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These cartridges have the same general characteristics, light bullets, low velocity, slight report, and a trifling amount of power. Usually one and all of them are cataloged as the proper thing for small game. It depends greatly upon the definition of small game; if we mean song and insectivorous birds the catalogs are right. If, however, small game means turkey, geese, coyotes, woodchucks, foxes, or jack-rabbits, not one of the above cartridges is worth considering. Of course, they will kill sometimes; kill a steer if the bullet is placed in the brain, but following the principle of big game hunters who require a rifle that will kill instantly where the ball strikes fairly, all the .22 rimfires will be found inadequate.

The amount of cruelty and mischief compassed by the .22 rimfires would be startling if known in its entirety. Recently, near my home, where I had been carefully protecting the song birds, I had the pleasure of watching a man out for his daily practice with a .22 automatic. He killed one blue jay that flew fifty yards before falling, dying after its head had been pounded. Of three doves shot at, one got away feathered; one flew some distance, tried to alight on a tree, fell off, and was shot again; a third fell dead after making quite a flight. A mocking bird had one leg shot off, and I have seen it a number of times since, hopping about on its remaining leg. One blue bird and three other little fellows were killed dead on the spot.

The .22 rimfire is the favorite rifle of boys and a certain lawless class of our resident alien population, before whom everything that gets up in front of the gun is game, song birds preferred. The average so-called small game shooter starts out for an afternoon's sport with about two hundred cartridges, and if there is any wild thing which does not draw a shot, the hunter is not the average I am speaking of but an exception. I should estimate that half the little birds that were once in America have been killed by the .22 short and the single barrel shotgun. If the Audubon Society has the real Interest of our songsters at heart it will fire a broadside at these misnamed small game rifles in place of the automatic shotgun.

The real province of the .22's is gallery and short range target work. With them a foundation can be laid for rifle shooting skill, and later an arm can be taken up with which something can be killed in a sportsmanlike manner.

The .22 caliber R. F. is the rifle for the beginner. It cannot be used at long range so none of the problems which later puzzle the rifleman, such as light, wind, atmosphere, temperature, humidity, or elevation are connected with its use. The task of the miniature rifleman is simply one of holding, aiming, and pulling trigger, and he who fails to perfect himself in these has but himself to blame.

Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.

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