I have the pleasure of speaking to hundreds of folks each year. Many are already hardcore airgunners, but others are still sitting on the fence and have one very specific question. That question is simply “why airguns?” It’s actually an easy question to answer and it’s what we are going to address in this article.
Usually my first response to the question of “why airguns” is why not? If you like to shoot, airguns are another opportunity to pull the trigger. What I’ve found is that most of the time folks think we airgunners are trying to get people to choose between airguns and firearms, as in one or the other. That could not be further from the truth. It’s not actually one or the other; it’s about adding airguns as another way to get quality trigger time.
The truth is that airguns offer traditional shooters the advantage of more trigger time at a much lower price per round. A quality airgun will cost about the same as a quality firearm. Take for example a decent AR15. Decked out with optics, a decent AR15 is going to run $1000 or more. Shooters can get a very nice PCP airgun with all the gear to keep it going, for about the same price; and that’s on the rifle side of things. When we consider all the replica air pistols on the market, things get really interesting.
But where airguns really shine, is the convenience of being able to shoot in more locations. Provided your city or town permits it, maybe even right in your own back yard. Moreover, the price per round is a fraction of what it costs to shoot firearms. When you compare inexpensive .22LR ammo to quality .22 pellets, you’ll find that you can probably shoot 3 to 4 times as much with a pellet gun than you can with a .22LR. And, if you shoot .177, that ratio can double or triple. If you like to shoot, you can shoot a lot more for a lot less if you add airguns to your collection.
Many shooting disciplines lend themselves to airguns as a supplement for training, as many functions crossover. Some examples may be, learning muscle memory to draw and gain a sight picture on a target, or learning breathing and trigger control for precision shooting. Airguns allow for a more convenient and affordable means for someone to improve their gun handling skills.
Our municipality allows for target shooting with airguns on your own property provided what you shoot, i.e. pellets, bbs, airsoft bbs, etc. do not leave your property and that you don’t violate any noise ordinances. Keeping this in mind I’ve setup two shooting areas in our yard, one short range for pistol practice, and one longer range for rifle practice. Even though we have a tiny yard, we’ve managed to make it work. This allows our entire family to get in that trigger time whenever we like.
We shoot replica pistols on our short 10-yard range to help develop and maintain a basic familiarity with our actual firearms. This does not replace practice and training with live ammo, but rather it is a supplement to keep up our proficiency. In addition, we shoot suppressed air rifles on our longer 22-yard range to work on our precision shooting. We can do this all on our own property whenever time allows, without having to plan a special trip to the range.
Another great reason to look at airguns as a supplement to your firearms collection is pest control, specifically small pests like rats, squirrels, and rabbits, that can cause significant property damage. There are times when it is perfectly legal to remove pests that are causing damage, but illegal to do so with a firearm. .22 caliber and larger airguns fit very well into this situation.
Because they are very quiet as compared to firearms, they can get the job done without disturbing anyone. There is an airgun for every pest out there, regardless the size. Obviously, you need to use good common sense here, but the point is that modern airguns bring a lot to the table in this regard.
Beyond pest control, airguns are also great for small game hunting. Rabbit and squirrel hunting are good examples. They provide a greater challenge than traditional firearms and are inherently safer for developing shooters and young hunters. Again, because they are quieter than traditional firearms, you can often get several shots off before your game even knows what is happening, allowing you to maximize your time in the field and bring home more game.
While the other reasons to add airguns to your collection are all very “practical,” there is another side to them that you just can’t overlook and that’s fun. If you like to shoot, probably a part of you likes the fun of it. Seeing the bullseye in your target being drilled repeatedly is just fun. Airguns allow us to do this just about any time the urge comes along. And, there’s more than just paper out there to shoot.
So many different target options on the market bring shooting fun and airguns together. There are resetting metal targets, knock down targets, heck you can have a lot of fun with paint balls and golf tees, the options are really only limited by your own imagination.
If you have been on the fence about adding airguns to your shooting collection. It’s time to get off the fence and start shooting. I would bet there is something out there that will resonate with how and what you like to shoot. Whether you prefer a serious traditional hunting rifle, a lever action 30/30 rifle, or maybe even an old cowboy action Colt 44 revolver, there is an airgun with your name on it.
Rick Eutsler, Jr. of AirgunWeb & AirgunWebTV
Airgun Critic, Writer, Videographer, and all around lover of Airguns.