Thinking of buying your kid a BB gun?
“You’ll shoot your eye out” is perhaps the most famous phrase ever uttered in relation to a BB gun.
Yet in spite of the inherent risk, when my brothers and each received one on our tenth Christmas, we never did manage to injure ourselves. Instead, we learned far more from owning those guns than any of us ever expected.
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What did we learn? And what can your kids learn should you buy them a BB gun?
It taught us responsibility and caution
“If you shoot any squirrels, you’ll have to eat them.”
It may sound like a silly threat, but it was one my brothers and I took seriously when we first learned to shoot our BB guns.
Like any kid, we were all eager to grab our guns and shoot, shoot, shoot! That was until we actually held them in our hands, fired a BB pellet, and realized for the first time the sort of impact one shot could make. For those first few months, we were never to shoot our guns unsupervised, and couldn’t have our fingers anywhere near the trigger if we didn’t know exactly where every family member and beloved pet was hiding.
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Guns are dangerous. There’s no denying it. Learning to use one properly means more than learning to point and shoot. It teaches a child to be aware of their surroundings, focus their attention, and to never, ever take a risk with a gun.
It taught us patience
Like anything, shooting takes time. You have to learn how to hold the gun, how to center yourself, how to aim, how to maintain and how to load your weapon. Nobody picks up a gun for the first time and instinctively knows everything there is to know about it.
I remember how frustrated my brothers and I were at first, shooting at the Styrofoam plates our parents had set up as targets. At first, none of us hit them. We wanted to give up, hand back the guns, and go back to watching TV, but we all stuck with it.
Soon, we began to hit the plates. Then, we started competing to see who could actually hit a bullseye. It wasn’t immediate. We practiced for hours a day over the course of months, and in so doing, learned the value of patience and persistence.
There’s an undeniable ‘cool’ factor
Let’s face it. Being able to shoot a gun, any kind of gun, is pretty cool.
Even if shooting isn’t exactly a skill a kid can bring to the playground during recess, the fact remains that there’s something wonderful about being that kid who can say “I went out and practiced shooting my gun this weekend.” At least it’s a welcomed alternative to “I spent my weekend in my basement playing video games.”
It introduced us to a lifelong love at an early age
Learning to shoot a gun can be pretty intimidating. Guns are, quite plainly, weapons, and that can be daunting if you want to learn about them at a later age. Learning how to shoot a gun while you’re young can teach you to respect the weapon, but not to fear it.
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It was this early introduction that eventually led my younger brother to join my father hunting, and me to dabble in archery. As a result, many evenings in my family have been spent shooting at targets in the backyard or taking weekend trips to the gun range.
It’s a skill I plan to continue cultivating the rest of my life, and it was sparked by one well-planned Christmas gift when I was a girl.
Did you receive a BB gun as a child? Have you bought one for your kids? Leave your story below and let us know what it taught you.