February 29, 2008 - Admin
Practical, Affordable Firearms Training with Airguns
The author says your regular practice need not suffer
Guns Magazine August, 2002 by J.I. Galan
There are several important reasons for utilizing airguns as firearm training tools. Airguns are inexspensive to purchase and use, may be readily and safely used even in the home, and are exempt from most state and Federal firearms laws.
The matter of cost is, of course, the most obvious benefit to their use. Attaining (and maintaining) even basic shooting skills with firearms demands a great deal of regular practice. And ammunition — even rimfire ammo — isn’t exactly cheap. Just a few boxes of factory ammo for an afternoon’s shooting session can amount to a tidy sum.
Add to that the expense of driving to a suitable firing range — gasoline is not cheap these days, either — plus range fees and other incidental expenses, and the tab throws your budget into a deep dive real fast. The fact that most airguns can be used safely in or around the home, as well as in other places where firearms would be totally unacceptable to use due to safety concerns, is another key reason for their steadily growing use as training tools.
Used By Uncle Sam
It is not generally well known that airguns have a long and interesting history as substitute firearm trainers here in America, as well as in other nations.
Our armed forces have made use of unique and/or modified airguns at different times of pressing need in order to train combat troops quickly and inexpensively. One such episode took place during the early stages of our involvement in World War II, when training resources were stretched to the limit.
Basic aerial gunnery, for example, was taught with the assistance of full-auto air-powered BB guns resembling the venerable Browning .30 and .50 caliber machine guns in service at the time. Manufactured mainly by the MacGlashan company in California, and powered by compressed air, these guns did a splendid job of training thousands of our fighting men in the basics of aerial gunnery.
The Vietnam era also saw a need to draft airguns as firearm training tools. Experiences in jungle fighting motivated the U.S. Army to adopt modified Daisy BB guns to teach recruits the complexities of snap-shooting. The goal was to prepare troops to engage quick moving targets at short range, without relying on the sights of their M-16 rifles. The Daisy BB guns used in this program were furnished without sights.
Outstanding results were obtained using this relatively inexpensive and extremely safe training method, even with recruits who had never fired a gun before joining the service. The system, incidentally, was dubbed “Quick Kill” and was eventually marketed commercially by Daisy Manufacturing Co. as a complete shooting program, including the sightless gun, safety glasses, BBs and targets with the name “Quick Skill.”
Some of our former adversaries also relied upon airguns to train new troops. One example of this takes us back to the early years of the Third Reich in Germany. when Nazi youth and other paramilitary groups employed the Haenel Modell 33 air rifle and some of its clones as a first step in teaching safety and marksmanship. The aforementioned air rifles were designed as faithful replicas of the Mauser Kar. 98 bolt action rifle then in general use by the Wehrmacht, Waffen SS, and other branches of the German military.
The law enforcement sector has also recognized the value of “powderless” training in recent years. SWAT teams and other high-risk hostage rescue and anti-terrorist units have frequently used airguns in the training role. Paintball guns, in particular, have played an important part in the type of highly realistic training conducted by these special units. C[O.sub.2] powered repeating paintball guns have been found to be nearly ideal for this training.
They enhance motivation in training exercises, because getting splattered with a .68 caliber paintball fired by a live “adversary” adds a realism that a paper target could never offer. Needless to say, all participants in these training exercises wear special head and body protection. Despite this, getting hit by a paintball can be a jarring reality check for an officer in training.
Selecting The Substitute
The benefits of airgun training are not limited to the police and military. The fact is that airgun use can truly enhance and increase the time we set aside for gun training, be it general gun handling skills or marksmanship practice. Clearly, the first thing we have to decide is exactly what type of shooting discipline and firearm in which we intend to become proficient. Once that question is answered, it’s time to pick the right airgun that achieves the training goal. There are air rifles and air pistols available nowadays for just about every conceivable training application.
For example, even an inexspensive youth-oriented BB gun will serve for teaching youngsters — as well as older folks — the rudiments of gun handling, safety and marksmanship. Keep in mind that countless generations of American kids learned those basics through the use of BB guns.