Like many an all-American boy, my constant companion from 10-14 was an air gun. For my 10th birthday (after long lobbying) I secured a Daisy Red Ryder (picked out from an ad in Boy's Life's annual shooting issue -- I wonder if they still have one of those in this more politically correct era.)
I spent a lot of time with that rifle, until no tin can, small platic army man or water balloon was safe, even from the opposite side of the back yard.
However, like the sharpshooters of the American Revolution (if you can think of a more self-satisfied historical parallel, insert it here) I eventually tired of the accuracy potential of a smooth bored barrel shooting round shot. Plus I wanted a rifle that could be used to kill small vermin -- not that I necessarily had any to hunt, but it's the sort of thing every boy desires. So at 13 I saved my allowances for a number of months and shelled out the princely sum of $40 for a more powerful PowerLine pellet rifle.
Ah the joy of wandering the suburban backyard outback with the knowledge that one carries deadly force. No longer is one a mere backyard plinker. Now you carry a deadly weapon equiped with a scope, and ten pumps worth of power, hurtling pellets at 600 feet per second. (How I recall the specs which must have become a burden through constant quoting to all those around me...)
Well, I wandered into the air gun section of WalMart the other day, looking at the weaponry available, though knowing that at 3 and 4 the girls are way to young to start shooting. (sigh...) And what do I find? Translucent plastic.
It seems that while I was off being adult and shooting real guns, a new world called "airsoft" has dawned upon the air gun product category. It seems that air guns shooting rubber BBs at fairly low velocity have become all the rage (the effect of small back yards and a distinct lack of rodents?) and come in spring, electrict and gas operated flavors.
I'm not sure what I think about this. It seems to rule out the seriousness with which I took my youthful shooting efforts. On the other hand, the low velocity and rubber projectiles certainly seems safe for the close quarters of the modern back yard. And with the bright colors... Maybe this is perfect for teaching little girls to shoot young.
Right now Daddy is holding off, but the seed of temptation is planted. Maybe when they're five or six...
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