Update: The Sniper has grown quite a bit. He’s the teenage Sniper now.
In recent months, my interest in firearms and the possibility of hunting has been growing and growing. Earlier this year, my grandfather gave loaned me a wonderful Remington .22 bolt action rifle. He had bought it when he was about 14 years old, and had kept it in great working order since then.
Going back a few months before, I had begun looking for a very inexpensive bolt action .22 rifle, to use in instructing my kids about the safety and importance of firearms. My own experience in the Boy Scouts of America had been a good one, and I wanted to pass that off onto my own kids.
Remembering those sweet old bolt action .22’s we used at summer camp, I started looking around. Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with a low priced option.
Fast-forward to my grandfather’s offer for his own, near perfect rifle. This rifle was exactly what I was looking to use with my kids. Its characteristics include; bolt action, .22, single shot, and iron sights. Just what I was looking for! In fact, those sights aren’t just plain old iron sights. They’re aperture sights, which are really nice, and great for learning.
So the first chance I had, I had that rifle cleaned and examined, just because of its age. Then I got my oldest son and we headed out to the firing range. Near my home there is a great club, the San Luis Obispo Sportsman’s Association. My wife’s step-father also went with us. We were shooting during Thanksgiving week. What a wonderful time we had. I took my own handgun, and my father-in-law took a older .32 Colt semi-auto.
I set up my son, commonly referred to as The Padawan, on the sit down bench. He was excited and ready. With his hands properly placed, he is just large enough to use this rifle safely. We went over the important safety information, and I demonstrated a few example shots.
At 25 yards, The Padawan was immediately capable of hitting a standard 14″ x 24″ target. His understanding of “grouping” is still a work in progress, but he was hitting the target with each round.
I started out standing over The Padawan and assisting him with everything but pulling the trigger. I was opening the bolt, placing the next round, and closing the bolt. Then I would cock the gun, when he was ready. Within minutes he wanted to open the bolt, then he wanted to close the bolt. It didn’t take long for him to be doing everything but cocking the rifle. (That takes a bit more strength than his 6 year old hands have.)
I was really impressed with his willingness to try and learn each of the mechanical steps necessary to fire the rifle. But more than that, his patience and attention to detail was clearly paying off in accuracy, from the beginning!
So, with 25 yards clearly a bit easy, I decided to have him try 50 yards. Since the range was still hot, and we couldn’t go down range to change the target’s distance, I quickly had The Padawan switch to a farther target of a short run of steel gongs. These steel targets are about 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and hang from a stand that has 5 or 6 targets. I instructed The Padawan in where to shoot, and where to aim at the painted white target.
His first shot ended with a ping! Then the next. This continued until he slowly began to show that he was accurate about 50% of the time. I was so proud! So, I’d like to take this opportunity to let you all know that The Padawan has been promoted; he will now be known at The Sniper. Those sweet aperture sights seem to work really well for him.
It was a great day and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to head out and push his limits even further. My hope is to have him grow and learn, without discouraging him with too difficult of a distance.
I’ve been shopping for a deer rifle, for myself, and I don’t think it will be too long before a .22 isn’t enough for The Sniper. I’m looking for a .30-06, but we’ll make a few more stops along the ballistic journey before he gets there.