|Text and photos
by John C. Krull
Gun Week Production Manager
Any gunowner who reads any paper (especially Gun Week) is aware of the fact that fewer new hunters are taking to the field and many of our older hunters have either left the sport or simple died off.
Because of the anti-hunting and anti-gun indoctrination now being presented in our schools, and additionally because of the lack of a adult male (hunter, shooter) figures in many households that have youngsters in them, the youth of today aren't being taught the shooting/hunting skills that most of us were taught in our younger years.
Other reasons for this decline may be the high cost of equipment and the decreasing number of places that you can discharge a firearm due to expanding suburban developments. When I was a youth living in Lancaster, NY, we were able to step out our back door and discharge not just .22s but also .30-30s, .30-06 rifles, and shotguns. When I drive by my family home of the '50s and '60s, I am disappointed to see how the housing developments have taken over what used to be my range and my hunting grounds.
So what is the answer? I can't solve the single-parent problem and have been working on the problem in the schools, with little positive results, but the third problem we can do something about and Gamo (Gamo USA Corp, 3911 SW 47th Ave. Suite 914, Dept. GWK, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 333314; phone: 954-581-5822; on-line: www.gamo.com) has an answer.
For the last 15 years I have had the advantage of having a rifle/pistol range in my basement. Here I can shoot any time of day or night at a full 50 feet from shooting station to target. I can shoot .22s, and centerfire lead loads from my rifles and pistols. Unfortunately, I still can't use any jacketed bullets, high-powered rifles or even .22 Mags.
What almost any of us can do, though, is set up an airgun range in a basement, garage or even backyard. Airguns have changed a lot in the 40 years since I started shooting them. Also the bullet traps are more effective, inexpensive, and reusable.
We used to set up a box full of newspaper or used telephone books as our backstop. Now, just as 40 years ago, the BBs still will ricochet, so I prefer-and recommend-lead pellets.
Parents or grandparents can start a youth off with an airgun that can be shot almost anywhere and at reasonable cost-with little or no noise, or other environmental problems
Gamo, a Spanish producer of airguns, has been marketing their products worldwide for several years. Until recently, I hadn't any experience with their products, but was asked to try out one of their guns when I talked with Sherry Kerr about their products at the SHOT Show in New Orleans in January.
Several months later, after some talk with Rori Chandler from Outdoor Media Resources we agreed that they would send me one of Gamo's Young Hunter models. I was interested in this model because of my interest in training our future hunters to safely handle a gun and to give them the chance to get bitten by the gun-culture bug. I have found that once you've gotten someone to the range and they find out the fun of shooting and the thrill of hitting their target. They are often addicted for life.
The Gamo Young Hunter is a very good-looking gun. It shoots .17-cal. pellets. The stock appears to be made of maple and is very professionally cut. It sports a rubber recoil pad, which, of course, doesn't absorb any recoil, but is quite helpful in preventing any slippage or movement of the butt stock once placed in the shoulder. The overall length of the rifle is 41 inches with the barrel being 17 inches in length.
The front sight is a blade type with a fiber-optic insert, which will help in sighting both normally and during low-light situations. The rear sight is mounted a little over half way down the barrel, giving a shorter sighting plane than ones mounted right above the trigger. The rear sight is fully adjustable for both elevation and windage and also has a fiber-optic insert. The adjustment knobs are very large and can be turned by hand without the need for a screwdriver.
I was surprised at the trigger pull. It is not of target quality-this isn't a high priced target gun-but the trigger lets off at between 3 and 4 pounds of pressure. At this weight your young shooter will be able to acquire the skill of proper trigger control. The trigger is not too difficult to pull or too light to cause possible early discharges.
The safety is what I would consider a military-type safety. It is located inside the trigger guard and pushed forward to release and pulled back to activate.
There are basically three types of airguns. The pellets are propelled by CO , pneumatically or by a spring-piston. I don't like CO in a rifle because of the additional cost and also because the gas cartridges can have decreasing power levels as the cylinder becomes low on gas. This can changes the point of impact as the power is decreased.
The pneumatic charged guns need either an internal or external compressed air source. This is not something that I consider practical for the youth/beginner shooter. However, the pneumatic power system is often found on the high-end competition airguns.
What's left is the spring-piston. These types of airguns are activated by a cocking of the barrel or by a side-cocking lever. With the Gamo you cock the barrel. Discharge powers are consistent and don't cost you any additional money. They have sufficient power to get a pellet accurately downrange and, if hunting with this type of action, will do a respectable job on your game of choice. The velocity of the pellets is 640 feet-per-second (fps).
The Gamo isn't hard to cock, but might take some practice, especially in keeping the barrel pointed in a safe direction while performing the function. It takes 23 pounds of effort to cock the gun. An adult, or older sibling, may have to do the cocking for a really small shooter.
A final feature of the Gamo Young Hunter that I think is important to mention is its weight. Many guns are just too heavy for younger shooters. If a gun is too heavy for a youngster they get tired too quickly and become disinterested. The Young Hunter weights 5 pounds according to my fish scale.
The Young Hunter retails for $129.95 or the combo with the scope, as referenced in this article, retails for $169.95. Either is well worth the investment.
Usually I will first test a gun with its open sights. This time I just forgot to. I guess that I figured that with the scope coming as part of the package I received for the test, that was the way it was going to be used. I already had the scope installed when I first went out to the garage to shoot and just never used the open sights.
