My Discovery .22, takes me back to my youth, when I was growing up in the forests of Western Washington in the mid fifties. It was about 1955/56 when I was 13/14, that I was given a used and abused Benjamin, .22 cal pump pellet rifle.
I remember that it had what is called a "tootsie roll" pump handle. The gun didn't work, and didn't have a front sight. My stepdad was a machinist by trade, and agreed to give me a hand to see if we could get the gun working. He took the pump arm assembly apart, and it was obvious that the leather seals were shot. He made new ones out of the leather from an old work boot that was laying around the basement. He soaked them in oil over night, and the next day reassembled the gun.
He handed it to me and says, "give her four or five pumps, and let's see what happens." I did, and I could tell by the resistance, that she was pumping and holding air. Next he says, "point it at the woodpile and pull the trigger." When I did, we both about peed our pants. We were down in our small basement, and man that was loud. It caught us both by surprise.
Talk about fond memories. Writing this, reminded me of the emotion I felt when the gun fired, and I think I just smiled a smile, almost as big as the one I made back all of those decades ago. At the time, to say that I was beside myself with excitement, would have been a huge understatement. I was jumping around and spinning like an out of control pogo stick.
The next thing my stepdad said was, "let's get a front sight on this thing." The barrel was made of brass, and pretty much all of the black paint that had once been applied to it was gone. At the time, I had a Daisy Red Ryder "BB" gun. He says to me, "if you can find one, bring me a copper plated "BB." That was not a problem, I had lots of them.
Next up he got out this huge soldering iron, and heated it up. I watched in awe, as he cleaned the end of the barrel. Using a couple thin pieces of wood that he handed me, I held the "BB" in place as he soldered it to the end of the barrel. When the solder cooled, I had me a bead front sight. The only problem was, it wasn't top dead center. I didn't care, I couldn't wait to shoot the rifle, and the off center "BB" front sight would work just fine.
With that taken care of, I was off for a quick bicycle trip to our friendly neighborhood Western Auto Store. That was as close as we got to a real gun shop in my little corner of the world. The important thing was, they carried .22 caliber Benjamin brand pellets.
I think I must have set a new land speed record getting those pellets home on my bike. I dumped it on its side next to the house, and was in the basement before the wheels had stopped turning.
Now for the moment of truth. The gun had this neat little bolt action that inserted the pellet into the breach of the barrel. I dropped a pellet into the receiver, closed the bolt, pumped her five times, and pointing the muzzle at the end of an old piece of cedar log that was in the basement, pulled the trigger.
I don't remember the shot being all that loud, but what I do remember, like it was yesterday, was the hole that appeared in the end of that piece of cedar, and not only that, but I couldn't even see the end of the pellet. Do the same thing with my "BB" gun, and the "BB" would be sitting right there in the end of the wood. I could even dig it out if I wanted to, and sometimes did, depending on how the "BB" budget was looking.
Oh man, I knew that I had just entered a whole new realm of hunting and shooting capability. Compared to my Daisy, this thing had POWER to spare. The next thing that I discovered was, it had a rifled barrel, and accuracy like I had never seen in my young life. Next to my bicycle, that gun became my most prized possession in the whole world.
I'll cut to the chase here, and just say that some of my fondest memories of growing up during those years, were the fantastic days I spent afield hunting with that little pellet rifle. We lived on the poor side of the tracks, and having enough money for much of anything was always a challenge. I fished a lot, and the catfish, bluegills, and trout I caught were always welcome table fare, but what I was proudest of, were the critters that I harvested for our table while hunting with my hand me down Benjamin pellet rifle. My folks thought I was Daniel Boone, and so did I. LOL.
It didn't take me long to learn where to hold, using that crooked front sight, to hit what I was aiming at. I also learned a lot about hold over and kentucky windage.
Hunting tree squirrels, quail, and bullfrogs was the norm. The bull frogs were the size of a pie pan. They were huge, and the legs were awesome eating. You don't even hear about folks eating frogs legs these days. Except for maybe in a high dollar French Restaurant.
Anyway, that little Benjamin rifle taught me a lot about a lot of different things. Especially how to start shooting well. The things that I learned about myself, and the out-of-doors, as well as the field craft that I learned while hunting with that little gun have served me a lifetime, and to this day, are priceless.
When I heard that Crosman was coming out with the Benjamin Discovery PCP rifle, I knew I was going to have to get one, if for no other reason than the connection it would give me to my youth. The Disco isn't a self contained pumper, like my original Benjamin was, but it can be pump filled with the external hand pump that is available for it. I fill mine from a high pressure tank.
Like my original Benji pump, the Disco is a single shot, with a neat little bolt action, and I like that. It's a compact rifle, light and powerful, and I like that too. There is just something about this little gun that makes me feel like I'm 13 or 14 again, and that's a really fun thing to experience all of these decades later.
I had her out into the local forest, on a ground squirrel hunt a couple of times last week, and I felt like I had gone back in time to 1955. A 69 year old 14 year old, just slipping through the woods alone, with an amazing little rifle in my hands, aware of how complicated many things in life have become, over the past decades, yet also knowing, that when I've got my trusty little Benjamin pellet rifle along on a hunt, nothing much has changed at all. At least for those few hours.
All things considered, Benjamin makes a very inexpensive time machine. I highly recommend it to those of you who might relate.
Ground squirrel taken with my Benjamin pellet rifle/time machine, while traveling back in time for a few hours last week.
Thanks to my Benjamin pellet rifle, Daniel Boone is alive and well. Life is good.