There's just one day left to go at the 2019 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Indianapolis, Indiana...but if yours is an NRA family, there's a booth you just can't miss: Keystone Sporting Arms, featuring Crickett and Chipmunk rifles for the youngest beginning shooters. Just be careful; you might start craving multiple scoops of ice cream, because, as Keystone's Jim Pencak tells us, "We're like the 31 flavors of safe .22 rifles for beginning shooters."
Keystone Sporting Arms may be nearing its 25th birthday, but you can tell they're kids at heart...they're very much in touch with what beginning shooters need to learn firearms handling and safety. First, you need a small, soft-recoiling caliber that's gentle on the ears; that's why nothing is chambered in anything bigger than a .22. (Well, that's not entirely true as of this show, but we'll get to that in a minute!) Second, you need a single-shot, bolt-action that allows the instructor, mentor or parent to demonstrate how to clearly identify an empty chamber vs. a loaded one. Third, you need a firearm that's sized right for small hands and arms.
Finally, you need fun. Although it's important to stress that these are working firearms and not toys, kids love having a unique rifle that's different from everyone else's. With the wide variety of styles and colors on offer, all of the above is a cinch.
Why didn't they have these when I was a kid?
Many of us made our first foray into the world of shooting with a .22, but what about shotgun shooting? As you probably know, clay games competition has become a leading sport for young people (and one that doesn't rely on speed or athleticism). That said, the recoil of a too-large 12- or 20-gauge shotgun can be unpleasant for juniors, and it's important to make their first shotgun experiences one they're eager to repeat. That's why 2019 marks the introduction of Keystone's newest long gun and their first shotgun ever. It's called, simply enough, "My First Shotgun," and it's chambered in .410. With its downsized construction and soft-shooting .410 bore chambering, this is a shottie that'll keep 'em coming back for more (*instead of complaining their shoulders are sore).