Monday, September 14, 2009

New Shooter/Update on a Letter

Reader Nancy (she who wrote in asking about a starter rifle for her young daughter last month) sent me an e-mail with an update. And pictures. It's so good, I have to let her do the talking... She prefaces the report with:
Here’s the update as promised. Please feel free to post as you see fit, including the pictures. We feel that the shooting glasses, shooting cap and silly face sufficiently hides her identity from weirdos. Not that weirdos would be reading your blog, or anything.

Thanks again for all your help. And if you’re ever passing through between DC and Richmond, let us know.

You better believe it, Nancy.
Goal: Daughter wanted “a handgun like Mommy’s that puts holes in paper” for her 4th birthday. We want Daughter to have fun, and to build a good foundation by learning/practicing/reinforcing The 4 Rules, firearm safety, maintenance, and all the other stuff that goes with “putting holes in paper”.

We wanted to buy a Cricket, we really did. Even if we had shortened the stock, or – had money been no object – come up with an SBR Cricket (thanks, Caleb!), we would have had to drive somewhere every time she wanted to shoot. The same goes for the suggestions of the Ruger 10/22 charger and the JB custom mare's leg "pistol" in .45 colt “sporting powder-puff loads”. (Although the idea of a 4-year-old in a t-shirt that says “I shoot a .45 because they don’t make a .46” both cracks me up and horrifies me.)

We figured that since her attention span is that of a 4-year-old (read: longer than a goldfish, shorter than a border collie), we should have something that worked in the back yard where it only takes a few minutes to get set up, and where we can practice whenever the mood strikes. So we went with a Crosman 1377 pellet pistol. Small enough for her to hold, but big enough for an adult to grab when control starts to waiver. This also has the added bonus of not needing hearing protection. Clearly understood instructions are important. No, it won’t make Sarah Brady cry. Not this year. But we’re hoping that by keeping this fun, she’ll develop a love for things that
go “boom”, and we can make Sarah Brady cry for years to come.

(longer than a goldfish - BWAHAHAHAHA! Nancy, you really need your own blog!)
Daughter was thrilled when she opened her birthday presents and she got her own custom painted Crosman pistol! (I used Krylon Fusion spray paint for plastics and I have nothing but good things to say about it so far). We waited until the next day to try it out. She unpacked her range bag with her pistol, pellets, eye protection, targets, and her cleaning supplies. The backstop was a fuzzy East German surplus army blanket (because Commies make good backstops) draped over the fence in the direction of no other houses When the pellets hit the blanket they either stick into the fuzz (nothing has penetrated through the first layer yet) or fall to the ground. The target was her nemesis: The Big Bad Wolf. He’s in her nightmares, blowing down the house. Now it’s her turn to blow *him* away.

She put on her safety glasses. Her Dad pumped and loaded the pistol and took the first shot to show her what to expect. Then he pumped and loaded it again and showed her how to hold it. She pulled the trigger and hit her adversary in the neck. And again. And again. I think all but one shot went on the paper. The four rules were addressed as they came up. Then she said “I’m going to hit him in the eye!” Behold the shot ½” to the right of his eye. Proof that she has her mother’s beginner’s luck at hitting what she points at.

Her only real issue that she sometimes she has problems pulling the trigger. We figure it’s because she’s left-handed for most things, and we’re teaching her to shoot right-handed because she’s right-eye dominant. Any advice on this? Are we doing the right thing? We certainly don’t care that she’s left-handed, we just figured that shooting right-handed was the easiest fix for being cross-eye dominant. After all, she’s only four. She’ll just think that this is how it’s done.

Here's the purple Crosman in question:

And daughter aiming:

Interestingly enough, I'm right-handed but left-eye dominant (many years of vision research where my right eye focused through the IR lens and the left eye stared off in the darkness, I guess). I shoot with my right hand and aim with my left, although lately I've been trying to keep both eyes open. This doesn't work anywhere near as well for rifles (shooting right and aiming left). Any suggestions would be appreciated...

And I just loooove the "big bad wolf" as a target - she'll be collecting PUFFs before you know it, just load the Crosman with silver BBs...

Anyhow, she had a great time. We all had a great time. When asked what part she likes best, she said she liked the “boom!” noise. She looks forward to shooting and putting holes in targets. One hole-riddled wolf is taped to her bedroom door as a warning to other wolves who might try to give her nightmares. (This was a compromise because we wouldn’t let her actually sleep with her pistol.) We’re glad she has an interest in firearms, but if that changes some day, that’s fine. This isn’t about feeding our egos – this is about teaching her life skills. And we can always repaint the pistol something other than purple.
Oh hell no. Buy another pistol if you have to - that one just HAS to stay purple.

