Introducing a New Shooter Post 2: Big Guns


It seems like SO much fun to us regular-range adventuring adults to want to make big booms. This is very much not the case for lots of kids. Many kids shy away just from the boom. Nothing to do with watching your shoulder to see that the gun doesn't even kick. They hear the BOOM, and they are done! Sometimes for years, sometimes even forever.

While at some level....I must agree....suck it up kid.

Well, society these days does NOT make a kid SUCK IT UP. Hardly ever. So, here we are. Do we want a hunting partner to share the traditions with or not?

My approaches from here on out have to do with getting the kiddo to enjoy their time, and to EASE them into hunting. Not blow their shoulder out of socket, give them a black eye, and tell them they are going to take a bite out of their first deer's heart.

Two guns I have kids shooting at the range with me: Pellet/BB guns and 22's. No need to get any craizer than that. Even a 223.....the dang thing does not kick a BIT, but the BOOM gets em every time.

So.....this 22.... Open sights? Not if we are going to have them using a 243 with a 3x9x40 or a 223 with a red dot. The 22 should have a scope very similar to what they will be using to hunt with. Granted, we can get away with a lower quality scope on the range. Especially with a red dot.

Shoot-n-see targets, or off brands of the such are nice to have on hand too. Then they youth shooter is able to get instant feedback.

The whole point of the range time is repeated gun handling, hunt simulation, and shooter confidence.

Expect girls to be much better shots than boys. They listen more precisely, and have a huge will to want to succeed. Many boys feel they already know how to do it, even if they never have. I have also found boys from non-hunting families to be very good shots because they are eager to learn a new skill you are introducing them to.

I have the shooter get completely out of the gun for every single shot. The gun is set to safe after every single shot.

Proper two handed grip. Confirm we have a shot. Remove the safety. Find the target. Now put the trigger finger in the trigger guard. Find the trigger with the finger without setting it off. Slowly squeeze the trigger while the crosshairs/dot dance on the target in a slow (I prefer counter-clockwise movement) circle. Don't forget to talk about breathing.....exhale half a breath and hold for the shot. Once the shot goes off, continue to watch the target through the scope for longer than you think you need to. Stay with the target. Now put the gun back on safe. Now relax.

Set the gun down in a position you set up for a hunting type situation. And talk about the shot with the shooter. Talk about how the trigger broke over. Show them what part of their trigger finger should be touching the trigger. Talk about what they saw in the scope before and after the shot.

Have some shots fall on an empty chamber. Again talk about what went right and what went wrong. If the shooter has shot guns before with others, you will especially see muzzle jump here of recoil anticipation.....even though this gun is not recoiling! Its a learned response that will be HARD to break.

There is no anticipation of recoil because they don't know what recoil is. Build their confidence to know they will be so focussed on the deer when they shoot that they won't feel anything then either.

Check their shoulder placement of the gun often. Make sure it is exactly right. If their body is too short to get proper eye relief, consider using a red dot scope since they have no eye relief. This will keep their face away from the scope too.

Talk them through the shot. Make them wait sometimes. Tell them the deer turned and they will have to stop and hold on until it turns broadside again. Make the practice as real as possible. Assure them you are not messing with them, but preparing them for what really happens on a hunt.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Everything about getting ready for the shot can be pretty quick
If they get good, but no matter what, the trigger needs to be squeeeezed, not yanked. That initial trigger squeeze training in a new shooter's life is SO important. Teach them right and they will never have to fend off the bad habits many of us have fought for years (many brought on by recoil anticipation from shooting too large of guns at too early of an age.)

I do not bring the deer rifles to the range. All it will do is put doubt in their mind. Even if you are the one doing the shooting. They will ask questions about the rifles, and you will say something that will send a shiver of fear down them. And often they will not admit it.

More on gear prep and such to come. Just wanted to set this stage to begin with. The next installment will probably be about setting up this range gun and your hunting gun to better fit your shooter.

Please feel free to message me with any youth hunter prep questions at any time. Deer and turkey hunting especially.
Hearing protection and a sims vibration recoil pad and just about any one can shoot a rifle big enough to harvest deer.I agree start of with .22 with scope.Another thing I did with one of my daughters was to put on a scout rifle scope.this was a 2 or 4 power long eye relief scope so no worry about getting smacked due to improper holding
I find your advice to be pretty spot-on, especially the part about the girls vs boys as it relates to listening and expectations. I've taught a few ladies, including my wife and daughters, how to qualify with a handgun to get their concealed carry licenses, and it's no surprise to me anymore how well they listen and apply what they've learned. One lady, who worked for me, stands out. She was probably in her late fifties at the time and didn't know how to even load the revolver that I brought for her to shoot. This was a .38 Special w/2" barrel, not exactly a beginners gun, but at 3 yd or 7 yd I expected her to at least be on the paper. Under my direction, she shot the full fifty rounds, 20 at 3 yd, 20 at 7 yd, and 10 at 15 yd. This is the same course of fire she would have to shoot in order to pass the state test. She surpassed my expectations for sure ! Her grade would have been 100 on the test, and she passed it a couple weeks later with flying colors !

One thing I would add. When teaching kids to shoot, ear plugs PLUS muffs might be good to start out with when graduating to a centerfire. The plugs can be left off after awhile, but the muffs should go to the field when hunting. My ears are shot from heavy equipment, shotguns, and heavy caliber handguns, and it takes so much away from bowhunting to not be able to hear.
Great info Drycreek.

You remind me of a surprise black powder pistol competition I co-ranged at a media day for the Jesse James Farm. A young lady who had never shot a gun in her life listened to our instruction and smoked the older (and male) competition. It taught me the value of getting to teach a 100 percent new shooter.
My ears are shot from heavy equipment, shotguns, and heavy caliber handguns, and it takes so much away from bowhunting to not be able to hear.
Huh??? What you say??

X2 on the 22 or BB gun. Not sure why everyone wants a kid shooting a 300 with range dialing scope or AR that can pump out10+ rounds then wonder why no one can make a decent shot anymore. Targets with small calibers, especially the metal ones make it fun then promote to hunting small game. Deer will be so much easier after that. Watched an adult at the range preseason shooting off a sled on a bench with his 300 bragging how good it hit at 100 yds. Give me a break. Meanwhile my 87 yo dad is shooting pistol freehand at 40 yds tearing the target up. I so wanted to do a little gambling but since his son was there, chose not to. I love easy money. Big diff in training. Good thread.
We have two quality youth model single shot .22's setting next to the door to the deck. Targets are steel placed above waterline out to 300yds. Hits ring, misses splash. The kids shoot all the time and have a blast doing it. Absolutely great practice!
I made all the usual mistakes with my first kids, but somehow they learned to shoot anyway. In my "second life", I was older and a little wiser, and started my youngest boy out with a youth sized CZ .22. No more accurate little gun exists IMO, and he made a crack shot. He doesn't hunt anymore, but he can still shoot with most anyone.