Perfecting Shooting Skills

It didn’t cost very much. It was cheap to shoot…

It didn’t cost very much. It was cheap to shoot and I could re-use the ammo. It came out of a long cardboard box from Montgomery Ward. It was, by adult standards, little more than a cheesy toy. But to me it was my pride and joy. With my Daisy BB gun in hand, I became John Wayne, Daniel Boone, Chuck Connors, and Audie Murphy—all wrapped up in one. I was a lawman, a hunter, a marksman, a frontiersman, a policeman, or anyone else I wanted to be. With my Daisy I learned how to handle a weapon: muzzle awareness, trigger control, sight alignment, breathing, shooting positions and accuracy. I also learned that the neighbor’s cat didn’t like being shot at, and that the kitchen window won’t survive a stray BB. By the time I graduated to a real gun, I had a pretty good idea of what to do with it. All the basics still applied.

Years later I found myself going back to the basics again. While at a local store I noticed a gun at the counter that looked incredibly real but I knew they didn’t sell guns there so I asked the clerk what it was. He said it was an airsoft gun. I had heard about them but had not yet seen one. It looked and felt very, very similar to one of my guns. Then he charged it with gas, made sure there were BBs in it, pointed at a well-used target down the aisle and told me to go ahead and shoot it. At about 30 feet it was surprisingly accurate. Plus it cycled like a real gun, and the trigger was similar to a real gun. It was even heavy like a real gun. Everything about it was very similar to the real thing. And then it dawned on me that this is not my old Daisy, but this has real possibilities for training. I bought a green, gas powered, gas blowback airsoft mock-Glock 17/22 to match my real one and took it home. And sure enough, this is a serious training tool that I would recommend for anyone.

Most airsofts will boast accuracy up to about 50 feet with a velocity of 300 to 400 fps (feet per second). These are not the high-quality, close tolerance, accurate weapons they are modeled after, but I can consistently shoot 1.5- to 2-inch groups at about 20 to 25 feet. Statistics show that most gunfights occur within about 20 feet. So a life-sized target at about 7 yards away, using smaller targets to simulate distance, should be sufficient to hone your shooting skills without the expense of live-fire.
Not everyone has access to a basement, or garage or an outside area where you can practice without freaking the neighbors out. If you don’t have room to set up target stands, you can use a simple cardboard box with some wadded up newspaper, hang an old towel inside, even shoot a five gallon plastic bucket. Make sure there is something soft but impenetrable to stop the BBs—if your backstop is too hard, they will bounce back at you. If you have room to set up target stands, the best backstop I have found is an old towel stapled to the back of the stand with the lower portion looped back up to trap the BBs.

For a reasonable quality airsoft handgun you can figure on spending about $100 to $150. I know of military Special Forces operators that have spent a little more money and got some higher quality airsofts that they train with. But make sure you get an airsoft that closely resembles your real weapon. Spend the money to get a heavy one that weighs close to your real one, not a cheap plastic one. It will make a difference in your advanced training. Airsofts are available as revolvers, semi-autos, shotguns and rifles. There are a multitude of manufacturers that make almost every conceivable weapon there is, so you should be able to find one that you can train with.
With today’s prices for ammo, it’s not unreasonable to figure that a 50-count box of .40 caliber ammo will cost you about $18 or more. For that same $18 you can shoot approximately 2000 rounds with your airsoft. To shoot that many rounds of live ammo would cost about $720. Add to that the cost of range time and travel to and from the range, and you can see how quickly an airsoft will pay for itself. This will obviously not replace your live-fire shooting. Airsoft training is a supplement to enhance your skills at a fraction of the cost. Plus, a mistake that puts a 1/8 of an inch deep dent in your drywall is less expensive than a mistake that lands a half-mile past your target in some farmer’s prize pig.

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