Thanks for the report, Nancy. We have one last picture, of what may just be the happiest little girl on the planet. Get ready to exceed your US RDA of cute:

Happy Dance. We haz it.

That is all.


Ross said...

Oh, that's just precious. And the paint job sure looks better than MY Crossman 1377; I may have to look for that paint. Maybe something in a tasteful shade of electric blue...

Hey, Jay - let me know if Nancy needs a Barney IDPA target for her little shooter. I have it in .pdf format...

Quigley said...

Don't worry about teaching her to shoot right handed at that age. I am left handed and was taught to shoot right handed for financial reasons in my teens. I shot Jr. Rifle competition and my family couldn't afford the rifle in left handed configuration. The coach and my father convinced me to shoot right handed after a year of shooting left handed in competition (and several years of informal shooting outside of the team). Getting hot brass in the face and other places is no fun when concentrating during a competition and working the bolt reaching over was disrupting my "spot weld". It set me back about a year of practice to bring my skill level back up on the right side but has served me well since then (and saved a bunch of money on guns as left handed ones are more expensive). I am right eye dominant but I am not sure if I came that way or developed it with all my shooting. When I switch to the left, I don't seem to have any trouble either. Ambidextrous may be more than just handedness.

I go prairie dog hunting every year and shoot equal numbers right and left handed (my AR has the deflector to keep the brass off my face) so the early left hand practice still holds - that whole riding the bicycle thing.

Many kudos for starting her now. She will be a helluva shot when she gets older.

Weer'd Beard said...

That last picture just melted my heart!

Take that Big Bad Wolf!

Nancy R. said...

So, do you think a Molon Labe t-shirt would be in poor taste on 4-year-old?

Jay G said...

Depends. How cranky did she get when you went to take the Crosman away? *g*

Nancy, thank you so much for sending me this range report!!!

Devan said...

Nancy, the 1377 is notorious for having a tough trigger pull, mainly due to the very narrow trigger. Look into getting a trigger shoe to increase the surface area and leverage. I know Crosman sold them at one time; otherwise, they're all over the web. Easy to install, much easier to shoot.

And way to go with the wolf!

Unknown said...

What a great post. I love to see youngins getting proper training.

As to the eye dominance thing, Creedmore sells patches to clip on your safety glasses. I am right-handed, left-eyed. I used to shoot left-eye open, right closed. Then tried the patch to keep both eyes open (for peripheral vision) but right eye blocked from the sight. This was because I see two sights with both eyes open and not patched. I have since changed to patching my left eye and my shooting has improved tremendously. If I can remember, I'll take a picture and blog some about it.

EmmaPeel said...

M is me, EmmaPeel

Ross said...

Nancy, I, too, am cross-eye dominant. When shooting pistols, I cock my head to the right, so that my left eye is the eye (and the ONLY eye) that can see the sights. Seems to work for me. A little practice that way and it'll be completely natural. Only took me a day or so to get used to that.

Tip courtesy of Jim Conway at

Stretch said...

Dang! How am I going to break the news to my Wench that I've fallen for another female?
I think that last photo broke the needle on the cute-o-meter.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

That is really cool, and that pellet gun seems to be perfect for her.

I wouldn't worry about right/left eye dominance or handedness at this point - let her learn the basics, and she'll settle on whichever works best for her.

I lucked out in that respect. I'm ambidextrous (except for writing, thanks to my first grade teachers making me pick a hand - I'm still pissed about that), and can shoot either right or left handed. I can also choose which eye I'm aiming with, although I usually default to my right eye out of habit.

With a pistol, I've found that it doesn't make much difference which combination of hand or eye I use. The only real change is holding the pistol a little more to one side or the other.

With a rifle, it's probably better for her to learn right-handed simply because most rifles are set up for right-handed people. But since she'll eventually have learn to deal with a right-handed world anyway, it will probably help her out later in life.

Michael in CT said...

I am left eye dominant and right handed, I shoot pistols using my right hand and all I do is tilt the head a little to the right to get the sight picture. With a rifle and shotgun I shoot from my left shoulder. Based on 15 years of plate shooting, bowling pin shooting, cowboy shooting and IPSC style shooting, I have not found it to be a disadvantage in the slightest.
There is no reason at all to teach this little lady something different. If the day comes that she wants to shoot some sort of precision rifle competition, then maybe the subject should be revisited, until then let her enjoy herself, there is no good reason to burden her with eye patches or retrain her to use a different eye or hand.

Buffboy said...

If I can make a suggestion, I don't know if it is still made but there was a little stock made for those pistols in the past by crossman. It transforms the little beasty into a dandy carbine that works well for children.

NotClauswitz said...

Little Pink Ridinghood!