A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.





Monday, June 27, 2011

My Awesome Daisy BB Gun


My Daisy Model 99, as it looks today.
 No, it was not the much ballyhooed Red Ryder.  In the mid-'60's, I had never even heard of The Red Ryder.  But my best friend, Randy Bottoms, had a BB gun, and I decided that a BB gun would be my request for Christmas that year.  So, Mama found one in the Sears catalogue and ordered it for me, and didn't let me know which one I was getting, so that Christmas morning I opened the box to find my beautiful Daisy Model 99 Target Rifle. 

And it was a thing of beauty.  The Model 99 had a wooden stock and looked like a .22.  It had a green canvas shoulder strap, which was useful for both carrying the rifle around as well as steadying your arm when you fired.  And instead of the dinky little "v" and notch type sights on a regular BB gun, my Model 99 had two round cylinders that  you sighted through, for improved accuracy. 

There was only one thing about my rifle that I didn't like.  When Randy wanted to reload his BB gun, he just twisted the end of the barrel and poured the BB's directly into a little hole.  But my Model 99 required you to untwist the end of the barrel and pull out a spring-loaded rod.  You then had to pull the spring back (and it would often snap back into position while you were loading, which didn't feel to good on your finger) and carefully, ONE BY ONE, drop 50 BB's into a microscopic hole in the loading rod.  Then, when you had the rod loaded, you would twist it back into the barrel and you were ready to go, at least for 50 more shots.


This advertising flyer came with my BB gun.
 It was a lot of trouble to load, but boy did it pay off in accuracy.  That Model 99 was the most accurate BB gun I ever saw.  If you lined up the sights correctly, you just couldn't miss.  Now, I was not a great hunter.  In fact, I was too tenderhearted to shoot at birds.  (Maybe it was the episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Opie accidentally killed a mother bird and had to raise the babies himself).  But tin cans, paper plates, and the side of our "smokehouse" were regular targets for me.  I remember going outside with my BB gun when I first got it, and staying out until I was almost frozen shooting at homemade targets. 

In the summer, I found a new target.  The cicadas, or "locusts" as we called them, were very numerous that summer.  If  you're not familiar, cicadas are about two inches long, and spend their days hanging out in trees making a loud, rhythmic buzzing sound that is one of the hallmarks of summer.  I found that I was able to successfully compartmentalize my tenderheartedness when it came to cicadas.  When I heard one in a tree, I would carefully approach the noisemaker (you had to use a little stealth; if you got too eager the rascal would fly away) and when I established visual contact, carefully draw a bead.  Then, with one shot, the cicada would tumble out of the tree, his song interrupted with a final, tragic, off-key and definitely nonrhythmic buzz.  We had a little kitten at the time who would follow me around and quickly dispatch the dying cicadas.  One morning I found that little kitten dead; I hope it was not from BB poisoning.  But, back to my bragging.  My proficiency increased that summer to the point that, if only the head of the cicada was visible from behind a branch, I could still take him out with one shot.  But giving credit where credit is due, my Model 99 Target Rifle was an extremely accurate BB gun.

(Interesting side note:  I happened to hear an interview on the radio with the guy in charge of the Daisy Factory in Rogers, Arkansas.  He said that BB's are made from wire, which is cut into pieces the precise length of a BB, and then the ends are compressed to form the round shape.  However, the BB's are not completely round, because the center is somewhat cylindrical.  They are then ran through a sieve, and any that do not go through are discarded, because they would not fit through a BB gun's barrel.  Also, many people think the term "BB" is short for ball bearing, but in order to be considered ball bearings, BB's would have to be perfectly round, which they are not.  "BB" is actually the name of a shot size.)  This blog now qualifies for two hours of professional development credit.

Over the years, my BB gun saw less and less action, until it ended up being stored in a closet and never used.  But I came across it one day, and went out and purchased some BB's.  Much to my surprise, they no longer came in the little plastic pouches that I used to buy, but instead were only available in cardboard tubes.  Sadly, when I loaded my Model 99 and fired it, the BB sailed feebly about 10 feet and sputtered into the dirt.  My trusty Model 99 had lost it's punch.

But my brother Phil, who lives in Northwest Arkansas, told me he would take it to the Daisy BB Gun Factory in Rogers and have it restored.  When I got it back, it was just like new. 

But I have now declared peace with the cicadas.  After all, anybody that spends seven  years living in the ground deserves a chance to spend a summer in the fresh air, singing your heart out, even if your song sounds like the sound we used to make with tissue paper and a comb.  Now, if I keep seeing those darn Japanese Beetles, that may be a different story...

13 comments:

  1. "This blog now qualifies for two hours of professional development credit."

    Is that as a gunfighter?

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  2. Man, I loved BB guns when I was a kid. I never had one of my own, but every chance I had to use somebody else's gun, I did. And enjoyed heck out of it, too. I've always wondered what sort of a shot I might be with a real rifle. I was deadly with a BB gun, always hitting dead center on anything I aimed at. Of course, a real rifle has a kick and all, so...

    Anyway, very enjoyable story, and you transported me back to some happy times.

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  3. I'm so glad I got my 2 hours of PD in-Thanks! lol!

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  4. AnonymousJune 11, 2012

    i have a model 99 daisy bb gun which looks just like yours ecxept there is a coin on the side that says official shooting education b-b gun by daisy, would you have any idea on how much its worth ?

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    Replies
    1. that is an earlier model i believe. i have one too

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    2. its probably worth 60$ in average condition

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  5. AnonymousJuly 03, 2012

    I grew up with a model 99. It was (sparing the long story) my best friend. I practiced with it for untold hours and am today (now in my 50's...a "crack shot" and I owe it to my very accurate model 99. I do have a question. I have as issue with the trigger sear and the gun will not cock. Does anyone know where I can find an exploded diagram of the trigger module for the hallowed "99"?

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    Replies
    1. Try Daisy Customer Service
      The should be able to email you an exploded view on a .pdf file.

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  6. You have a great story with your BB gun, Bill! I would love to hear more stories after you've restored it. That would be a nice story to talk about. Well, it's been almost a year since then, I assume you've shot many Japanese Beetles by now. :D

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  7. My grandmother bought both my brother and myself a model 99 in 1966 I believe. His looks alot like the one you have with the green strap and dark wood. Mine has light wood stocks with a leather strap. One time I shot him in the butt while he was taking a crap in the woods, great memories. Oh by the way we both still have these and enjoy them today.
    Tarey & Tim

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  8. A new open Facebook group for vintage Daisy BB & Toay Guns.
    https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/203175803165635/

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  9. The Winchester 990004-402 best hunting air rifle is similar to other semi auto pneumatic firearms, except that it features a smooth barrel for additional power.

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