Bang, not bling
If you’re thinking of picking up an air rifle for the first time, Mike Morton offers some tips so you can be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck
Picking up an air rifle for the first time? Mike Morton has some tips
Over the last few months we’ve witnessed a massive surge in the number of people wanting to take part in our sport, many for the very first time. If you’re one of these people then there’s some really good news that needs to be shared – the choice of airguns and accessories is huge, and there’s something out there which will be a perfect match for both your shooting needs and your wallet.
Having such a massive choice can be a double-edged sword. For anyone starting out, the amount of guns, scopes and other accessories on offer can be bewildering.
Some airguns are specialised, and buying a gun on looks can lead to disappointment if you find your new purchase isn’t right for the type of shooting you want to do.
Airgun shooting can also be expensive – although it really doesn’t have to be. It’s quite possible to pay in excess of £2,000 for a rifle alone, and while guns of this type
YOU’LL BENEFIT FROM HOLDING BACK ON ANY PURCHASE UNTIL YOU’VE GOT A BIT MORE EXPERIENCE
will offer a number of very real, but often very specific benefits in return for your money, it’s best not to jump in at the deep end with high-end products such as these. It’s far better to learn your craft – and make the inevitable mistakes we all do when we’re starting out – with something lower down the fiscal ladder.
That’s not to say your first purchase is necessarily something you’ll quickly grow out of and discard in favour of something more high-end. If you choose carefully, your first rifle could give you years of service, and additional guns may eventually supplement it rather than replace it. But if you’re a newcomer you’ll definitely benefit from holding back on any purchase until you’ve got the experience to appreciate what rifles are out there, what they do and crucially, what they can do for you.
YOUR FIRST RIFLE
While many new shooters will discover airgun shooting via an organisation like the Scouts or Cadets, plenty more will discover it for themselves – by picking up this magazine for example – and then decide that they just want to buy themselves “an air rifle”. This is great, but before heading out to the gun shop
to lay down some cash, have a think about what you want to use that rifle for once you’ve bought it.
There are three basic uses for an air rifle – hunting, plinking and target shooting, and much pleasure can be had from any or all of them. As a general rule, a hunting rifle is your best bet for starting out as it will tick the plinking box too, and can even be pressed into service as a target gun, whereas a full-on target rifle will tend to be more expensive and won’t lend itself to either hunting or plinking quite so easily.
DON’T SPEND ANY CASH JUST YET
Newcomers to any sport are usually excited to go out and acquire their own kit as soon as possible, and that’s true of plenty of new shooters, but it will pay you in the long run not to pay out in the short-term. You might have your heart set on a particular rifle, only to find something else suits you better once you’ve delved deeper into what’s on offer.
So instead, spend plenty of time looking at what’s out there, which rifles you might want to put on your shortlist and then set yourself a realistic budget. Think of the wider picture too: not just the cost of the rifle itself, but extras like optics, pellets and clothing, as well as accessories like a bipod or shooting sticks.
WHERE TO SHOOT?
You can certainly get started in your garden, and that’s where countless thousands of airgun shooters began, but you’ll probably get the most enjoyment from your shooting by joining a club or going to a range, where in addition to being able to use their facilities, you’ll be able to tap into the wealth of experience available from fellow club and staff members.
You won’t even need to have your own gun straight away, as most clubs and ranges will be able to lend you a rifle or let you hire one.