Today we have become a society where we default to bigger being better. Instead of a rifle with a single shot we want the ability to follow-up with as many shots as the firearm can hold and then carry around additional magazines to further increase capacity. In my opinion marksmanship has suffered as a result of this ideology.
I remember the Winchester Model 67 my father let me use which was given to him as a boy. It was a 22 caliber and could shoot shorts, long and long rifle, but was a bolt-action single shot with no clip or magazine (please note for those cringing at my use of the term clip, some rifles to employ a clip). Your shot had to count or it would take too long to reload and get off a second shot. I’d often keep bullets in my lips (I know, a bad idea) to be ready to go if I needed a follow-up shot.
The first time he gave me the gun I set up an old paper oil can in a tree and tried to hit it and could not hit the broad side of a barn. My mother was a ferocious typist and I borrowed some liquid paper and dotted the front sight to make it more visible. From then on I was deadly accurate with that rifle. I like to squirrel hunt and we would eat the squirrel for supper after I finished up the hunt. My grandmother would not allow me to shoot them in the head since she wanted the brains so I would have to hit the squirrel with a deadly shot in the heart. Lest you think that is an easy shot just try to figure out where the heart is in a squirrel when it is running between trees. I remember one particularly fast squirrel got seven shots at him and I though I was missing until I brought the poor boy down and found seven holes in him.
Over time I got better with that rifle. One day while squirrel hunting with a buddy we saw a tweety bird bouncing from limb to limb. I’m not exactly sure what type of bird it was, but that is what we called them. He started to take aim with a shotgun and I told him to save the shell I’d take it out with the Model 67. I watched the bird bounce at 50-70 yards and noticed it stopped for a split second when it hit the limb. After a few more bounces I pulled the trigger and we had us a tweety bird. Another time we found a snake poking it’s head out of a cinder block wall and my father wanted me to shoot it. We thought about a shotgun, but that would mar the wall so I suggested the old Winchester. Pulled it out and by the time I got there all you could see on the snake was the tip of it’s head. I took aim into the crack from above and a few seconds later the snake, having been shot, released it’s muscles and slowly slid out of the wall. It was about 6 feet long so it took awhile to reach the ground.
So why today would anyone want a single shot? Perhaps nostalgia for times gone by or perhaps they desire to improve their marksmanship. Often today bolt-action rifles come with a magazine which is not a bad thing, however if you want to know you have to make your shots count, a single shot is the way to go.