June 25, 2012
Do you remember the first gun you ever fired? I remember my dad’s .22. I still have it, but it seems that it was a different gun then. At that time, it was very long and very heavy. I still remember that it felt very dense and heavy, the way a heavy target rifle feels to an adult who has never handled one.
I remember firing a shotgun for the first time, too. It was a 16 gauge single shot that weighed about 5 pounds. I thought the recoil was brutal. I was concerned with recoil and as a result, the first shotgun I bought was a seven pound 20 gauge gas operated semi-auto.
In those days there weren’t very many guns designed for small people. The first ones I recall were H&R Topper single shots in 20 and .410 gauges with short stocks and short barrels. It was probably 1980 before the major manufacturers started making pumps and semi-autos for small people. I keep saying small people because most women need shortened guns as much as young people.
Now we have youth .22s, youth shotguns and youth deer rifles. Some of these guns cost over a thousand dollars. We have come a long way from the $29.97 .410 full choke single shot. These new guns don’t just cost more; they provide a young shooter with a gun that will allow them to really learn how to shoot without handicaps.
Shotguns probably are the biggest chunk of this market. While that single shot .410 was OK for squirrels and the occasional rabbit, it was hardly a tool for learning the principals of wing-shooting. A .410 is the gauge for advanced shot-gunners, not novices. The ballistics of the .410 are unforgiving when firing at moving targets. Since the weight of the gun and the recoil of a 12 are too much for smaller people, the 20 gauge is the logical choice. The 20 gives a trade off of the size of the shot charge against its lighter weight. The 20 gauge can be pretty versatile, with a lot of loads available that allow it to do most of what shotguns are required to do.
For practical purposes the only guns worth serious consideration are pumps and semi-autos, since the single shots are too light to soak up the recoil and quality ones are close in price to the pumps. Young shooters also need the option of matching the choke to the application, an option only afforded with the pumps and autos with screw in chokes. If you take money out of the equation, the semi autos are the easy winner. Their weight is close to the pumps, but they have the added advantage of gas operation in most models. Gas operation spreads recoil out over a longer time period and makes the gun much more comfortable for the shooter.
If money is a major issue, the pumps look best. Youth model pumps in the three major brands often sell for less than $250.00. This is around half the price of the semi autos. If you do choose a pump, consider replacing the recoil pad. The ones that come on the guns are pretty hard and not nearly a effective as a Pachmayer or other name brand pad. The pumps do have the advantage of slightly lighter weight and being able to function on super light “trainer” shells.
Light weight is a big issue. For a small person to handle a gun and shoot moving targets, it must be light enough for them to move comfortably. Keep the ratio of gun weight to shooter weight in mind. A 6 pound gun in the hands of someone that weighs 90 pounds feels like a 12 pound gun in the hands of someone that weighs 180 pounds. Extra weight in the butt on the gun does not have so much effect, but on the muzzle, it makes swinging the gun very difficult.
In the rifle category the choices are simpler. Most of the youth guns are simple shortened versions of their adult counterparts. They are offered in low recoil calibers. I think the single shots, like the Thompson Center guns, are a valid choice for youth rifles. The extra recoil is not as much of a factor, since there is not as much repetitive shooting as with shotgun, so the light weight is not a liability.
Rifle or shotgun, regardless of type, make sure the gun is comfortable to shoot. The pain of excessive recoil can create bad habits that take years to reverse, or even worse, can turn a kid against shooting altogether.
While the concept of youth guns is fairly new, the need has always been there. We are fortunate to have so many to choose from. I have a 10 year old friend who shoots sporting clays. He is the son of my business partner, Billy Lagle. Trey shoots a 391 Berreta and does very well on doves, ducks and other game. He breaks around 35% on sporting clays and is deadly on simpler shots. Having the right gun makes all the difference.
May 8, 2012
This article comes courtesy of John M. Buol, Jr. of FirearmUserNetwork.com. Check out his site for more articles like this.
The effective range of the .30-30 is about 150-170 yards. Some of the wizzy new Magnums can outperform this by roughly 300 percent, at least on paper. But can the hunter outperform the .30-30? Can you?
The .30-30 WCF (Winchester Center Fire) was a hot little number when first debuted in 1895 but today’s hunters complain about this “obsolete” antique. Standard wisdom states this cartridge is best contained within a range of 100-175 yards. A .30-30 will push a 150-170 grain bullet out at approximately 2200 fps or so. With a 150 yard zero, the bullet will be about two inches above line of sight at 100 yards and around five inches low at 200.
