Even though there was scant mention of it during their expedition, are explorers Lewis and Clark the world’s first Airsoft gun enthusiasts?
By: Ringo Bones
Even though there’s scent – even no mention – of it whatsoever, it has been witnessed by many Native American tribes that they have met that Lewis and Clark carried an Airsoft type guns as their main weapon for hunting during their expeditions. A Kentucky Hunting Rifle handmade by European gunsmiths who settled in Pennsylvania was deemed not good enough for use by Lewis and Clark even though Kentucky Hunting Rifles were widely used as sniping rifles during the American Revolutionary War. Given that resupply is difficult and black powder is not water proof – and can even be hygroscopic especially if sodium nitrate is used as an oxidizer – it is quite easy to understand why Lewis and Clark chose a pneumatic Airsoft type gun as a main hunting weapon during their expeditions.
The Lewis and Clark expedition began in January 1803 when the then US President Thomas Jefferson, in a confidential message to the US Congress, recommended an appropriation to explore Western America. The expedition was an attempt to find a route to the Pacific Ocean and to open new areas for United States fur traders whose former areas had been occupied by Native Americans removed beyond the Mississippi. It was to ascend the Missouri River to its source, cross the Continental Divide and descend the Columbia River to its mouth. President Jefferson’s secretary, Meriwether Lewis and Capt. William Clark were appointed to lead the expedition, which was organized in the summer of 1803.
Starting from St. Louis back in May 14, 1804, they went up the Missouri River to the mouth of the Platte, reaching the present site of Bismark, which was near the camps of the Mandan Indians on November 2. There they wintered. Breaking camp in April 1805, they went to the mouth of the Yellowstone River, sighted the Rocky Mountains and discovered the three forks of the Missouri River, which they named Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin. Proceeding up the Jefferson fork, they crossed the Rocky Mountains in September and went down to the Columbia River, sighting the Pacific Ocean in November. After wintering on the coast, they started their return trip on March 23, 1806, arriving in St. Louis on September 23, 1806. The expedition increased the geographical knowledge of America and provided much needed descriptions of the Missouri and Columbia River valleys.
As witnessed by many Native American tribes that they’ve met and demonstrated the weapon to, Lewis and Clark used a pump action compressed air bb gun / pellet gun as their main weapon as they explore the then uncharted parts of America. The choice of an Airsoft type weapon makes sense given that resupply is difficult – even impossible – and black powder doesn’t work when wet. Demonstrating to every “friendly” Native American tribe that they’ve met, witnesses say that Lewis and Clark’s Airsoft bb gun had enough kinetic energy to bring down a good sized deer – comparable to that of a modern .30 caliber bolt action rifle?