A love of shooting, family hunting vacations, and being outdoors was a passion instilled in me by my parents at a very young age. I’ve spent most of my life in pursuit of some wild game, whether it’s fishing or hunting and enjoyed every opportunity that it has afforded me in my life. However, my greatest opportunity has come here recently when I had the opportunity to pass that love and tradition on to my 4 year old daughter Leela. I was chomping at the bit to finally have the opportunity for a family hunting trip, but I wanted to pick the right time to make sure she understood what it was that we were doing and also to be able to make that connection to father and daughter time spent in the field. I wasn’t sure if at 4 years old that it was the right time, but I was sure that I was going to find out!
After spending time in the yard hunting the ever elusive tin can and cardboard box with a BB Gun, I figured it was time to step up our game to a more advanced firearm. I made a trip to a local gun shop and found myself a Ruger American Predator .22 LR, which comes factory threaded to accept my SilencerCo Sparrow SS suppressor. While noticing she was struggling understanding the concept of iron sights, she seemed really apt to understand the concept of a scope and crosshairs. This led me to finally putting the last piece of the puzzle together and outfitting her rifle with an ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20x. The perfect level of base magnification for her distances and providing the clearest daytime image in an optic I could help her utilize.
Why did I choose a digital scope for a 4 year old you might ask yourself, and here is my answer. The 4K Pro allows me to simultaneously stream, in real time, what she is seeing in the scope and record at the same time. This allows me to teach her proper firearm safety by not disengaging the safety until she has her sight picture ready and has her target and aim point identified. By streaming to my iPad or iPhone, in real time, I could verify exactly what she is seeing and make sure that she is aiming at what she says she is. A couple of dry runs with an empty magazine and we were ready for the real deal. I set up a target at 25 yards and put a quarter sized circle on the box with a black permanent marker. We got back to the shooting mat and I had her get into position behind the rifle. We discussed what she was going to do from start to finish and we verified what her target was and where she was going to aim at it. She verifies she is ready, I verify what she is looking at and her aim point, tell her to go ahead and I hear the little snap of the .22 go off. After a short talk about firearms safety and its importance, we go down range to check her target. She races ahead of me and in a moment of much excitement, she says, “Dad, I hit it!” As soon as I step up to the target, I see one little ragged .22 hole in the top portion of the quarter sized target.
While this was hopefully one of many times that I will get the share in her successes and celebrate her accomplishments in something I hope she grows to love as much as I do, I have to say that the success story wouldn’t be as awesome if I didn’t have the optic to help coach and preserve that moment. The same scope that her dad uses to compete in tournaments or go deer hunting or leisurely coyote hunt on the weekends was the exact same scope that she was able to make her first shot count while discharging a live firearm. The ability to watch in real time and coach her through the scenario while we were practicing made it all much more familiar to her when it was time to do it for real. That, to me, not only furthers my belief and passion for getting our children involved at an early age to teach them respect and responsible use of firearms, but it furthers my belief and support for ATN and the ATN products produced that help to innovate this sport for everyone.