You can learn a lot when
caged up like a wild velociraptor quarantined during a global pandemic. The first thing you learn is humans are indeed social creatures. As much as we hate each other at times, we need interaction with other humans, even rude ones. Else we go stir crazy. Ask me how I know.
The second thing I learned during my time under house arrest is that my capacity to do creative but arguably irresponsible things knows no bounds. Hold that thought for a hot second…
So, as background to my soul-baring sharing experience, I ought to mention I live in something called a raised house. Here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, homes near the coast or scenic wetlands are often built like treehouses — one level up. Yes, that means you have to carry your groceries up a flight of steps even if you live in a “single level” home. The realtors tell you this raised house thing offers an improved view of nature, but the real reason is every few decades, the nearby swamp gets churned up by a hurricane and roars through your ground level. We’ve learned it’s better if that bottom level is an empty garage. Anyway, one nifty benefit of a raised home is your back porch is often one level up as well, sitting among the trees. Behind my home is some scenic neighborhood association-owned land. We call it a swamp. The relevant factor for this story is this: no neighbors within air-projectile travel range when I shoot in the backyard. And I have a wonderful back deck doubling as a shooting platform well up and out of the dirt. Yes, it’s a little bit bougie.
Back to learnings from COVID. I don’t know about you, but when I get mind-numbingly bored, I’ll resort to projects around the house and yard. Don’t get me wrong. If I can concoct an easier or more fun way to accomplish a task, I’m all over that. Such was the seedling of an idea for pruning some of the very, very tall trees in my backyard. There I was, sitting on my back deck, plinking at old Coke cans on the ground outside the fence. And inspiration hit me. A chainsaw works by a bunch of little metal pieces smacking into a hunk of wood over and over again. I could do that with airguns. Brilliance strikes.
Seizing the opportunity to demonstrate my new commitment to arborism to my bride, I brought up a Gamo Urban 22 PCP rifle. It’s small, handy, plenty accurate, and not too loud. Besides, .22 pellets are plentiful and cheap. Setting out to work, I learned the diminutive .22 does a fine job on tree branches up to a couple of inches in diameter. Sure, larger lumber requires more pellets, but the task is great fun. Besides, it does wonders for your offhand accuracy.
Having dominated 1 and 2″ branches with style and grace, I moved to a larger caliber, toting an FX Wildcat Mk II .25 caliber rifle complete with an 8-round rotary magazine. I’d previously clocked JSB Exact King .25 Pellet 25.39-grain pellets at just over 830 fps. Slightly heavier H&N Sport Barracuda Hunter .25 Pellet 27.47-grain pellets tipped the chrony at just over 823 fps. For just a small increase in noise, I’d upped my tree surgery game considerably. Persistence and shot placement allowed me to bring down a 4″ pine branch that had been dumping needles on our back deck for years. My wife was thrilled.
My next learning was clear. Mass matters. Heavier pellets excelled in the wood pulping Olympics.
As I was reluctant to move to really big bore calibers — I do live under the iron-fisted rule of a neighborhood association after all — I had a Eureka moment. An AirForce Airguns Condor SS .25 caliber isn’t magazine fed, so you can load all manner of interesting pellets and slugs. Want a 48-grain lead hollow point? No problem. Got a really serious lumber challenge standing in your way? No worries. Call the folks at Hunters Supply. They’re certified airgun gurus and sell serious lead. How about a 105-grain lead slug for that .25? Yes, please!
Here’s another learning. With lead slugs in the three-digit weight arena, you can take down sizeable branches and small mountain ranges.
At this point, I should point out another “learning” that became apparent throughout the process. Pellets and slugs fired at green wood will often bounce right back at you. No worries, I always wear safety glasses for just such reason. Besides, the incoming velocity didn’t seem untoward. Most just lightly bounced back on the deck, landing on or about my feet.
One jumbo pellet, in particular, taught me a very special lesson. Lead can break sliding glass doors. Even the occasional ricochet can carry enough momentum to crack a giant sheet of glass. I also learned about how sliding glass doors crack. They’re not content to crack, take their lumps, and just sit there without undue drama. No. That crack will insist on spreading until it reaches all edges of the frame until you experience the crescendo of 4,312,977 pieces of glass shards exploding into a pile of “how am I going to clean this up before my wife gets home?”
Do you know what else I learned? Whoever invented sliding glass doors was a real jerk. Rather than make them out of sheets of glass you can buy at the local hardware store, they manufacture them out of special, two-pane, vacuum-sealed systems filled with some obscure Krypton isotope. Oh, and I learned that there are no such things as sliding glass repair parts in any cities where humans live and use sliding glass doors. They’re all manufactured in some secret location not accessible from anywhere. Every heard the phrase, “you can’t get there from here?” That’s where the sliding door replacement parts are. Should you find yourself in need of a new sliding glass door insert for some purely accidental reason, you’ll have to wait several weeks to get one. Do you know what I learned from that? The view from inside the house of a large sheet of plywood isn’t nearly as enthralling as through a large glass door. Ask me how I know.
Oh, and I did learn one more thing. Marry someone with enough of a sense of humor to tolerate such learnings.
See? You can learn a lot about airgunning from this pandemic.