Please allow me to bring everyone up to speed. In part 1 we looked at FPS marketing claims and how they can be misleading when choosing your first airgun. In part 2 we looked at how a single airgun class can be utilized to fill many different roles depending on caliber and pellet choices. In part 3 we started branching out into individual airgunning disciplines from a target shooting perspective. In part 4 I’m going to start looking at good options for those airgunners who are more interested in shooting varmints than targets.
First things first…
If you’ve been following the blog for the last year and a bit, you will have heard this next part already. That’s ok because sometimes it takes a lot of repetition before something actually sinks in. Before anyone starts looking at hunting rifles, it’s important to have very realistic expectations. Airguns are NOT firearms. Shooting game at 100+ yards is simply not practical 99.9% of the time. When I think of hunting with airguns I consider them to fit nicely between archery and black powder. 50 yards is a very long shot and hitting that 1″ kill zone reliably at 50 yards is far more difficult than most people realize, which brings me to my next point. Hunting with an airgun requires a lot of patience, practice, and skill. People ask me all the time how far they can hunt with a particular airgun. My response is simple. Have you done the “quarter hunting test?”Gamo “Knock Down” field target squirrel – These are ideal for helping you determine your best range for accuracy. They are also perfect for keeping your skills up for shooting game.
The quarter what now?
The quarter hunting test is very simple. Take a box or some other free standing target and draw a circle using the outline of a quarter. That’s the estimated kill zone of most small game. Now back up to 10 yards and however you plan to hunt, i.e. shooting sticks, bipod, freestanding, etc., shoot at that circle. If you can put 9 out of 10 shots into that hole, then you are good to go at that distance. Now, draw another circle, backup to 15 yards and repeat. Continue this process until you can’t keep 9 out or 10 in the circle. Once you drop below 90%, you’ve moved beyond your effective radius with your airgun. Most of the time, 10 to 15 yards is the max. When rested, that can stretch out to 35 and 40 yards. 50+ yards is a rarity.
Next question… Small Medium, or Large?
Now we’ll start looking at some various airgun options. Well, Almost. First we need to identify what size “varmint” we’re looking to shoot. Small game would be Rabbit and Squirrel and nearly all Fowl. Medium game would be Raccoon, Possum, Fox, etc. Large game would be your predators like Coyote and also include Hog, Javalina, on up to White Tail Deer. It’s critical to note that you NEED to know your state’s regulations regarding taking game with an airgun. NEVER ASSUME. That will only get you into trouble with the game warden or other local law enforcement agents.
Seeing as this next part could be fairly lengthy, I’m going to break it up into separate articles. But before I go all “in depth,” I’ll give out a few good guidelines as I wrap up this article. The first question that comes up is caliber. This is fairly easy to decide and the rule of thumb goes like this; “.177 for feather, .22 for fur.” Most small pest birds don’t need a lot of energy to put them down humanely. That’s another story when it comes to pests of the furry variety. In .177 shot placement is so critical that a slight miss will often be the difference between a wounded, suffering animal, and one that’s been put down nearly instantly. The margin for error really starts to open up when you move to .22 caliber, and even more so when you move to .25 caliber. More and more I’m liking the .25 caliber for all my hunting needs. It hits like a hammer and does a much better job of imparting the potential energy because of the drastically larger surface area of the pellet. It’s just the “right” choice for putting down small and medium game in the most humane fashion. That’s not to say that it’s “wrong” to use .177 or .22, the .25 is just better at it and it gives the shooter a much broader margin of error.Sam Yang .357/9mm Recluse Big Bore Airgun – want to take out large game with a vengeance? There aren’t many better options than the .357 caliber Sam Yang Recluse. 3 shots touching at 40 yards with round ball ammo is achievable with practice.
Moving on to part 5
Well, I thought this was going to be a short and sweet, 3 part series, but it’s shaping up to be something much more in depth. Next I’ll be looking at what airguns should work across the three game “types;” small, medium, and large, along with looking at the appropriate caliber and pellet options. So, be sure to bookmark the blog and keep up with the series!
Do you have questions or comments? Please send us a note via the blog comments and we’ll do our best to get you the information you need!