Sighting In on Starting Young Shooters
We’re answering the questions, when is my youngster old enough to start shooting? And what can they shoot? And what organizations will welcome my son or daughter in competition? Plus the guns and calibers that will get a new shooter started in competition and hunting without beating them up with too much recoil.
We begin with the understanding that your youngster has mastered safe shooting with a BB gun, with a Daisy Red Ryder, or one of the low power pellet guns.
An air gun is where everybody starts and learns muzzle discipline, sight picture, learns about wearing safety glasses. If you are seeing responsible handling of a BB gun, then your youngster is ready to move on. And the most obvious thought is to a 22, but that’s far from the only answer because there are a lot of national organizations who will welcome you and your youngster into their sport.
Equipping a Young Shooter
When it comes time to outfit your youth shooter with a long gun, be it a rifle or a shotgun, there are two very critical measurements to consider. First is the length of pull of the stock.
The length of pull is a measurement from the face of the trigger to the end of the butt stock. Most factory rifles and shotguns have a length of pull between thirteen and a half to thirteen and three quarter’s inches. This dimension works well for most adult shooters, but will tend to be too long for the average sized nine-year-old like Bennett .
Here is a quick way to check the length of pull of your stock. After clearing the chamber, extend your strong arm out, rest your trigger finger against the face of the trigger, bend your arm to ninety degrees. If the butt plate nestles in the bend of your elbow, you’re good to go.
If the stock is too long you won’t be able to bend your arm to 90 degrees. If you can bend your arm, but there is a gap greater than an inch, the stock is too short.
When fitting a rifle, the length of pull will effect the eye relief from the scope. Too short a length of pull and you run the risk of the scope hitting the shooter in the eye brow and your arm will be bent too far to help manage the recoil.
Caliber and Gauge
Many of the big rifle manufacturers are producing short length of pull rifles in lighter calibers for the youth market. .223 and .243 are a couple of good options. Both calibers have good energy delivery without the overpowering recoil of larger hunting calibers.
The same theory applies to shotguns. Think of the .410 gauge as the twenty-two of shotguns. Good for hunting rabbits and squirrels, but not practical for wing shooting or clay birds. The best place to start a youth shooter in shotgunning is with a twenty gauge.
Many of the shotgun companies have expanded their offerings in short length of pull 20 gauge shotguns.
Correct length of pull and a good manageable caliber are the two most important elements to outfitting a young shooter with a long gun. Get both of those right, and success is almost guaranteed.
Howa 1500 Ultra-Light Youth Rifle chambered in .243
The length of pull is 12 5/8 inches, so it will fit a young hunter. The photo shows a Nikko Sterling Night-Eater Riflescope which is sold separately.
Suggested Retail $599
Escort Youth Auto Shotgun in 20 gauge
Three chokes included, proofed for steel shot.
Suggested Retail $420
Escort Semi-Auto Shotguns
Smith and Wesson Kit Gun,
the new model 317 in 22 Long Rifle
Suggested Retail $775
Smith and Wesson Model 22A-1
In Mossy Oak Camo, or Blued with polished slide.
Suggested Retail $410
Reloading Tips from Allan Jernigan –
Pro Tips –
Jerry Miculek on Revolver Trigger Control