Monday, May 28, 2018

Air Rifles and Backstops

When SHTF, you never know what will happen to your supply of food.

A number of people will resort to hunting and scavenging for their dinner. I know that some of our readers will be in an area that will be hunting rifle friendly, and they will have the budget to purchase one, purchase ammunition, and to go to the range regularly. However, this is not true of everyone, and to those people I suggest getting an air rifle.

Modern air rifles are good for hunting small game: rabbits, squirrels, turkeys and even pigeons (they were domesticated from rock doves as a food source). I don’t recommend using one to hunt bear, or elk, or even deer, but there are plenty of options in and around most urban environments that will keep body and soul together until you can get into a better situation.

What You Need
You only need a few things to use an air rifle for hunting: the rifle itself, ammunition, any storage that you decide on, any accessories, and a backstop.
  • The Rifle
A good air rifle can be had for less than $200;  they start at around $80 for a new one that will take very small game and go up from there. Many municipalities that restrict ownership of firearms do not restrict air guns, making them easier to obtain.
  • Ammunition
Air rifle ammunition is cheap. Plinking ammo tends to cost about a penny a round, and you can purchase high end hunting ammunition for two to three cents a round-- compared to even the cheapest .22 ammunition, it's a fraction of the cost.
  • Storage
Storage can be as simple as putting it in a closet all the way to keeping it in a full-scale gun safe.
  • Accessories
I like a red dot sight on mine,  but any cheap sight for an air gun is acceptable as  they are meant to be shot at 100 yards, not 1000.

Note: Make sure that any scopes or sights you put on an airgun are designed for it. The recoil works differently, and can actually destroy a scope meant for a firearm.
  • A Backstop
If you have a yard, or a long enough range, you can purchase a commercially made target. I have used a simple resetting target, and I enjoyed it, but as it is not a proper backstop it comes with a risk of accidentally hitting my neighbors' property if I miss my target.

If you want to spend the money, you can purchase a commercial backstop to stop the bullets, but they are expensive, with a small one costing around $85. I prefer to make my own.

Making Your Own Backstop
The recipe is fairly simple:
  • A Container
I use cheap old plastic Walmart bins, but I know people who use cardboard boxes or custom-made wood enclosures.
  • A Target Hanger
I make my own with hardware cloth and binder clips.
  • A Way to Stop the Pellets
Ballistic putty is what a lot of commercial options use, and it works well, but it gets quite expensive -- for a small target you will want ten or so pounds, which runs around $40.

For a do-it-yourself solution, I have found that old carpet scraps do the trick.
  1. Find a local store that sells carpet and ask for scraps. I was able to find a selection of commercial carpet, shag, and other, and all it cost me was asking nicely and picking it up.
  2. Eight layers of carpet in an old bin stops everything I have tested quite nicely, with the deepest penetration being at five layers.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice.

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