I've been in contact with my bowhunting buddy, and he mentioned that he hunts winter rabbits with a .22 caliber air rifle--with great success. I've been thinking that might be a good option to scratch my hunting itch since sitting in a tree stand with my bow is time consuming and I never really know what my schedule will look like come deer season. Rabbit hunting is faster paced and a lot less gear-intensive.
In any case, I went looking for a pneumatic air rifle to replace my Gamo Shadow 1000 piston rifle. Piston rifles are the cheapest way to get huge velocity. The trade off is that they're rough to shoot, loud, and the piston vibration eats scopes alive. My Shadow has even beaten its own iron sights to death. The trigger sucks too. Pneumatic rifles typically have no recoil impulse, and decent triggers. The highest order of pneumatics are "pre-charged pneumatics" or "PCP" rifles. They're about as expensive as a good .22LR, but you can shoot one in your basement with only a basic pellet trap. And pneumatics are typically very quiet, so you could take several rabbits or squirrels in one area without raising much alarm. Being pre-charged, the PCP can be fired several times between getting pumped up with a manual pump or with a bottle of compressed air. This makes it function more like a firearm, and pretty appealing to me.
Here's a video of a modern PCP from Benjamin (I'm very interested in this particular model):
While 22LR stocks are increasing online, and trickling into stores, supplies of airgun ammunition never really went away. Even top-shelf brands are not particularly expensive. I ordered 2000 rounds of various match pistol pellets from MidwayUSA for about $30 shipped. Sometimes the big box gun stores around me even have interesting varieties of ammunition.
Ammunition perks aside, the higher-end airguns can hunt small game, and are terrific for punching paper. The best part is that I can take my airguns to my friends' and family's homes in the country and shoot (even teach the kiddos to shoot!) without alarming nearby livestock, and without a large berm or backstop. While you still need a backstop or trap of some kind, making or finding one out in the wild isn't very hard. Airguns are worth looking at as an addition to your training tools, and there's one out there for every budget.
While we're on the subject of airguns, and specifically PCP rifles, below is a fascinating video that is worth eight minutes of your time. The PCP concept has been around since shortly before the Lewis and Clark expedition. All things old are new again, it would seem