores that will capture the entire pellet so that you don’t get lead splatter in the area of your target, and it’s quiet. Duct putty is typically sold in bricks, so you can just stack them to form the backstop + it’s inexpensive.

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