A brief history of the American Vintage Airguns forum
The American Vintage Airguns forum was founded on the (now defunct) Network 54 platform of free internet forums by Dave Barchent on April 30th 2005.
By then the idea of like-minded airgun enthusiasts coalescing around a forum was well established and in a matter of months it took off. Dave’s affability and enthusiasm – he was given his first airgun in 1957, aged 10 – created just the right ambiance.
Within the first month, familiar airgun names like CharlieDaTuna, Leonard Joe and Theodore Summers were regular contributors, and soon they were joined by such vintage enthusiasts as (in no particular order) Don Raitzer, Gaines Blackwell, Frank Korn, Jim Edmondson, Doug Law, Vlad Berchansky, John Ulrich, Tom Strayhorn, Dean Fletcher, Larry Durham, Arnold Smith, Jose Manuel, Trevor Adams, Marcelo Zapatero, Mike Driskill, and Jon Jenkins.
These members, and many others, posted often and their frequent presence suggested the forum received at least a daily visit from most. Dave’s kindly stewardship fostered a gentlemanly atmosphere that was hard to beat for airgun collectors around the world, who flocked to the forum.
At its peak of growth virtually every post was met with multiple replies. As Dave said on the forum’s third anniversary in 2008: “It is all of you who make this place what it is… I’ll keep furnishing the paper if you supply the pencils.”
When I joined in late 2006, there were three venues under the AVA banner, Talk Straight and Down Range, as well as the AVA proper. Dave soon closed down the first two and integrated them into a single AVA forum.
He also added a Dark Side forum, for PCP airguns, a Pellet and Target Collector forum, and one for Toys That Shoot. You can see archives of several AVA forums here.
Fast forward to 2018 and the AVA has migrated to the Tapatalk platform after it bought up Network 54. Hopefully many of the loyal original posters will migrate along with it, and a new generation will follow in their footsteps.
When it migrated, the AVA had about 8,000 threads and over 51,000 posts. They are preserved for posterity here.
Before the migration I captured screen shots of some pages at random, most of them from the first few years of the AVA (in more or less descending date order):