Few hunters possess enough shooting skill that warrants better performance than this. Are you one of them? Find out with the .30-30 Drill.
Begin by getting a good 150 yard zero for that anemic .30-30 (or whatever your favorite hunting rifle is chambered in). Set up a Y-ring steel target at 150 yards. If you don’t have a quality, self-resetting steel target that is about 8-10 inches in diameter, a paper dinner plate at 150 yards makes an ersatz substitute. Get a shooting timer, or a buddy with a whistle and stop watch, to record the time.
Start from standing up. On the start signal adopt a sitting position and fire one aimed shot at the plate. Stand back up and repeat the drill for a total of three shots. After completing this three string/three round sequence from the sitting position, do it again adopting and shooting from prone.
We are shooting at the distance we zeroed giving point-of-impact at point-of-aim on a nice, level playing field with no intervening brush, trees, etc. All the shooting is done from the two most stable positions available in the field. Furthermore, the target is presented whole, as opposed to a large animal with the vital zone hidden somewhere inside, thus eliminating the need to estimate target angle. Just hold center and let ‘er rip!
Regardless of elapsed time, a hunter claiming to need something better than a .30-30 should get at least 5 hits out of 6 shots (83% hits) or better on this six MOA target every time. If so, our hero can actually make use of the ballistic capability provided by a .30-30 or equivalent for field shooting. If not, their maximum effective range in field shooting is shorter than 150 yards and the capability of a .30-30 rifle exceeds their present level of skill.
A more competent hunter-shooter who can get those same hits in ten seconds per shot or less just might benefit from a “better” rifle. They possess sufficient skill to warrant extended range.
We can repeat this drill out even further. Use the same target and set at 200, 225, 250, 300, or out as far as you dare. Give the shooter an extra three seconds or so for every 50 yards beyond 150. Sight in appropriately and shoot. For example, .308/.30-06 and cartridges of similar ballistics can set their zero to 200-250 yards.
March 20, 2012
Any hunter safety course graduate can tell you that transporting firearms involves knowing and following federal laws and state regulations. In addition to abiding by the law, it’s critical to make safety a top priority. While state laws that govern transporting firearms can vary from one state to the next, you can always rely on the recommended safety procedures below to help you stay safe.
- Always unload and case firearms before transporting them. In many states, this may be the law. The action should be open or the gun broken down, whichever makes the firearm safest.
- Firearms should not be displayed in window gun racks because the display may provoke anti-hunter sentiment. It’s also an invitation to thieves.
- Lean a firearm against a secure rest only. A vehicle does not provide a secure resting place. A gun that falls over might accidentally discharge or be damaged.
Storing your gun in a case when you’re transporting it can help keep you safe and protect your firearm. There are several gun case options to choose from.
Padded, soft-sided case
Material: Canvas, nylon, neoprene, polyester, or leather
- Light, easy to handle and store
- Many designs accommodate scoped rifles
- Offered in camouflage
- Waterproof and floating cases available for duck hunters
- Less costly than hard cases
- Less protection than hard-sided cases
Lockable, hard-sided case
Material: Aluminum or composite
- Lightweight but sturdy
- Meets airline standards
- Can include deep foam padding that holds firearm in place and cushions impact
- Composite models can be molded to fit firearm
- Available in waterproof models
- Bulkier and costlier than soft-sided cases
Material: Durable stretch fabric (polyester/acrylic) or soft pile materials
- Lightweight protection from dust, dirt, and moisture
- Offered in camouflage
- Often used as a second case to carry a firearm from a vehicle into a hunting area
- Minimal protection from elements or impact
No matter which firearms case you choose, always remember the basic rules of firearms safety:
- Point the muzzle in a safe direction.
- Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun.
- Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
You can learn more about how to stay safe while hunting by taking an online hunter safety course at www.hunter-ed.com. The training offered at this site is approved by the state agencies responsible for hunter education, and it’s the same material that’s taught in the classroom.
Studying at hunter-ed.com is free. Those who must be certified before they can buy a hunting license pay a one-time fee, which is due only if they pass the test. Students can take the test as many times as they need to pass it. Online hunter safety courses are available in participating states, so visithunter-ed.com to take a course specific to your state.
In many states, students must pass an online course and a field day to complete all hunter education requirements. Field days are designed to be a hands-on, learning experience, and students are encouraged to review their state requirements about field days before beginning the online course.