Are you thinking about purchasing your first air gun? Don't know which one to pick or how much to spend? What accessories do you need? The following article will help you answer those questions and more.

A First Timers Guide To Air Gun Enjoyment

By Tony Tyrer

Starting Out

It's a daunting task to get into any new hobby, be it mountain bike riding, remote control helicopters or air guns. Be aware that you will need a shooting venue, unless you have nice neighbors. Donít be talked into buying a certain type of gun by the sales person at your local air gun emporium. The choices are divided then subdivided and with the increase in technology going into guns as the spec gets higher so does the price. Set yourself in an open frame of mind and visit a local air gun club first. There are a lot of them around and a search online will bear fruit. It's likely that your first tentative steps at the club will be greeted with a gun thrust into your hands to shoot. Each owner keen to get another gun of the same origin at his/her club. There's a lot of banter about the pros and cons of each gun so don't get the credit card out yet.

Question 1

What will the primary job of the rifle?

Plinking, field target, hunter field target, hunting, all sorts of shooting, etc. Donít rush out to buy the latest Daystate Grand Prix, or Air Arms EV2 if the gun is to be used for plinking or hunting.

Question 2

Do you want a self contained shooting experience far away from diving cylinders or co2 bulbs?

Go for a springer from a European manufacturer. There are a lot of far eastern guns on sale, but in my opinion they leave a lot to be desired and could well curtail your enthusiasm for shooting when they hit nothing. A lot of work is involved in making these guns work half as smooth as a comparative European gun. Names to look out for are air arms, BSA, Theoben, Webley, Weihrauch, and Diana. If you're plinking only other path to follow is the co2 route. There are drawbacks to this power source, mainly co2 is very temperature sensitive and power levels low enough to notice the speed of the pellet donít help. Another drawback is the constant buying of soda siphon bulbs. Or do you want the benefit of a precharged pneumatic? Recoiless, accurate, quiet and very forgiving when being used. The big drawback here is the added cost of charging equipment. There's a diving cylinder or pump choice here. If you're an 8 stone wet through s type of svelte shooter, buy a cylinder because you're likely to have a problem charging the rifle with a pump due to the design needing a lot of extra effort at the end of the stroke. Buy the biggest cylinder you can carry to and from the car and steer clear of aluminium or carbon fiber bargains in the local paper shop window. Most dive shops won't fill either of them. Then there's the odd one out, Theoben. These guns are fitted with a gas ram similar to the one on your tailgate. The system gives a different feeling recoil to a spring gun.

Question 3

Caliber? The argument has raged for years and it will do for years to come. Both calibers having a few pros and cons. A .177 is lighter than .22. A .22 pellet therefore has a greater potential energy than the smaller caliber and greater kinetic energy when it strikes the target. You choose. The pellets are cheaper in .177 so that may influence the choice you make. Look at the options of .20 and .25 too. A .20 has been billed as the ideal caliber as it flies nearly as flat as a .177 but hits harder like a 22. Pellet choice was a problem in both 20 and 25 but recently a thing of the past due to better quality ammo coming on the market. .177 has a flatter trajectory and is arguably easier to shoot. Any .22 fan will argue that once you've learned the drop and range finding info, the .22 is as accurate as any.

Question 4

The big question. How much do you want to spend? A new spring gun from £250 up is my minimum spend and a pcp from around £350. The amount spent isnít the true indicator as there are a few rotten apples in the basket, hence the trip to the club.

Question 5

Very few rifles come with open sights nowadays so you'll be in the market for optics. My advice is not to buy online if you have never looked through that same scope at the club. Everyone's eyes are different so finding the scope that suits you can be hit and miss affair. Look through as many as possible, then draw up a shortlist. Why buy a 60x mag scope to fit on your hw95? Or 1,5-5x20 if its going to be fitted on a Daystate Grand Prix.

Question 6

Accessories. You must also be aware that the list is endless for accessories and some you will need before others. Number one is a secure place to put your rifles. Never leave it in gun slip, as these sweat, and rust will form on your rifle. The best solution is a gun safe. You will need a wipe down rag impregnated with silicone. Never spray anything onto the gun directly as it may seep into unknown places. Pellets are the holy grail in air gunning, every one of us trying to find that certain pellet that hits the target every time. Another must have is a Chronoscope or just plain Chrono as they're known as. A clip on portable Chrono is priced at around £35 and worth every penny to make sure that you stay legally within the prescribed 12ft/lb muzzle energy for rifles and 6ft/lb for pistols. One thing is sure to happen the first time you hit a spinner or knock over and that's a smile will appear on your face and your hooked. It's really that simple. Shoot safe, stay legal and protect our sport.