Rifle Practice using a Pellet Gun

The Odin Mountain compound has about four acres in town, with a variety of forest, swamp, stream, and open land which is conducive to training.

However, being so close to civilization means I cannot discharge “traditional” firearms due to the possibility of ricochets flying off into residential areas. Also the noise produced by the discharge of even a .22lr round may be frowned upon by neighbors.

I’ve developed a safe way to practice rifle skills in an as real-world way as possible in the convenience of my backyard while actually putting lead down range. My efforts have been paying off.

Standing position
Standing position

Having acquired an excellent air rifle that fires .22 caliber pellets, on a weekly basis I simply go out into the backyard to practice close quarters rifle fire skills awhile receiving an excellent physical workout in the process.

The air pellet rifle I have is a single shot Diana Air King Model 54 that is charged by use of a cocking lever. On my scale this pellet rifle has a weight of 4746 grams or almost 10-1/2 pounds.

This pellet rifle is significantly heavier than Gungnir the stainless steel Sako Kodiak .375 H&H magnum bolt action rifle that I usually carry while scouting in the forest and mountains. On my scale, with shoulder strap and 5 rounds of 300-grain soft points, the rifle weighs in at just 4060 grams or 9-pounds total.

That 15% weight difference between the pellet rifle and .375 rifle has actually become an important part of my training. More on that later.

Firearm Length inches Weight Pounds
.22 Pellet 43.5 10.5
.375 H&H Magnum 42 9

The pellet gun being heavier, there is also about a two inch difference in the length of the rifles. The Diana Air King pellet rifle being a bit longer at 43-1/2 inches as compared to the Sako Kodiak at 42 inches. The pellet rifle is also significantly bulkier and wider than the Sako.

Again, the pellet gun being bulkier and less agile to use has also become an important part of my training. More on that later too.

The pellet rifle is not a toy. It sends a 14 to 16 grain .22 (5.5mm) lead pellet down range at about 900 feet per second. This makes it an excellent firearm for the taking of rabbits, woodchucks, and squirrels. I have heard tell of coyote and whitetail deer being downed using just such a .22 air rifle, and believe it to be true.

Kneeling Position
Kneeling Position

The pellet rifle is also quite silent, lead flying through the air at 900 feet per second is under the speed of sound which is about 1100 feet per second. This means there is no loud “crack” and neighbors remain happy.

With a backstop of an old cement slab that used to house an ice making factory, and hundreds of yards of surrounding thick forest, there is virtually no chance of an errant pellet traveling more than a few yards beyond the target.

An important consideration for many people is the expense of training ammunition. Fortunately for us, pellet ammunition is very inexpensive. Whilst a .22lr round (if you can find them as they are being hoarded by many people at the time of this writing) will cost about 5 to 7 cents per round, and .375 H&H magnums about $2 per round, .22 pellets can be had for just 1 to 1-1/2 cents each.

Using the significantly heavier and more ungainly pellet rifle for training has an unexpected advantage: when I switch back to the finely engineered Sako .375 H&H the contrast is immediately felt. The .375 feels light and maneuverable.

Baseball players use a similar training method when they practice their batting swings with a weight on their bat. When the weight is removed their performance using the bat is improved. By using a heavier and bulkier rifle in training my use of the lighter rifle is much improved too.

Prone Position
Prone Position

A somewhat grueling exercise I created is what I have come to call “Ten Three’s”. This is how it goes:

Because the Diana Air King pellet rifle is a single shot it must be cocked with the leaver and re-loaded with a pellet for each use in the following sequence:

  1. Reload the pellet rifle, stand and fire the first pellet at the target.
  2. Reload the pellet rifle, squat or drop to one knee and fire the second pellet at the target.
  3. Reload the pellet rifle, drop to a prone position and fire the third pellet at the target.

Then I start again by firing while standing erect…repeating steps one, two, and three time after time.

I do ten sets of three for a total of thirty shots as quickly as possible into a target set 25-yards or 40-yards away. This is a similar distance often encountered in the jungle-like mountains of the Great North Woods where sight distances are often very limited.

Diana Air King Model 54
Diana Air King Model 54 .22 air rifle after a couple dozen shots using my “Ten Three’s” exercise routine.

To more closely replicate actual scout conditions where I would be carrying my .375 H&H magnum rifle, I wear my battle belt with the usual load I carry, right down the full magazines.

The items carried on the belt of my pants plus my battle belt typically weigh about 21-1/2 pounds including basic survival gear and twenty-eight rounds in seven 4-round magazines.

Cycling through thirty shots, each of which requires cocking the strong spring of the pellet rifle cocking handle, setting a pellet in the cup, and aiming the shot with heavy rifle in my new position is a workout to be sure.

In addition there is the physical exertion required to drop to knee level, then lay flat on the ground, then rise back up to a full standing position. Between each move I then must re-orient to the target after reloading the rifle.

So there you have it – the pellet rifle, a way to live fire train where “real” firearms are not an option.

Today’s Odin Mountain Links

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