Top Value Guns
Tim Finley tries out the Gamo Hunter Junior - the ideal gun for a ‘small person’
“For such a pint-sized package, the Junior Hunter looks good”
There’s no set rule for the age to start shooting. I started at 12, with a Diana SP50 push-barrel pistol bought on a holiday in Wales by my parents. I still remember that day now – it was awesome, but I’d rather start my kids out with a rifle because I think they make teaching safe gun handling easier to teach. Getting hold of a junior-sized rifle is easy these days, much simpler than back in my day as a new shooter – hence the SP50 pistol. The stand-out one for me today is the Gamo Hunter Junior; it’s a break-barrel, spring-operated air rifle with perfect features and dimensions for a small person’s rifle. I say ‘small person’ becuase that is how you should treat a young new shooter. Given that you are teaching them to shoot, you need to see them as a small person not a child.
Always start with safety; never point a gun at anybody or anything you do not want to shoot, and keep their finger away from the trigger until they are aiming at the target. Always wear safety glasses, and be clear and concise. One-on-one instruction is needed at first, be patient but be safe, use a safe backstop and so on.
On to the Gamo. I rate Gamo airguns, they make quality guns and always push the envelope when it comes to materials and design. This is a scaled-down version of the very popular Gamo Hunter 440, and this junior gun might be small, but it still has the quality of an adult rifle. For instance, the front stock screws are angled, and this design limits the tendency of the stock screws to loosen due to the vibrations caused by the springpower firing cycle.
It comes fitted with open sights, as any starter rifle should because it’s fundamental to teach the use of open sights before moving on to optical ones.
Again, Gamo has gone the extra mile and fitted the Junior Hunter with fibre-optic rods on the sights. A curved green rod gives a dot on each side of the rear notch sight, and the front post has a single red, 16mm long, 1mm diameter rod, although this is protected under a slotted plastic hood. The sight base is 345mm, and there is an option for fitting a telescopic or red-dot sight on the 145mmlong, 11mm rail machined into the steel cylinder. However, I would stick with open sights at first before moving on to a red dot and then a scope as the range at which the new shooter shoots at extends.
The shooter needs clear instruction on how to load a break-barrel rifle. Begin by keeping hold of the barrel with the forward hand at all times during the cocking and loading process. Starting with a spring rifle ensures that they learn the correct trigger technique, breathing and follow-through.
Back to the gun, and for such a pint-sized package, the Junior Hunter looks good; the beech stock has an ambidextrous cheek piece, the pistol grip has no swells on each side, but does have pressed-in chequered panels. It also
has the Gamo ‘tick’ logo cut into the base of the grip, and there are more Gamo logos on each side of the muzzle section.
Over the chronograph the .177 calibre rifle produced 3.5ft.lbs. with 7.9 grain lead pellets running in at 450fps. The trigger weight was 1.7kg, which is perfect for a starter rifle because you do not want the trigger to be too light.
The manual safety catch is situated right in front of the curved trigger blade. Pulling the small curved lever back toward the trigger sets it on ‘safe’, push away from the trigger to fire. The gun is also fitted with an anti-bear trap device so the trigger cannot be activated when the rifle’s barrel is not locked shut, hence the manual safety I suppose. Once the action is cocked and you are still holding the barrel open, a pellet can be inserted into the breech. Once loaded and with the barrel shut and the locked, the safety catch can be taken off. There is a handy S an F and an arrow on the left-hand side of the stock above the trigger to remind the shooter how the safety catch works. This can be simply pushed forward with the trigger finger to take it off.
It was the first time George, my son, had shot a break-barrel, recoiling rifle. He has shot a pre-charged pneumatic many times and, of course, found that easy, just as it should be they are easy to shoot. He did struggle at first with the cocking and loading becuase a break-barrel is a more physical gun, and we had to rest the front of the gun on a rolled up curtain because it became too heavy for him. As his strength grows it will get easier for him to use.
George loved shooting the gun, and we had a good time. He got really accurate with it too, knocking down the head on my re-set duck. As he got the rifle in his shoulder, his head in the same place on the stock and remembered his follow-through, he knocked down the duck’s head every time. You cannot go wrong with this as a starter rifle – Gamo have started another shooter on the road to years of enjoyment and pleasure.
Thanks to Simon and Hayley at Gamo for help in the production of this article.
George found the Gamo Hunter Junior entirely to his liking. He’ll graduate to a scope soon enough, but for now he needs to learn the basics, and open sights are perfect for this vital stage of his shooting development.
George had a fun, safe time, and who knows where his association with airguns will lead.
The logo and name on the top of the steel cylinder.
The manual safety catch in the ‘fire’ position.
The front sight’s element glows hi-viz orange.
The grip panel on the pistol grip does its job well.
The Tru-Glo rear sight is fully adjustable.