Just about every kid my age, AND the kid on A Christmas Story, wanted a BB gun for Christmas. My Dad had higher aspirations for me. Where I would have been completely happy with a Daisy Red Rider bb gun, it was my 7 or 8 year old Christmas I got a Benjamin Pump 392 22 caliber pellet gun.
You would pump the fore stock about 10 times, open the bolt, place the pellet in the breach, close the bolt, click on the safety and line up your sight. It was a good gun for a kid because it had little kick, made little noise, but still gave you the feel of a powder gun. Because the loading process took some time, you had to make your shot count. It was accurate up to 30 yards with almost the same penetration as a powder 22. I still have mine, and have fun with it in the back yard shooting cans. Because it is an air rifle, it makes very little noise and I can get some target practice in without angering the neighbors.
There were several other models similar to the Benjamin 392, and even some pistols. David “The Marine” let me try his Smith and Wesson Air Soft pistol. It looks and feels just like a 9mm M&P, but is powered by a CO2 cartridge shooting plastic BBs out of the magazine in the handle. You can actually shoot it indoors safely, but I would be careful with that. The plastic BBs can bounce around. It is really good for drawing and shooting practice or if you are trying to teach a nervous student about guns.