There are few sounds better to my ears than the sounds of a child’s voice, full of eagerness, excitement, awe, and confidence when he tells me “I hit it DAD! I can’t miss!” I have to thank my Dad for finding some steel rimfire targets that I long forgot were still in his garage. I soon opened up the vault to dig out some of the .22 Long Rifle cartridges that I am forced to ration because of the current ammunition hoarding climate. It had been a while since I let them shoot since the rimfires were almost as valuable as my duty loads. But it was time again.
I taught my oldest the sitting position to make the best use of the valuable ammunition and time, an important marksmanship shooting fundamental. I let my youngest get some time in with the M&P 1522 since the Aimpoint greatly increases his ability to make hits on the targets until he is physically ready to work with open sights and a conventional stock. In the meantime, he hit the steel in prone more often than he missed, and he began to catch on that when he took his time he made great hits.
My oldest got lessons with the .22 pistol, and between that and the M&P he began to do the repetitions of taking the safety off and putting it back on that his single shot rifle can’t give him. It was a valuable time for all of us, and I wished my middle son was also there to share in it as he shows as much marksmanship promise as my youngest.
My times shooting as a child are some of the ones I consider some of my most valuable memories. They were always good times, and I learned many lessons from them. The days of inexpensive ammunition are over though, and I’m trying to always find ways to pass on some of those lessons to my children. Times are definitely different, with differing priorities amongst each generation from the last couple, more and more developments and fewer and fewer ranges that are easily accessible. Attitudes towards firearms and their uses are changing, and efforts to limit new generations exposures to shooting sports are always getting started. Can you imagine what our lives would be like today if we hadn’t gotten the chance to be exposed to shooting? I don’t want to, but the scary reality is that very thing is occurring to countless members of the new generations. Hunting is on the decline everywhere, and while other shooting sports are on the increase, it doesn’t take much for legislation to reverse that trend and more people who don’t see the need for guns to outnumber those of us that still shoot.
Take the time to introduce shooting and marksmanship to someone. Be it a child, a spouse who’s been on the fence about guns, or someone who’s always wanted to know how to be safe around them, even if they really aren’t interested in firing them. They might turn into someone that grows to get enjoyment from shooting, and we need those people. Take the time to show gun safety to kids, satisfy their curiosity about what a gun looks like so that they won’t want to try looking for it when you aren’t around. And take the time to teach our youth how to shoot. We used to be a Rifleman culture, and the mindsets that it took to be that also were the mindsets that made our Citizens capable of doing the things that made our country strong and great.
And we really need that again right now.