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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Location
    VA
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    11,903

    Default Guns and Shooting: recommendations for a newbie.

    Which one(s) of you out there are expert(s) ... beside Tom King (of course.)

    I have HAD it with the ground hogs, that are now so entrenched under my barn ... well, I don't know what to do. I'm seriously considering buying a bazooka, sticking it down one of their numerous holes (where they live) and pulling the proverbial trigger.

    Ok, I am kidding.

    But I really should learn to shoot. My BIL, who used to ranch in Montana, recommended a 22 Magnum. Whatever that is. Plus, I really want to be prepared in case any of the wild dogs that live around here start to pester the horses.

    What do the rest of you CoTHers do ... ? Can you shoot? Let me know what you'd recommend...and yes, I do know this is NOT going to be a 5-minute exercise. It's going to take a lot of time to learn to shoot correctly and accurately.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2006
    Posts
    2,420

    Default

    Do you have a gun club or shooting range around that you could go to and get some shooting practice in and try different guns? That would probably be the best thing if you know nothing. They can teach you gun safety, teach you how to shoot, and you can try out several guns to see what you are most comfortable with.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    4,266

    Default

    I took the state run hunter's safety class - it's free, and was run by two really good guys, both of whom offered follow-up lessons at the local gun club for anyone interested. 80% of the participants had been shooting all their lives and just needed to qualify for hunting licenses. The rest of us were newbies.

    The first day was a bunch of demonstrations and videos, and the second day we all got to try shooting down on the club range. I envied the little boys who knocked down every target, while I shot randomly out over the swamp, hitting nothing.

    It was a good overview, and gets you a license. Then you can follow up with practice with one of the instructors... or your uncle, or whoever.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,903

    Default

    hey, mjrtango93. Thanks for replying.

    Well, there's one that I pass on my home from work on Saturday. I went in there last week ... there were about 50 ... uhh ... guys there, all dressed in camo. Talk about feeling out of place ... it was pretty, umm pretty much like WalMart on a sales day, if you get my drift.

    They do have a shooting range ... that was actively being used ... fairly deafening, as a matter of fact. Of couse, I wasn't looking for the Ralph Lauren of gun shops, ... but maybe something a little LESS hysterical?

    Do you shoot? If so, how did you get started ???
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,903

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    I took the state run hunter's safety class -
    That's a great idea. I wonder if I need a license to shoot on my own property the mini-bears (aka groundhogs). I'll check out the info for VA.

    THANKS!
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    4,266

    Default

    OM - the scene at the club might be intimidating, but smile and be charming, and you'll find a good number of guys who know a lot and are happy to help.

    There ARE the Ralph Lauren gun clubs, too, but do you really want/need to pay $300 an hour and have someone wipe your boots on the way in the door?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep. 21, 2009
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Definitely contact a local gun club that offers the class for hunting licenses. I've done some competition shooting, and gun people are so awesome - they truly love the sport and are excited when others want to participate. I got help from some highly qualified champion shooters, and had a blast - pun intended. For the ground hog holes, have you tried removing them? I love shooting, but hate killing, yet if they are going to break a horse's leg or hurt someone, I will. I've also known folks to drop smoke bombs in the hole, and then see where it comes out and have folks help shovel manure over the hole to trap them inside Also, a good gun store can help you decide on the best gun for you, and the best ammo - you want to be able to kill the bad critters without the bullet going through them and hitting something else!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    10,052

    Default

    You PROBABLY don't (around here at least they're 'vamints') but definitely check, and find out about a hunter-safety course.

    For pest control, my dad uses a .22 long rifle for distance shots and a .22 target pistol for killing animals in a live trap (mostly raccoons and possums). I wouldn't get anything bigger caliber. Hand or long gun depends on regulations where you live and what you're more comfortable with--I've always had an easier time sighting with handguns, for example.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2006
    Posts
    2,420

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
    hey, mjrtango93. Thanks for replying.

    Well, there's one that I pass on my home from work on Saturday. I went in there last week ... there were about 50 ... uhh ... guys there, all dressed in camo. Talk about feeling out of place ... it was pretty, umm pretty much like WalMart on a sales day, if you get my drift.

