NRL22: A Shooting Sport I Never Thought I Would Do
I really enjoy shooting. It's my passion, hobby, and side hustle. Running around racing the clock and fighting for accuracy shooting pistols in USPSA is my favorite thing to do. And while there are literally dozens of different shooting sports out there I thought I would not have any interest in any other. At least until my youngest had the bug bit him.
For Christmas a few years ago I got a little Savage Rascal .22 rifle. It's very small, made for kids to learn on, and only capable of holding one round. That little gun, which also has no scope and rudimentary peep sights that I'm sure are impossible to truly zero, has been worn out by my youngest boy Esia. My other two will shoot it when they happen to be at the range with me but they don't ask to go. Esia wants to go every day. He even told me he'd rather go shooting than play video games. That's saying something.
A few weeks ago we were at the range and had a fairly big steel target on the 100 yard range to shoot my other rifles on. I asked him if he wanted to shoot his Rascal. He of course said yes. Being 100 yards away was four times farther than he'd ever shot before. I told him to hold it a little higher and give it a whirl. On the fourth try he got it. He rang it two more times out of a total of 12 rounds. He was pretty pumped. I was pretty proud. Especially considering that me and my 40-something eyes couldn't hit that target.
Since he has never been involved in a sport or activity, and the other two had been busy with gymnastics, ninja, and other things, I figured we could drop a few hundred bucks on a proper rifle for him to start participating in a relatively new sport that is now being shot in growing numbers around the country, and only available in the Sioux Falls area since June.
NRL22, the .22 rimfire offshoot of the National Rifle League, has caught fire across the country. There are over 800 member and counting, 102 clubs around the country shooting 65 matches per month. Four matches a month are held in South Dakota. The concept is pretty simple. It's based on long range precision rifle shooting but is scaled down for the much more affordable and accessible .22 long rifle rimfire caliber, the same caliber used in the Olympics. You can shoot a fancy custom rifle or buy one off the shelf for a reasonable amount of money. The Sioux River Sportsmen's Club hosts NRL22 matches on the first Sunday of every month. Also hosting matches are Black Hills, Pierre, Huron, and Watertown.
My son and I are going to shoot our first match this Sunday in Watertown and the new range there. We finally got out to shoot his new Ruger Precision Rimfire, which he was quite pleased the only one we could find had an American flag finish on it. It hits what you aim at, that's for sure. His first 100 yard shot on a 3 inch target didn't find it's mark, because he just needs to learn how to use the scope better, but he finally got it!
While the game is generally simpler than the pistol sport I play, it's completely different and I'm sure I will learn a whole lot. I've always thought long range rifle shooting was cool, but the bar for entry is pretty high. My deer rifle isn't exactly competitive equipment. But grabbing even a bean-can rifle and a cheap scope and bipod will get the job done. I'm excited, but not as much as Esia is.
I didn't think I would have fun trying to hit really small things far away with a .22, but I do.