Do you have secret athletic ambitions? If you do, there may be bad news, but there is also good news. If you’re like me, the bad news is that you didn’t win life’s genetic lottery: you don’t have the height and legs of a basketball star, the speed of a running back, the hands of a wide receiver or the golf swing of Tiger Woods. The good news is that competitive airgunning offers a lifetime of fun and achievement for people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities.
If you are a young person, the 4H, JayCees, National Rifle Association, and JROTC all offer competitive shooting programs that teach shooting safety as well as how to be a better shooter. Over the years, through programs such as these, Daisy has taught over seven million young people how to have fun and shoot safely. For example, in the thirty-seven years in which Daisy and the U.S. Junior Chambers of Commerce have partnered on Daisy’s Shooting Safety Training and Education Program, hundreds of thousands of young people have been introduced to shooting safety. More than 150,000 young people participate annually in 4-H shooting sports programs using Daisy equipment. In addition, Daisy has teamed together with the American Legion, the National Rifle Association and the National Guard Youth Marksmanship Program to make instructional material available.
No matter if you know almost nothing about shooting, or if you are already a pretty good shot, there are few thrills that compare with watching your score rise as you participate in one of these programs. If you become a very good shooter, the door can open for some extraordinary opportunities. For example, some colleges offer scholarships for members of their competitive shooting teams.
Airgunning is recognized as an internationally competitive sport at the highest levels. The very first gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games was awarded to Nancy Johnson, an American, for her first place in the Women’s 10-Meter Air Rifle. She had beaten her closest competitor by 2/10ths of a point. Her husband Ken figured that her margin of victory was the equivalent of the width of three human hairs. Nancy Johnson started shooting when she was 15 at local rifle club. She shot powder exclusively for three years, then began shooting both .22 and air rifle in college at the University of Kentucky. She continued to shoot both right up until after the US Olympic trials. Then she concentrated on shooting air rifle because that was the event she had qualified for.
“Air rifle is a lot more pure,” Johnson says. “In .22, you’re shooting outdoors, and you’re dealing with ammunition factors – on rare occasions you get fliers. But with air rifle, it’s just you and your ability to shoot, and I’ve never seen a flier in air rifle. It’s a lot more honest,” she says. For anyone who would like to take a crack at shooting 10-meter air rifle or air pistol, contact USA Shooting at 719-866-4670. Or visit www.usashooting.org
Even if you are not a youngster, airgunning can offer competitive challenges. Pistol silhouette is world-class competition at a bargain basement price, and air pistol is the fastest growing segment of the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association. Check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ihmsaair/ for information. Adults are also welcome to participate in 10 meter air rifle and air pistol under the auspices of USA Shooting.
Another fascinating airgunning sport is field target. Participants shoot with air rifles at metallic silhouette targets at distances ranging from 10 to 55 yards. Each target has a hole of varying diameter in it, with a metal paddle behind the hole. If your shot passes cleanly through the hole, it hits the paddle, the target falls down, and you score a point. It’s great fun with a lot of friendly camaraderie. For more information, visit http://www.airguns.net/aafta/aafta.html.
No matter what your preference is, airgunning can offer a lifetime of competitive fun.
(courtesy of Daisy Outdoor Products – makers of Daisy Air Guns)