Five Fun Things
To Do With A .22

Building Pleasant Memories — Family Style!
40

Almost any .22 is good for plinking. David especially enjoys his (top-bottom) Marlin 60 rifle,
High Standard Double-Nine revolver, Ruger Mark III Hunter and Colt 1911 Rail Gun by Walther.

Twenty-nine percent of my firearms are .22s. I’m not sure what caused me to count them recently, but when I did, I wondered why so many? I spent a lazy afternoon pulling each one out of its hiding place in the safe and not surprisingly, most of them were tied to pleasant memories. Owning each one seemed so logical even Mr. Spock would approve. Why .22s? Let’s think about some cool things you can do with them.

The low cost of .22 ammo and the sheer number of .22 guns available makes supervised
range practice with kids fun and economical.

Fun time targets: A swing through the sporting goods section at the local big box store
may surprise you with a selection of entertaining targets made for plinking.

Teach A Kid To Shoot

Wherever you have influence, whether it be with your kids, grandkids, church group or just friends, teaching a young person to shoot has lasting rewards — and what better way to do it than with a .22? My grandchildren are all shooters, as are their parents, but we had one reluctant granddaughter. She was the youngest of the bunch and liked to watch but encouraging her to shoot wasn’t working until I screwed a suppressor onto an M&P .22. She sat on my lap and shot at an aluminum can while my hands reinforced hers on the gun. It only took one time of seeing the can scoot across the ground before she was ready to do it on her own. You should see her now!

In my generation, a love for shooting started with parents and was reinforced by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Clubs and even hunting or shooting clubs at schools. Obviously, schools are out these days and while Boy Scouts may not be what it used to be, the instructors at summer camp are usually trained NRA instructors. The instructors are dedicated to giving the scouts the best experience they can during the hour-a-day exposure they get to rifle and shotgun shooting during a typical week at scout camp.

At least one local shooting club in my area has a youth small-bore rifle program to promote competition and regular club shooting events. Check around and you may find something similar where you live.

Many gun ranges and local shooting clubs provide opportunities for competing.
Great .22s for this include the (top to bottom) Henry 22 lever action, Ruger 22/45
and Heritage Small Bore Revolver.

Improve Your Own Skills

You can no longer buy .22 ammo for 50 cents a box but it’s still relatively inexpensive, especially if you buy it in bulk. Typical prices these days run around 5 to 9 cents a round. Bulk packs of 350, 500 or a bucket of 1400 Remington Golden Bullet rounds are bargains and you can do a lot of shooting for little money! Skills learned with a .22 translate to any type of shooting and whether practicing with a rifle or a handgun, you can work on sight alignment, site picture, breath- and trigger-control without worrying about recoil, hearing loss or burning up your pocketbook. Being able to shoot cheaply allows you to take on a variety of challenges in target acquisition.

When you do it correctly, repetition is the way to improve your skills and have them remain with you. If you have the opportunity to get an hour or two of instruction from an NRA instructor or someone who is disciplined and successful at some type of shooting sport, you can be sure you’re developing and practicing correct skills. Practicing over and over is much easier and cheaper with a .22 than with a higher caliber gun, which is most costly to shoot and also wears on your hands, arms and shoulders.

Opportunities for plinking fun can start with items you’re about to put in the recycle bin.
Put an inch of water in the cans for stability and try to take them down one at a time.

These reusable targets stand up to multiple shots from .22s and higher calibers as well.

You Can Compete

There are opportunities to compete for awards through the NRA’s Marksmanship Qualification Program (MQP) as a starter. This is a program allowing shooters to qualify for various awards through a self-paced program or one administered by parents, club leaders, coaches or instructors or by the shooter on the honor system up to a certain level. The MQP is a great way to become comfortable with the competitive environment while improving skills. When ready to go to the next level, the NRA’s website will help you find a range in your area offering NRA training and competitive matches.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF.org) sponsors the Rimfire Challenge, a game of steel plates limited to the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. Games can be set up between 7 and 20 yards for handguns and 35 yards for rifles. Competition at local ranges around the country leads to Regional and National Championships. When it comes to competition the sky is the limit but starting with a .22 is sure to get you started on the right foot.

David’s first handgun was a High Standard Double-Nine .22 like this one, and it
still brings his family pleasure 56 years later.

You Can Hunt

My dad started my hunting instruction with a .410 shotgun, and when he was confident I understood the rules of safety and the importance of a good backstop, he introduced me to a .22. “It ruins less of the meat,” was his reasoning but regardless, it worked for me! I spent much of my youth hunting with a single-shot .22 rifle for squirrels, rabbits and another form of wildlife you probably wouldn’t expect — bullfrogs. If you’ve not eaten frog legs, you may not know they taste somewhat like chicken, are rich in protein and Omega 3 and fun to harvest. The traditional way to get a good mess of frog legs is to go frog gigging.

What’s it got to do with a .22, you ask? Bullfrogs are out at night, so a typical night of frog gigging starts with a couple of guys in a jon boat, each with a frog gig and a spotlight. The spotlight helps you find the frogs while the gig is a pole with a three-, four- or five-prong spear.

You locate the frogs by shining the light across the water and picking up the reflection of their eyes then quietly paddle over and spear the frogs with the miniature trident. However, we didn’t do it this way. Instead, one guy would keep the light on the frog’s eyes while the other picked up the .22 rifle, always aboard in case of snakes, and aimed right above the eyes. The reward for a smooth trigger pull was a plop and a floating frog you could paddle over and pick up. Lots more fun and productive than frog gigging! Yes, I know of all the warnings about shooting on water, but the ponds where we hunted frogs all had high clay banks and were surrounded by trees. Also you should check the legality of the .22 method of take in your state.

Scouting is a great way for kids to learn about shooting. Boy Scouts of America offers
range opportunities for scouts integrated with NRA qualification courses.

Have Fun Plinking

Plinking is often spontaneous and unplanned, but there’s such a thing as the fine art of plinking. No, really, there is! When I was young, we didn’t have to clean up after our plinking episodes because we usually started at a family garbage dump. So much has changed these days we have to improvise. For your own plinking adventures, you can start by collecting aluminum cans and plastic bottles with the idea of shooting them full of holes before they go in the recycle bin. Find a place with a good backstop and just throw a few of them out. Pick a can and shoot it. Then shoot it again and again and again as it hops across the ground. Pick another can with a logo or name on it and choose a letter like an O, P or B with a round place you can put a bullet into.

Nowadays there are some very creative targets you can buy for plinking. Some of them have steel plates you can ping and make them swing around. I’ve got one with a spring-loaded cup attached to a paddle. Shoot the paddle and the can goes flying into the air. Try shooting the can before it hits the ground. Okay, you may have to shoot it after it hits the ground.

I drink soft drinks in the small 7.5-oz. cans. Recently, I collected enough of them to build a tower. I filled each can with an inch or so of water for stability, built the tower, then tried shooting the cans off one at a time without disturbing the tower. It was challenging, but fun. With plinking, your imagination is your guide. “What good is plinking?” you may ask. I think it’s practice of the best kind!

Just Do It!

When I think back over more than 60 years of shooting, many of my fondest memories involve either a .22 rifle or handgun. My first handgun was a High Standard Double Nine and I lost it along the way but a few years ago a friend helped me find another one. It was like new, in the box, with the $54 price tag still on the end. I now shoot the revolver with my grandkids. These days there are ways to enjoy shooting I never dreamed of and with such a variety of firearms.

I know you’ve got a .22 — or maybe several. Dust ’em off and go have fun!

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