By Karen Rice
If you’ve ever seen the holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” you probably know all about little Ralphie Parker and the Red Ryder carbine-action air rifle he wanted for Christmas. Ralphie was discouraged by his parents, his teacher and even Santa Claus, who all told him “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.” What you might not know is that there is a museum in downtown Rogers, Arkansas that traces the history of the Red Ryder air gun and more. It’s the Daisy Airgun Museum, and whether you like history, old toys or anything related to guns, you’ll love this place. The museum pays tribute to of one of the most popular toys of all time, and features antique guns dating as far back as the 1600s.
The Daisy Airgun Museum has been in Rogers since 1958, but their history goes back more than 130 years! Who knew air guns had been around that long? The museum takes you on a trip through time with a cool collection of antique air guns, advertising, photos, displays, toys and collectibles!
You can take a self-led tour of the place, and learn about each display using a booklet, an electronic wand, or by scanning the QR codes on the displays with a cellphone. Travel back in time and learn the great story of Daisy. You’ll discover how inventor Clarence Hamilton asked a windmill manufacturer, the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company, to help him produce his new invention: a metal air gun. And where the gun’s name came from: when a board member saw that first little gun, he exclaimed “Boy, that’s a Daisy!” By 1895, the Daisy had become so popular that the company began manufacturing air guns instead of windmills. They became the Daisy Manufacturing Company.
You’ll learn about the history of air guns, including the fact that Lewis and Clark travelled with an air rifle. Also, that Daisy stopped producing BB guns during World War II, but made over two billion BBs that were used to train soldiers.
And of course, there is an entire display dedicated to “A Christmas Story,” which includes the famous leg lamp.
You’ll have fun looking at the other toys made by Daisy, including the Buck Rogers Disintegrator, squirt guns, cork guns and more.
At the end of the tour, stop in the museum’s gift shop and find equipment, targets, postcards, collector’s medallions and other fun keepsakes. They also sell very limited collector’s edition products. You can even fill a commemorative tin with BBs from a barrel.