By Darlene McCormick Sanchez
Lone Star Outdoor News
In the traditional world of hunting, the idea of teaching youths to use an AR-15 type rifle with a silencer to shoot a deer isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But that may be about to change — albeit slowly. With the proliferation of modern guns and possibility of silencer purchases becoming less restrictive, novice hunters may learn to hunt in a way their parents never did.
The underlying reason for the movement will likely stem from the advantages semiautomatic rifles offer, according to Andrew Houser, an owner of Modern Outfitters in the Dallas area.
“They are gaining in popularity in Texas,” Houser said, adding they are perfectly suitable for deer or hog hunting.
Another factor that’s increasing the popularity of modern rifles is the cool factor. With their coloring, custom triggers, match barrels that increase accuracy and lighter weight, these rifles are the equivalent to a souped-up sports car.
Houser taught his three children to hunt with his modern carbine rifles and silencers for simple reasons: The rifles are relatively lightweight and have adjustable stocks to fit smaller frames, and the silencers cut down on noise and recoil.
The loud noise and kick make children afraid to shoot guns, and it makes them develop bad habits like flinching when they take a shot, he said.
“A silencer eats recoil,” he added. Using one with a .308 cuts the recoil to something akin to shooting a .223.
Houser said he has purposefully put empty rounds in a .30-06 to demonstrate that most adults will jerk when they pull the trigger because they expect a blast and recoil. These types of bad habits aren’t developed when children are trained on nontraditional rifles and equipment from the beginning.
Another issue is missing that teachable moment in the blind when a game animal approaches. Children with ear protection have a hard time hearing adults instructing them on shooting. A silencer pretty much eliminates that problem, plus it won’t scare away any remaining animals.
Of course, cost is what drives many parents to buy youth rifles because they are inexpensive. Families spend $400 on a youth rifle, but have no use for it once the child matures.
Houser pointed out that an AR-15 type rifle costs more, but it can be used from childhood to adulthood. Modern rifles can also be used by other adults in the family, making it an economical purchase.
Houser’s children — Natalie, and twins Jack and Luke —have used modern rifles since they were around 6 or 7 years old. Natalie, now 12, said many kids get their first impressions of guns from Hollywood. Guns seem loud and scary when watching people shoot them in the movies.
But when she actually shot a gun with a silencer, her experience was totally different than what she expected.
“I think it made it a lot less scary,” she said.
While she has been raised to shoot a modern rifle with a silencer, she also knows first hand what it’s like to shoot a traditional rifle. About two years ago a friend asked her to shoot a rifle while at a deer lease. She put on earmuffs and pulled the trigger. What she remembers most is the kick and the noise.
With her rifle it’s different: “Instead, it just glides back and keeps you steady and focused,” she said. This year she shot a 10-point buck with a Modern Carbine MC6 in 6.8 SPC with Leupold MARK6 scope and a Surefire Genesis silencer.
Her 9-year-old brothers both seem to like using modern hunting rifles as well. Jack said he likes the silencers because when he’s hunting pigs they don’t run away because of the noise.
“It made me fearless shooting a gun. I just think it’s really cool,” Jack said.