(This is Part 1 of a 2-part concept. This is the introduction and context for the follow-up piece that will come likely next week)Many ehre know - or should know - that I am not really a gun person.
I'm not against guns and I am totally against banning them because that would be gun prohibition - and we know how well drug prohibition is working out.
As a child I had a "bb gun": it was a Crosman 760 pump-up rifle that would shoot A bb or A pellet. 1 at a time.
My parents were very strict about access to the thing and my father, who grew up shooting predators like foxes and coyotes as well as varmits and such on the farm - also went on to get marksmans medals in the Air Force. Thus I can say I grew up in a home where guns were "normal" but nobody salivated over the "2nd Amendment".
When I got a little older I was given a Marlin .22 semi-automatic rifle. It was sorta fun to shoot but I wasn't really into it by the time I got into my 20's. I'm a musician and not a hunter, but I kept it until it was stolen off my porch sometime in 1985.
Since then I have not owned any gun outside of a Daisy CO2 pistol that I would "lose" for years at a time, unsure of where I last stored it, because guns just weren't important to me.
I could care less.
Recently that all changed.
Make the jump across the orange smoke.
Fast-forward to 2011: I am living in Georgia, on my little piece of private land which buttsup against a massive field nearly 150 yards wide and over a mile long. A big strip of land with a creek on it, a wildlife haven of sorts.
My running buddy, a Recon Marine Gunnery Sgt (ret), one day told me that he was walking his dog early in the morning and he heard unusual sounds coming from the field, near the access gate. As he got closer he says he saw 3 large hogs with tusks plainly evident in the dim street light at the end of the road.
That sighting lead to a cascade of ideas: we were going to get us a hog but there was this little issue of it being illegal to shoot guns where we live: it's still a residential area and blasting away at hogs in the field is still a huge no-no.
So....what to do??
The first idea was crossbows: legal to shoot in the yard but problematic in a variety of ways. Arrows or "bolts" aren't cheap and there would be need for a LOT of practice. So the hamster wheel in my noggin turned furiously thinking of how to get around various obstacles.
On a completely seperate note, I had become concerned about the huge (I mean huge) number of squirrels in my yard. Squirrels are cute, fluffy rodents that most people enjoy watching and I am really no different.
However, when you see 15-20 in just 1 part of your yard hours each day, day afeter day, month after month and factor in that they ARE rodents, I was concerned about disease from all their 'bodily functions". Squirrels are fluffy rats, basically, and they carry diseases.
Not only that, the wife and I had tried the previous summer to grow tomatoes. Those furry little bastards carried off every last one that even began to grow. We didn't bother to try that this past summer, though we did grow a variety of hot peppers (serrano, thai chili) which the squirrels didn't bother...tee hee.
I had thought last year about getting a pump-up air pistol as a means to run them off and thought and thought but didn't do anything....until late in the summer, early fall 2011. Then I went ahead and got a Crosman PC77 pump air pistol, .177 caliber. Air rifles/pistols are legal to shoot in my yard. Powerful enough to do a job, but completely exempted from "firearm laws".
I practiced and practiced shooting. It's a testy little gun - cheap sights, etc but practice does make things improve. I got tired of the lame sights and put a 4x scope on it and with further tinkering and practice I became proficient.
Squirrels went from having zero respect and fear to being utterly terrified of my appearences. I nailed a dozen of them over a couple weeks and things have quieted down nicely.
Well, they actually learned to stay further away, smart little critters. This caused me to do some more research and that's when I discovered an entire underworld of compressed air gunnery.
3 Kinds of air guns
One may not evade the laws of thermodynamics so there are a variety of ways of charging a gun to hurl a projectile that will require effort on your part. There are basically 3 types of compressed air guns: multi-pumps like the 760 and the PC77 (which I have already described); spring piston guns, and PCP guns - pre-charged pneumatic.
SPRING PISTON/GAS RAM
I recently purchased a Benjamin Titan .22 caliber nitro piston air rifle. Instead of a big spring getting compressed when the barrel is cocked, a nitrogen-filled strut (like the thing that holds up you hood on your car). It takes about 33 pounds of effort to cock the thing, but there is just one cock, no pump, pump, pump...
Spring Piston guns take a lot of practice to shoot accurately, they are diffuclt to shoot because something about the spring or piston causes you to need to hold the thing gingerly, versus having a death grip like you can with a "real" gun. So it's been practice, practice, practice with it.
I have gone from "can't hit the side of a barn' to nailing everything from 10 yards to 50 yards. I have taken out another
4 5 squirrels with this thing, 1 shot at over 40 yards, up in a tree, another 40 yard shot freehand, squirrel moving and only say still for a second.
This gun is just NOT a toy. Parents should not let kids just 'play' with something like this. It will shoot a 14.3 grain pellet at close to 900 FPS. Where as I could break things up and shoot holes in them with the 17 caliber, the 22 destroys everything I shoot it at aside from steel. It will even puncture steel barrels at close range. It has enough kick that it seems to throw my scope off zero, so a better scope is on the way (Leapers 4-16 X 40) so I can retain the accuracy needed to make "humane" shots. It takes some mucle to cock, as noted above, and it's very heavy.
The precharged pneumatic guns (PCP) are by far the most powerful and most accurate of the compressed air guns. The popularity of this class of air gun is simply exploding as I write this.
They run off of 'pre-charged' air canisters which you pump up (with a special pump or scuba tank arrangement) to 2000 - 3500 PSI, depending on the gun.
The Airforce Condor will shoot a large .25 caliber pellet at 1100 fps right out of the box, before it has any modification work done on it...which people do all the time. Add a 24 inch barrel and you're nailing things easily over 100 yards away, with savage power. It is also much lighter than the spring guns.
It comes in .25 caliber and will shoot a 43 grain pellet at 750 fps right out of the box. It is extremely accurate and very quiet. Perfect for shooting in my yard and could likely take a medium hog with a 'fusebox shot'. A coyote wouldn't stand a chance.
Now.... check this out: the Sam Yang 909S 45 caliber. It will punch a hole in a cinder block at well over 50 yards.
it will take down anything up to a deer. It's NOT for shooting cans on a weekend afternoon. It also lists for $600. Not a toy.
That's basically what I wanted to present.
There have been no more hog sightings, so far as I know, since I discovered all this, but coyotes are really taking over the area - my running buddy sees them coming out of my yard in the wee hours of the morning some days. I have seen them running down the road at dawn and dusk - and one even crapped in my yard!
Suffice it to say I have some new goals.