Article by Rob Utendorfer

Here’s an article, I never thought I’d be writing. Why would anyone care what an average Joe has to say about getting started in recreational shooting? Well, hopefully it is something relatable to the experts out there, take them back to how they started, or simply proof to the newbies, there are fun and economical ways to get started.

I grew up as a waterfowler, shooting shotguns exclusively with my dad and grandpa — with the occasional novelty of pulling out my grandpa’s old Winchester bolt-action .22LR or Smith & Wesson .22LR revolver. It wasn’t that I had anything against the pistol and rifle world, I just didn’t get exposure to it.

Fast forward about thirty years, and I got the opportunity to work with the guys at Magtech. I come from a powersports and outdoor sports background and it’s amazing how similar the industries are. They’re gear intensive, filled with active enthusiasts and a whole pile of experts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph some great shooters at some great ranges and locations. There is always a little downtime at any shoot, and one day I got the opportunity to shoot some long-range rifles. We started at 250 yards and walked our way out through 500, 750, and 1,000 yds. I must admit, watching trace and hearing steel ring was dang cool, but I wasn’t going to rush out and drop $10k on a proper 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, optic, and gear.

Another shoot takes place, and guess what? More opportunities to shoot and learn. This time it was a pistol and carbine class. 9mm sidearms and 5.56 carbines. We were introduced to practical zeroing, the transition between weapons, how distance affects point-of-impact, off-hand shooting, and shooting in and around barricades. Parts of this seemed more attainable. Soon I found myself scouring local gun shops and trying to find — as hard as that sounds — a Glock G17 as I had used in class. Along the way, I saw they had recently released the G44, a .22LR that has the same basic fit, form, and feel as the 9mm G17. So, I started building a kit with those two handguns. With an appreciation for what I’ve been taught, I started to learn more and gain confidence in my abilities and gun handling. And the .22 has been fun to have along the way. When I’m at the range with friends, it gets a sideways look from some shooters or even a scoff. After they get to run a few magazines through it, that scoff has turned into a smile, and they admit how much fun they just had.

And that’s what I think is great about the .22LR round. It’s unassuming and pretty darn fun. It can function as a gateway for people. The round is cheap, offers virtually no recoil, and is quiet as far as firearms go.

It can also be used for competitive shooting or simply the challenge associated with it. In the photos on the far right, might be the most fun you can have with a firearm and 100 yards. That is a KYL (know your limits) target. With targets ranging from a 2” circle down to a .25” pencil. I had the opportunity to shoot it with a competitive chassis rifle and high-end optic. It left me with a stupid grin on my face and general amazement about the fun you can have with rimfire ammunition.

Like the long-range rifles, I was fortunate enough to run, I can’t see myself owning that rig, but I do appreciate the performance it delivers. For now, I’m content running a Ruger 10/22 and a simple, auto-reset spinner target at the cabin. I can work on fundamentals and introduce others to the fun of recreational shooting. Who knows where we’ll go from here, but I know .22LR will always have a spot on my bench.

Rob Utendorfer | Graphic Design and Photographer