I jumped at the opportunity to take a coworker, his wife, and his 8-year-old daughter to the sooper seekrit desert shooting spot. It would be the first time the adults shot in 10 years, and the first time ever his daughter shot. I was honored to contribute to the event.
The first lesson sat bisected by my front sight as everyone held their breath, not daring to blink and risk missing the show. With the familiar PAT of the 10/22, the can of soda exploded spectacularly to the cheers of the people behind me. I quickly turned to make sure no one was moving to inspect the target, and returned the rifle to the table.
"Ok, Lexi, before we go in front of the table, is anyone touching the table?"
"Ok, lets go look at the can."
"It's all exploded!" Lexi said, carefully handling what used to be a can of soda. The body of the can split wide open with the hydrostatic shock of the soda bursting free under the pressure of the tiny .22 bullet. I held up an uninjured can of soda from the same pack, "Lexi, can you make that go back to being like this?" She looked at the mangled wreck in her hand, and at the sand, darkened with diet cola. "I can make the outside go back, but not the inside." I dropped my head to look at the darkened sand for emphasis, "So you can't make it go back to the way it was?" Lexi seemed more concerned this time, and shook her head solemnly. "That's because when you shoot something, you change it forever. You can't take it back. Do you understand?" She looked at what she was holding and nodded. "Good! Now do you want to do it again?" A missing-toothed grin flashed to her face.
I was a little worried when she couldn't physically reach the trigger with her shoulder on the stock, but with the stock over her shoulder and against her father's chest, and her neck craned up to look down the barrel, she fired her first shots at some stacked cans and immediately flitted away back to the car to watch her DVD. Her father explained that he was unsure how much she might shoot, but he'd be quite content with those few shots if that was all he got. Such is the nature of 8-year-olds, I suppose.
A couple cease fires later, she returned to her proud father with her eyes and ears ready. I had recommended one round in the mag at a time when she was starting, but multiple rounds seemed to favor her attention span, and increase the excitement of what she was doing. After a few flights of firing, flitting, and finding her way back, Lexi became much more comfortable with what she was doing, and started to really enjoy herself.
The same should be said for her parents, who shot an array of guns (which had been waiting patiently in their safe for the better part of a decade) with such zeal, they lost track of time and forgot Lexi's snack time. The result was not a verbal reminder, but an emotional one. It was time to go home. Such is the nature of 8-year-olds, I suppose.
Shooting is one of the few things I derive a deep inner joy from teaching. It was certainly a joyful day.
Her father has chosen to bypass the Crickett and go straight for a 10/22 with a short barrel and a youth stock. He wanted something she could grow into, or he could make use of if she had a change of heart. What remained unsaid was how hard it was to bring a kid back from semiautomatic. Her marksmanship will have to come later.
Ohyeahalso, shot the bulldog, which was brilliant. As it turns out, the mojo rear sight was mandatory because of how much I had to raise it. Apparently the importer chop was rough on the barrel. Thankfully, the mojo has a tall setscrew you can use for coarse adjustments before using the dial for fine adjustment. Excellent sight, highly recommended.