All hunters and shooters remember for the rest of their lives the moment when they received their very first gun.
The decision of when a child is ready for the responsibility that comes along with gun ownership is a decision that only a parent can make and is usually different for everyone. It is not something to be taken lightly and it is important for the lucky kid receiving their first gun to understand the responsibility.
Here are five tips on how to give a first gun for Christmas this year.
Choose an Appropriate Model
Making a good decision as to what type of firearm to give as someone's first gun is very important. For many young hunters, a first gun is commonly a single-shot rifle in .22 caliber or a single-shot shotgun chambered in the light-kicking .410 gauge. However, one of those may not be right for everyone. You will want to plan ahead when making this decision and factor in several different variables. There are several questions you can ask yourself to make this process easier.
What type of game does the person who will be teaching the young hunter how to shoot and hunt usually target? How old is the person receiving the gun as a gift? Does the young hunter have any prior shooting or hunting experience?
The answers to those questions will help you to arrive at the best decision as far as model and caliber of first gun is best. I believe that no one can go wrong with receiving a .22 rifle as their first gun. It is the perfect way to learn proper gun handling practices and solid shooting technique due to its low recoil and cheap ammo. There are a plethora of different .22 rifles that would make wonderful first guns. They are affordable, reliable and, with proper care, will last a lifetime. If you want to start with something a little less intense, a BB gun is always a great choice for teaching responsibility and proper shooting technique.
Make it the Last Gift to Be Opened
The excitement of Christmas morning can be fast-paced and even overwhelming at times. It is a great idea to make a first gun the last gift to be opened on the holiday. Let some of the excitement pass before presenting the lucky recipient with what is sure to be their favorite gift. Gun ownership is not to be taken lightly and this idea needs to start being instilled within a young hunter from the very start.
Making the first gun the last gift to be opened also makes sure that plenty of focus can be given to the lucky recipient. Questions can be answered. Pictures can be taken. Safety can be stressed. These are all important things to keep in mind when giving a first gun for Christmas.
Give Ammo Separately and One on One
Take aside the young hunter later on during the day and present them with ammo and any other accessories that are important, such as a gun lock and hearing protection. This is best done one-on-one and in the area where firearms are safely stored in the home. This is when the responsibility and safety concerns of gun ownership should be explained. It is important for the seriousness of gun safety and gun ownership to be completely understood by the new gun owner and the excitement around the Christmas tree is not the place to make sure that happens.
Following this tip near the firearm storage area of the household also allows for the gun to be safely stowed away until range time can be scheduled. It is important to stress that the gun is not a toy in any way and that until it can be taken to a safe shooting location for target practice, it must be properly stored.
Have Range Time Set Aside
As with any brand new item, the new gun owner is going to want to try it out as soon as possible. Try and have some range time previously set aside so that the new owner does not have to wait too long to shoot their first gun for the first time. The longer you wait the more pestering you are going to receive.
Try to remember the time that you got your first gun and how excited you were to take it out in the field and put some shots down range. Heck, use it as an excuse to shoot some of your own guns and bond with your new hunting and shooting buddy at the same time. I don't think I need to convince anyone of that.
Create a Lifetime of Memories
The gift of a first gun is unlike most other gifts. It isn't one that will get put in the back of the closet after a couple of weeks or forgotten about quickly. Instead, it opens the world of hunting, shooting and the outdoors even wider than it previously was. Giving a kid their first gun for Christmas will hopefully lead to them living the hunting and shooting lifestyle and appreciating all the incredible experiences that it has to offer. And hey...no batteries required!
If you decide that your kid is ready for the responsibility of gun ownership, make this upcoming holiday one to remember and put one of those long, thin boxes under the tree for the lucky hunter.