Added Another Shooter to the Fold


June 1, 2004, 06:50 AM
Saturday afternoon, my wife and I took her nine year-old daughter to the local outdoor range for her first shooting experience. I had been planning this trip for a month, trying to determine which .22 LR rifle and handgun I would bring and making sure I had eye and ear protection appropriate for a child. I ended up choosing one of my Marlin 39A's (the one with the smoothest action) and an S&W K-22 Masterpiece. Ammo was .22 LR Dynapoints, a nice standard velocity round (minimal recoil and noise). My wife found a pair of safety glasses, and I adjusted a pair of ear muffs to fit.

I also gave a fair amount of consideration to targets, especially after realizing that this range only allowed paper targets. I had hoped to be able to use reactive targets to make the shooting "interesting", but I ended up using a very large piece of paper as a target. The large size was to make sure she was able to hit the target. My only goal for this session was to teach her the safety rules and let her see that shooting can be fun and safe. More serious instruction could come later. The paper target was set at 25 yards, a decent distance for a first time shooter with a rifle.

After a period of safety instruction (including what not to do as shown by a young man with a stainless Beretta and his ND when the range was supposed to be "cold"; the reaction by the other shooters on the line might have been the best lesson my step-daughter could ever have received), an explanation of how the rifle loaded and functioned, and a few demonstration shots with the 39A by me, it was time for "The first shot". I had anticipated that recoil and noise would be an issue (the reason why I chose the 39A) and I was not surprised when the first shot missed the paper due to a flinch. However, the next two shots went right into the center of the target since she learned the rifle would not bite her. So I was happy. But there was an issue. The 7.5 pound rifle, which kept the recoil and noise to a minimum, was hard to hold for her, and she kept dropping the rifle from her shoulder to her chest. Since she was getting tired, I decided to suggest a break and she accepted.

During the break, my wife was shooting my S&W M41, and her daughter was quite intrigued. So I asked her if she wanted to try a handgun. The answer was "Yes, sir", so I broke out the K-22 and went over how it functioned. To minimize fatigue, I had her sit at the shooting bench. After ten minutes of work with an empty revolver, I realized she could not cock the hammer on her own without quite a bit of effort. We worked out a routine where she verified her trigger finger was clear of the trigger, I would cock the revolver, and she would aim and "shoot".

Soon it was time for her first shot with a handgun. I loaded the cylinder for her, handed her the revolver with the cylinder open, and allowed her to close the cylinder. After the ND she saw, she was very good at keeping the muzzle pointed down range, something which had concerned me during my planning for this range trip. But she was very intent and controlled the muzzle. She lined the sights up on the target, took a breath, held it, and squeezed off her first handgun shot. This shot was low, but she had a smile on her face. Soon she was centered on the target and she sent quite a few rounds down range. I handled the ejection of the empties and loading of the cylinder, and the number of rounds she fired was high enough for me to have a sore thumb. :)

After another break, we decided to try the rifle again, only this time from the seated position. This allowed her to rest between shots, and she had a much easier time cycling the lever. This time the rifle shooting went much better. How did I know? The big smile on her face and the ragged hole in the target.

After we had exhausted over three hundred rounds, the weather changed and it started to really rain. We packed up our stuff and headed for home. On the way home, she asked when we could shoot again!! This brought a smile to my face. She has since asked twice more when we are next going shooting.

Some lessons for me. 1) Rifle weight is key for a child. Next time I am going to bring the Marlin 1897T and my T/C Contender Carbine. These are my lightest rifles, at 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 5 pounds, 4 ounces. It might be time to look at a Chipmunk or find a Marlin 39TDS. 2) Thumb cocking a revolver is difficult for people with small hands. She had the strength, but her hand was too small to provide leverage. 3) Sitting at a bench minimizes fatigue for a young shooter. 4) It sure is fun working with a young shooter who wants to learn.

It was a great weekend for me, and now I have another shooting partner.

If you enjoyed reading about "Added Another Shooter to the Fold" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Standing Wolf
June 1, 2004, 04:44 PM
Good for you and the whole family! I wish my father had introduced me to shooting.

Linux&Gun Guy
June 1, 2004, 05:28 PM
Sounds great! That is the right way to teach people. Now she will know the truth from random 'facts' spouted by idiots and the media.

An example of a 'fact':

Some kids at my school swear up and down that the AK-47 is a great gun because "it can fire almost all ammo exept shotgun shells" :rolleyes: :scrutiny:

Hmm I tried to explain the idea that a 1 inch ball can't fit in a 3/4 inch pipe but I guess learning about the chamber and barrel arn't part of CSI or where ever they learned that crap:rolleyes: :scrutiny:

Carlos Cabeza
June 1, 2004, 05:44 PM
Neato ! I like how you pointed out that you both learned something. Good on ya !:cool:

June 1, 2004, 06:13 PM
Standing Wolf said:
Good for you and the whole family! I wish my father had introduced me to shooting.


June 2, 2004, 06:09 AM
The whole experience was very educational and rewarding for me. I had a great time at the range, and I also learned a great lesson about the importance of matching firearm to shooter.

The best part was the smile on her face.

If you enjoyed reading about "Added Another Shooter to the Fold" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!