This site is here because I like inspiring others, be it into the outdoors, hunting, shooting, mentoring, cooking or other activities. Today I want to share a tip about encouraging youngsters and when it’s appropriate to teach them about firearms.
Many of us own guns for various reasons. I like to collect them. My aunt has hers for protection. Then, my friend Josie likes to compete with hers. Lanny competes and hunts with them. Regardless of the reason, there are some things to consider before we include our children.
This tip is featured in this week’s episode of Armed Lutheran Radio.
CLICK HERE to listen to episode 42.
I’m not much of a competitor, but my daughter partakes in shotgun sports. This week her team, Los Gatos Negros, took first place in their fall league series at the trap range. Her team is comprised of five members. She’s the youngest and the only girl. It’s inspiring to see the team captain, Jimmy, a man who’s not quite of retirement age yet, put together a team where he can mentor and encourage youngsters to take up shooting.
The other three members of the team include a gentleman near Jimmy’s age, a man who’s probably a youngster, like me, and then another boy who’s near Lea’s age. You see, there’s a whole gamut of generations out there, and they all come together to shoot guns.
That leads me to a conversation last week at our church’s book club meeting. A couple parents asked a very common question. “What age should I teach my children to shoot?”
In my experience as a shooting instructor I most often, along with my husband and daughter, teach children safety and then how to shoot. Let me tell you some of my thoughts and experiences on the matter of what age kids should learn to use guns, but first, a few questions.
At what age did you learn to shoot? I learned to shoot at five-years-old. Is this an appropriate age? You know your children, their capabilities and how mature they are better than anyone else. Do you think they’re old enough to begin handling a firearm?
I learned to shoot at five years old because my dad wanted to make sure my brother and I were safe. My brother was ten, and he and my dad were beginning to hunt together. My dad wanted both of us to know that guns are not toys.
Was I of age to go hunting? According to some state laws, no, but that’s not what the shooting lesson was about. It was about safety. He wanted to make sure his family was safe. He knew I’d see my brother with a gun, and he had to eliminate my lack of knowledge to get a jump on curiosity.
How mature is your child?
Is your child attentive?
Does your child follow the rules and show signs of respect?
All of these questions need to be considered when you’re deciding what your child should learn about firearms, but there’s more.
You have guns in the house. Are they locked up? If you need trigger locks or other means of safely storing your firearms, you can look to NSSF’s Project Childsafe for help. Never rely on a hiding spot for your gun. What game did you first learn to play? Yep. Hide and Seek. Do you think your children aren’t going to be good at this game?
Have you ever thought about what your child will do if they’re at a friend’s house and they come across a gun? A great place to start teaching a youngster about guns is with NRA’s Eddie Eagle program.
You should teach your children safety, way before you give them the hands-on of a firearms experience. Ultimately, the choice is yours. It’s up to you. As I said, you know your children better than anyone else, and you should be able to decide. And, just as with a treat at the store, it is okay to say, “No” if they’re not ready, they’re not ready.
Teaching your children is a bonding experience and one that is empowering to them. Once you’ve made up your mind to get them to the range for live-fire, and always remember to focus on safety.