The Advantages of a Pellet Rifle – Part II
by Kirk Lawson
In the first article we discussed how a Pellet Rifle is an affordable and often more legally attainable alternative. In this article, we will briefly look at the advantages of a Pellet Rifle for at home training.
Of course, all safety rules still apply. This includes having a backstop rated for your Pellet Rifle or for the energy levels you will be using with your Pellet Rifle.
The first advantage is that a Pellet Rifle is quiet. When you train with traditional firearms, even the .22LR, there are decibel levels which are damaging to hearing. Some method of mitigation must be used to protect your hearing. Most often this takes the form of ear plugs or ear muffs. Unfortunately, plugs and muffs can be uncomfortable to wear, and muffs can get hot and sweaty in the summer. It is frequently difficult to attain a correct head position on the stock of the rifle, sometimes called a “cheek weld,” while wearing muffs. Worse yet, sometimes the seal on muffs or plugs can be accidentally broken, dramatically reducing the effectiveness of the hearing protection. Some firearms owners will use a Sound Suppressor, also called a “gun muffler” or somewhat erroneously a “Silencer.” But Suppressors are expensive to own and difficult to legally acquire, requiring a waiting period, a $200 special tax, and then hundreds of dollars for the device itself. But more than just protecting your hearing, the low noise levels from a Pellet Rifle make at-home training more palatable for your neighbors. If it is legal for you to use a Pellet Rifle in your own yard, basement, or garage, the quiet nature of a Pellet Rifle means you will not be disturbing your neighbors and polite gun owners are a good representative to the world at large.
Next, shooting a Pellet Rifle is inexpensive. The fact is that if one wishes to, a high quality Pellet Rifle and highly accurate pellets can cost as much as someone wants to spend. However, entry level Pellet Rifles and “backyard plinkers” along with plinking quality pellets are remarkably affordable. Feeding a Pellet Rifle with the standard, commodity level, commercial pellets costs only a couple of dollars for hundreds of rounds, particularly if a pneumatic Pellet Rifle is being used. Yes, a .22 caliber pellet is more expensive than a .177 caliber pellet, but even the more expensive .22 caliber pellets are less expensive than comparable quality .22LR ammunition. Frankly it is simply cheaper to get training time with a Pellet Rifle than with a .22LR rifle.
Don’t be fooled into believing that Pellet Rifles are not accurate either. Even entry level Pellet Rifles can be just as accurate as a .22LR, when provided with reasonable quality pellets, out to 50 yards or sometimes more. That said, with .177 caliber pellets, I really like to keep my range at 25 yards or less because the lighter weight of the pellet makes them more vulnerable to breezy days and if I’m backyard shooting, I’m limited in my distance available anyway.
Then there is the fact that with many Pellet Rifles you can moderate the power levels for safe use indoors. That means that you do not have to stop training just because it gets cold outside during the winter and, if you are like me, are less willing to brave subzero temperatures and snow on the range in order to practice. Buy or build an appropriate pellet trap and you can continue your training inside your home during inclement weather. With apologies to the U.S. Post Office, when you have a Pellet Rifle and a basement or garage, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can prevent you from training.
Also, there is the advantage that, well, it is training. Most firearms instructors advocate for as much range time as you can afford to cave out of your time and budget, supplementing that with “dry fire” or “dry practice” (practicing the fundamentals of shooting without live ammunition) at home. Because a Pellet Rifle is a rifle, it allows for the practice of all the fundamentals, and still poke holes in paper at the other end. You can still practice Sight Alignment, Sight Picture, Trigger Press, Proper Breathing, and all of the shooting positions from Standing – Off Hand or with Sling, through seated, kneeling, or prone. It is a rifle; practice your fundamentals.
Don’t forget that a Pellet Rifle can be a great way to introduce new shooters to the shooting sports with less stress and intimidation. Many new shooters are afraid of the recoil from a firearm and the low recoil of a Pellet Rifle mitigates that. It is also well noted that often when a shooter is intimidated by recoil it turns out that the real culprit is the loud report. As noted above, a Pellet Rifle is far more quiet which also reduces anxiety of new shooters. Beyond that, most Pellet Rifles are single shot, not semi-automatic, which helps the new shooter focus on making each shot count and applying the fundamentals.
Finally, shooting a Pellet Rifle is just darn fun. A Pellet Rifle provides most of the capabilities of a regular rifle while also offering the advantages of inexpensive shooting, lower noise and recoil, and year-round training. Honestly, shooting a Pellet Rifle is just a passel-o-fun. What’s not to like?
While there are some limitations such as distance, down-range energy, and reduced rate of fire that are challenging to solve for a Pellet Rifle without applying more money to the solution, a Pellet Rifle can make a great addition to your training gear as a viable option for at-home practice.