Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learn to Shoot, Learn to Hunt

© 2009 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

So You Want to Start Shooting and Hunting...
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Image Credit: Grant MacDonald
I’ve had a couple of requests from folks that are asking me to contemplate ideas for the aspiring or beginning hunter. You know something, that is a great topic, and one that I will gladly write about. I think it is of the utmost importance for the future of hunting and wildlife in general, that we do everything to encourage and facilitate new hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen into our ranks. Every new kid that picks up a fishing rod, every new wife that takes up a firearm, is yet another person that will appreciate the great outdoors, and will be a bastion against the forces of emotionalism and timidity that are swamping this nation.

The question posed to me by the indefatigable Mr Borepatch was, “What would you recommend to someone who's never been hunting?” And Steveo UK also added, “How about something for beginners.” I would like to look at it a little more broadly, and take up your specific questions in the next part. Oh by the way Steve, is that a Hasselblad?!?!

When I am introducing folks, and especially children to shooting, I have a method that I like to use. It’s relatively inexpensive, fun for the whole family, and really sets the stage for everything else that follows. If you follow along too, you will not only start off on the right foot, but you will likely bring several other folks along with you too. This is assuming that you have never shot before, and that it is a new found interest, or you are bring someone up into the tradition and sport.

Now that I have your attention, let’s dive right into it. Go to Walmart and get two Red Ryder BB guns, and a couple of pints of BBs. They are cheap, and they are about the best introduction to shooting you will find. The Red Ryder is virtually non-threatening, and there is always the "You'll shoot your eye out kid!" from A Christmas Story to have fun with. Even mom's that are dead set against guns and things of that nature can usually be convinced to allow their precious princes and princesses to have a little fun with the BB guns.

So now, not only are we going to learn safe gun handling habits and the basics of shooting, we are going to create a safe and instructive atmosphere for others to learn in too.

I know most of you are familiar with the rules of safe gun handling but it never hurts to go over them again.

  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Do not allow the muzzle to point anywhere but down at the floor, or down range.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Do not allow your finger to touch the trigger or be inside the guard unless you are actually shooting.
  • Now your target and be sure of it. Identify and be sure of your target and anything behind it.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. Do not load until you are ready to shoot.
  • Last, assume every gun you handle is loaded. Assume every gun is loaded; do not ever take anyone’s word for it.
Ok, now to the nitty gritty. A cardboard box with a Sunday paper in it is a more than adequate backstop for a Red Ryder. Sheets of paper with a black magic marker dot are inexpensive targets. Now tape up a piece of paper with a couple of big black dots on it, and have at it, punch holes in that paper until you have grasped the fundamentals of shooting. This is the time to get those fundamentals down like breathing, positions, and techniques. There is very little you can’t learn with the Red Ryder! Before long you will be amazed by what you can do with the Red Ryder and a handful of BBs.

Have a bag full of rinsed out soda pop cans at your disposal, plenty of BBs and enough safety glasses for the whole group. Get your safety glasses at a big box store, they are much cheaper, and are the same Z-87 rating that shooting glasses are. You rinse out the cans so no bugs come out of them as you pull them out. If you won the BB gun battle, don't lose it on the bug front.

Safety first, so go through the rules, but don't make it dry and don't lecture. Have a little fun with it, but make sure the kids and adults know you mean business. I have a one warning rule, and that’s for the group as a whole. The first infraction gets a warning for the whole group, with any other infractions being immediate removal from the shooting area for the individual, and having to sit out the whole shooting match.

Image Credit: V Distortion

As far as the shooting goes, you can make up the game's rules to suit your proclivities. Get a couple of boxes and lay a 2X4 over it and line the cans up. You can tie some twine to the tabs and string them up from a low hanging branch or clothesline. Anything that appeals to you and that keeps everyone’s attention and focus is good.

Start out each person individually so you can observe the level of responsibility and attention span of each one. If you are comfortable with what you see, allow a couple of them to shoot at the same time.

Father and daughter, Mom and Dad, Mom and son teams are always a lot of fun, and I make sure that the kids win often! Nothing primes the desire to shoot like being a winner.

So now we have convinced Mom or your neighbors that at least BB guns aren’t inherently evil. Maybe you’ve made a few converts along the way, and naturally they want to expand their repertoire. In the next installment we will take the next step.

Related Links:
Learn to Shoot, Break the Flinch
Boar Hunting Calibers: Part I

Wild Ed's Texas has this! Shoot Where You Look!


steveo_uk said...

Yes albert i do still use a Hasselblad but these days more and more people want digital so i have a Nikon D2x as well. Thanks for the beginers guide i'll be reading this with great interest

LSP said...

Started off on a Daisy... hours of fun.


native said...

I Began on a Daisy as well Albert!
There wasn't a rat, pigeon nor any corn eatin' critter for that matter, that did not fall victim to my retribution upon them destructive varmint's, and their wanton waste of Mema's garden's.

Pepa loved Crow and would bread & fry them up quite nice and tasty.

Wild Ed said...

Great article Albert. Being an NSCA Shotgun instructor I teach a method to some of my students called Shoot where you look. I also use a BB gun called the Daisy Grizzly and we remove the sights to learn to shoot where you look and keep your head in place for shooting a shotgun. You guys might like to read about it.

Anonymous said...

I started late for one thing and I am a self taught hunter. My first gun was a 12 gauge slug gun which I still use today.

SimplyOutdoors said...

I started off my shooting career with a Crossman BB gun, and I had an absolute blast with it.

BB guns are a great way to get anyone started on the fundamentals of shooting, while also teaching them firearm safety.

Great post, Albert.

Michael Spinelli said...


Great idea, and Wild Ed has a great one too. I'm tempted to go pick up a couple just to do it and have fun. maybe teach a couple of folks while I'm at it, after I get it down!

Mikw S.