The Importance of Introducing Youth to Rimfire Rifles First

Introducing youth to the shooting sports is not a task to be taken lightly. There are several important steps to follow emphasizing safety and that always apply – whether new shooters are learning to work with long guns or handguns. Here’s why we introduced our kids, and now our grandkids, to rimfire rifles first.

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My husband and I have been shooting for a long time, and have attended various training courses around the country. At first, though, he trained as a member of the United States Air Force Academy pistol shooting team, followed a few years later as the officer in charge of a rifle shooting team at RAF Cranwell in England. He is an avid hunter, former NRA instructor and engineer, so I wanted to confer with him to validate my reasons for getting youth on rimfire rifles first. And, he started shooting as a kid in the Ozarks, on a rimfire rifle.

Jake on Ruger Rimfire Rifles

Why a .22 Caliber Rimfire Rifle Rocks for First-Timers

  1. The .22 caliber ammunition has very little, if any, recoil. Recoil sensitivity in new shooters is from the muzzle blast, as well. So, when you choose a .22 caliber, you mitigate the felt recoil and noise.
  2. Also, .22 ammo is relatively inexpensive.
  3. Because the .22 is a small caliber round, the rifle can be smaller and lighter, to manage the ammo. That means it’s especially good for youth, who have shorter arms and necks. 
  4. Learning to shoot a long gun is easier than a handgun. The shorter sight radius on a handgun means it’s a bigger challenge, and so it takes better breath and trigger control to shoot it accurately. You also have to learn the importance of a grip on a pistol, which is much more so than with a rifle. A rifle typically has three-contact points to stabilize it: both hands and your cheek. With a handgun, there are only two.
  5. It’s always better to start off with something that’s easier and then, graduate. Once you understand the basic principles of shooting a rifle, you can transition to shooting a handgun. You’ll have less to take onboard.
  6. We recommend that you start off having a new shooter take a single shot at a time, if that means you only load one at a time in the magazine. You should emphasize the importance of making every shot count, and the fundamentals of shooting that makes every shot count. Of course, this almost goes without saying as far as safety is concerned, that’s paramount for any of these things. Children have to learn safe gun handling before anything else.
  7. A bolt-action rifle will make the shooter focus on making every shot count, rather than banging away at the target. 
zombie targets

Distance Choices

It depends on the age and maturity of the shooter, but the target should be placed at the distance and be the size that allows the shooter to have a good chance of success right off the bat. It should also be large enough so that you can see where the shots are falling on the target.

Pen on target Rimfire Rifles

We chose Ruger American rimfire rifles for our grandchildren to shoot. This model, when chambered in .22LR, includes a detachable, flush-mounted, 10-round magazine. Our grandkids know the safety rules for shooting, repeat them to us before they shoot and practice them while on the range. They love shooting at all types of targets – from paper splash targets, to paper plates, to zombie targets, to spinning gophers. 

Girl on Ruger American Rimfire Rifles

It won’t be long before some of the grandkids will graduate to deer hunting rifles, and we feel confident that their gun handling skills also will transition to larger calibers.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at