|My Daisy Model 99, as it looks today.|
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.|
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...