Every year about this time I begin to get emails and private messages from parents. Their question is often the same: what is the best avenue for getting their children involved in competitive shooting. My answer is always the same, “Rimfire Challenge.”
What is Rimfire Challenge?
If outdoor family activities that include shooting is something your family enjoys, I urge you to take a look at this sport. My family got involved in Rimfire Challenge several years ago and the places we have traveled, the people we’ve met, and the memories we have made are enough to fill a book. Out of all the shooting sports, I believe that Rimfire Challenge offers the most opportunity to a family of all ages for the least amount of initial investment.
As I mentioned in my first column, “How and Why I Learned to Shoot,” the first match I ever shot was with a gun my dad purchased at our local Walmart. I managed to win 2 Limited Lady World Championships with that gun. While it’s an honor to shoot the Volquartsen guns that I use today, it’s not necessary to have fancy, incredibly fine-tuned and expensive guns to get started having fun with shooting activities. In fact, a trip to your favorite sporting goods store can buy you everything you need to get started.
Here’s what you need to get started with Rimfire Challenge equipment:
As with any sport, the amount of money you spend could be endless, but the point is that you can have just as much fun with bare bones, minimum-cost items.
Most Rimfire Challenge matches are made up of 5-to7 stages for each gun and each stage has 5-to-7 targets arranged in a different order on every stage. The objective of the Rimfire Challenge is speed. You shoot each stage 5 times in a row and they delete your worst time. At the end of the match, whoever has the lowest time is the winner. Rimfire Challenge was actually put together as a fun way to teach new shooters about gun safety. There are 3 divisions in Rimfire Challenge. Open, Limited, and Cowboy/Mechanical. In each division there are different categories: Ladies, Junior, Youth, Senior, and at some matches, Super Senior! That means, granny and grandpa can participate, too.
On most any weekend throughout spring, summer and fall, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Rimfire Challenge matches can be found in many parts of the country. If you’re looking for an event to attend go online to NSSF/Rimfire Challenge. From there you can select “find a match.” I recommend that before anything is purchased, you attend at least a couple of matches. You will be required to wear eye and ear protection at all matches, so be sure to go prepared.
At a match you will see the shooters, the guests and 2 important people: the R.O. (Range Officer) and the timekeeper. The Range officer has absolute control of the activities at each stage. It is his or her job to make sure that everyone follows the rules and shoots safely. The second person is the timekeeper. Since this is a sport that’s all about time, that’s an important job.
Bring some snacks, chairs and sunscreen and prepare to make some new friends. Each match is a bit different – at some events there are more kids than others, but if you attend a few different matches in your area, you will no doubt begin to see some familiar faces. If you have any questions about what’s going on, guns used or anything else, just ask someone. My experience has been that most people are excited and happy to fill you in with any information you need.
There are so many skills that kids can learn through the Rimfire Challenge that have to do with much more than just shooting. Responsibility, how to take directions well, maintaining composure are just a few of these. Before I started shooting Rimfire Challenge, I was quite shy. I would go to great lengths to not have to talk to someone, and particularly not start up a conversation with a person I didn’t know. Since my beginning Rimfire Challenge days, I have made so many friends, had so many great experiences, that I know I am overall a more confident, self-reliant person.
If you have been thinking about heading out to the local shooting range, I hope you will give Rimfire Challenge a try and that you’ll love it as much as my family does. See you on the range!
Not sure what it’s all about? Check out this video by the NSSF
Cheyenne Dalton is an up-and-coming junior competition in 3-gun, USPSA, and Rimfire challenge. She writes a column about her shooting experiences, sponsored by Voquartsen Firearms. She's been competing for 4 years and has won state titles, along with the Limited Ladies Rimfire World championship 2 times (2014 & 2016). When she's not at the range, she is traveling with her Bluegrass band, "That Dalton Gang," where she plays mandolin and violin, along with singing lead vocals. Her future plans include lots of shooting and continuing her education with a focus on being a pharmacist. She lives on a family farm in Missouri. View all posts by Cheyenne Dalton