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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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This could go in the rifles or handguns forum, but I think it applies equally to all disciplines so I'm going to start it here, for now.....

Wanted to share some thoughts on introducing new hunters to the sport. Specifically, what it takes to get them up to speed and be successful. My experience is limited, because I only introduce a new shooter now and again. So, there may be better ways to go. Open to suggestions......

Anyway.... when my wife wanted to go hunting I needed to figure out how to get her started. She had limited experience with guns and no hunting experience. First choice.... what rifle to start with? We would be shooting deer, hogs, and the occasional varmit. By chance I had a 6mm Rem with a 22" barrel on a short action. Seems to me that the needs of light recoil, effectiveness, and convenience were met (hey I could have used it as an excuse to buy a new gun... ;) )

OK, we can shoot what we need with 6mms here. Also, I have a .257 Roberts, but the stock is too long, it's too heavy, and it's a long action. All things that increase the difficulty level. And I had a .250 Savage, but with open sights. So that is probably going to handicap the new shooter. We do shoot the pigs at dusk and a scope really, really helps.

Replace "6mm" with ".243 Winchester" if you like. The story will come out the same. I scrounged up a hoard of factory ammo at a gun store one day. They evidently got it in on trade, and let it go to me for what was pretty ridiculously low prices. So I bought it all.

However, I did not start my wife on the 6mm. We started on a .22. I have a love for .22s and have, well, a few. :rolleyes: My CZ 452 went to the range. It will drill holes and when you miss, it's you. So, there was a bunch of "qualification," as it were, on the CZ.

She does have to spend a little time behind the trigger on the 6mm, but my way of thinking was "as little as possible." For one thing, it did not have a recoil pad nor was the stock cut to the right length. In fact she hunted the first season with no buttplate on it. It shortened the gun and with winter clothes it didn't matter. I let her shoot it, once I think, at the range before she hunted with it. Naturally she shot the .22 many times. So it had probably less than 10 rounds down the tube of 6mm.

Yeah, I know, there is a school of thought to practice with your rifle before the season. But, we would be hunting deer (not lions) from fixed blinds, so rapid bolt manipulation wasn't an issue (in my way of thinking). Put one bullet in a deer and that's it. More of a challenge to get her up to speed with making a shot on a game animal without flinching?

Scope was set up to keep it out of her eyebrow. Nothing to encourage a flinch like getting whacked with a scope! I'd be sitting in the blind and making the "shoot/don't shoot" call so that's one less decision. She just had to put one bullet where it counted.......

I'm pleased to say it worked out well. The first deer got a 100gr. Core-Lokt right behind the front leg, leaped into a briar bush, staggered out of that, and tipped over about 50 feet from the initial impact. Can't complain. Since then, I got the stock cut and a recoil pad installed (.6" Decellerator). She still doesn't shoot it much, although I encourage practice with the .22. Most of the rounds that have gone downrange have been into deer (2 more), pigs (5?, mabye), and *****.....

Anyway, it seems to have worked. I will say, hunting from fixed blinds changes the equation drastically. There is virtually no need for practice in the various field positions (but if there was it would be with the .22 rimfire).

Handgun shooting started out in a similar vein. A Ruger Mark II with the slanted grip frame and a short, light barrel. She couldn't easily handle my 22/45. After a bunch of that went downrange, I found her a Ruger flattop .357 (the anniversary gun not the originals). Bought a bunch of .38 special "cowboy" loads. Shoot a few of each when the opportunity comes up. She's a long way from being a dedicated handgun hunter, but managed to snap off a shot at a **** one day... :D


My son was a little different challenge. Just a kid, so little chance of getting one of my rifles to fit him. So.... next best thing.... send an old mauser action home with my dad one year, and instructions on making him a deer rifle. :D Well, heck, my dad was retired anyway, gave him something to do.

Caliber.. again, any of the 6mm or .25 cals would be fine. The stars lined up, and when we compared barrels that he had, reamers, headspace gages, and reloading dies... it boiled down to a .250 Savage. Done.

The mauser ended up with a heavy contour barrel and a light plastic stock, but hey... it was free.... so .... no complaints. Also, what went home with my dad was a Rem 511 that I found on consignment with very nice wood, a mirror bore, and badly drilled scope base holes. Hey dad.... can you fix this... it's for the kid you know :rolleyes: :D

The 511, with a 4x scope, ended up just being a tackdriver at 20 or 25 yards. If you missed it was YOUR fault. We had a few shooting sessions and he seemed to be getting it.

So..... put a scope on the mauser, and got it zeroed. Still had the military 2-stage trigger but to his credit my son put 3 rounds downrange, any of which would have killed a deer at expected ranges. Shot #4 went into a pumpkin full of water. Yeah.... that was fun! Guns aren't toys (he knew that) but you gotta make shooting fun.

Next year was his first to hunt. First night out was frustrating as he missed both a deer and a ****. The deer ran a little ways and stopped and looked at us. Plus, I found a handful of white hair where he shot. Checking the zero the next day, it was shooting WAY low. Eventually figured out a problem with the scope mounts. While at the deer camp, resources are limited, so used a couple of "shims" made out of grocery store thermal paper to tighten things up :rolleyes: It worked and they're still in place! He was really disappointed that he missed till we figured out what happend.

Next day out, we saw a *really* enourmous **** in afternoon. Ok bud.... here's your chance to redeem yourself! Drilled it, and then I went down and shot a couple more young ones with a .45 Colt (yeah I know). He was almost out of ammo after the re-sighting in, and didn't want to waste them on *****.

