A question I’ve been asked so many times by people (friends as well as strangers) is why I need an Air Rifle. They’re genuinely interested in the point of it and most of them understand when I explain (and occasionally let them have a go) and some of them at that point ask where they can get one.
There are many reasons why you would want to own an Air Rifle, such as Vermin control or maybe just for fun. I’ve listed several of these reasons in this article, including a few you might not have thought of.
1) Vermin Control
An airgun is a great tool for removing pests from your property. An Air Rifle has limited, managed power and are pretty quiet (depending on which you buy) when compared to other methods. Rats are incredibly unhygienic and you really don’t want them in your house. If you’re considering acquiring an Air Rifle for this purpose (typically when this happens the owner will then start using it for other reasons also) then think about getting a PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) Rifle. These can be exceptionally quiet when used with a suppressor. If, like me, you have neighbours that you don’t want to disturb then this is the way to go. You can take a look at my recommended Air Rifles here if you wish.
Also, do think about your property boundaries, you’ll need to make sure that you don’t shoot past your target and through your boundary fence (which the pellet may fly straight through). If possible, aim down towards your target. This is even more likely if you’re using a .22 caliber airgun.
Talking of caliber, what type of rodent that you’re targeting can dictate the caliber that you should ideally be using. If you’re trying to dispatch mice, crows, rats, pigeons etc. then a .177 caliber may be enough for this purpose however for anything larger such as racoons, prairie dogs, woodchucks etc. you’ll need a more powerful Air Rifle using at least a .22 caliber pellet. If you’re not sure what different types are available to you, check out an article I wrote on it here (opens in a new tab/window).
2) It’s Fun
It’s difficult to express in words quite how much fun it really is. I’m not talking about just the shooting here, which is undoubtedly good fun (and I’ll come on to this in a sec) – but everything about the sport. From the moment you decide to buy an airgun, there’s a rough process that you follow, for instance:
- Decide you want an airgun but will it be an Air Rifle or Air Pistol?
- What firing mechanism do you want, Spring Piston, Gas Ram, PCP etc. (by the way, if you’re not sure what the different types actually are, then feel free to check out this article that explains all about them.
- Do you want to shoot Pellets or Ball Bearings (BBs)?
- But what about the caliber, .177 or .22? Or even something bigger perhaps?
- Right, now I have the information I need to choose the airgun, which one shall I choose?
You see, there’s quite a lot to it and each step is dependent on what you want to do with it. Of course, you can get a general airgun which is absolutely fine but it’s such good fun going through all these steps. Then, when you actually have your gun there’s something very satisfying about the whole process around loading it – it’s therapeutic! Now we have a loaded gun we can start shooting, but at what? There are all kinds of things you can use as targets, personally, I (and my son) just love plinking so we come up with all kinds of targets. Just this weekend we used the below:
- An old apple.
- Peppermints (they’re small so help with target practice and explode when you hit them).
- Small cola cans, shuck up just before you shoot them (kids just love the explosion it makes) – the wife, not so much.
- Old eggs, I place these on a plastic container and let my son shoot them, they also explode and are quite messy (big positive for kids).
- Watermelon, these are great as they last quite a long time (depending on how powerful your airgun is of course). You’ll notice you can fire into them for quite a while until finally, you penetrate the other side.
Or, you could be a little more traditional and use targets – I rather like these. Anyway, my point is, the list of things you can shoot in your garden is endless – it’ll keep the sport from going stale for a long, long time.
3) Teaching Children About Safety
I remember I was quite young when I first started using an airgun. It was an old Crosman .177 pistol, about 40 years ago now (ouch). I don’t think my mum was too pleased at the time but arguably this is the best time to be taught how to use an airgun.
Think about it, I know it’s not always the case but at this age, you do actually listen to your parents. When they told you to do something, you typically did it. Try doing the same thing when the kid is 15 or so and see what response you get then! So, what you learn at this time, sticks. Ask yourself a question, would you rather your children learnt about basic gun safety at an early age with you doing the teaching and watching or would you prefer them to learn in their teens when they’re out with their mates? To me, there was never any question when it came to my son, I was always going to introduce him to airguns at an early age.
Now, a few years later – he knows what to do (and more importantly, what you shouldn’t do) regardless of what type or airgun he’s using:
- Never to run when you’re holding a gun.
- Never point the gun at anyone, regardless of how sure you are that it’s unloaded.
- Always wear goggles when out with the rifle.
- Only release the safety and put your finger on the trigger when you’re in position and ready to shoot.
- With a break barrel, when finished shooting, break the barrel (but don’t cock it) to show not only yourself that the gun is safe, but others also.
The above, simple rules are ingrained in his brain, it’s just what he does now, every time without fail. It’s like teaching someone a language, what’s easier, teaching them the language when they’re seven or forty-seven? Things just stick when you’re younger.
