One of the hits at the NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta was the Pyramid Air gun range. It was set up in one of the meeting rooms not far from the NRA exhibit hall. While I was there, empty spaces on the firing line were filled immediately. There were 10 stations on line and roughly twice as many air guns available as there were shooting stations on line.
There were young, old, male, female, all sorts of shooters on the line. They seemed to exhibit the same expressions: Intense concentration followed by big grins.
A wide variety of air guns were available, from high dollar target guns, to imitation historical guns such as the Mauser 98 and the Colt Single Action.
The targets were reaction targets, spinners, knock overs, items that did not need to have anyone go down range to reset them.
Every shooter had an NRA volunteer/safety officer to coach them and monitor their performance on the line. The level of coach expertise was substantial.
Air guns saw an immense increase in interest during the past four years. The .22 rimfire bubble drove up rimfire ammunition prices while reducing ammunition availability for many shooters. Large numbers of shooters discovered the advantages of modern air rifles. They are cheap to shoot, quiet, and can be fired nearly anywhere. Good quality air rifles are more than adequate for most small game hunting.
Many shooters understood this over the years. But when the cost of a decent air rifle was equivalent to 10,000 rounds of on sale .22 Long Rifle cartridges, the advantages could be outweighed byt convenience and utility of cartridge arms.
The .22 bubble changed that. When a decent air rifle costs as little as 2,000 rounds of .22 Long Rifle cartridges, the equation has shifted toward the air guns. I have corresponded with many who became air gun shooters because of the difficulty in finding .22 ammunition at a reasonable price.
It makes sense to have a range at the NRA Annual Meeting where people can shoot at targets with real projectiles. It is simply more difficult to make it happen with firearms.
Air guns are a great way to introduce someone to the shooting sports. Air guns are not covered by the national restrictions on firearms. They can usually be ordered on line and shipped to your door.
Advances in air gun technology are rapidly appearing in the marketplace. High power airguns are being used to hunt big game. Functional repeaters are diminishing the advantage of cartridge guns.
Pyramid air deserves credit for providing the service and air gun range free of charge.