And it may have raise its flag once again on the ramparts of human freedom
The most widespread use of compressed air guns during the 15th century was for hunting. As high cost
weapons, it was the nobility who used them most frequently. They were highly effective weapons, capable of taking down large targets such as wild boar and deer in a single shot.
Some might think that the rate of fire for an air gun is far too slow. But to the contrary, the air guns of the 18th century AD, such as the famous Girandoni rifle, could shoot up to twenty shots a minute.
The latter has been considered by some specialists in the subject as the first PCP or pre-compressed air rifle in history. It was invented by the Italian gunsmith Girandoni Bartolomeo in 1780 for the Austrian army, in the context of the Napoleonic wars between France and Austria. The name for this Austrian model in German was Windbüchse, in other words, wind rifle. As mentioned above, it was a 51 calibre rifle capable of firing up to 20 bullets a minute. The speed of this rifle was a great novelty at the time, especially when compared to the firearms used by the Napoleonic army which could only manage to shoot up to three bullets a minute. In addition these rifles were much less precise than the Girandoni air rifle. The weapon was so effective that Napoleon went so far as to give an order to execute any enemy soldier who possessed a compressed air rifle.
One of the most famous compressed air rifles in history was found in the American continent. It was the rifle used by Lewis and Clark in an expedition to the Pacific through the lands of the west during the years from 1803 to 1806. As indicated by recent research performed, this was a 31 calibre pneumatic rifle manufactured in Philadelphia. This rifle, which was used by Captain Lewis for hunting, fascinated the Indian tribes, who named the weapon the smokeless bolt of thunder.
Despite the fact that all compressed air rifles were removed from the battle stage, their use did continue
especially for hunting and sporting activities. This was the case in England, where in the decade of 1890 the compressed air rifle was used in target shooting activities. This was an activity which gradually gained popularity, to such an extent that a National Air Rifle Association was set up, which came to house more than 4000 air rifle clubs and associations all over Great Britain.