4) It’s Cheaper Than a Firearm
Well, it’s true. Firearms (not airguns) are expensive. Let’s take the cost of firearms:
- Gun cost is around $600 on average.
- Ammunition is around $150-$200, just to start things off.
- Accessories, such as cleaning equipment, holster, gun safe will come to around $200.
- Shooting lessons, and you really need these if you’re going to have a firearm, will cost around $300-$500, and you can add ammunition to that!
- You can also add administration fees onto this but as that varies by state, I won’t include it here.
Now, let’s compare to Airgun ownership:
- A good airgun, anything from $50 to $150. Of course, you can spend more but this will certainly get you something good.
- Ammunition, for about $10 you’ll get some good pellets, 250 of them!
- Accessories, well safety glasses ($10) and some targets if you like (or just use tin cans and stuff that you don’t need anymore)
So, not a detailed analysis but you see my point, right? If you just want something for Vermin control of a bit of fun, get yourself an Air Rifle (or Pistol!) and save yourself a large chunk of money. I know this particular point is just about money but there are other advantages to airguns over firearms, I’ll probably write an article on this but you’d be a lot more relaxed with your 11-year-old in the garden shooting away with his new Air Rifle rather than a firearm, right? Apples and Oranges I know…
5) It’s Cleaner Than a Shotgun (If you’re using it to get dinner!)
It’s a valid point, right? Let’s say you’re using your weapon for hunting and finding food. What’s the best option? You can use your trusty shotgun which certainly gets the job done. You don’t always even have to be that good, aim in the general direction and boom, your target is down. However, your little furry target is also now full of shot. When you’re eating a bit of rabbit and you chomp into some of those shot that you didn’t manage to get out and you have fillings in your teeth. Let me tell you, you certainly know about it!
Another option, use an Air Rifle. Anything from a .22 caliber can do the job at close range. Yes, you need a bit more skill but hey, that’s easy. You can practice in your backyard shooting tins for as long as you like. If you’ve got a decent sight, enough power and the prey is close enough, it’s hardly difficult. Also, you’re much more likely to get a clean kill and you’ll know exactly where the slug is.
I guess the difference is in the type of person you are, there’s nothing wrong with having little patience (I’m terrible at waiting for anything) and if you don’t want to spend maybe a bit more time in the woods waiting for the right moment, then perhaps a shotgun would be best for you. It certainly wouldn’t be more fun though.
6) Health Benefits
Yes, hear me out. How many times have you come back from work after having a bad day? It’s not always my day at work that makes me grumpy. I won’t bore you with all the little things that rub me up the wrong way but I’m sure I’m no different to most of us. Sometimes, for no particular reason, we’re just feeling a bit down or a bit stressed. Shooting stuff can help you feel better:
- When you’re using your Air Rifle, you’re concentrating. That might be on loading it or even finding a pellet to put in the thing. Or, setting up your targets. Aiming your rifle, shooting and then seeing how well you’ve done. All this requires you to concentrate on the job in hand. This makes you not concentrate on the thing that’s making you stressed.
- In a similar way to using a punch-bag when angry, smashing up targets with your favourite plinking .177 Air Rifle is very satisfying. It’s like it releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Now, I have no idea if that’s true or not but it sure feels like it at the time. It’s satisfying, comforting and a massive stress relief.
Honestly, try it – next time you’re feeling a bit down. Set up some tins outside and shoot stuff for half an hour. Set up a target and see how well you can group your pellets over 30 yards.
It’s not rocket science, of course, it didn’t have to be Air Rifle shooting. It could’ve been anything. Going out on your bike for a fast ride or making a model plane. The point is to just concentrate on something else for a bit, it’ll help you forget the crap that’s going on. Shooting is a great way to do this. Once you’ve finished, go onto Amazon and choose what Rifle you’re going to buy next, that’ll cheer yourself up even more!
7) It’s a Great Sport for the Elderly or Disabled
It’s unfortunate that there aren’t more sports where disabled people can compete at the same level as able-bodied individuals. Air Rifle shooting is definitely one of them though, of course depending on the disability. Young and old, disabled and able-bodied people can compete at the same level.
With so many sports, when you get into your 30’s your skill level tends to decrease. This is (obviously) as most sports require physical movement. With this sport, not the case. There are people in their 90’s still enjoying this sport. Yes, you may have to change your Rifle from a break-barrel to a PCP, making it a bit easier for yourself but that’s it. There are not many sports you can enjoy (and be competitive) for such a long period of your life. Think about it, name some others?
