It's over a month since, but my efforts to introduce non-shooters to the sport of airgunning as part of May's National Shooting Week have, actually, paid off! Last week, my teenage son asked "Dad, can I go shooting at the weekend?"
So, under complete and constant shooting supervision - besides not being 14 yet and therefore not legally allowed to shoot unsupervised, this was also his first outing with an airgun - he enjoyed a 'by choice' plinking session at the farm. Okay, it didn't last much more than 40 mins before he wanted to do 'something else', but the seed may well have been sown. We've even gone since - again at his request - and I suspect there will be many more outings ahead.
Even if he's not as keen as I was in my teenage years, the likelihood of him 'returning' to airgunning when he's in his twenties or thirties is now much higher - and, albeit in a small way, this is another positive step in securing the future of our sport. It's so important that today's airgunning 'Dads' encourage their kids to follow suit and at least 'try' shooting. It ain't easy competing with the PS3, but as my son said: "This is actually a lot better than shooting stuff on Call of Duty."
We did some target stuff, but he got most enjoyment from spinning tinnies. So did I - but I got the most pleasure just from teaching him the rudiments of safe shooting and watching his reaction at each well-delivered strike. (He was actually much better than I was when I first started shooting.)
And the gun? Well, a truly fanstastic 'starter' model from Sportsmarketing - their all-new SYNTARG, price £99.95.
It comes with a synthetic stock that's rugged enough to withstand any teenager's rough 'n' tough handling. It's been skeletonised to keep weight down, and the 'shark fin' butt really looks the business - no matter what age eyes you're seeing it through!
Its break-barrel action is mid-powered and easy enough to break open and cock - and the trigger, though non-adjustable, breaks consistently. It's not too light to be dangerous in the hands of a novice, but not so stiff as to be a hindrance. The gun's dimensions are perfect for a teenager, and though the finger reach to the trigger appears to be a bit long, it's fine once the blade has been pulled into its pre-slip position.
Along with an auto-safety, it comes with fully-adjustable open sights that incorporate fibre-optic elements to make aiming fun as well as easy. There are two green dots on the rear leaf which you line up either side of the red, foresight 'bead'.
The SYNTARG's receiver has also been grooved to take a telly - and I put on one of SMK's 4 x 28 models (£24.95, incl. mounts) which kept the weight down. Four-times mag is perfect for a rookie shooter and this scope has the added advantage of a longer-than-average eye-relief. There will be no cut eyebrows with this optic!
What's more, the receiver has an arrestor plate fitted. If you bolt the rear mount tight up against this, the scope won't creep. Guns that lose zero quickly are the perfect recipe for making a newbie shooter lose interest, so this is a real bonus feature on the SMK.