By the end of the competition, thousands of BBs have been sent downrange, and hundreds of thousands more were shot before the kids ever arrived in Rogers, each a seed that helped make that growth possible.
Behold the BB. It is a simple bit of metal, formed into one of nature’s most basic shapes. There isn’t much to one. BBs measure .17 inch from side to side, weigh 5.1 grains, and can be purchased by the thousands for a few bucks.
Steel BBs start as a piece of wire that is cut into small pellets that are then squeezed into a rough sphere by a press. At this point, each BB has a ring of raised metal around its circumference where the two halves of the press meet. These imperfect globes are dumped into a tub with a scouring media, where they are churned and tumbled until they are uniformly round and smooth. As a final step, to protect against corrosion, they are coated in zinc.
You can be forgiven if you’ve never devoted much thought to BBs and how they are made. Not many people have. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of these little balls.
With few exceptions, the first time any person hoists a gun, it’s a BB gun. Whether he or she continues as a casual plinker, goes on to compete as a shooter in the Olympics, joins the military, makes hunting their life’s focus, or never picks up a firearm again, that person’s first—and perhaps only—exposure to guns started with BBs. They are the seeds from which the next generation of hunters and shooters is grown.