September 20, 2018
"Daddy, I hit it!" my daughter exclaimed as she came off the rifle having fired her first shot. Perhaps I placed too much pressure on myself before that moment, but I felt relieved afterwards. Before I had kids, I was sure that I'd start teaching them how to shoot when they were four years old. After all, that's when Dad started teaching me. Like my own memory, I wanted to make the experience special and positive, but I became uncertain when my kids would be ready.
I procrastinated these last few years and let my responsibilities at work and home get in the way of the effort to make time for my family at the range. I often thought and debated with myself about how I would introduce my children to firearms, and I grew less confident in my abilities as time ticked away.
It became obvious that anticipation was building. Surprising to me, it was my daughter (and not my son) who first asked that I take them shooting. At the end of every day, she watched as I routinely unholstered my carry pistol before securing it in one of our home's Tactical Walls. I often remind her not to discuss guns (or Daddy's job) with friends at school, the NRA safety rules and to never touch a gun without my direction and supervision. I've been in awe of her maturity and obedience, and have been encouraged to begin teaching her.
Selecting the rifle wasn't as challenging as I expected. I knew that I wanted a bolt gun, preferably a single shot with a short length of pull. There are other options available (some more affordable), but I decided on a Savage Rascal in .22LR long before ordering one. Years ago, I had taught another boy who had difficulty pulling the bolt to cock the firing pin. He needed to take the rifle out of his shoulder after each shot to charge the action. Then I saw another girl on a range shoot a Rascal without the struggle. She benefited from a consistent position behind the sights and focused exclusively on shooting tight groups.
I wanted my daughter to feel the pride of ownership, so I ordered a Rascal wearing a stock molded in her favorite color. Then, I had her name engraved on the barrel. Though the Rascal comes with iron sights, I decided to make aiming easier and save sight alignment instruction for later by mounting a red dot on top of the receiver. To do this, I discovered that Evolution Gun Works (EGW; egwguns.com) makes a Picatinny rail scope mount specifically for the Savage Rascal, and they only want $30 for it. With that installed, I attached a Bushnell Trophy TRS 1x25mm red dot sight. Though the MSRP is north of $100, I found that most stores offer the TRS-25 for $65 or less. It proved to be a great choice on my part because she hardly every misses hitting a target.
Not too long ago, I found a an old box of steel silhouette animals for use with .22LR only. Sure, there are fun reactive targets that you can buy from Champion for not a lot of money, but these pieces of steel brought back memories of plinking with my family in the Mohave desert. In fact, I continued using them to practice ahead of placing first in my class during the 2005 NRA Lever Action Rifle Silhouette Championships. When a bullet strikes, they spin or flip off their post and provide the shooter instant gratification, and that's exactly what they've given my daughter and I.
As I write this, I've just returned home after competing in my first Rimfire Challenge event (rimfirechallenge.org). The youth participating were incredibly talented, and the support they received from every parent was inspirational. I couldn't watch other fathers, mothers, sons and daughters support one another without imagining my family and our pending future at the range. It was another reminder that we shoot to protect the future of their gun rights.
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