Without a doubt, the best way to introduce a beginner to firearms is by spending an afternoon plinking.
Plinking, for those who don't know what it is, is an informal target shooting practice with targets such as tin cans, soda bottles, etc. It not only gets one comfortable with a rifle or handgun but also gets them used to aiming properly.
It is worth mentioning that before you hand your new apprentice a firearm, always check to make sure they know the five rules of gun safety:
- Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.
- Treat every firearm as though it were loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
- Be sure of your target, line of fire, and what lies beyond the target.
- Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
Enlisting proper firearm safety habits from the beginning will reduce the likelihood of an accident that could have been prevented.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the fun part!
Firearms chambered in .22LR are ideal for plinking as they have very low recoil. As you get more comfortable with handling the firearm, you can move up to larger calibers, so leave the .45-70 at home.
If you don’t already have a firearm chambered in .22LR, below is a list of handguns and rifles that any novice will enjoy:
CZ 455 Training .22LR Bolt-Action Rimfire Rifle
The CZ 455 Training Rifle will get new shooters accustomed to the bolt-action platform at an affordable price. CZ has a reputation for dead-on accuracy and reliable performance, something that a beginner will appreciate once they get comfortable.
Ruger Mark IV Rimfire Pistol
If you feel like your trainee is fit to handle a pistol, consider the Ruger Mark IV Rimfire Pistol. The Ruger Mark IV has an internal cylindrical bolt construction to keep the sights in alignment with the barrel. Be prepared to walk them through proper pistol stance and grip if you go this route.
Henry Classic Lever-Action .22 Rifle
With lever-action rifles, your shooter can unleash their inner John Wayne and get accustomed to standing while shooting. Due to its design, the lever action doesn’t accommodate shooting from a prone position. Get ready to train them on appropriate rifle stance as they crank out round after round.
Browning Buck Mark Camper Stainless URX Pistol
Browning’s Buck Mark Camper Stainless URX Pistol possesses over-molded ambidextrous grips to suit left- and right-handed shooters as well as a TRUGLO fiber optic front sights for precision aiming.
The shooting sport is known as a hobby that turns money into noise, thankfully .22LR ammo doesn’t break the bank. Many shooting ranges and outdoor companies, large and small, supply ammo in bulk.
Most shooting ranges offer benches and gun rests for shooters to use, but for those DIYers, a sturdy folding table and a few sandbags will do.
Choose a Target
The beauty of plinking is that you have a variety of choices in targets. From traditional paper targets to tin cans or milk jugs, these options can ensure an afternoon full of useful practice. Digging through the recycling bin prior to heading out can be a hefty source of targets, just remember to chuck them back in when you’re done so they can be recycled into future plinking targets!
Setting Up Targets
Whether you’re at the range or on a wide expanse of land, make sure you can get a setup that accommodates your targets. This can be a long bench, post, or an elongated structure. If available, a higher structure can allow for suspended targets -- these are great for hanging milk jugs filled with water, your shooter can make it rain!
Make sure that all shooting lanes are clear prior to setting up. If there are other shooters nearby, it’s good practice to let them know that you are teaching a rookie.
If you haven’t already done so, show your student how to load the firearm and keep the safety on until they are ready to fire. Have them load and chamber the gun under your watch. Demonstrate how to aim the rifle or handgun you’ve supplied them with and, when properly situated, get them ready to shoot.
With any new instruction, reward the successes and reprimand the errors. It’ll take time for a student shooter to gain these habits as second nature, so be patient. Cheer them on when they knock the Pepsi can off the bench, and firmly remind them to keep the gun pointed downrange.
With the temperatures rising, spending an afternoon plinking can make for a great parent/child outing or a fun date with your significant other.