Back when I first started school at the University of Idaho, I was delighted to learn that the college had an indoor .22 range. It was used mainly for ROTC training but was available to students every Tuesday night. One day I invited a friend to go shooting. He was part of an avid hunting family so I was absolutely floored when he said he couldn’t because he didn’t own a .22! Growing up in John Day, everybody owned at least one, most several, .22s. It was almost too much for my little brain to comprehend.

There are so many reasons to have a .22 that I just can’t see why anybody that shoots shouldn’t have at least one. First of all, they are just plain fun. Nonexistent recoil, minimal noise and cheap ammo provide for hours of plinking fun. It is truly a sad childhood that doesn’t include some memories of bouncing tin cans around with a .22 rifle.

Because they are so nonthreatening, they are the best way to introduce newbies to the shooting sports. Most .22s are fairly light and come in so many configurations that it is easy to find one to conform to any body type from the little Cricket for your 5 year old to the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.

Every serious shooter should have a .22. Handgunners can get everything from a 1911 clone to a single action revolver chambered in .22 long rifle. Several manufacturers provide them in AR platforms, and just about everybody makes a .22 variant of their bolt-action rifles including the popular Ruger Precision Rifle. Having a .22 version of your serious shooter allows for inexpensive practice. You can work on firearm manipulation, positional shooting and trigger control for pennies compared to the price of centerfire ammo.

Working with a .22 is also a good way to cure any flinching that develops from a steady diet of full-power loads. One well-known African hunter uses a .375 H&H for all of his hunting. He isn’t shy about admitting that the recoil isn’t pleasant. Every year before the hunting season begins, he spends some quality time with his .22, works up to a 7x57 and only just before the season begins does he begin shooting his .375. From the looks of his trophy room, it appears to work for him.

The ammunition for the .22 long rifle is as diverse as the firearms that shoot it. Remington, Aquila and several others make subsonic (read “quiet”) rounds for inoffensive shooting. Often they are very accurate. Remington Thunderbolts and similar provide cheap plinking. If you like to shoot teeny, tiny groups, then Eley is for you. Are you a speed demon? CCI COPPER-22 is advertised at 1800 feet per second.

Whatever your shooting needs, there is a .22 out there for you. Get out and buy one (or another one) today. Your spouse will understand.

We welcome your thoughts at shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com.

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and

hunting fool.

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