by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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Edith and I see a lot of things the average person never sees, such as reports about airguns that we cannot pass along. Today, I want to talk about that and give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Everything I’m about to say is fictitious, unless I say otherwise. But all of it is based on truth.
The following is true. In the 1970s, there were stories in airgun magazines about people shooting the wild goats on Catalina island with .177-caliber FWB 124 rifles. In these stories, they claimed to be killing the goats with head shots. That started a heated discussion among airgunners about whether such behavior was — 1. Possible and 2. Sportsmanlike.
With a knowledge of the anatomy of a goat and with perfect shot placement it is possible to kill one with a .177-caliber air rifle. But it’s not the sporting thing to do. I’ve criticized Gamo for their video ad campaign that shows a .177 spring rifle killing a wild hog. That’s also obviously possible and also equally unsportsmanlike.
Allow me to paint a bigger picture for you. Bubba Sofaspud sees a video on the internet (where everything is true) that shows someone taking a wild pig with a spring-piston air rifle, and he fixes that one fact in his mind. Bubba is not a hunter. Bubba thinks that the way to kill game is to shoot in the direction of a wild animal until you connect. In fact, if he ever does get out into the field, Bubba is inclined to simply shoot in the direction of any sounds he hears in the bushes because he feels certain there’s wild game in there. He believes that a shot anywhere on the body of a game animal will be fatal. And now, thanks to this television ad, he also thinks that a .177-caliber spring-piston air rifle is all it takes to do the job.
If Bubba ever decides to go hunting for real, he’s going to leave a trail of tears and pain behind him. So, when someone sends in a product review to Pyramyd Air that says such-and-such a spring rifle is capable of killing a whitetail deer, it has to be declined. Yes, from the standpoint of everything being done perfectly, such a thing is possible — but no, it’s not something anyone should ever try to do.
Because there are lots of Bubbas out there, we must be careful of what we say. When we aren’t, it sometimes works against us, as Edith has to decline those gun reviews that have stuff that the Bubbas of the world might latch onto.
Things change over time
Before I became a writer, I never appreciated what goes on with the words I write, but the following is based on multiple events that have happened to me. Edith was present to witness several of them and can back me up on this.
It’s 2012 and I’m standing in the aisles of an airgun show when a guy walks up to me. He has a spiral binder in his hands and a pocket protector full of pens and mechanical pencils. Without any introduction he launches into something like this, “In April of 1996, you wrote that the FWB 124 you tuned for your friend, Mac, had an average muzzle velocity of 881 f.p.s. with Crosman Premier lite pellets. But in September, a year later, you said you couldn’t get Premier lites to go any faster than 790 f.p.s. in the 124 you had just tuned for yourself. According to what you said, you used the same Maccari spring and piston seal in both rifles. Now, just last year, you said that a good 124 should average between 840 and 860 f.p.s. I want to know two things. First, was the gun you worked on in September 1997 somehow flawed, and, second, was Mac’s gun, which clearly exceeded the maximum velocity you said to expect from a 124, a freak or were you just forgetting that it went that fast when you wrote what you did last year?”
This guy has written down what I said in all three articles, and he’s copied the velocities I gave in each case in his spiral notebook! Yes, things like this really do happen to me, and they aren’t isolated instances, either. I can count or one or two each year.
This person is looking at everything I’ve written, without realizing that it was written over a period of 15 years. I don’t know about you, but in the last 15 years I have changed my socks a couple of times — and my mind, too! It’s funny…only these guys can’t see the humor in it. I have to be very careful when I write something because it will come back to haunt me.
One from column A, one from column B…
A person writes a long email that he sends directly to me instead of making a comment on the blog. He uses the address, email@example.com, so I know he reads the blog, or at least is aware of it. He just doesn’t want what he is about to say to be read by anyone but me. It’s the internet version of whispering.
Here is what he wants to know:
“Mr. Gaylord, I read on your blog that the fastest pellet you have ever seen went 1,486 f.p.s.” This is true. It was shot from an AirForce Condor in .177 caliber. “I also read where you said that a heavy bullet, like the 405-grain slug you shoot from your Quackenbush .458 Long Action, generates the greatest muzzle energy of any big bore rifle you own.” Also true. “I entered a 405-grain bullet and the 1,486 f.p.s. top velocity you said you have seen into the Pyramyd Air energy calculator and got a muzzle energy of 1,986.32 foot-pounds! Are you aware that this is possible? I know that no big bore airguns can do this — yet — but here’s my idea. Could Dennis Quackenbush make a barrel that is 8 feet long and rifle it for the .458 Long-Action he makes? I know it wouldn’t work with the current valve, but what if he made a dump valve that opened and just dumped all the air in the reservoir on one shot? Wouldn’t that work? I am putting my name into a special drawing for a grizzly bear hunt in my state next year, and I would like to be the first hunter to take one with an air rifle. With almost two-thousand foot-pounds of energy behind a 405-grain slug, I bet that bear would turn inside-out. I know such a gun would be very cumbersome to lug around and it certainly would be very muzzle-heavy, but think of the great press this would get for airguns!”
I can see the headlines now: ENRAGED BEAR MAULS HUNTER — WRAPS LONG BARREL AROUND CARCASS!
You can’t always take one thing from this gun and another thing from that gun and have them work together. But people do it! Or at least they think about it. And sometimes, one of them with too many dollars and too little sense decides to do something about it!
So, be very careful of what you say.