As a parent and firearm enthusiast, the aspect of introducing your child to firearms can be both exhilarating and terrifying. Thanks to modern-day technology, there are many ways to interactively teach a child rules of firearm safety before they even pick up a firearm. This includes laser training. And what better to practice with than a SIG Sauer P320 Air Pistol?
If you ask my daughter, she’ll tell you she is 10 years old. I certainly don’t want to stifle her ambition, but she actually won’t be 10 for a few months. Either way, when you grow up with a dad who makes his living carrying and teaching about guns, you will have made many trips to the range by the time you reach age 10. Shiloh is no stranger to guns, but she had never been overly interested in learning to shoot until a few months ago. I, of course, told her I would be happy to teach her. However, she would have to learn the four rules of gun safety before we began. I sweetened the pot by promising her a $5 bill when she could recite them from memory and explain what they meant.
I listened intently one evening as she went over each of the four rules for me:
- Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
- Never point your gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
- Know what is both in front of and behind your target.
I handed over the $5 bill with a smile and a promise that we would go shooting soon.
I had a few things I wanted to make sure we accomplished. Beginning with the fundamentals of shooting, I knew it would be important for her to have some instant gratification for her efforts. Finally, I wanted to make sure I had a controllable environment without distractions. All this seemed to point in one direction: a CO2 air pistol, reactive targets and shooting in the backyard. I began to search the marketplace and was pleasantly surprised to see SIG Sauer had everything I wanted with one-stop shopping on their website.
I selected the P320 AIR PISTOL in black for several reasons. It was CO2 powered, which meant we could concentrate on the shooting rather than the mechanics. Nothing is worse than having a gun that requires a mechanical engineer to load and unload, and luckily the magazine is easily removable by the thumb-activated release on the grip. It holds 30 rounds of steel BBs or .177 caliber pellets. This pistol also approximates the shape and size of an actual service pistol with real sights affixed to the reciprocating slide.
I know this is probably a little large for my daughter at her current age. However, I wanted to begin acclimating her to a full-sized gun so the transition to a .22 caliber rimfire and then to a 9mm will be smooth as she gets older. Also, this will allow me to acclimate her to the movement of the slide and the weight and feel she will experience with the other guns.
Staying On Target
My next task was to decide what kind of targets to purchase. I will freely admit I might have gone a little overboard here. What first caught my attention was the Quad shooting gallery airgun target. This is an all-metal pellet trap system that has four silhouette targets along with a center reset for a mere $50.
As I continued to browse the selection of targets I could not believe what I saw. They actually had a Texas Star target just for airguns. This insidious torture device has nine mini-silhouette targets that flip out of the way when hit, causing the remaining targets to spin on the center axis, even going so far as to change directions. I couldn’t pass on this – it was only $50 for all that fun!
Just for good measure I went ahead and threw in the quad spinner target. I mean, for $15 how can you go wrong?
So, with my cart full I checked out for just over $250, delivered free to my door. Heck, I’ve spent this much on ammunition alone for one trip to the range.
- Model: P320 ASP
- Operating System: 12 Gram CO2
- Caliber: .177 Cal.
- Muzzle Velocity: Up to 430 fps
- Trigger: 6.75 lbs.
- Accessory Rail: M1913
- Mags Included: 30-rd. pellet mag
- Overall Length: 9.6 in.
- Weight: 2.2 lbs.
- MSRP: $120
- Manufacturer: SIG Sauer
Let the Games Begin
We had decided a Sunday afternoon would be the big day. As is always the case when I order something, I was dreading the assembly process. I allotted myself two hours to assemble the targets and get everything ready to go. This two hours, however, turned out to be only about 25 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that as I removed everything from the boxes they were fully assembled, save the Texas Star. The Texas Star required exactly two wingnuts to fully install the legs and three wingnuts to install the nine arms. The airgun came ready for action and the process of installing the CO2 cartridge and loading the pellets was simple and straightforward.
First, I had Shiloh review the four rules of gun safety. I then put a CO2 cartridge in the gun without any pellets and I fired it with her watching the slide go back and forth to allow her to become comfortable with the movement she would see as she fired the gun. I demonstrated hand placement and trigger placement and asked her to hold the gun as I had shown her. Finally, we discussed sight alignment and I let her dry fire the gun a few times.
We talked for a few minutes about how to load the removable magazine and I demonstrated with a couple of pellets. I then removed these pellets and explained that I don’t load magazines or bait fishhooks for other people. She gave me a smile and began loading her first magazine. With this completed, I had her read the instructions printed in the magazine and she inserted it correctly the first time. I was one proud pop at this point!
We lined up about 3 yards from the quad shooting gallery and I encouraged her to squeeze the trigger until it stopped. I wish I could say she scored a hit with her first round, but with a little coaching, the targets were quickly falling.
The first magazine of 30 rounds went fast and she was loading away. We switched targets, and the feedback from the reactive targets brought smiles and giggles even from Mama, who was behind the camera for this first lesson.
The only task I did not let her perform was changing the CO2 cartridges. It required a little more torque on the screw than I felt she could safely deliver while still being aware of the muzzle.
At one point I thought she was done shooting, and, not wanting to push, her I began to put things away. When she said, “is it okay if I shoot some more?” my reply was simply “I’ve waited nine years to hear you say that.”
Even Mama was happy. She sometimes can shoot me the stink eye when I push our baby too hard, but not today.
The toughest part for me was keeping my hands off the gun – it looked like so much fun.
The Sig P320 air pistol was flawless and delivered shootability and reliability without fail. The magazine loading system was easy to use. Inserting and removing the magazine from the gun was accomplished via the release that comes standard on the Centerfire version. This gun even works in holsters designed for the Centerfire P320.
Accuracy was not an issue with the steel rifled barrel. I feel confident this would be able to take small game at reasonable distances with a muzzle velocity of 430 ft./s using the alloy pellets.
I have no trouble recommending this gun as a teaching tool for first-time shooters or as a fun shoot for adults of all ages. The reactive targets were fantastic and well worth the money and will be used many times in the future.
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