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Choose The Best Gun For A Young Hunter

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Choose the Best Gun for a Young Hunter

Hunting seasons are fast approaching, hunter education courses are full and soon there will be a new crop of young hunters taking to the field with their fathers, mothers, grandparents and mentors. But as a parent or grandparent looking to share their love of hunting and shooting with their kids or grandkids, one of the most daunting decisions is choosing the right gun with which to get their new hunter started.

It’s an important decision and can set the stage for a child’s first shooting experience to be either a positive memory they can’t wait to recreate or an uncomfortable one they’re not sure is for them. There’s no such thing as a one-gun-fits-all solution and adults in the market for a youth gun, should first consider their young hunter’s stature, maturity, skill level and the specific shooting activity the gun is intended for. Following are important points to consider depending on what type of firearm you are considering.

Rimfires

The .22-caliber rifle, typically in a Long Rifle (LR) chambering, is without question the ultimate starter gun for a young hunter or shooter—boy or girl. It’s light weight, small size, minimal recoil and relatively low report is less likely to punish a new shooter and intimidate them as they get comfortable with the mechanics and safety considerations of shooting a firearm. Ammunition, packaged in bulk offerings such as Winchester’s 555 Rounds, is also inexpensive and typically readily available. The .22 LR is perfect for a lifetime of plinking and target shooting fun, as well as taking small game such as squirrels and even rabbits. Where other hunting is concerned, unfortunately, the .22 LR’s small size makes it unsuitable for much else.

Shotguns

A shotgun is perhaps one of the best all-around firearms for a young hunter as they can be used to shoot stationary targets; bust clays; hunt small game, upland birds and waterfowl; and loaded with buckshot or slugs, can even be used for larger game such as whitetail deer and bears. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking small person equals the smallest shotgun—the .410. While a .410 can be great fun to shoot and certainly effective on small game and targets, it’s small bore size translates to a smaller payload sent downrange that is best served in the hands of a more experienced shooter. Young shooters looking to hit game and targets with the small payload, particularly moving game and targets, are more apt to become frustrated. Instead, go with a 20 gauge that is truly the best blend of reduced recoil, size and weight mixed with effective patterning and knockdown energy. Modern shot and wad technology have truly elevated the 20 gauge’s effectiveness to that of the 12-gauge of old. Loads such as Winchester’s Blind Side High VelocityWaterfowl and Magnum Waterfowl loads are excellent for ducks and geese, 20-gauge Super X shotshells in sizes 4 through 8 are devastating on small game and birds, the Xtended Range Hi-Density line has a super-effective 20-gauge load for turkeys and for deer, the company’s Rack MasterDual Bond and Partition Gold all boast deadly accurate 20-gauge slug offerings. Also, to mitigate recoil, consider an autoloader for your young hunters. Single shots, while safest simply because they only have one shell loaded, deliver the most recoil and no chance for quick follow-up shots when needed. A pump still delivers the recoil of a single shot and can be a challenge to manipulate, but a semi-auto offers the least recoil and the most growth opportunities with the shotgun as your young hunter becomes more skilled. When first starting out, simply load the shotgun with a single shell until the hunter is truly familiar with the gun and all safety protocols on the range and in the field.

Centerfire Rifles

Deer is one of the chief reasons young hunters need a centerfire rifle and when it comes to America’s most popular game, there are few starter chamberings that compare to a .243. Recoil is mild, the size of the rifle is manageable and it can pull double duty on varmints, small predators and hogs. Bullet technology in loads such Power Max Bonded and Ballistic Silvertip deliver effective downrange energy that make this a caliber (and gun) your young hunter can enjoy and use even as an adult.