Since the strings and fingerings are the same on the mandolin and the violin (and irish tenor banjo) it makes sense. My mandolin playing is getting better along side my violin playing – though I only practice the mandolin about 1/10 the time for violin. The spacing is wider, more like a viola (my next instrument), but you really need better finger strength in the pinky.
I have a flat back Rover student mandolin, and this past summer my dad gave me my great grandfather’s bowl-backed mandolin (I didn’t even know we had any musicians in the family). Unfortunately, the instrument has been poorly cared for and needs a lot of repairs, there is a luthier near by, so maybe he can help salvage it. It’s not very expensive instrument to start with,