In a society that often proclaims “bigger is better”—big trucks, big houses, big decks (on big houses)—it’s easy to think that size is important. When it comes to rifle marksmanship size does matter. Smaller is better. Why? Because it teaches you more. Think of beginning marksmanship as learning how to fly a plane . . .
As a new student, you don’t jump into a Gulfstream GS650. No. You start out in a dinky prop plane. And for good reason . . .
Cheaper to buy – At the beginning of your aviation eduction you don’t know if flying is your thing. Even if you do, even if you have a few spare million, you don’t know enough to spend your money wisely.
Cheaper to fly – More flying, more training. More training, better flying. Better flying, more fun. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Fits more places – You don’t need a huge runway to train properly, in some cases you can even use an open grassy field, creating more opportunity to train [see: above]
Less intimidating – Basic prop planes are smaller and less intimidating than a big jet, offering more psychological comfort for the student.
More educational – With less power to muscle through the air a small plane is more sensitive to its environment and the pilot’s commands. Overlook a wind pattern or a weather system and the instruments will do the Charleston on your dash.
Now let’s apply that to learning marksmanship with a .22-caliber rifle . . .
Cheaper to buy – A high-quality .22 rifle is less expensive than its larger-calibered cousins
Cheaper to shoot – Even with the massive rush on .22 ammo and the subsequent surge in price you can still buy 50 rounds of .22 ammo for the same cost as a couple of rounds of, say, 7mm. Also, a quality olympic style .22 barrel will maintain its accuracy for at least 15,000 rounds.
Fits more places – You can shoot a .22-caliber rifle on much smaller ranges than you need to stretch the legs of a higher-powered rifle. You can shoot at indoor ranges or small patches of land (away from houses and people, with a proper backstop of course).
Less intimidating – Shooting a .22 generates less recoil than larger caliber rifles, which eliminates accuracy-killing flinching and makes the gun more shootable for longer.
More educational – A .22-caliber rifle is a tough teacher. Overlook of a fundamental on a small target (e.g., a smooth trigger) and you’ll miss your mark. With less power and a lighter round, the .22 gives the marksmen the chance to learn “wind doping” (compensating for wind).
After you master the art of shooting the .22-caliber rifle you’ll have confidence with the solid foundation of marksmanship fundamentals. Then you can fluidly move up to larger caliber rifles. Or maybe not. Once you get used to the handling and feel of a precision .22 you might just find that good things come in small packages. So to speak.