Unless you started shooting later in life you probably started out shooting real guns with a firearm chambered in the venerable .22 LR. In the minds of many shooters, this is where the .22 remains, a basic cartridge for kids and beginners, or relegated to hunting pests and squirrels and the occasional lazy Saturday spent plinking tin cans.
But it isn’t kids, hunters or plinkers sending the price of .22 ammunition soaring to four times what it should be. Today, there is an entire new crop of shooters that recognize the potential of the lowly .22 for a lot more. They recognize it as an excellent training aid, one that is cost effective, easier to accommodate on small ranges and can even be used for self-defense.
The .22 LR cartridge is far cheaper than standard centerfire ammunition, (which means more shooting and practice time), it has minimal recoil (which means a greater focus on the fundamentals of proper grip, sight alignment and trigger control) and less fatigue for the shooter. Today, firearms manufacturers are responding to this training aspect by developing conversion kits as well as dedicated guns that mimic full-caliber versions but are chambered for the .22.
Fortunately, the good folks over at Panteao Productions have recently released a new training DVD specifically to address this growing market, Make Ready with Bane & Yost: Training with a 22. Michael Bane and Tom Yost are both accomplished shooters and extremely well suited to discuss the many advantages of using the .22 for training.
The DVD, which is also available for viewing online with a subscription, starts with a history of the .22 that explains how it is the oldest continually produced cartridge the in the world, with its original design dating to before 1850. The .22 LR cartridge as it exists today first appeared in 1887 and has been adopted for use in a multitude of rifles and pistols.
Bane starts by explaining how shooting a .22 trains the brain to shoot period, regardless of what other gun you intend to use. He and Yost then progress to selecting the right handgun—everything from competition target guns to tactical guns that replicate the look and feel of handguns preferred for self-defense use and concealed carry. Bane also discusses the increase in popularity of .22 handguns with threaded barrels, allowing for the quick and easy addition of a suppressor. Revolvers and conversion kits that allow standard center fire pistols to shoot .22 LR are also discussed.
Rifle selection is next, focusing on the classic Ruger 10/22 and its incredible range of aftermarket parts and variability. They also discuss the advent of AR-styled rifles chambered specifically for the .22 LR cartridge. Their greatest advantage is that they allow anyone who owns an AR to train with a rifle that is identical in its operation, size, weight and feel, but that is much easier and cheaper to shoot. Of course, AR owners also have access to easy conversion kits that either replace the upper receiver with a dedicated .22 receiver or a bolt replacement kit that allows for users to chamber and fire the .22 from the standard AR. Accessories, magazines, optics and reactive targets are all part of the mix as well, with products specifically designed to function with .22 firearms.
Most beneficial is when Yost and Bane discuss their training regimen and how they incorporate the .22 LR. Start with a clear goal in mind when you head out to the range and first fire a standard group to check zero and function. Because of the low training costs, you can identify specific problem areas, such as poor follow-through, and focus training there to improve. Speed drills are another area where the .22 can help improve your skill set. When preparing for a competition, Yost will train extensively with his .22 until about a week before and then switch to his standard pistol.
The pair also discusses something that many experts recommend against, using the .22 LR for self-defense. Of course, everyone agrees that the best gun to have in a fight is the gun you have with you, and if a .22 is all you have, then you need to know how best to make it work to your advantage. They start by discussing the sensitive nature of the cartridge itself. Unlike centerfire ammunition, rimfire ammunition has a tendency to be very finicky, and you should try out different types to find the most reliable for a particular gun. Also, .22 guns don’t run well when they’re dirty, so keeping your guns clean is of paramount importance.
When using a sub-caliber firearm for self-defense, you can’t rely as much on the stopping power of the round. It takes five shots from a .22 to roughly equal the force of one round from a .45 ACP. Instead, Bane emphasizes volume, placing as many shots as possible in the critical area of the target, meaning center-mass, as quickly as possible. As a longer barrel will produce higher velocities—and since many semi-automatic rifles also have higher capacity magazines available—this is what Bane recommends for self-defense with a .22.
This high-volume strategy should also be incorporated into any training regimen, especially if there is any likelihood that a .22 is what you may have to use for self-defense. Bane also recommends using the highest-velocity and highest-quality .22 ammunition you can find. No one wants to get shot, and an assailant that is not dissuaded by being hit with several .22 rounds will likely not be dissuaded by much else either that does not destroy a vital organ or the central nervous system.
Training On Demand
This informative and helpful DVD ends with an extended range session where Yost and Bane run through a series of drills on the ideal use of .22 rifles and pistols. They discuss grip, body position, speed, distance and accuracy for various scenarios as well as different types of competition.
Panteao Productions has a huge selection of training DVDs that brings top experts directly to you in the convenience of your home. There are many advantages to live training with an instructor, but I like the ability to rewind and watch specific training techniques over and over and depending on your DVD even in slow motion. Of course, you don’t have to wait for a DVD to arrive in the mail since Panteao Productions also offers a subscription service that allows you to watch all of its training videos online.