Jamie Chan­dler asks can an airgun solve the ‘dragged out­side’ gen­er­a­tion dilemma?

Air Gunner - - Contents -

It’s all a mat­ter of scale, says Jamie, as he tries out the new Ul­tra JSR from BSA - with a lit­tle help from a 12- year- old friend

Sta­tis­tics should be be­nign and harm­less mea­sure­ments of recorded events and pat­terns. In re­al­ity, though, as many of us know, they are used rou­tinely as alarm­ing, dan­ger­ous, threat­en­ing gospels, es­pe­cially in the hands of the main­stream press. Head­line- grab­bing fac­toids such as, ‘ Re­ported bur­glar­ies rise by 33%’ are de­signed to grab our at­ten­tion and cause us to worry, whilst the back­ground to this one statis­tic is based on a rise from only four to six events in an area. Not good in it­self, but if the area has 1000 in­hab­i­tants, then the chances of it hap­pen­ing to you are re­mote, and if the thieves are tar­get­ing tools in vans and you own a fam­ily hatch­back, the risk of you be­ing a vic­tim di­min­ishes fur­ther. Ter­ri­ble for those in­volved, but cer­tainly not a fig­ure that should cause any­thing more alarmist than sym­pa­thy to the vic­tims and a check that your car doors are locked.

Get ‘em out­doors

One statis­tic-based head­line that comes round reg­u­larly at about this time of year in the press and owes as much to slow news weeks as it does to the sad, wor­ry­ing con­tent, is the ap­par­ent dra­matic fall in the amount of time that kids be­tween 5 and 14 spend out­doors, com­pared to 30 years ago. In 2016, The Guardian re­ported that, ‘Chil­dren only spend half the time their par­ents did out­doors’ , and more wor­ry­ingly, ‘ Three- quar­ters of UK chil­dren spend less time out­doors than prison in­mates’. The Daily Mail and Tele­graph also re­ported the find­ings, with sim­i­lar sto­ries in both March and July, again last year. If this is a true trend, then it gives us, in the won­der­ful

world of air­guns, not only the op­por­tu­nity to fire kids imag­i­na­tions and teach them valu­able life and so­cial skills by get­ting them out to out­door ranges and on to our per­mis­sions to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand the joy of what we do, but also gives us the chance to se­cure the safe con­tin­u­a­tion of our sport, and the se­cu­rity of it in the hands of po­ten­tial fu­ture politi­cians.

Hav­ing said all that, un­like many our age, my wife and I don’t have kids. A bless­ing when it comes to book­ing hol­i­days, restau­rants, late nights, lie-ins, and the op­tion to go hunt­ing al­most at will, but also oc­ca­sion­ally sad be­cause I’d like to pass on my pas­sion for field sports to the next gen­er­a­tion.

I was re­minded of the lack of sam­pling branches fur­ther down my trunk of the fam­ily tree with the launch of BSA’s Ul­tra JSR, an airgun specif­i­cally de­signed to be an in­tro­duc­tion to our won­der­ful life-style for kids – and in my mind, vi­sion­ary in the idea’s sim­plic­ity.

Same spec’

BSA have taken the ex­tremely highly re­garded, full-sized Ul­tra SE ac­tion and put it into a stock de­signed with a kid’s mea­sure­ments in mind, based on one of the Di­rec­tor’s own chil­dren’s mea­sure­ments, I be­lieve. As you can see, though, BSA haven’t scrimped by sim­ply chop­ping off a bit of the old stock, or plonk­ing the ac­tion in an odd bit of B& Q kitchen counter top, cut-away as a make- do. They have cre­ated a very at­trac­tive beech stock, laser stip­pled around the grip and at the fore end, with a rub­ber butt pad that com­bined is equally as eye­catch­ing as the full-sized Ul­tra SE stock.

