Air pistols as a training tool
Recently a radiologist friend took a tactical medical course. He had a lot of fun throwing flashbangs, shooting submachine guns and semiautomatic pistols, and breaking down doors with the SWAT team. In this case he was being trained to enter with the team, rather than waiting in a safe staging area to deal with injuries after they happened. We encouraged him to take the course, and to take the follow-up course in the future. We also noted that he was, in fact, a radiologist who spent his days in a dark room looking a scans, and that while the training was fun, the first time a live round went (hopefully) whizzing by, all of the fun would disappear. Not to mention the issues if a meth lab exploded on entry.
One of the interesting things that came out of the training was the fact that he was one of the best shooters in the group, which filled him with a desire to take up shooting, which we also encouraged. We suggested that he start with shooting air pistols, because there is little that you can learn about shooting that cannot be learned from an air pistol. Because of his temperament, we suggested that precision shooting – in this case ten meter air pistol shooting – would be an appropriate choice.
We recommended that he start with a Daisy 747 Avanti Triumph .177cal Pellet Single Pump Target Air Pistol. For about $200 he would be able to get the air pistol, a left- handed grip, pellets, targets, and a backstop. The Daisy 747 air pistol uses a Lothar Walther barrel, and is quite accurate. In fact, it is way more accurate than he will ever be.
So how is he doing with it? Well, he very quickly discovered that precision shooting is both very demanding and very humbling – you are trying to get the pellet into a space roughly the size of a dime from a distance of ten meters, which is roughly 34 feet – which was a blow to his ego, but a challenge to improve.
Should he have gotten a “better” air pistol? Absolutely not! The Daisy is a great starter pistol, and will allow him to decide whether this is something he wishes to pursue or not. If the answer is no, then he has wasted very little money, especially if he sells it. If the answer is yes, then the Daisy will carry him through for several years of competition before he gets good enough to be impelled to move up. (This editor went from a Daisy to a RWS Diana to a Steyr over a period of several years in his unsuccessful attempt at making the Olympic team.). At this point spending another few hundreds or thousands on an Olympic quality air pistol would do little more than stroke his ego, with no benefit to his shooting.
The bottom line is that precision air pistol shooting is a lot of fun, and makes you a much better shooter. It costs very little to start, and very little to do. As a comparison, 500 rounds of non-match grade .22 ammunition will cost you about $20, and 500 non-match grade .177 pellets will cost you about $6. Five hundred rounds of match grade .22 rounds will cost you around $100, and 500 rounds of match grade .177 pellets will cost you around $15.
If you are interested in being a better shot, and in having fun, we recommend you consider taking up precision air pistol.