Have a child that is interested in shooting? That’s the first step.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about bringing new shooters into the fold, but that was geared towards showing new adult shooters the joys of the shooting sports. Introducing children to shooting can be a whole different ball game.
The hardest part is getting past all the video games and computers and getting them interested in trying to actually shoot. Once you have that interest, the rest can be easy. Any time we get to spend with our children doing something both the parents and child love to do is rewarding. It builds great memories and close relationships.
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I still remember all the fun times spent in the backyard plinking away with an air rifle or on the river bank fishing with my father. These are memories I cherish and hope to build the same memories with my children.
How soon is too soon?
Many parents wonder how soon is too soon to expose their children to the shooting sports. It’s pretty much a judgement call, but sometimes, the sooner the better.
If we teach our kids to respect guns and what they can do at a young age, then they will carry that knowledge into adulthood. For example, my father taught my siblings and I about the Universal Gun Safety Rules at a very young age, and how to treat and handle a gun. Having that knowledge helped teach me to have the respect for guns I needed.
Let them start shooting when they are ready. Don’t force them into shooting if they are scared or hesitant. That could turn them off to any interest in the future. Let them move forward at their own pace to learn and get comfortable with shooting.
Once they have caught the bug to shoot, kids will want to go all the time. Getting them their own air rifle or child-sized .22 is a great idea. Take them to the range with you whenever you can. Let them try different calibers and guns, but within reason. Be safe and keep educating them and let them grow in their knowledge.
There are many ways to keep that love of shooting alive. You may have a local gun club that hosts youth shoots or classes. They may even hold leagues in air rifle and .22 that the kids can shoot at.
Look into the 4H Shooting Sports in your county or state. Send them to the 4H Shooting Sports Camps. They will get plenty of instruction from experienced instructors, get a chance to shoot many different kinds of guns and most importantly get the opportunity to spend time with kids their own age that share a love of shooting too. Some local summer camps may include shooting in their activities. Make sure to research and find out which ones and let them experience that.
There are many Youth Shooting Sports Programs all over the United States. Search around for some national programs as well as programs in your state.
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Whatever route you choose, the most important thing is spending time with your children both on an off the range. These will be memories they will carry into adulthood.
Do you have any memories of learning to shoot when you were younger? At what age did you start shooting? Who was the one who taught you to shoot? Share with us in the comments below.