Monday, February 06, 2006

Improve Your Shooting with .22s

(NOTE: Mr. Completely is doing a Rimfire Roundup. In the interests of contributing to it and advertising it at the same time, here's a post that's been kicking about in the back of my head for a couple of weeks.)

I like guns with a lot of recoil. I don’t want to shoot a gun that doesn’t kick me back. I like 12 gauge shotguns. I’m not a fundamentalist about this; other people can be devoted to their 20gauges and .410s and I won’t hold it against them. I’m also an equal opportunity recoil junkie. I like pistols in .45 caliber and rifles chambered in at least .30-06.

The only gun I’ve ever shot that proved too much for me recoil-wise is my Smith & Wesson 340pd fed with full .357 magnum loads. I come by my recoil habit honestly as I explained in one of my very first posts.

So, given that I love recoil, why have I been shooting hundreds of .22 long rifle rounds every month? I’ve mentioned that I’m involved in a bullseye league every Thursday night where I shoot a .22 rimfire pistol at a target 25 yards away. I have an abiding love of shooting and thought that would help during long winter months in frozen New England. Most of the time we’ve had fun doing it (despite a few bad days at the range), but Bill (Yosemite Sam) and I both have seen a noticeable improvement in our shooting.

Many people, unlike me, started shooting with a .22 and it’s a great way to start. I ended up with my own .22 rifle on my 13th birthday and since then I’ve shot untold thousands of the little rounds. Not only can you can learn how to shoot with a .22, but you can also correct bad habits by practicing. There’s nothing like practice, done properly, to get something down pat.

Feeding a .22 costs pennies compared to the bucks you’ll shell out for centerfire ammo. A .22 pistol helps you concentrate on shooting fundamentals without the distractions of recoil. Those distractions include noise, muzzle flip, muzzle flash, and having to recover after recoil for a second shot. You can concentrate on making sure your sights line up even while you slowly draw that trigger back. You can make sure of your grip, your stance, and your breath control.

Rimfire guns can be bought quite cheaply or quite expensively. You have a lot of choice and many quality used guns are available. Ammo is plentiful and can be found in virtually every gun store, Wal-Mart, and similar stores throughout the country. You can buy a brick of 500 rounds for less than $15.00 and still get good quality. If you really want to, you can spend that much for 50 premium target rounds.

I bet you can guess what Bill and I did this weekend. We spent a couple of hours shooting (big surprise, huh). I fired my M1 Garand and got my recoil fix (granted it’s a little on the mild side), but we also broke out our .22 target pistols and staged our own mini-match. Without the pressure of actual competition, I’ll be damned if we didn’t do better than we do in the real matches. We both got almost every shot on that Shoot-n-See.

Because of our noticeable improvements, I’ve found a new appreciation of my .22 guns. So, if you’re a new shooter, get yourself a .22 rifle and a pistol and then work up to centerfires. If you’re a long-time shooter, break out your .22s and let your classic 1911 or your tactical fantastic rest for a few sessions. If you shoot .22s a lot, well I’m preaching to the choir.

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