Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its sports, guns, gear, and ammunition. This week I want to dive into a topic that I have been thinking a lot about over the last couple of months. In the United States and abroad, firearms enthusiasts all share a common passion in regards to the various uses and intricacies of firearms. Some of us like competing, others just like plinking or hunting. Regardless of what we legally do with our firearms, we all love them and want them to stick around and hopefully pass on our passion to the next generation. This is one area where I think rimfire comes out as one of the most important firearm cartridge types to exist.
The Rimfire Report: Rimfire and the Next Generation of Gun Enthusiasts
The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to rimfire firearms and the youth is the accessibility of the sport to younger children when combined with rimfire firearms. I’m sure most of you reading this had a BB gun growing up and that was basically your first introduction to any type of projectile firing weapon. Airsoft guns didn’t exist when I was a kid so my first long arm was a Daisy Red Ryder lever action BB gun.
My first experience shooting any type of firearm was at the age of 5 and it was my father and a group of his friends and their sons who all went out on a nice sunny afternoon to plink at some tin cans with a few rimfire rifles. This single experience had me hooked and afterward, I wanted nothing more than to get more time behind that gun. My enthusiasm bled through what little patience I had and soon my dad was showing me how to disassemble and reassemble our walnut stocked Ruger 10/22 Carbine.
Rimfire firearms are small enough and usually simple enough for a young child between the ages of 5 and 10 to handle and there are firearms out now like the Savage Rascal or Keystone Sporting Arms Crickett. I’ve used firearms like this in the past to teach my young ones how to shoot and teach them basic firearms safety, maintenance, and proper marksmanship. The relative size and report of a rimfire firearm are far less likely to scare a child new to firearms. Similarly, rimfire firearms will also help them gain a little bit of confidence as they are not having to fight against a higher recoil impulse that their bodies can’t quite combat yet.
Part of the impetus for this article was at a recent Rimfire Precision Match I was able to attend last weekend. The Rimfire Precision Rifle Series is a competition based solely on rimfire rifles and their manipulation. The faster you can put hits on target, the higher your score will be. I was surprised to find so many youth shooters at this particular event. At least a solid 1/5 to 1/3rd of the participants were children 12 years old or younger and a good handful of them had some serious skill behind their rifles.
It was apparent to me that the dads at this competition took a lot of time and effort into bringing their children into the sport and the children’s enthusiasm showed through in their short conversations with one another. The kids would chide one another for taking shots from an unstable position and congratulate one another excitedly on a good run. The kids were genuinely enjoying this sport.
I’ve also seen children at other competitions that require a bit more speed and sometimes movement. As a frequent participant in Steel Challenge competitions, I’ve seen my fair share of young kids at the range. Most of them tend to sport rimfire pistols or rifles but a handful of them can be found with centerfire rifles. The bottom line here is I feel like the sporting and competition aspect of firearms competitions is a great way to get your kids invested in firearms in a healthy, competitive, and skill-oriented way. I know some of you will agree with me that our children these days probably don’t face enough honest competition in their lives in an age where everyone gets a participation trophy.
Sense of Ownership
While it may not be legal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase a long gun. There is nothing stopping us from sharing our firearms with them till they are of age. When I was around 10, my dad made it pretty clear to me that it was my responsibility to clean and maintain our 10/22 if I wanted to use it. In addition, any rounds I wanted to shoot had to be earned.
I spent a lot of time mowing the lawn, doing yard work, folding laundry, and accomplishing various extra tasks in addition to my normal chores in order to save up a few bucks for a box of 50 rounds of Peters 22LR ammunition. Lucky for me, a box of that ammo only cost about $1.50 from the local Bi-Mart and 50 rounds were enough for me and my dad to go out plinking, each with our own box for a short afternoon excursion. What earning this ammunition and maintaining this rifle taught me is that firearms are more than just a thing to be enjoyed.
Firearms were a thing that needed to be respected, maintained, and also paid for in order to use. I tend to find that when you provide a child with a sense of responsibility, they are far more likely to keep track of it than if something is simply given to them and provided for them for free. Rimfire was and still relatively is inexpensive and simple enough for our children today to get a head start in learning how to properly clean and maintain “their” rifle and supply it with ammunition.
Rimfire played a very distinct role in my early life and it was the foundation for what would turn out to be a long-lasting partnership with firearms and the 2nd Amendment. Everyone is different, I just happened to take a strong liking to firearms and the sport at a young age. At the very least your child will come out on the other side with a proper understanding of how to properly handle a firearm even if they don’t take a strong interest in it. In any case, that’s all I have for you today on The Rimfire Report. I’d love to hear your comments down below about your experiences as a young firearms enthusiast and what you’re doing with your kids today in regards to firearms.