Single mom teaches children to shoot – Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Well, today mom is going to start the kids shooting actual pellet guns. We did that in Part 4, but in Part 5 we got back to the schoolroom training again, so I’m going to pretend that the kids haven’t touched off a shot yet.

She decided on the Daisy 953 for her boys and each boy has his own rifle, so the sights can be left set where he needs them. She bought the separate Daisy 5899 receiver sight for each rifle, figuring that if the boys wanted to go farther with this she could always upgrade.

Since mom is by herself, she will let one boy at a time shoot, while the other boy stands behind the line and helps her. This will make the sessions last longer, but the benefit will be a more rapid development of responsibility in both boys. That’s because the non-shooting boy will have to learn to subordinate his thoughts and desires (and his talking) while his brother shoots. If mom can’t get cooperation like that, she can always end the session early.

These are seven-year-old boys (referring back to Part 1), which is a little young for this, but each parent will have to decide that for themselves. Children mature at different rates, and I can’t set an absolute limit; however, we’re on the young side of formal training. That’s not to say a parent can’t have a lot of fun with kids much younger than this; but in that case, the parent is in complete control all the time. In the formal teaching scenario, we start putting trust in the children.

Since these boys are so young, we’ll let them rest their rifles on a rest while they shoot. Maybe next year, they’ll be able to try some prone shots, but right now everything is off a rest. Mom will probably have to pump the rifle for them. That 20 lbs. of single-stroke pumping effort is a bit much for kids this young to handle.

Step one for each boy in turn will be to sight in his rifle. We will have them take three shots at the top sighter bull of an NRA-sanctioned AR 5/10 12-bull target. (They can also use the Birchwood Casey sight-in target.) Then, we’ll call a cold line and mom and both boys will go downrange to look at the target. They’ll decide where the center of the three-shot group is, then return to the firing line; and the shooter, once permission is given by mom, will adjust the rear sight to move the group to the center of the bull. Mom will call the range hot again, and the shooter will fire three more shots at the same bull. Next, she’ll call the range cold, and once, again, all three people will go downrange to the target.

If the sight corrections were applied correctly (i.e., moving the rear sight in the direction we want the center of the group to move), the second group should be closer to the center of the bull. If it isn’t, the sights may have some slack that needs to be taken up. In other words, the sight needs to be adjusted farther than indicated by how much the group needs to move. The shooter should be recording this in a small notebook that he keeps with his rifle.

If the group has moved in the wrong direction, the shooter will record that and write instructions in front of his notebook on how to adjust the rear sight to move the shot group correctly. With 7-year-old shooters, mom will probably have to help a lot with this. The other boy is watching everything his brother is doing, so when it’s his turn he won’t have to learn all this again. Then, the line goes hot and three more shots.

This is kept up until the group seems centered on the 10-ring, which (on this target) is a tiny dot about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. If the top bull gets shot up, shift to the lower sight-in bull and continue until the rifle is sighted in. Then the shooters will switch and the other boy will sight in his rifle in the same way. Sighting in two rifles this way will probably take at least an hour. When the second rifle is done, the session will end. Hopefully, both boys will have some impression of the trigger by the time they’ve fired 12-20 shots through their rifles.

The next time they have a training session, the first thing each shooter will do is confirm their zero with the top sighting bull. If mom wants to speed the session along, she can put a telescope or a pair of binoculars at the firing line so the shooter can see his target without going forward. In competition, each shooter will have a spotting scope at his or her position and will adjust it every time they change shooting positions. For now, we don’t need to be that formal.