A mate who is returning to shooting called me. “Hey up is there any chance of taking Ben out for a bit”.
I asked how old he was now and it turns out he is eight. His granddad a shooting man bought him a Crossman CO2 Rater. He has been using it quite a bit and learning gun safety in the garden.
I decided we would go to a local farm where the are several big buildings and a an adjoining sloping field making a good back stop for up to a hundred yards.
We parked up. The weather had cleared and the sun had come out earlier we had discussed cancelling due to the rain. It’s always better to bring a beginner out in good weather. I had decided on a farm yard remote from the farm with some big buildings in case the rain returned and the chance of the odd rat being about and a sloping field to give us a good back stop and some gates and trailers to provide a good few leaning posts and rest points.
Before we got any guns out of the cars I shook Bens hand and said hello. Next followed a brief talk about safety particularly muzzle awareness and not pointing a gun at anything you did not intend to shoot he had heard this from his dad from the outset with the Crossman in the garden. But I stressed the difference in shooting from a static point and where people are moving and the dangers of muzzle blockage from mud etc. he was very receptive and made some good points. I was pleased.
He got his Crossman out of the bag in the boot what a cracking little weapon for a small person. Skeleton stock very light weight so easy to carry all day and a telescopic sight, powered by small co2 gas canisters delivering I think about 500 fps.
The sun was out and the wind was easterly so blowing in our faces straight down the field.
I slid my rifle out of its slip technically it’s my sons rifle. Bens face showed he was impressed, but I played it down its very important to keep children happy pleased and satisfied with the tools they have for the job. It s a Cometa full size and just under 12 f lbs with a Webley 4 x 30 sight. But as I told him the secret of shooting is learning good fundamentals staying calm and practising to achieve and maintain accuracy. What you shoot with is not the issue.
We walked out to the field it was muddy from the movement of machinery but nothing was happening this morning and the farmer is fine with me using it for this purpose my son and I used to go there quite a bit.
I rooted round in the hollow in the ground that many farms have where everything gets dumped for a year or two before a clear out. I found an empty mineral lick bucket, it even had a brown mark on it as an aiming point.
I walked up the field about 25 yards or a bit more and put it down. Chris put a cylinder in the Crossman and Ben slipped it through the gate we were to use as a rest and I popped my hat under the rifle to protect it from the galvanised steel of the gate.
Chris popped a .22 pellet into the breach and closed the bolt Ben had already checked that the safety catch was on.
He tucked the stock into his should and lowered his head to the sight and looked all wrong somehow. His dad said which eye have you to the sight. Ben had the rifle in his right shoulder but put his left eye to the sight. I checked and he has a left master eye but it should not be a problem with rifle shooting in particular once he is used to it which will mean more practice. He also instinctively put his hands in a left handed manner although not left handed. We guided him round to better and more relaxed and comfortable position and he took the shot. His eye is a long way back from the lens of the scope which is only 10mm in diameter so I imagine he will not get the full view through the site which makes target acquisition slower and therefore more wavering of the gun before firing.
However after what seemed an age to me he fired and punched a whole clean through the bucket on the centre line of the brown mark. Which pleased me fine and I praised Ben. There was no scope (humour) to adjust the position of the sight in its mounts as we remarked at the time he needs a longer neck.
One co2 cylinder does about 30 shots but there seems to be a sweet spot where there is more consistency in accuracy. This does seem a shame for such a neat gun I think there are alternative power sources and cylinders are about 50p so this shooting could be relatively expensive per shot for plinking in the garden, which is probably where most of us started off.
Ben had a few more shots of varying consistency but mostly hit the bucket. His dad had a go and I had a go and we changed the cylinder. We also moved the bucket out to just over thirty yards.
Chris noticed a pheasant walking on the skyline above the field we were using. “Mmm it’s in season I said but not in a shooting position without a walk think we will leave it unless it comes this way on a suicide mission”.
Ben was still hitting the bucket I felt in my pocket and found an old golf ball I had picked up somewhere. I took it out to the bucket and rested it on top against the rim.
Ben have a go with this I said slipping my rifle through the gate bars the safety is on and Its loaded ready to fire. Ben took hold of the rifle and kept the muzzle low and brought it up to the target slipped the safety over and fired, a good shot the pellet was 4mm too low but right on the centre line. We walked up so he could see where it went and said how good it was, praise and confidence building are of great importance as is success.
After a little while Chris Ben took turns and bounced it up the field.
When I went out to retrieve the bucket there were two groups of holes each at an end of the brown mark and all within a 2 x 4 inch area that would approximate the front target area of a rabbit in general terms soon be down to 2 x 2 and better for head shots.
After a while we realised we had been there for two and a half hours we had a great time and most of all so had Ben.
I have already had the phone call of when can we go again. It’s all set up for Tuesday evening.