From the Braver Institute
Last week I wrote about target shooting with my oldest daughter and how she had outgrown the .22 rifle I had bought her for her eighth birthday. After a day of shooting with my good friend Don, his sons, and his brother, I decided that I would buy a new rifle for my daughter’s upcoming fourteenth birthday.
After watching her shoot a modified Ruger 10/22 I could easily see that a similarly modified 10/22 would be a good fit for her and her cerebral palsy, which affects some of her gross motor skills.
The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular .22 rifles in the world. Because of its popularity there are endless aftermarket products out there to truly customize it to the needs of the user. So popular is this gun that I thought I would be able to buy one on my next trip to Marquette or Escanaba. Once upon a time I would have been able to buy one down the street at the local sporting goods store, hardware store, or even some gas stations, but the big box stores put an end to all of the smaller retailers of firearms and it isn’t worth it for them to stock them anymore.
In Marquette I was shocked to find that after checking three different stores, not a single 10/22 was to be found. Actually, there were few rifles of any caliber available, a scene that I would discover was an increasingly common one across the country. It seemed that the threat of new firearm bans were having an across the board effect on sales. People were buying up guns at a record pace, including .22 rifles.
Now I was in a bind. My daughter had her heart set on a new rifle. Thankfully her birthday was a few months away. I had a little time to find a rifle.
I started asking everyone I knew and even people I didn’t know if they or anyone they knew had a 10/22 that they would be willing to sell. It wasn’t important if it was new or not. All that mattered was that it worked well since we would be replacing the original stock with a composite stock and pistol grip, which would afford my daughter greater control of her shots.
All of my questioning kept leading to dead-ends, until one day when I asked an acquaintance if he had a 10/22 he’d be willing to part company with. He said that he didn’t but he did have a new Mossberg 715T which is a factory-modified version of their .22 Plinkster. It already had an adjustable composite stock and pistol grip right from the get-go. I had already considered this rifle as an option for my daughter before I discovered that there was nothing available out there. I bought it from him immediately. I was so happy to have found a rifle for my daughter, and was a bit overjoyed that it was a new one to boot. The only reason this one was still new was because my acquaintance was unable to find .22 ammo for it.
This leads me to the second part of the problem I had with getting a rifle for my daughter.
Due to the same panic that had brought about a shortage of firearms, now there was also a shortage of ammo in almost every remotely popular caliber including the diminutive .22. We had used up the last of our ammo during our day of shooting with Don.
Getting a rifle for your birthday that you can’t use is a lot like getting a pedal bike for Christmas up here in snow country. Since asking around had been a productive way to find a rifle, I thought I would do the same for the ammo.
I asked everyone who looked even remotely like they might have a few boxes of .22s lying around. This was marginally more productive than my quest for a rifle. I was able to scrounge up forty or fifty rounds, which doesn’t add up to much shooting on the range, but it was better than nothing.
I ran into another acquaintance who I had been talking with several months earlier about plinking and he had mentioned that he had quite a stockpile of .22 ammo. I asked him if he would consider parting with a brick (500 rounds) and I explained how I needed it for my daughter’s birthday. He told me that he would take care of it and the next time I saw him he sold me a brick for a fair price.
When my daughter’s birthday arrived her happiness was more than obvious. I had been talking up the fact that it was nearly impossible to find the rifle she wanted, and she had already set her sights (no pun intended) somewhat lower.
On the range we spent some time sighting the rifle in and then it was time to get down to some serious target shooting. I shot some video footage, including the final shots of the day. The smile on her face after emptying that last magazine was worth every bit of the trouble I had gone through to get there.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.