8) Meet New People and Make Friends
Airgun shooting is undoubtedly a great way to meet new friends with similar interests. There are so many clubs scattered all around the States (or indeed the UK and Europe if you’re from there) that there will be one close to you. In fact, take a look here. This is the USA Shooting Club locator page, search for your location and find one local to you (the site will open in a new tab/window).
There are several benefits of joining a club:
- Meet other like-minded individuals to share stories with, get advice from and generally have a laugh with.
- Try before you buy. There’s a good chance other members are using a gun you would quite fancy yourself, it’s a great opportunity to share guns and compare. The same with pellets, there are so many different types – try some others and see how it affects your shooting.
- Learn new techniques from those with more experience. There will always be someone more knowledgeable than you, there just always is! Utilise this, learn from them and increase your knowledge in the process.
What you’ll find is you’ll have so many similar interests with other members you’ll start socialising with them also. It’s honestly a great way to meet people and get more out of your hobby.
9) It’s Good for you Marriage
Wait, what? Well, okay – I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this one up <gasp>. But, having hobbies is healthy, especially if you can share them. And why not, have a look at this article from the Wall Stree Journal which explains why sharing a hobby is good for your relationship (opens in a new window/tab). But you don’t need to read an article to understand the premise though, right? Everything is better if shared, and that’s a fact (well, one I just made up) but especially if it’s with your significant other. If they’re not interested at the moment, then get them involved. Let them beat you when you’re both trying to get the closest to that bullseye though, right? 🙂
10) Professional Competitions
Air Rifle shooting is one of the few sports where anyone of any size, shape or age can compete against each other. If you take most other sports, for instance, baseball and football (American Football for our over-the-pond cousins) yes, you can do a fair amount of training in the backyard. Throw the ball around a bit, certainly have some great fun but as far as practising for professional competitions? You can’t do it. You’ll need to join a club and attend whenever they have their training sessions, perhaps once a week. Outside of that hour or so at the training ground, it’s really just down to best-efforts. Now, if my son wants to get up at 6 am and practice his shooting skills before going to school on s Tuesday morning, then he can do it.
You can even practice competitive ranges using competition guns and ammo, all from the luxury and comfort of your own surroundings. There’s really not many other sports where you can do this.
The Airgun is a great weapon for hunting, there’s no question about it. It’s cheap, accurate and doesn’t require all the administration behind owning a firearm. Airguns are a lot quieter than ‘real’ guns and this means you don’t have to crawl around with ear protectors on when hunting. Which in turn allows you to listen to the sounds of nature and of course your next prey, potentially.
You need to make sure you have the right caliber rifle for the job, typically .177 or .22 and sometimes .25 but if you go outside of this then the pellets you’ll need are a little harder to come by, not to mention being a bit more expensive. The common calibers are more than capable though. Not everyone knows this but hunting with airguns can be regulated by:
- mass of bullet
- bullet caliber (.177, .22 etc.)
- velocity of bullet
- energy (ft-lbs)
Hunting can also be regulated to a certain type of animal and also check to see if there are separate airgun seasons to traditional hunting (with guns) seasons.
12) Upgrading and Modifications
There is always something you can tinker with to try and make your Rifle perfect for you. For instance, just a few examples of what people do.
- Spring – If you have a spring-piston then maybe you’ve been considering upgrading the spring. If you’d like to know a little more about spring piston air rifles, check this article out.
- Scope – Maybe you want to replace that old Scope on your rail with something that has a bit more magnification and more adjustable options. Perhaps you want a night-vision scope?
- Pellets – Maybe you want to try a different pellet to see how it affects your consistency.
- Silencer – if your Rifle is making a bit too much noise then you may consider this!
I’m banging on a bit I know but my point is there are a lot of things you can do to a standard Air Rifle. You don’t have to leave it stock. Personally, I don’t tend to do much with mine – I’ve changed the Scopes around occasionally and of course, played with pretty much every pellet out there but I’m not one for spring mods. I think that these guns were internally manufactured this way for a reason. Also, I’m not known for my patience so no doubt if I start taking things to bits I’d end up with something left over as I hastily put it all back together again!
I was bored of saying ‘Final Thoughts’ at the end of all my articles. So, there you go – we’re a special brand us airgunners. It’s a great sport that’s open to everyone and I really love that. It’s a sport that doesn’t discriminate on disabilities, race or gender. There are hundreds of guns of all types of power plants available using all types of pellets shooting at hundreds of different types of target. It’s a sport that’s practised all over the world from the young to the old, and I love it. I just wish I was a bit better at it 🙂 Finally, if you’re interested in shooting better, this is a great article to check out.
Interested In Buying Something New?
If you’re in the market for a new gun, be it a BB, Air Rifle or Pistol, check out my totally unbiased reviews on what’s best out there right now. These have all been tried and tested so you don’t have to worry about buying something that isn’t up to the job: