Year-Round Hunting with Airguns
Just because a flip of the page on your calendar marked the end of traditional fall hunting seasons doesn’t mean you have to stop hunting.
Hunters across the United States keep their shooting and hunting skills sharp year-round by targeting small game, varmints, rodents and other pests with airguns. That’s right, airguns. Even serious shooters such as J. Wayne Fears, Tony Martins and Rick Ward have employed Crosman and Benjamin airguns in their hunting exploits.
Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) and break-barrel airguns provide some fantastic advantages over traditional firearms in the pursuit of prairie dogs, ground squirrels, coyotes, groundhogs and other animals during the off season. Chief among them is that the quiet report of an airgun makes hunting and target shooting possible for shooters living in urban areas, they don’t have to rob a bank to afford the luxury of putting hundreds of rounds downrange, and they can enjoy shooting live targets throughout the year.
Farmers prefer airguns for dispatching pigeons without spooking their cattle or horses, and trappers can use airguns when checking trap lines.
It’s important to note that these are adult airguns, not toys. Firing a .22- or .25-caliber pellet is just as deadly coming from the barrel of a Benjamin Marauder PCP or a Benjamin Trail NP as they are a traditional rimfire or centerfire rifle. And their accuracy is just as meaningful. Fears reported dime-sized groups from 15 yards and 1-inch groups at 50 yards with a Benjamin Marauder Woods Walker air pistol in .22 caliber, which he then used on opening day of squirrel season. Martins, shooting a .25-caliber Marauder Rifle, racked up rabbit kills out to 58 yards and even videotaped himself killing a prairie dog at 92 yards. Veteran predator hunter Ward shot a coyote at 50 yards during one of his first urban excursions with a Marauder .25.
The Marauder Woods Walker has quickly become a favorite of varmint and predator hunters. With an 8-round rotary magazine, this bolt-action repeating air pistol comes with a rifle stock that can be attached with just two screws, effectively transforming it into a short carbine. The PCP canister is loaded with an air pump to 2900 psi, which is good for about 40 rounds between pumps. The Woods Walker sports a Realtree APG finish, comes with an optics rail and retails for $529.99.
For his predator hunting, Ward says practice is the key. “Because I hunt mainly predators, I have my gun dead-on at 50 yards,” he said. “I have taken rabbits at 65 to 75 yards. I know the gun is very capable but it is up to the skills of the shooter. Practice, practice and practice some more. You get out of it what you put into it.”
The Benjamin Marauder Rifle in .25-caliber is also a PCP airgun that uses an 8-round rotary magazine. It’s part of a series of Marauder airguns that includes .177- and .22-calibers with wood and composite stock configurations that range in price from $430 to $527. A pump or high-pressure tank (sold separately) is used to pressurize the gun to between 2,000 and 3,000 psi. Pushing the pellet at 900 feet per second from a rifled barrel results in a highly accurate airgun with plenty of energy for ethical kills of small game.
Fortunately, practicing with an airgun is cost-effective. Target-shooting pellets in .22- and .25-caliber sizes cost about 2 cents apiece, making those 200-round range days a drop in the bucket. Hunting rounds such as the .25 Benjamin Destroyer 27.9-gram pellets sell for $12.49 per 200 count, or roughly 16 cents apiece, and carry plenty of energy for killing coyotes and other mid-sized animals.
For young shooters or those who want to work on their marksmanship, the break-barrel design of the Benjamin Trail NP2t or Trail NP XL are perfect fits. These single-shot airguns come in a variety of calibers and configurations, with either wood or composite (all-weather) stocks, and are sold at retailers from $299.99 to $349.99. Simply cock the barrel, load a pellet, and return the barrel to its shooting position to shoot. (Watch this video on the proper way to cock a break-barrel airgun: http://www.crosman.com/airguns/rifles/break-barrel/BT725WNP.)
Always check your state hunting regulations before shooting animals. A basic sate-by-state hunting regulations chart can be found online here: http://www.crosman.com/pdf/HuntingRegsChart.pdf.
And as you prepare for a good day in the woods, keep these nine guidelines in mind:
1. Check to make sure your airgun in properly sighted in.
2. Check your airgun to ensure it is operating properly.
3. Practice with your airgun from various distances before hunting, keeping in mind that most shots will be taken inside of 50 yards with an airgun.
4. Shot placement is paramount with airguns. Don’t be satisfied at the range until you can place solid 1-inch groups from your preferred shooting distance.
5. Check your ammunition to make sure the pellets are best suited for animals you’ll be hunting.
6. Use camouflage clothing, ground blinds or tree stands.
7. Airgun hunting requires relatively short-range shots, requiring hunters to use solid hunting and stalking skills.
8. Treat airguns the same as you would any other firearm, always with safety in mind, selecting and shooting at targets with safe backdrops.
9. Learn the habits of the game or animals you will be hunting.
For more about shooting or hunting with airguns, visit www.crosmanhunting.com.
Original Source: Sportmans Lifestyle.com