Family Air Pistol

I’ve written before about solo shooting in my backyard air pistol range. It’s good iron sight work and, with next to no recoil, it’s a good way to practice that smooth release.

On this occasion, however, Daniel and Melissa had brought Elijah for his first visit and my daughter and her family were all present. (My son and his family couldn’t make it.)

After we all got to hold Elijah, someone suggested we go out on the patio since the weather was nice.

As we went through the door and knowing I’m a shooter, Melissa said, “My Dad was a shooter.”

“Would you like to try an air pistol today?” I asked.

In five minutes, the range was ready.

Most of them had never fired a gun or for the few who had, it was a long time ago. So, one at a time, I took each one through the basics of safety, operating the Baikal IZH-46M including cocking, loading, aiming and firing.

I let each of them dry-fire so they could feel the trigger and get accustomed to the noise. From there, we’d move to live fire and I’d stay close to handle the problems that always arise with new shooters.

As each one finished, we would retrieve their target and put up a fresh one.

As you might expect, some were good and some weren’t (A big backstop is a must.)

My granddaughter, Makella, had shot this AP before. The grip is large but she’s grown since her last try and she did good. All her shots were in the paper. (At the regular range several months earlier, she fired my ball gun and immediately displayed the toothy grin that often accompanies that first shot of 45 ACP ball ammo.)

Daniel was handicapped by my right-hand custom grip. As you can see he’s a leftie. Nonetheless, he did pretty good with most shots in the target.

(Note to self: Get an extra set of grips and carve them for ambidextrous use.)

Scott, Makella’s Dad, shot very well. He’s got the upper-body strength that benefits pistol shooters and he’s fired other guns. Even the air pistol’s light trigger benefits from a solid grip.

My daughter, she … well, let’s just say she fired two shots before saying, “Thank you”. (See note herein about a “big” backstop.)

And my wife declined to shoot. Like mother, like daughter, it’s just not for them.

The surprise was the new mother, Melissa. At the regulation 10 meters, she was good! Each time she fired, a new hole would appear in the black. Grinning, she would say, “Let me do another.” Pretty soon she had more than a dozen holes, all in the black.

(Never underestimate a Mother with a handgun!)

An air pistol range needs a space of about 40 by 10 feet with a good backstop and no cross-traffic.

The noise is minimal; we used no ears but the absence of eye protection is a serious oversight on my part. Oops!

Elijah didn’t seem to mind the noise and as long as you keep a good watch of the shooter and what others are doing, it should be safe. (Little kids running around would be a show-stopper.)

Check with your local Police Department to be sure it’s legal in your own backyard.

The Baikal is not inexpensive, but neither is it expensive like today’s better air pistols. I paid $400 a couple of years ago for mine. It is accurate and reliable. I have less expensive air pistols but they don’t shoot as well, have a strange balance, or just feel downright klunky.

The IZH-46M, on the other hand, is what the former Soviet Union air pistol shooters used in the Olympics a decade or so ago. Be sure and tell the family that. Knowing “this is not a toy” will both raise their safety awareness and heighten their intensity since they know it’s a good piece of engineering.

For new shooters, make it a non-competitive game. The rule could be “five shots and even totals have to set the table and odd totals clean up.”

“Shooters to the line!”

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