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Small Game Hunting with Air Rifles

Squeaky the squirrel is trespassing again, this time gnawing on a brand-new extension cord.  Once again, it's time to get out the air rifles and take care of some business. Air rifles are perfect for this kind of task, as long as you use one powerful enough to get the job done quickly and humanely.  Now Squeaky has learned his lesson for the last time, and the neighbors are still sound asleep. I don't know what we'd do without the quiet efficiency of our air rifle.

Hunting small birds and squirrels with an air rifle is rewarding in many ways.  As a kid, it was always fun to shoot tin cans, paper targets, and the like, but nothing compared to the thrill of the hunt.  Especially if the game was a bothersome pest that would not take the hint.  Sometimes bagging the varmint took me well into the woods surrounding our home, but that was part of the fun.

I think I gained a lot from hunting small game in my younger years.  Not the least were patience, concentration, and wilderness skills.  It's incredibly easy to shoot air rifles and bb guns, but it's a lot more difficult to hit a target.  More difficult is hitting a moving target.  Even more difficult, still, is killing a moving target without making it suffer.  Now that takes a lot of practice and a steady aim.

But it also takes the right kind of air rifle.  Squirrels, in particular, are notoriously tough.  It's easy - even with a good shot - to merely injure a squirrel.  No one wants that.  The best way to ensure a clean kill is to buy a .22 caliber air rifle that produces a muzzle velocity of at least 750 ft/sec, and to use a good scope.  The higher caliber puts killing force behind every shot, and the scope helps improve aiming accuracy.  Those are the keys when trying to take out small game.

Beyond the physical skills of shooting, I learned to have respect for the power of air guns growing up.  Even small air rifles are powerful enough to kill at close range.  My friends often considered our air rifles to be toys, but I knew early on that they were to be taken seriously and used with extreme caution.  They could do real damage to a human being - and I tried my best to convince my friends to use their air guns carefully.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

Nowadays, whenever an acquaintance is trying to decide what to get their teenager for Christmas or a birthday, I always suggest looking at some good air rifles.  I can only hope that more children get to grow up with the experience and knowledge that can be imparted by an adult who understands and teaches respect for any kind of air gun.


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