Arkville-produced American Airgunner" hits bull's-eye with cable TV audience
By Brian Sweeney
A new cable TV show with a steadily growing audience is being filmed near Arkville.
American Airgunner premiered on the Sportsman Channel last July. The show is designed to re-introduce the world of airguns and the airgun lifestyle to millions of hunters, target shooters and airgun enthusiasts throughout the USA.
Executive Producers Patrick Wilkinson and Paul Capello came up with the show’s concept and film episodes on property outside Arkville owned by Paul’s brother.
American Airgunner is all about airguns — from the BB guns all the way up to the .50 caliber “Big Bore” hunting rifles used for hunting game as large as bison.
In addition to being geared toward airgun enthusiasts, the program addresses topics of interest to hunters, as well as conventional center-fire or rim-fire shooters.
American Airgunner is presented in a magazine-style format. Paul hosts the show along with co-host Crystal Ackley, a graduate of Ithaca College who majored in TV broadcast.
When Patrick met Crystal, she was still in her senior year of college.
“We invited her out and she debuted in the show before she graduated. She is now with us for the full season,” he explained.
Paul noted that Crystal was a shooting novice at the time she was hired, but is now a marksman.
Informative and entertaining
The program focuses on a wide range of topics. Among the subjects covered are: the care and maintenance of airguns, how the airgun industry is involved in a wide array of youth programs, small and large game hunting and target shooting.
“With airguns being deeply rooted in both the hunting and target-shooting communities, there is tremendous potential to attract crossover viewers who are interested in how the airgun industry has grown,” Patrick explained in regards to the show’s developing popularity.
The show is designed as a high-energy, informative and entertaining look at the interactive world of airguns.
Patrick pointed out that American Airgunner also explores the history of airguns, safety and product reviews.
“Since airguns were designed to be fun, we demonstrate how to safely hold airgun shooting parties and we take a look at how target shooting has evolved to an Olympic sport,” Patrick explained. “We even show how hunting with air rifles has progressed to include big game like deer, wild boar, wild ram and even buffalo.”
The program had its origins about a year-and-a-half ago when Paul was visiting his brother’s home near Arkville and found an old BB gun. This rifle rekindled Paul’s childhood memories and he enjoyed using it so much that he soon purchased several airguns. He ultimately posted candid reviews of these guns on YouTube. A representative of Pyramid Air Gun Mall saw the videos and asked if Paul would be interested in performing additional reviews. Thus was born Paul Capello’s Airgun Reporter.
Paul’s postings began to attract a following and it didn’t take long for the TV program idea to begin taking shape. Paul’s brother’s property, which included 80 acres, seemed like a natural place to film a show on airgunning. Once the basics were worked out, the TV program concept rapidly gained momentum.
Paul brought his associates Patrick Wilkinson and director William Lappe into the picture and they set about making TV show trailer that included an appearance by Heather Parcells of “Little Mermaid” fame on Broadway. They showcased the trailer at a trade show in January 2009.
In the span of about three months, Paul and Pat had worked up an outline for the show and secured sponsorships. By June, the first show appeared on the Sportsman Channel.
The first season of American Airgunner included 10 episodes. The renewal for 2010 is for 26 shows. Each episode airs four times per week: Mondays at 5:30 p.m., Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. and Fridays at midnight.
Because all of the filming and office work are done in Arkville, the business also contributes to the region’s economy.
As Pat pointed out, “We are doing all of our business locally and we hire local folks to help.”
The five-member American Airgunner staff is also working cooperatively with area groups concerned with gun safety. Patrick said his crew is assisting the Phoenicia Fish and Game Club that is facing loss of its 4-H charter due to low membership.
This type of effort to spread the word about the possibilities presented by airgun sports is the goal of American Airgunner.
“Airgunning gives youths an alternative to other sports,” Patrick explained. “They don’t realize they can be competitive and have excitement from airgun sports. Our show teaches safety, awareness, ethics and the excitement of getting outdoors and being in nature.”
He pointed out that more than eight million youths participate in airgunning via organizations such as 4-H, Boy Scouting and American Legion youth programs.
To learn more about the program, visit: www.americanair gunner.com