We have a great reason to celebrate today. Two brand new shooters have joined the ranks of free Americans around the country. Our grandchildren, Miss Princess (The Girl) and Captain Awesome (The Boy).
Last year we introduced the kids to shooting with a BB Gun. That's fine and all and is, in my opinion, an important step in exposing the young to shooting and beginning the ingraining of good habits, but there comes a time when the next step is indicated. Today was that day.
This morning I held a class in gun safety. The students were my grandchildren. The Girl age 9 and The Boy age 7. We went over the 4 rules and I required them to repeat them back to me without error. Then we went on to shooting basics, grip, stance, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger control. Basic stuff because I don't want to overwhelm them this early on. Then we loaded up and headed for the range. But wait, there was one small problem. One of my safes refused to open and in it were the firearms I had intended as appropriate, the Ruger 10-22s, a 77-22 and a MKI and MKII. On to the back up plan. A S&W M&P and Lu's Ruger SR22. Ok, we can do this.
Got to the range and it was a beautiful day. We had ammo to spare and two kids just about to explode from the anticipation. First up was the S&W. As feared it was just too big and heavy. We shot off a couple of rounds but as soon as I realized it just wasn't going to work we switched to the SR22. It actually proved to be a nearly perfect selection. Big enough to feel real but small enough that kid hands could grasp it effectively.
First up The Boy. Please note his trigger finger placement. I worked with their new shooter lean all day. We never got there but we got progressively closer. That's good enough for now.
And The Girl. Again, good finger placement.
Working on the grip. Kids seem to tend to reach out and try to grab it with both hands. Strict attention from the coach/instructor is required here.
Pretty good form with the exception of the aforementioned new shooter lean.
The Girl is taller with bigger hands. She's also a lefty. Well, she's really pretty ambidextrous but she's also right eye dominant. That can be a real issue with new shooters, especially those who cannot wink with each eye. I decided to go ahead and concentrate on her right hand with the idea that as she progresses we can switch her as we go. It'll also inculcate weak and strong hand shooting techniques from the get go.
Here's The Boy in full recoil. I know it's just a 22 but he's also just 7. His good body position (mostly) allows him to soak up what recoil there is without fear of the muzzle flying back and hitting him. Coaches, good position by the shooter will also lend both support and confidence. Plus you'll be in a position to immediately intervene or correct/teach. You can also coach them through their fundamentals as they shoot.
The Girl in the start of the recoil cycle. Note the barrel/slide position. A couple of great shots by our official photographer, AKA grandma Lu. Neither kid had an issue with recoil all day. Can you also see the smile on that little face? It's there alright. Oh yes.
Working with The Boy on grip and body position. You can also see our targets, placed at about 5 yards. Bullseye and some steel. If you want some great ideas on cheap targets go peruse Dann's site. We'll be trying some of them out next range trip.
Not a bad grip, especially for a brand new shooter. Not perfect but plenty good for starters. Did I mention that boy is 7?
And The Girl. Yes we need work but I am completely satisfied with where we got. I've seen much worse on police ranges I was running and this from a 9 year old.
The Girl and the targets. Both kids rang the steel and were thrilled to do so. Those are pretty small ringers at 5 yards in front of two kids who had never shot a real firearm before. Yep, I was mighty impressed and most pleased. So were they. Positive reinforcement and success will do wonders at this point. Keep the expectations and challenges reasonable.
It was a very good day. We even had a proper Cease Fire called by the kids when Lu was on the line. The Boy's ears had broken and they understood and remembered my range safety briefing and both called the cease fire. I was very happy. One note and it's just my opinion. I do not conduct kid ranges with the same intensity as adult. There was no yelling, no barked corrections, little pressure. Just good safety practices, low stress work on the fundamentals and maximum fun. Introducing new shooters is a tricky business and best done as gently as possible within the strictures of a safe range.
We have a lot of work to do but I am immensely satisfied at the progress we made not to mention thrilled that I got to introduce my grandchildren to the sport of shooting. This is a big step toward them becoming responsible adults and shooters as well as Free Americans. From their response the joy of shooting has been well and truly implanted. For those who have never done it I cannot adequately express how proud I am of them and how ecstatic I am that I got to be their first instructor. It is a feeling that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
We are already planning the next visit to the range. If I can get the safe opened we'll do a little more rifle work. If I can't we'll concentrate on pistol. Anyone know how to break into a Winchester safe with a digital combination lock?
We have two new American Shooters in our midst. I hope you will all welcome them to the family. It is a very good day my friends.