By Jack Spaulding
I remember years ago getting my first BB gun at Christmas. It was a Daisy downgrade of Ralphie’s famous “Official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass and a clock in the stock.” Like Ralphie in the movie “A Christmas Story,” I was warned not to shoot my eye out … or anyone else’s.
I dutifully carried it with me at every chance, attempting to wage war on starlings and all kinds of “crick” critters. The lever action, spring-cock mechanism was so under-powered you could see the BB leave the barrel and fly toward the target. As I think back, a lot of my intended victims escaped because they probably could see the BB coming and took evasive action.
Not long ago, I once again found need of a BB gun. My old nemeses — the starlings — had returned en masse. They were back with a vengeance … squawking all over my bird feeding area and running off the song birds.
Around the same time, I attended an outdoor writers’ conference in Indianapolis and bought some raffle tickets. Among the raffle items was an Umarex 1400 air rifle with a 4-power scope. Turned out, it was my lucky day; I won the air gun!
This wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill BB gun! This Umarex air rifle launches a pellet at a smoking 1,400 feet per second. The projectile flies at the same speed as a .357 magnum! We are talking a serious air rifle. All I needed to do was get the scope on it and get it zeroed in.
Naturally, the weather wouldn’t cooperate once I mounted the scope. I didn’t want to take the gun out in the drizzling rain, but I wanted to shoot it from a bench rest to make sure I had it spot on.
As I started to put the gun away, I looked down the upstairs hallway. At the start of the hallway is the reading room and the hallway extends all the way to my office in the back of the house. As you look down the hallway from the reading room, through my office, you are looking directly at the upstairs door to the outside deck. If you open the door, there is 20 feet across the deck to the railing overlooking the heavily wooded river bottom. Propping the door open to the deck, I paced off 60 feet! That’ll do!
Next, I got out a card table and folding chair and set them up in the reading room. I improvised a shooting bench by topping them with a short, soft topped hassock. I quickly roped off the stairway to the deck, and stapled a Caldwell high-visibility target to a heavy piece of plywood for a backstop.
I was ready to go. I had a safe range and could sight in the scope in the comfort of my own home. Before I began, I thought I might want to warn the better half about my intentions.
“Chris … I’m going to be shooting up here.”
“Are you shooting from the deck?”
“Actually, I’m shooting from the reading room, down the hallway, across my office, out the back door and across the deck.”
As she topped the stairs to investigate, I heard her say in an attention grabbing “mom” voice, “JACK ROBERT SPAULDING … YOU WILL SHOOT YOUR COMPUTER!”
Checking out my indoor range, I did see the projectiles would be passing within 18-24 inches of my computer tower in my office. The first shot or two could have been a bit risky if the scope was way off!
Using an old trick, I broke open the unloaded action so I could sight down through the barrel. Eyeing the bore and adjusting the scope, I made sure I wouldn’t put a wayward shot through my beloved desktop computer.
Taking my time, 14 shots later I consistently hit within ⅛-inch of my aim point. Considering the shaky legs of the card table, I was impressed! Take warning, you rogue starlings! With this air rifle, they’ll never see what hit them even at 60 feet.
Jack Spaulding is a state outdoors writer and a consumer of RushShelby Energy living along the Flatrock River in Moscow. Readers with questions or comments can write to him in care of Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.