That was a good enough day, already, but about 15 minutes later a very large doe and a smaller one came out about 60 yards away! I think the gunfire attracts animals... ?

I asked him, which one was larger? Just to see if he was calm and thinking clearly. I got the wrinkled eyebrows, and the "dad are you stupid?" look. OK.... shoot the big one. After you hit a **** at about twice the distance, a deer is no problem. It ran maybe 30 yards and pitched over dead.


Neither my wife or son have shot at paper much since with their hunting rifles. .22 practice, whenever possible, but we hardly shoot the hunting rifles at all. Just wanted to see what others thought of this? I check the zeros, when necessary, out of convenience more than anything else.

Thoughts?
 

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Mike,

As you know, this is something I'm also passionate about. I liked reading both accounts of how you introduced your family to shooting and hunting, and I think you did it the right way. The key points are to make sure they have a gun that fits and to keep it as fun as possible. Shooting well is all about confidence in your equipment and yourself, so I can't think of a better way to build both than by handing a new shooter a VERY accurate 22LR or 22WMR. Giving new shooters and hunters the opportunity to be successful and build confidence is really what it's all about. You don't have to make it "fun", because shooting well and being successful on a hunt are rewarding all by themselves. At the same time, my wife has told me she's glad she didn't get a deer or turkey her first season, because it let her experience, and learn to enjoy, the hunt itself. It was also that much sweeter when she was finally able to bag those critters. Of course, she had taken a few squirrels and a pheasant along the way, to keep her motivation level up. :)

I've found that most people who shoot 22 long enough become a little bored with hitting another soda can or making the little spinners go 'round. One idea you might try for a next step is metallic targets at longer ranges. I remember the first time I tried this, with an uncle of mine...it was a lot more "fun" than I'd had with 22's in a long time! I don't know if your wife will ever care a whole lot about itty bitty groups, but I wouldn't be surprised if that challenge eventually captivates your son's attention.
 

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My dad started me out like the above, shooting .22. On the hunting side, when I was a kid my dad took me hunting with him for a few years before I was allowed to even carry a gun (makes it easy on a small kid... don't have to lug the weight around) and showing me "hunting stuff" like seeing tracks and figuring out what animal made them and maybe what it was doing when it made the tracks, what scrapes/rubs look like and why deer make them, and all that kind of stuff. I think we started that when I was around 5 or 6 or something. Then for a couple years, I could carry a gun (breach loading H&R 20 gauge with #3 buckshot or a slug) but dad and I sat together and he'd let me shoot at the deer. Eventually, he'd put me on a stand and I'd stay there with him in the next stand over so he could come quickly if he heard me shoot. Eventually, I guess when I was around 16 or 17 I could go hunting with friends my age on our own (needed someone to drive, after all, without a 'grown up' with us) but by that time, I'd already been in the woods hunting for nearly 10 years :) I was allowed to go hunting behind our house on my own from about 13 or 14, though.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Discussion Starter #4
I shot silhouettes as a kid. My son will likely want to do that, and probably will want to shoot every gun the safe (someday). My wife may never shoot another centerfire rifle.

Noticed already that when the kid does .22 practice, he likes to shoot at the numbers, etc., on the target? Hey if it keeps him interested....

Dragged him along in the blind for a few years before letting him shoot one. We had a good time.

My main reason for making this post was to find out if less shooting with the hunting rifles worked out for other people. It did for us but that's a pretty small sample.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Mike - as you know, my grandson, Mason also started shooting at a very early age. 22's and pellet guns for the first few years. Graduated to the .22 Hornet he loves (and your Jake!) and now shoots full loads in his custom 6.5 Swede, plus really enjoys clay birds with his 20 ga Rem M1100 youth shotgun.

Every vacation when he comes down from Illinois, we head for the range and pop a bunch of caps!
 

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Mike, I think you did everything the way I would do with my kids except I hope to get them started on open sights. I cant even count the number of people (kids and adults) around here who couldnt hit a deer with open sights if it was standing right in front of them.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Hmm, that's a good point. There is some of that practice with a single-six though :)
 

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I have a cousin up north who, on his first or second hunt, was posted at the end of an area his family was doing a deer drive through. When the deer started coming out, he shot 2 or 3 and the other poster shot a couple, so his very first introduction to big-game hunting was one of rather substantial carnage. There was no one-on-one challenge between him and his quarry, no solemn moment of thanks to the Lord for a successful harvest...just lots of dead deer, all in a hurry. To the best of my knowledge, he's never been hunting again.

Please note: I'm not opposed to deer drives and have participated in them, numerous times. I just don't think it's always a good way for young people to hunt because it might not appeal to their ideals on the sport as a whole. Setting a new hunter up for success is good, but I think their needs to still be a good deal of challenge and reverence associated with the hunt, or they might not see for themselves what it's really all about.
 

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I got my daughter into shooting with a .22 at the local range, knocking over the rim-fire silhouettes. She doesn't seem to want to spend the time to be a big game hunter, but wing shooting is attractive to her, and varmint or rabbit hunting is fun. Anything with frequent "action". She has expressed interest in a bear hunt lately, but I don't know if she has the patience to sit still long enough to do that where I hunt. I think the "control" aspect of shooting appeals to kids. In other words, you do something "here" and affect something over "there".
 
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