Apart from the stock, ev­ery­thing is the same. Same cold-ham­mer-forged bar­rel, ex­cel­lent two-stage ad­justable trig­ger, 10-shot mul­ti­shot ac­tion, qual­ity blu­ing, pres­sure gauge and fill port, same halfinch UNF at the muz­zle for ad­di­tion of a mod­er­a­tor … In fact, the only thing dif­fer­ent is the power, but this is a thought-through bonus. The power has been re­stricted to 6 ft lbs, boost­ing the shot count to over 120 in ei­ther .177 or .22, and mak­ing it an ideal gar­den plinker. I imag­ine that’s where this gun will see most of its use, as Ju­nior drags a nagged- down par­ent out­side to sit through yet an­other demon­stra­tion of how an Ex­tra Strong Mint can be dec­i­mated.


It’s all very well for me to blow on about how great I think the JSR is, but I’m not the one it was de­signed for so I needed help in putting it through it’s true paces. I press­ganged one of the farm shoot’s syn­di­cate mem­bers, his 12-year- old son and one of his friends, to put the Ul­tra JSR (and R10 for

Dad), through their paces.

I’ve known all three of the guys for a while and have seen them all in ac­tion on pi­geons with shot­guns, the boys tak­ing some text book stun­ners with a 410. How­ever, none of them have had much ex­pe­ri­ence with air­guns, bar a few shots with a break-bar­rel springer, so I was keen to see what the boys and Dad would make of the JSR, hav­ing only been told it was de­signed to fit younger peo­ple.

First im­pres­sions were ut­ter bril­liance. The boys were won over to the JSR sim­ply be­cause it fit­ted them; they could both reach the trig­ger with­out over-stretch­ing, and in­stead of their heads be­ing placed far back on the stock and arms out­stretched, the stock fit­ted per­fectly, giv­ing an ex­cel­lent, full view through the scope.

Tar­gets were set out to as far as 27 yards, and the boys set about dec­i­mat­ing them with rel­ish. Dur­ing the af­ter­noon, we cov­ered safety in depth; skimmed fieldcraft, why some species have to be con­trolled, eth­i­cal shot place­ment, what rab­bit tastes like, the dif­fer­ence be­tween shot­gun shoot­ing and airgun hunt­ing, and all man­ner of other sub­jects con­nected with our sport, each part cre­at­ing a real drive for more in­for­ma­tion from the boys. For me, it was just bril­liant to see to 12-year- olds be­com­ing more and more im­mersed in airgun hunt­ing, and see­ing what had orig­i­nally fired my pas­sion come out in them.

Pocket rocket

Over 900ish shots – or about seven re­fills on my Hill’s pump – the guys’ groups tight­ened, armies of Ex­tra Strong mints where de­stroyed, and real, last­ing en­thu­si­asm em­bed­ded. Dad was deftly de­flect­ing de­mands for im­me­di­ate pur­chase with a prac­tised skill I re­mem­ber from my own fa­ther – time-hon­oured clichés such as, ‘ We’d have to ask your Mum’ and ‘ Put it on your Christ­mas list’.

I’m so en­thu­si­as­tic about this lit­tle airgun, and more so now I’ve seen what it can do, and the ef­fect it has on peo­ple as a start­ing point into our sport. It hooks and en­gages kids with­out gim­micks; there is no hint of a ‘sniper ri­fle’ look, or TruGlo sights, or any­thing used to grab kids in, por­tray­ing air­guns as only in­ter­est­ing to those with para-mil­i­tary fan­tasies, for ex­am­ple. This is a true sport­ing air ri­fle, scaled down to suit a smaller per­son. It’s the same as Mum’s or Dad’s, but fits the kids and you can even swap stocks over when ‘ the Olds’ want to have a go at gar­den plink­ing. From here, kids can up­grade and go any way they want – FT, HFT, like me into woods hunt­ing, or any num­ber of other ways, but mainly out­side and all be­cause of this lit­tle pocket rocket!

Above: A rolled- up camp­ing mat made an ex­cel­lent rest to get to grips with prone shoot­ing Above: It may be smaller in stature, but the JSR is ev­ery bit up there in qual­ity Above: The thread for a si­lencer and the fill valve are the same as the...

Above: Clearly this one won’t fit the fully grown, but short- of-arm types like me could have fun Above: We all agreed that the lit­tle Ul­tra JSR was Wel­lie, Wel­lie good! (Oh dear. Ed) Above: R10 v Ul­tra JSR - Dad verses son, far more fun than an Xbox!

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