I spent a little while tinkering with a great air rifle this afternoon. My father gave me this fantastic .20 caliber Sheridan air rifle which, going by serial number, was made at the Sheridan factory in Racine, Wisconsin in 1981. The quality of this air rifle is paramount. In my humble biased opinion, its clean lines, solid feel, smooth operation and classic look, simply cannot be beat. I can't vouch for the quality in today's Benjamin-Sheridan rifles as I see, in stores, that they are made with plastic pieces. I can, however, vouch for the quality of this particular rifle. It's all-metal construction (brass barrel, front site & air chamber, steel bolt, trigger and trigger guard) and a nicely stained wooden stock and forearm set it apart from most mass produced air guns of today. Perhaps its form is only exceeded by its function. I consistently grouped shots in the bull from a distance of 20 yards. It's a powerful rifle and there are at least two comical family stories involving the death of one woodchuck, and one “Corner Market Kitty” who met their makers at the hands of this rifle and my father's careful aim.
Over a cup of coffee I removed the Williams peep sight and installed a nice Beeman 1.5 X15 scope, also given to me by my father. I then took it outside and zeroed it which was a lot of fun. My frist couple of groups were consistently high and to the right. A quarter turn of the elevation adjustment screw brought it down and I was able to consistently group to the right of the bull. A quarter turn in, on the windage adjustment screw had me hitting dead center with regularity. It has been a long time since I've shot through a scope and I had a great time with it. It's really nice to be able to sit in the back yard and punch holes in paper without fear of neighbors getting nervous. Living in the city for so long, has denied me this simple pleasure.
My father taught all of us kids to shoot airguns at a young age. I fondly recall shooting at soda cans on the wood pile when I was ten years old and it was always a thrill to sit at the edge of his bed polishing my bb gun while my father wiped down his Winchesters and told hunting stories by the soft light of his desk lamp. The fantastic smell of Hoppe's No. 9 would hang in the air as he'd pluck dirty patches of cut-up tee shirt from the end of his cleaning rod. Often he'd ask: Want to take a vacation? He'd then twist the lid off of a bottle of Old Woodsman bug repellent and wave it under my nose. Fishing for brook trout up at Bear Creek would instantly pop into mind. When we were old enough to go on hunting trips with him, he'd let us carry our Red Ryders, though they were treated just as equally deadly as a real firearm. His rules were simple: no loaded guns in the house, keep it pointed down range at all times, and no horsing around. Thanks Dad.