Our 12-year old grandson shocked our son when he said he’d like to go hunting. A shocker because the boy is very active in basketball and baseball and up to this point never hinted he’d be interested in hunting. Perhaps the incentive was that two of his best buddies hunt with their dads.
So when my son asked how to get him started, I strongly suggested they attend a mandatory upcoming hunter safety course, as we did many moons ago.
And since I spent 43 years in law enforcement, it was thought my experience should help in regards to gun safety and safe handling prior to taking an upcoming hunter safety course.
I asked my grandson if he’d like to initially start off learning about firearms with a handgun or rifle. He chose the former as it appears to be the easiest to hold. With that, I introduced him to the simple, gas piston-powered Gamo break-barrel, single shot pellet pistol that has a manufacturer rated speed of 508 fps.
While there are a myriad of BB and pellet pistols on the market, most are C02 powered and the cartridges are somewhat expensive for someone in training. Plus, if the cartridge isn’t used up during a training session, it’s unsafe to keep it in the handgun and not good for the O-rings that maintain a seal to prevent leakage.
I chose the Gamo as the company has been manufacturing air guns for over 120 years. They are also the largest manufacturer of airgun pellets in the world and one of the most recognized air gun manufacturers in Europe. They can be found in more than 50 countries where they’re commonly used for hunting and plinking.
Upon rehearsing the safety requirements of wearing eye protection, keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, not pointing the muzzle at anything but the target, and holding it at the low-ready position in-between shots, I was surprised that without prompting, my grandson kept his finger alongside the receiver of the Gamo P-900 when I handed it to him, and he checked to make sure the trigger safety was engaged.
After reviewing safe handling of the Gamo P-900, then subsequent sight alignment of the fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight, plus trigger squeeze, a pellet was loaded and he took a stance. His first shot from the light 1.3-pound, 12.5-inch long Gamo P-900 was low left at 10 yards. I advised him to pull the stout 4.5-pound trigger (pull weight), as straight back as he could. The next shot was closer to the center of the target. Surprising me again, he said he was going to try the next shot in a kneeling position, one of three we previously reviewed. Bingo. This one hit a tad low left in the orange center of the ping pong ball-size dot on the paper target. He was all smiles and appeared hooked on target shooting.
The next progression would be grand pop’s hefty Gamo break-barrel, scoped, pneumatic pellet rifle that could now be used for squirrel hunting in Pennsylvania since the rules were changed last year.
Who knows. Our grandson may eventually forego ball sports and take an interest in competitive BB gun shooting and perhaps be a member of the 64 top BB gun teams at the Daisy Nationals, a national championship shoot wherein youngsters ages 8-15 will compete on July 3-6 in Rogers, Ark, according to Lawrence Taylor, Daisy/Gamo Director of Public Relations.
Taylor describes the Daisy Nationals as competitive shooting that teaches mental focus, bolsters self-esteem and improves coordination. “Every year we hear stories of how competitors have raised grades and became happier since thy started the program. This is especially true for those who are dealing with a learning disability or other issue that can make excelling as a youth more difficult,” said Taylor.
Daisy Nationals’ youth competitors shoot four positions – Standing, Kneeling, Sitting and Prone – at targets placed at a distance of 5 meters using Daisy Model 499B Champion BB guns that are billed as the most accurate 5-meter BB gun in the world according to Taylor. “It’s not your old Red Ryder – this muzzle-loading BB gun will dot the “i” every time, Taylor explains.
He goes on to say that teams from 17 states will compete in this year’s event and most locally, the Rangers and Shrewsbury (Pa) Sharpshooters will compete. The event covers gun safety, technique, match rules extensive written test and an extension of Daisy’s youth gun initiative.
If our grandson continues in the sport, he could possibly go on to be a member of the USA Shooting Team and compete in future international Pan American games, the Olympics of the shooting sports wherein shotguns and other firearms are used.
For more information on Gamo products go to www.gamousa.com.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.