One of the reasons I love shooting so much is the visible and tangible reward of seeing my shooting improve. Other outdoor pursuits such as boating, hiking and camping offer mental rewards, but you have nothing to show for it besides a smile afterward. If you’re itching to find a hobby that offers the same documentable achievement as shooting while you ration your ammo, why don’t you give archery, fishing or air guns a try? All three offer enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment similar to shooting and hunting.
Fishing is such a relaxing sport for me. Every time I fish, I sit on a dock and leisurely wait for fish to bite. It’s a perfect time to bond with family or friends or just let your mind wander. It doesn’t take much skill to be a recreational fisher, but it does take some basic equipment. Technically, you just need a rod, line, hook and bait, but fishing the old fashioned way my father did as a kid takes more work.
When I fish, I add a weight and lure. I skip the bobber, because I like to feel the line pull when I catch something. A lure is something you can add to the bottom of your line to attract fish. They are usually bright and shiny and designed to move with the water’s current.
Bait can be as simple as a piece of bread, hotdog or sandwhich meat or as complicated as store-bought minnows and worms.
Depending on your reasons for fishing, you can catch and release the fish or keep it to grill or have a fry-up at the end of the day.
Fishing does have state restrictions. To fish on public land, you must have a fishing license. To learn more about fishing, I like the website takemefishing.org.
I loved archery when I was younger. It requires concentration, coordination and practice to do it well. Even though there are proper techniques and correct form, archery is a sport virtually anyone can learn.
There are four types of bows:
Longbow—These traditional wooden bows that stand as long as you are tall are simple D-shaped constructed bows with a long draw weight. The draw weight is the amount of force or strength you need to pull back the string. A longbow does not have an arrow rest. The arrow is shot with the arrow resting on a shelf or the back of the hand.
Recurve bow—A recurve bow is made with the same simple construction as the longbow, however it is smaller and has curved tips that point away from you. Recurve bows are made from either wood, modern plastics or a combination of the two.
Compound bow—Compound bows use a pulley system of cams and cables. They are more accurate and faster than a longbow or recurve.
Crossbow—Crossbows have either a recurve or compound bow lying on top of what looks like a typical gunstock and holds back the bolt (string) mechanically. To release the bolt(string), you pull a trigger, much like on a firearm.
Bows are not like guns. They are not one size fits all. Bows, especially compound bows, should be fitted to each archer for their size and strength.
If you are more interested in a compound bow, the Genesis brand of compounds fit kids as well as adults and has an adjustable weight.
Archery can be practiced almost anywhere with the right target. Compound and recurve bows have no legal restrictions and can be used for hunting, competition and target shooting.
CTD Dave is our resident expert archer and has written many archery posts. To learn more, read the following:
- Predator Hunting: A Few Basics
- Bowfishing — Today for Fun, Tomorrow Perhaps Survival…
- Archery—The Ultimate Survival Skill
We all remember our first Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. We pumped it until it hurt, trying to shoot squirrels out of trees and focusing on not shooting our eye out. However, airguns aren’t just for kids. Air guns, particularly air rifles, make excellent target, hunting and competition rifles.
Airguns use compressed air to power the velocity behind the projectile. Pneumatic airguns use a pump-action to charge, much like the BB guns of our youth, spring-piston or break-action use a high-powered spring for power, CO2 uses CO2 gas for power and the new gas-piston systems works much like the spring-piston system. Typically, they come in a variety of calibers, starting with the smallest .177 to the .25. .177 and .22 are the most popular.
The easiest airgun to use and maintain is the spring-piston type. These types of air guns are best for beginner and young shooters. The most popular calibers are .177 for target shooting and .22 for hunting. However, a .177 pellet gun that reaches 1,000 fps or faster will take down pests and small game such as squirrels and rabbits.
If you are getting a child into shooting, an air rifle is the perfect beginner gun as all gun safety rules apply when shooting airguns, as well as all the fundamentals of technique.
Airguns are smokeless, generally quiet, safely shot in the backyard, garage or basement with the right pellet trap and backstop.
The cost to start air gunning, especially for the beginner, can be less than any firearm. Pellets and BBs are less than a penny a round! Nevertheless, once you get into the sport seriously, airguns can cost more than some firearms. To learn more, I highly recommend reading Tom Gaylord’s—the guru of airguns—blog, Airgun Academy.
To get started, I recommend the Daisy 840 Grizzly pneumatic pump air rifle in .177 caliber. It operates with one single stroke and uses BBs or pellets. Its maximum velocity is 350 fps, so it is for target, plinking or training only. Pair with round nose pellets and a pellet trap and for less than $100 and you have everything to get started in air gunning.
For hunting small game, you will need an air rifle that shoots 1,000 feet per second or faster. The RWS AirMagnum spring-piston .22 air rifle reaches a maximum of 1,200 fps and includes a 4×32 scope. Pair it with hunting-specific pellets, such as Beeman’s Crow Magnum 18.21-grain hollow point lead pellets and you will be taking down pests and varmints in no time.
The use and purchase of air guns are restricted in some states. Please check your local laws before buying, shooting and hunting with an airgun.
Have you taken up a new hobby during the ammo shortage? Tell us what it is in the comment section.
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