Q: My 8-year-old son wants to start competing in rimfire events. I'm building him a Ruger 10/22 for competition, but other than building the rifle and training him, I don't know where to start as far as signing him up for shooting competitions. I think he can begin competing when he's 9, but I'm not sure. I do know that ever since I mentioned competitive shooting to him when he was 5, he's been on my back as to when he can start. I only hope he can begin soon before he drives me crazy! Currently, he's shooting a 2-inch five-shot group at 50 yards with my first gun, a Marlin Model 60 my dad bought around 1970 that has many thousands of rounds through it. I can't wait to see what he can do with his soon-to-be new gun. -Shannon Minor, Mineral Bluff, GA
A: My dad always told me the best way to get the right information is to consult the best bona fide expert you can find. And that makes your question very easy. Here's how you can contact the very best experts on introducing youngsters to competitive shooting. For more information on 4-H shooting programs, go to:
To learn about the National Rifle Association?s (NRA) competitive shooting programs for all ages, go to:
www.nra.org. Under the "Programs" tab on the menu, click on "Competitive Shooting" and "Youth Programs" to read about the NRA's extensive offerings.
For information on Olympic-style competitive shooting events go to: www.usashooting.com. USA Shooting has its own youth development programs as well. With these starting points, you should have all you need to track down the right program in your area to inspire your son's shooting skills and competitive nature! -Bill Miller
Q: My son is left eye dominate and is currently shooting my old Winchester Model 94 in a .32 Win. Spec. with a side-mount scope to allow the top eject action to work. He'd now like a larger gun with more firepower and longer reach. He's tried to shoot left-handed and just can't do it, so I'd really like to know if any other gun, in say a .30-06 or .270 caliber, has a side mount scope? And if not, what you might suggest for him? -Jay Estes, Erie, PA
A: Eye-dominance really shouldn't matter when using a scope because the magnified view should automatically take over. If it doesn't, your son should train himself to close his left eye. Have him start out by using proper form to shoot a .22 rimfire and then tell him to simply shoot, shoot, shoot! Many right-handed shooters have taught themselves to shoot left-handed for those awkward moments afield when it's impossible to shift into position for right-handed shooting. If your boy can do this, he'll be set up to shoot well with any firearm, shotguns especially. Barring the above, he can limp along with two options. One is to have the butt stock bent so radically that it brings his left eye over the barrel. The other is the side-mount scope you've mentioned. A gunsmith should be able to custom build one for any rifle. -Ron Spomer
Need Lightweight Lever Action Advice
Q: I deer hunt the Adirondack Mountains in central New York. Most of my shots are under 100 yards, but can occasionally be slightly farther. I currently use a Savage bolt-action .30-06, which gets heavy after a while. I'd like to purchase a lightweight .44 Rem. Mag. lever action to use instead. I'm interested in the Winchester Model 94 Trapper or Timberscout, the Ruger 96/44 or a Marlin 1894SS. All are lightweight and available in .44 Rem. Mag. Any advice you can provide on these guns would be great. Thanks. -LM John Halbig, Branchville, NJ
A: John, as a New Yorker, I've spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks and know that big, thick country well. It sounds like you're sold on the .44 Rem. Mag., and with more than 1,000 foot-pounds of energy remaining at 100 yards, it will get the job done for you in deep woods hunting. The Winchester 94 models might be difficult to find since they went out of production in May 2006. They're both, like the Marlin, 6-pound guns, which is probably 1 1/2-2 pounds lighter than your Savage. The Ruger 96/44 is significantly lighter than the others at 5 pounds, 4 ounces, but only has a four-round magazine. Even though the Marlin 1894SS is the longest gun of those mentioned with a 20-inch barrel, it offers the most firepower with a 10-round magazine, and would be my choice.