by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Today, we’re going on a shopping trip. We’re going to look at all the stuff (besides the gun) that you need to teach children to shoot. I talked about the different guns you could look at in part 2, so I’ll assume you have something in mind. The stuff I’m going to look at today is the stuff that husbands and boyfriends never think about until you’re ready to start the shooting session…and then they try to improvise. We’re not going to improvise. We’re going to have the right stuff at the beginning.

Safety is the stuff people tend to forget about. There’s not too much, but it’s darned important to the program, so let’s get it right the first time. The first thing we’ll look at is a backstop.

Don’t believe that you can stop pellets with a cardboard box filled with newspaper. If you try to do that, you’ll have holes in your wall before long. We’re going to spend a little money and buy exactly what you need.

First, let’s buy a pellet trap. For Cathy, the mom with twin boys, I recommend letting them shoot by turns so you need only one trap. When the shooter is on the line, he should have a dedicated trap that’s used only by him. Of course, when the next shooter comes up, he’ll use the same trap. The point is that when one person is shooting, there should be no sharing of traps. The trap should be located directly in front of the shooter at the appropriate distance. The ideal distance for our sport is 10 meters, which is 11 yards. If you don’t have that, use what you have. Twenty-five feet will work just fine.

I recommend the Crosman 850 trap, which suitable for all the guns I’ve recommended. I’ve actually tested this trap with much more powerful rifles, but I don’t recommend that you use it for anything above what we’re using in this program…a .177 cal. pellet rifle that doesn’t exceed 650 fps.

Safety glasses are another item you need. One pair for each person who’ll be in the area. My recommendation is to have one extra pair.

Don’t let anybody tell you that you can print out targets from the internet. Sure, you can do it…and you can also run your Cadillac on 87 octane gas for a while, but it’s a false economy. Bond paper tears and doesn’t give a good scoring hole, which you need for training. It IS possible to back up bond paper with cellophane tape, but don’t tell me you’re willing to do $10 worth of labor to save a nickel on a target. Buy targets from a reliable manufacturer. One of the best is National Target Company.

I recommend the 12-bull air rifle target. Since these are actually slightly larger than the pellet trap, let’s cut them in half so they fit. We don’t want anyone shooting outside the pellet trap.

Mom, you must be concerned about that pellet trap. I know that I would be. What if the kids missed the trap entirely when they’re just starting out? For safety’s sake, let’s put a plywood board behind the trap. A 4’x4’x1/2″ plywood board should be sufficient to stop any stray pellets. If you’re worried about the kids shooting below the trap, raise it against the plywood board with something stout, like bricks or a cinderblock. Your shooters should not miss an area that large, no matter what they do.

For training, you need to economize on pellets because you’re going to go through a lot of them. I recommend Gamo Match. Do not buy your pellets from Wal-Mart or any discount store, as they will not be as accurate as your shooters can shoot. Those discount pellets will be counterproductive to your program.

That’s the stuff you need to buy, but there are other things you’re going to need. A table for the beginning shooter to rest his gun. Some kind of cushion upon which to rest the gun when not shooting. Take a look at the Shooter’s Ridge Monkey Bag, which is just about ideal for what you need. The shooters will begin their training sitting in a chair behind the table and bag. As the lessons advance, we’ll teach them the shooting positions and do away with this setup. But, it’s always handy to have the table and bag because you may want to sight-in the guns from time to time. And, this is a stable way to do it.

The only other thing you need is a place to shoot. For that, you need to consider safety. There shouldn’t be any doors downrange through which people could materialize. Animals should be kept out of the range entirely. You need a strong light on the target, and just enough in the shooting area for the shooter to see. You can get a strong light at a home improvement center for under $10.

That’s it. That’s your list to complete; and when you have, you’re ready to start your lessons.