Rimfire Memories

A lifetime of shooting, one bullet at a time
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The Nylon 66 was the first non-wooden stocked rifle David remembers. His friend got one
for his 14th birthday and David developed a severe case of green-eyed envy!

The year was 1962. My friend Bobby Norman got a Remington Nylon 66 for his birthday. We rode our motorcycles out to Hurricane Creek Bottom to shoot it. To say I was envious is an understatement — my .22 rifle was a bolt action single-shot and to add to my envy, Bobby’s motorcycle was a Honda Dream 305 while mine was only a 150.

These 22 revolvers, some .22 Short and .22 Long Rifle ammo and a few targets make for an
afternoon of fun and inexpensive shooting.

A Different Day

Fourteen-year-olds with guns and motorcycles? The idea probably horrifies some, but it was fine then because our parents parented and we were taught responsibility at home, in school, in church and in our neighborhoods. Motorcycles in those days didn’t require license plates or a driver’s license, in case you’re wondering.

I caught up with Bobby in the gun department a few months later when I went into the Western Auto store, plopped down a hard-earned $50 and walked out with a High Standard Double Nine .22 revolver. A few years later when Bobby was a Marine and I was an Army helicopter pilot, I flew over to Camp Lejeune in a Huey one weekend and gave him a ride. Kind of made the Honda Dream a little insignificant, huh?

The Honda 305 Dream was a popular motorcycle for young people in the 1960s, back
when risk was considered a normal part of life.

Making Memories

Funny how I remember those guns almost 60 years later. However, it’s not just the guns so much as the relationships forged around them and the trust involved in allowing us to have them. I still have the High Standard Double Nine and enjoy shooting it.

My point is simple — if you want to share the shooting experience with family and friends while building a low-cost gun collection, rimfire is the way to go. It’s economical shooting too. There was a time when .22 ammo was expensive but I saw boxes of 50 rounds on the shelf at Cabela’s the other day for $1.99.

There are tons of .22 rifles selling for under $150, including semi-automatics from Mossberg, Rossi and Marlin. Semi-automatic .22 pistols start around $200 with a lot of choices in the $200 to $250 price range. A good .22 is so affordable these days you might want several.

Shooting a .22 with a silencer always brings a smile — afterward! — to David’s youngest granddaughter’s face.

Kids And Guns

Unfortunately, the practicality of kids under 18 owning these affordable .22s and shooting them on their own has pretty much gone bye-bye with the Nanny State taking over so many aspects of raising our kids.

Here in Texas there are fallbacks indicating the whole world hasn’t gone crazy. A graduate of the Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Hunter Education program who is nine years old or older can hunt with a firearm without an adult in the immediate vicinity. In other words, Dad can drop the boy or girl off at the tree stand or on the other side of a dove field and let them hunt. If the kid has their card with them, a game warden isn’t going to be upset.

Being a country boy, here’s another one I like — a child engaged in an agricultural enterprise is free to tote a gun necessary to protect crops or farm animals. This little section in the Texas Penal Code means country boys and girls are pretty much the same as when I was young regarding guns.

Low cost .22 semi-autos are fun and educational choices for shooting with family and friends.
(Top-bottom) Colt Gov’t Model 22, Ruger SR22, S&W M&P 22, another SR22.

Teach Your Children Well

Our family has taken responsibility to train our young ones in the safe handling of firearms starting at a very early age. Any of them who want to shoot can be assured a parent, grandparent or uncle will be more than happy to take them shooting and provide any coaching they may require or desire. What are their favorite guns to shoot? The boys continue to like cowboy guns and we have plenty of them with the Heritage, Ruger and Legacy revolvers.

They love the 1911s. We have Colt and Rock Island .22 1911s. The girls typically like the smaller guns like the Ruger SR-22 and S&W M&P Compact. Sure, they shoot the larger calibers, too, but we keep an eye on the ammo cost around here and take a lot more rimfire ammo to the range than we do centerfire.

If you’re not shooting with your kids and grandkids, who will? Since we don’t now have the freedoms many of us enjoyed in our youth, the shooting sports could die with our generation. The only answer is adult interaction with youngsters, teaching them gun safety and providing them guns to shoot under supervision. I encourage you to be proactive wherever there is an opportunity, even if you have to make the opportunity.

Growing Older, Not Up

I leave you with this last observation. Yesterday a friend whom I hadn’t seen in four or five years invited me to meet him at the range to catch up. Without saying it, we knew such an occasion involves each of us bringing a few arms we’d like to show off. I had a couple of guns I had been reviewing for magazine articles. He brought three guns. One of them was a Heritage .22 revolver. Some part of us just seems to never grow up. I knew right then I should have brought my new Wrangler.

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