I took my sons, Will and Ben, a friend of theirs, Matt, and my daughter, Caroline, to a very large outdoors store recently. This is a local concern, not one of the big boys, yet they have over 1200 new firearms in stock.
My boys are both teenagers and I’ve been teaching the all about firearms and firearms safety for many years now. My oldest, Will, is becoming very knowledgeable and is considering a career in some capacity involving firearms. My youngest, Ben, isn’t as enamored as Will, but likes to shoot just the same.
Matt is relatively new to firearms, but is also very knowledgeable, eager to learn and a natural marksman. Scary natural. I’m talking SEAL Team Six natural. Believe me, if he ends up in the military, you want to be on the breech end of his rifle. His career goal right now is Marine Corp Sniper.
All these kids are very safe on the range. All of them are Boy Scouts. All of them have pretty extensive first-aid training including CPR. All of them have the Rifle, Shotgun and Archery merit badges.
Caroline, on the other hand, has shown very little interest in going with us to the range, or having any involvement with shooting sports. Yes, I’ve taught her the basics of firearm safety, and she’s been taught how to shoot properly, but she just hasn’t been interested beyond that. That is, until the trip to the outdoors store….
We stepped through the door and the sheer number of firearms on the rack behind the counter was overwhelming. We wondered around looking at all kinds of stuff. Then I noticed that my oldest son had gotten my daughter to look at the .22 rifles. I mosied over and asked to see the Ruger 10/22. I took it and handed it to her. She took it, mounted it to her shoulder, sighted it, dismounted it, and looked it over thoroughly.
“What do you think?”
“It’s cool. I want one.”
I was trying to get her interested, that’s why I handed her the rifle. I didn’t expect such quick acceptance. While the fire is hot, I have to get her to the range. Soon.
The next part I didn’t expect either, but first a little background.
All the boys and I have recently gotten Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifles. These are Russian designed, military surplus rifles which have been in cosmoline for the last 50-60 years. All of them have seen military service in WWII, were refurbished at arsenals in the Soviet Union after the war, and were stored away. Eventually, they were replaced by more modern weaponry and when the Soviet Union fell, enterprising individuals bought these firearms by the millions and started selling them on the surplus market – cheap.
They’re not toys. These are Honest-to-God, high power, accurate, built-like-a-tank, military issued bolt-action rifles. For you sportsmen, they shoot a 7.62×54 rimmed cartridge. Surplus military ammo usually has a 147-148 grain, full metal jacket bullet, but you can get much heavier slugs with soft-points. With a little cleaning up and sighting in, they’ll shoot as well as any hunting rifle costing ten times as much.
They also kick like a mule when you shoot them, so they’re not the kind of rifle you hand to a newbie.
When we were driving away, still not believing the quick transformation,
“So, you want a 10/22?”
“Yes, unless I change my mind and want a Mosin.”
Whoa! Taken aback! Big difference. One shoots a tiny little bullet with almost no recoil and no shock wave. The other shoots a pile driver slug with incredible recoil and a shock wave that’s, as one observer put it, “Biblical”.
As a smile came across my face, the only word I could muster was “OK!” I can’t wait to get her on the range!