How do you know when it's time?
We hear this question often, and there are certainly some guidelines to follow when the time is right.
If you ask a child's mother, father and grandfather, you might get three completely different answers. We decided to examine this question to give you the best information to make a strong decision.
Let's get into it.
How mature is the child?
Many of us have seen videos of children as young as 2 years old firing guns. This is of course with the help of a parent. These children aren't rambunctious, and they can focus seriously on one thing at a time. Teaching kids how to shoot safely has to be a hands-on approach. Be sure you're close enough to help hold the gun and direct where shots are going. Use a soft, but serious approach so the child knows it's serious business at the shooting range.
How else have they been exposed to guns?
If you pluck a child from playing a violent video game and hand them a gun, you could be in for serious trouble. Also, if other adults have been preaching how bad guns are, you'll likely have to teach the child the reality of gun ownership. Firearm safety is the main lesson for any shooting trip. Marksmanship is always second in line to safety. Maybe in this case, start with toy guns and then move up to Airsoft guns before breaking out the real guns.
Is the child physically able to fire the weapon?
I first started shooting a homemade slingshot with the help of my grandmother. I then graduated to a Daisy pump-action Model 25 BB gun and then more powerful pellet guns. When my hunting days were upon me, I received my grandfather's bolt-action .22 rifle. I had a lot of practice firing at paper targets and other junk I'd find in the woods. When I got my hands on a real gun, I was a marksman of sight alignment. The shooting experience I learned at a young age sticks with me to this day.
Start the child off with a small-caliber rifle or BB gun. Do this under adult supervision. Don't be the jerk that hands his son a big-gauge double-barrel shotgun and tells him to pull both triggers at once. This foolhardy mistake will certainly knock the child down and ruin any chance he or she will ever want to shoot again. Start small and work your way up in small increments.
Will the child get to shoot more after the initial lesson?
A shooting session is just one part of the process. Learning how to handle a gun safely should be the first lesson. You can teach marksmanship and trigger discipline next. And, with lots of practice with a responsible grown-up, these kids might just out-group you on the gun range. At this point, stand proud as you've just assured the next generation will continue to enjoy the sport of shooting.
Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram. You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.