The combo includes a BSA (BSA Optics, 3911 SW 47th Ave., Suite 914, Dept. GWK, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33314; phone: 954-581-2144; on-line: www.bsa-optics.com) 4X32mm .22 Special scope with mounting rings. It was real easy to install and just took a few minutes with just an Allen wrench that was supplied. From the get go I was on paper, but when I first adjusted the scope, I did so in the wrong direction, which put me off the paper and out of the trap. Watch what you are doing.
The BSA performed its job admirably on the paper targets, the swinging targets and on the game in my backyard. BSA also makes several models of scopes for big game rifles as well as spotting scopes. Give them a try. In coming articles I'll be using a BSA Catseye mounted on a T/C Black Diamond muzzleloading rifle.
A couple of Fridays ago I had finished doing what work I had to do around the house at about 11:00 p.m. Now I wanted something fun to do and needed the relaxation. A couple of days earlier I had installed the BSA 4x32 power scope that came with the Young Hunter Combo. I took all the equipment to my garage and set up a range with the two Gamo pellet traps that I had.
First I started with the cone-type pellet trap. This unit will either sit on a flat surface or has a hole in the back to hang the trap on a secure wall. I set it up on some shelves in my garage. I'd already read the book and knew how to operate the gun so I started out with some sighting-in shoots. It took several rounds of pellets to get the pellets into the black; if I had adjusted the windage on the scope in the proper direction immediately it would have taken fewer shots. Watch which way you turn your rear sight adjusters.
The cone trap only has an impact area of 5° inches square. I would suggest that the area around the trap should be something that you don't mind if it gets shot up, because you are going to get flyers that won't impact on the trap. In the picture of this trap that appears with this article, you can see its reverse bellowing shape with the square hanger/catcher on the back. The used pellets can easily be discarded simply by dumping them out the top into a garbage receptacle.
With some other pellet traps it can be difficult to hang your target. The Gamo trap has grooves down each side and one at the bottom to fit exactly the Gamo targets. The cone trap has a retail price tag of just $19.95 and will last for years with proper care. The Gamo paper targets for this trap retail for $4.99 for a pack of 100. This quantity should give you hours of shooting enjoyment at about five cents a target.
Gamo's other pellet trap is a rocker swinging target catcher. While this trap does cost a little more ($49.95 retail) you won't need to purchase the expendable paper targets. This trap is a lot of fun.
There are five hanging targets. The two outside targets are 1-1/16 inches wide; with the two inner round targets at of an inch in diameter. In the center is a square 1-inch target. When you shoot and hit the four outside targets, they move back and up into an out-of-sight position. To reset them, you shoot the center square target and the others drop back into position.
I was having so much fun shooting on the Friday night that the next time I looked at the clock it was 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I couldn't tell you how many shots I had fired.
You'll need to look at the photo of the pellets that appears in this article at this point. The far left one is the Match pellet. This is used for extreme accuracy. This pellet is the lightest at 7.6 grains. Its flat head cuts the target cleanly, making this a pellet that is tops for shooters wanting tight groups.
The next one is a Round lead ball. I have never before seen a pellet in this configuration. Gamo says that it will give you maximum penetration because of its concentration of mass. They weigh 8.1 grains each. This was my least favorite pellet.
The third pellet in the photo is the Master Point. This is not included in the multi-pack, but was shipped separately. It weighs consistently on my scale at 8 grains and had the most uniform weight of all the pellets. The others all varied within ± .1 grain. These should be the most accurate.
The fourth from the left is the Hunter pellet. This was the pellet with which I zeroed the gun. They weigh 8.4 grains, the heaviest of the lot. Due to the heavier weight and domed head this pellet performs with terrific impact at short or long ranges. It does a really good job on crows and squirrels. I liked these the best, but that was because I didn't want to re-zero the gun.
The last pellet in the photo is the Magnum. This pellet weighs 8.3 grains. The pointed tip and double-ring design increase the mushroom effect for best results on small game. This pellet is not recommended for repeating rifles or pistols. This was my second favorite pellet.
As with any type of ammunition you have to zero your gun for the fodder that you are using at the time. You shouldn't expect the gun to be zeroed with each and every type of pellet that you put through it.
The next morning I was working in my backyard. The whole neighborhood has a "bushy-tailed rat" problem (squirrels). I kept the Young Hunter close and loaded all morning. I managed to harvest one crow and four squirrels that morning and another squirrel on Sunday.
The last critter that I got that day was in my neighbor Bill's maple tree, right at the border of my property. Let me say that being in the city the Gamo is a reasonable gun to use for critter control, but you must take care where you are aiming. There is always the chance that you could miss and end up hitting a target that you didn't mean to hit. It is also probably illegal to shoot critters in city limits with any type of gun, but the Gamo is so quiet and accurate I haven't really worried about it.
This last squirrel fell into Bill's backyard. We do have a fence between us, so I called him out of his garage to help me. He saw the gun and asked, "What are you up to youngster." I told him I'd spent the morning hunting. He asked, "Did you get any of those bushy-tailed rats." At that I asked if he could retrieve the one laying about 5 feet from him for me and that he might want to wash the blood away.
I've eliminated several more squirrels in the last two weeks, but the crows just haven't presented a target within range.
I had originally intended to base this article on the Gamo's usefulness as a critter control device, but instead wanted to make it youth oriented. Well, so I've done both. The Youth Hunter is a great tool for teaching youngsters and can do the job of critter control as well. Gamo makes several models that are suited to the adult shooter with models that put pellets out at as much as 1,150 fps.
Gamo also sent along one of their pellet pistols, which I'll be writing up in one of Gun Week's future issues.
One last word of warning-pellets can go up to 1/4 mile so be sure of your target and backstop.
Remember when contacting any of the companies mentioned to tell them that John at Gun Week sent you.
Return to Archive Index