“All you need for happiness is a good wife, a good horse, and a good rifle”. Daniel Boone
Just as sure as the sun came up this morning, you need a good .22 rifle. Now friends and neighbors, you should know that I feel this is a statement of fact and not really open to debate. There has got to be some consistency in the universe to hold things together and this is part of it.
So we are together on this, right? OK, then we may continue.
Most of the things that you may attempt in this life require the proper tools. If you are going to change the brakes on your truck, learn to be a good public speaker or do brain surgery, having the correct tools is a must.
Likewise, if you are a bona fide hunter, shooter and outdoorsman, you have got to have a .22 rifle.
A crusty old shooter and reloader told me once, “You need a .22 rifle to just shoot”! That pretty well sums it up. If you are going to be a shooter, you have got to practice. For rifle shooting skills, nothing beats a .22 rifle. Even with all the craziness going on lately about just getting your hands on some .22 ammunition, you can still buy enough ammo to practice and not go broke.
Sometimes you just need to load up and take your .22 rifle to the range. “Plinking” with a .22 rifle is a great way to work on your shooting skills and have fun while doing it. It is also the best way to introduce young people and other new shooters to the sport.
When your new shooter, child or otherwise, graduates from the BB gun stage, go directly to the .22. Firearms larger than this in the initial stages can be a mistake. Low recoil and noise factors make the .22 the way to go.
You can “plink” everything from bottle caps, empty shotgun casings, clay pigeons, empty cans, to Necco candy wafers! While you are doing this remember to work on the fundamentals of shooting. Think about proper stance, sight alignment, breathing, and trigger control. Don’t go out there and “just shoot”. The key here is to work on those fundamentals and improve our marksmanship while having fun doing it. This is especially important for the new shooter.
I want to say one quick thing about sight alignment that I mentioned there. I believe that every shooter should learn to shoot with open sights. It is just a fundamental that I think we should all learn, like driving a stick shift car. Once we get to serious hunting, I am all for a good scope on the rifle. I just think initially we need to learn how to shoot open sights; it will make us better shooters. Ok, that will give you something to debate at the barber shop.
Treat yourself to some serious sessions with the .22 this fall and see if you don’t do better once the deer rifle season gets here. As always, make sure that you have a safe place to shoot with a good backstop. Insist that the shooters that join you, new or experienced, practice strict muzzle control and other firearms safety. (Off target, off trigger is very important).
For certain types of hunting, the .22 rifle is again a necessity. There are many squirrel hunters that would not think of pursuing the bushy tailed rodents with anything but a .22 rifle. I am pretty much in that cadre, thanks to a Dad that probably killed several truckloads of squirrels with a Remington model 34 .22 rifle.
Just one thing about .22 ammunition for hunting, personally I am not a big fan of hollow point ammo for small game. There is really nothing wrong with it, it is just that these rounds will damage your squirrels a little more than necessary.
When it comes to which .22 rifle to purchase, we could spend the next several columns talking about that subject alone. There are many moderately priced, good quality .22 rifles out there. Remington, Marlin, Ruger, CZ, Winchester, Savage, and Henry all offer good options. You don’t have to start out with an Anschutz Super Match .22, but if you do, hats off to you!
If you are asking me, I would start a new shooter off with a midrange, bolt action .22 from the list above. If this is for a young shooter I would go with a bolt action in a single shot model. You can graduate to a semi-auto later.
Alright, there you have it. If you don’t have a .22 rifle, go get one, soon. Those of you that do have one, (or several), what do I always tell you? Get out there and burn some powder!