I really love air guns - they were my first exposure to shooting and, more importantly, responsibility, while growing up.
My dad first bought an S&W mod. 79G .177 air pistol after he emigrated and I learned to shoot pistol with it. We still have it after all these years and break it out in spite of its leaking seals. Later, my dad bought a Beeman R10 rifle - a slightly cheaper version of Beeman's flagship R1 with a little less pomp and power - so that we could learn some rudiments of riflery together. (BTW, it’s funny that reading this
link about the Beeman Company lists the R10 in this role.)
I bring up responsibility because a lot of the over-protective "nanny-state" mentality was totally lost on my folks as I grew up. I've got great memories of them leaving for business trips (often days at a time!) when I was just a teen leaving me to cook, clean, catch a ride to school. Sure, my friends and I got into mischief, but we also learned where to draw the line. When they were gone, one of our favorite activities was shooting the air rifle at cans in my backyard - the thought of shooting at someone was unconscionable. After school, before the neighbors got home, I'd have ~five of us at the house shooting and betting on the results!
Later on, I got back into air guns while I practiced at the AIAC for International offhand but dropped it after about a year since I had many other projects and commitments on the burner (USPSA). I ended up donating my Anschutz match-grade .177 to the program.
Recently, my folks took a trip across the pond to visit my sister who lives and works in Switzerland and I stopped by to check if everything was ok on their place. It hit me that I should "borrow" the R10 while they were away in order to practice my rifle fundamentals in anticipation of an upcoming Appleseed event.
About the rifle
The rifle is a very well balanced due to a real walnut stock and is machined very well. These aren't "pump action" toys, but rather precision units that mimic "real" guns. They are pretty capable of ~MOA accuracy (1" at 100 yards, 1/2" at 50 yards) using consistent "diablo" pellets - I'm shooting a tin of leftover Vogel heavy pellets. An interesting aside - the faster the velocity of the pellet, the greater the accuracy degenerates for air rifles. The ultra-fast R1 will throw a .177 pellet at ~1100 FPS, but is actually less accurate than the R10, which shoots ~900 fps. My Anschutz shot at about 600 fps and could shoot a target the size of this period (".") all day at 10 yards. No seriously: click this link to see a PDF of a match air rifle target.
You cock the rifle by "breaking" the barrel. That exposes the breech, into which you load a single pellet. Swing the barrel back up and the safety engages.
The trigger is actually a two-stage adjustable unit: you can turn it down to about 1000 grams or up to about 4 lbs. The first stage is easy, slack, and the second stage is a very nice crisp break. Some match guns don't have triggers this nice. Adjustments are made via a flathead screw behind the grooved, milled aluminum trigger. The cast-metal trigger-guard has a hole thoughtfully placed in order to facilitate adjustment easily.
The rifle is scoped with a Beeman 2-7 scope that has a nice feature for adjusting parallax. Most rifle scopes are adjusted for 100 yard to infinity parallax, but rimfire or air gun scopes are either set at 25 or 50 yards or
have an adjustable parallax setting. The trick is knowing the range to something - for example, I know how far 25 and 50 yards are in my backyard. If I'm shooting 25 yards with the 50 yard parallax setting, things look fuzzy or slightly out of focus. The big thing in scoping a spring-piston air rifle is making sure that the scope will withstand the reverse-recoil: the spring slams forward. Even well built scopes that are designed for "normal" recoil will fall apart in a few hundred shots.
The beauty of it is that a tin of 500 pellets costs ~$6.00, which makes for cheap practice! There is a small "crack" of the piston, but it makes hardly any noise which means that I can shoot at cans in my backyard. I checked with my neighbors and they don't mind at all; rather the opposite, both neighbors' boys wanted to try their hand at it! (Time to spoil the next generation of potential Democrats!)
I've almost 50(+/- a yard) yards to a retaining wall in my backyard which is part of a hill. Perfect backstop and perfect target rest. I shoot out of my back door, usually kneeling/sitting with a hasty sling. I usually shoot after lunch (I work from home) since I need to eat in order to get to use the tin fruit-cocktail can that I need for practice.
I start by shooting the bottom of the can at 2X ("sighters", I call 'em) and then try to shoot one into the UPC label and one into the red "DelMonte" logo on the front at 7X. I've noticed my skills come along quite nicely - I hope I make "rifleman" and not "cook" at one of the Appleseed events!