    They do have a shooting range ... that was actively being used ... fairly deafening, as a matter of fact. Of couse, I wasn't looking for the Ralph Lauren of gun shops, ... but maybe something a little LESS hysterical?

    Do you shoot? If so, how did you get started ???
    I used to shoot, but not anymore. I live in the burbs, and just don't have a need. I actually got started when I was about 8 with my grandfather. He thought every child should know about guns and gun safety and be able to hit something should the need arise. He actually took me to the gun club he was part of and I took a couple courses through them, plus shooting time with gramps and one of the instructors. I was a pretty damn good shot then too! I was always told your ability to hit your target was directly related to how comfortable you were with your firearm, hence trying out several before you buy one. Even as a kid a was an ace with a rifle which they all said should have been to much for me, go figure. Can honestly say I haven't actually fired a gun in well over 8 years now though, but pretty sure I could if need be.

    Gun clubs can be intimidating (and yes very loud, bring ear plugs it helps), but just go to the registration desk and speak with them. The couple gun clubs I have gone to have been incredibly nice and informative, and none were the Ralph Lauren type (but I must say better then Walmart on sale days). You may just want to find a slightly different club, or actually wait until hunting season is more underway. Bet you had a lot of hunters there getting ready for the season to begin and it will quite down once they can get out of the club.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,903

    Default

    Just made my first call. Apparently the classes are declining ... probably because of the season? Ok. I can cope with that. One of the volunteer leaders will call me later today to explain more.

    I do know one rule is NO SHOOTING ON SUNDAY. Even "varmits", danceronice!

    OMGiH! There ARE RL gun clubs!!! Go figure ... who'd a thunk it. I was just being a smart alec!

    Ok, now I'm going to search for "gun clubs" and see what I come up with. Thanks everybody!!! You're a lot of help!

    Well, I looked at three clubs that were fairly close.

    1st one ... handguns.
    2nd one ... no educational series ... but lots of social stuff! Oh, and skeet shooting.
    3rd one ... Uhhhhh, not interested in learning about TEACHING, ... or automatic weapons, or concealed handguns.

    This is a leetle more explosive than I want!
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2006
    Posts
    2,420

    Default

    I forgot to mention do you have a police academy or sheriff training around you? We live across the highway from the local police academy and they even do classes for the public there that might be slightly less intimidating (well if you are ok being surrounded by cops). I think they do gun safety classes, and I know they have a couple hours a week for the public to shoot.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2001
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    11,903

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mjrtango93 View Post
    I forgot to mention do you have a police academy or sheriff training around you?

    Well, brrrrrrrr. I went to the sheriff site for my county...got distracted by all the ***offenders living nearby. That's enough to scare the bejesus out of you!!

    Anyway, I'll try calling when I get home.
    "For God hates utterly
    The bray of bragging tongues."
    Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Posts
    22,379

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
    That's a great idea. I wonder if I need a license to shoot on my own property the mini-bears (aka groundhogs). I'll check out the info for VA.

    THANKS!

    You do not need a license to hunt on your OWN property in Virginia.

    PM me your location (county is fine) and I'll try and help you locate a good firing range. If you feel nervous or uncomfortable about being a "newbie", if you're close by I'd be happy to meet you at the range.

    Also, in addition to taking the hunter safety education course (anyone can take it not just hunters), you can take on-line courses free here:

    http://www.ihea.com/

    It's designed for hunters - but anyone can benefit and learn something about safety in the woods - not just firearm/hunting safety.

    Hope that helps.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2006
    Location
    Spruce Grove AB
    Posts
    821

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldenburg Mom View Post
    hey, mjrtango93. Thanks for replying.

    Well, there's one that I pass on my home from work on Saturday. I went in there last week ... there were about 50 ... uhh ... guys there, all dressed in camo. Talk about feeling out of place ... it was pretty, umm pretty much like WalMart on a sales day, if you get my drift.

    They do have a shooting range ... that was actively being used ... fairly deafening, as a matter of fact. Of couse, I wasn't looking for the Ralph Lauren of gun shops, ... but maybe something a little LESS hysterical?

    Do you shoot? If so, how did you get started ???
    Trust me, guys like that love to teach people about firearms! very helpful! Def get a safety course under your belt as a start. And those guys can help you along with anything!

    i'll shoot something if it is causing problems, a nice light .22 rifle is all you need, they aren't heavy and have very little kick to them.

    I started out young, my dad was a huge firearm and hunting enthiust (sp) (and he was not the full camo garb wal-mart type guy)



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    38,417

    Default

    My closest neighbor is our sheriff and he took me to the range he runs, taught me how to shoot properly with different guns, etc.

    You could ask your sheriff who he recommends for someone like you, wanting to get started.

    I would say a 22 long basic rifle is all you need to potshot smaller varmint and that doesn't really need much instruction, just some common sense.

    I don't think you can get rid of groundhogs by shooting them.
    Ask a local pest control business if they do it for you.
    There are ways to try to run them off, Gemplers.com has several kinds, castor oil works for that here.

    Still, knowing how to use a gun is good thinking.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Posts
    22,379

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    For the OP -

    Here is a link to a list of shooting ranges in VA. See if any are close to you and give 'em a call.

    I'm sure it's a bit intimidating - all that camo. But it's deer season - you'll be seeing a lot of it at ranges right now.

    Here you go:

    http://wheretoshoot.org/Find_Range/wts_subresults.asp



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 9, 2000
    Location
    California
    Posts
    7,817

    Default

    OMG, I love shooting - it is a lot of fun and a good thing to know how to do (of course with the caveat that you know all about gun safety). Mr. PoPo and I go to the indoor AND the outdoor ranges a lot and also do competitive pistol shooting.

    Call the gun club / range and ask if they offer private instruction - it is less intimidating that just showing up and trying to rent on your own. A shooting class will teach you all about gun safety and will get you time in the range to practice shooting targets and getting comfortable.

    A 22 is what you would want for varmints - they are easy to shoot with almost no recoil. A rifle will be more accurate than a pistol for long distances...say if you want to sit on your porch, sip lemonade, and have at it!

    You will need a lot of range time to practice getting used to the feel of your gun - for such a basic function, there are a lot of variances in magazines, safetys, etc. Getting practice shooting clay pigeons would also be a good way to get used to shooting at something that moves - 'cause varmints are a lot different from paper targets, that's for sure!

    I find most people love to share their knowledge of the sport and teach newcomers the ins/outs/how-tos of shooting. I learned from Mr. PoPo and one of our neighbors who has a huge collection and loves to take us shooting. We went last weekend and shot old military rifles and hunting rifles and ranch rifles and it was great fun.

    Ear protection and eye protection are MUSTS and our range does not allow shooting without them.
    My Mustang Adventures - my blog!
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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2002
    Location
    Henrico, NC 36 30'50.49" N 77 50'17.47" W
    Posts
    5,733

    Default

    I did a quick search to find a trajectory for a.22 Magnum and found this. Scroll down to post #13. The max effective range to be consistantly able to hit something with a .22 magnum is 150 yards. Looks like it drops a LOT at 150 yards if you sight it in at 100. A .22 Magnum would be the minimum for groundhogs.

    They can be found around the entrance to their holes at first light and right at sunset.

    http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...hreadid=102205

    Groundhogs are very wary and hard to not scare away if you are less than 200 yards away. Most people who shoot varmints use something like a .22-250.

    To learn to shoot, get a .22LR since ammo is so cheap. It takes many rounds to get proficient enough to depend on your own skill. Often the availablilty to take a shot is so brief that you don't have time to think about all the details.

    Here's another bullet trajectory chart I found: .22Magnum is .22 WMR
    http://www.chuckhawks.com/rifle_trajectory_table.htm
    The last column shows at what yardage the bullet drops 3". That's the one that makes the most difference in being able to hit something like a groundhog in the head. Notice that it's 90 yards for a .22LR, 123 for a .22WMR, and 254 yards for a .22-250.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2009
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    4,888

    Default

    Wouldn't it be easier to get a dog?



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2000
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,752

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    I'd like to find a good one in NOVA as well. My dad keeps buying my siblings guns for their birthdays... good little Washingtonians that we are.
    ---
    They're small hearts.



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