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Teaching Kids to Shoot: Gun Safety and More

If you are bringing your family up off the grid, one of the most important life skills you need to teach your children (boys and girls both) is how to handle firearms.  Before we talk about safety and the best guns to help kids learn with, let’s talk about why teaching kids to shoot is so important.

First of all, if you have guns in the house, kids need to learn to respect them.  They need to understand that these real weapons are not toys.  Kids are naturally curious, and the best way to tame that curiosity is to allow them to learn to shoot a real weapon when they are old enough.  You never hear stories about farm kids who grow up around guns pulling the revolver out of mom’s nightstand and shooting the neighbor kid.  It doesn’t happen.  Why?  Kids who are allowed to shoot guns know they have to respect what the weapons can do, and they know they have to follow the rules.

Second, kids need to learn to hunt.  Hunting is one of the most important ways to keep yourself and your family alive, and once kids are old enough to get a hunting license (ages vary state by state), they can get their own game tags.  Family participation is a great way to keep the freezer full.

Third, kids need to know how to defend themselves.  If you have a variety of weapons at home, every member of the family needs to know how to operate and maintain every weapon.  If you leave your kids home alone, they need to know what to do if an intruder shows up at the door.  This is where family values come in.  Kids need to understand that killing in self-defense is not a violation of the sixth commandment.  They also need to have a solid understanding of righteous anger versus the kind of selfish anger that can get people in trouble.  Teach your children the right way to live, and pray they’ll never have to raise a gun in self-defense; at the same time, don’t make the foolish mistake of neglecting to give them a solid education about how to use firearms.

A Child’s First Gun

My recommendation is to give kids a good airsoft gun sized right for them as soon as they are old enough to understand that these things are not toys.  Start with the kind that shoots plastic projectiles that can be reused.  Line up some soda cans about three feet away, and let your budding marksman go to town.  Once your child can hit these reliably, start moving them further away.

Remember, don’t treat operating guns (even unloaded airsoft guns) like toys.  These are not toys.  They shoot projectiles, they are tools, and they have a purpose.  This being said, shooting should be fun.  I have never met a boy or girl who did not have fun with his or her first airsoft.

BB and Pellet Guns

When you move up to a BB or pellet gun, you’re going to be able to start hitting targets that are further away.  Use a big marker to draw an easy-to-see target on a piece of paper (don’t waste money on printed targets!),  and tack it to a bale of straw or hay.  You can still shoot pop cans, and if you’ve given your child a good pea shooter, then he’ll hear a satisfying “thwack!” noise when he hits them.

Don’t let your kids shoot at birds or little animals with BB and pellet guns.  These are for target practice.  Kids need to know that shooting any kind of ammunition at living things should always be done with the intent to kill.  Injuring God’s creatures intentionally is wasteful and wrong, so don’t stand for it.

Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns

Once your kids have the arm and hand strength to handle a real gun, they can start to learn how to shoot real, working guns.  A .22 rifle made for kids is an inexpensive investment, and it’s one of the best ways to start a child out.  Start with targets nearby, and as accuracy improves, move targets further back.  Making targets easy to hit at first gives kids confidence that they can, indeed, hit what they are aiming for.  Just like they do in other situations, kids will look forward to greater challenges, so don’t be afraid to let them start at a super easy level and move along at their own pace.

Don’t let your kids shoot unsupervised until you are absolutely sure that they have the ability to handle their guns responsibly.  The more time you spend shooting and working on gun maintenance, and taking your kids along when you go hunting, the faster you will be able to get them to that level of responsibility.

A .22 pistol is best for teaching kids how a pistol works, and a .410 shotgun is a great starter shotgun.  Whenever your child starts to learn about a new gun, spend time showing him or her how it works, and go over all the features of the weapon.  Use appropriate targets, and make sure you use hearing protection.

Hearing Protection and Safety

While you don’t want to wear protection in the woods until you’re actually ready to shoot (you want to hear game coming), you do want to protect your precious hearing when you are practicing.  Also, a good pair of shooting glasses can help improve aim and protect your eyes.  If kids shoot on their own, insist they wear protection while practicing.  An accident or hearing loss will reduce your child’s quality of life – and when you’re living off the grid, you need all your senses to remain in good order.

Most important of all, and this bears repeating, teach your kids that guns are tools for killing game and protecting the family.  It’s fun to shoot at targets and if that is all you ever do, that’s fine – but kids need to know that they should never point a gun at something they do not intend to shoot.  Teach them right when they are young, and you’ll end up with kids who are responsible, and who are good shots.

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  1. I’m so glad this article was posted. I find that this is an extremely important topic. Even for mainstreamers. Our country would have far less gun accidents and crimes if everyone learned this responsibility. This is REAL gun control.

    • I took gun safety and training when I was 12y/o…I could not load a 12 gauge,i was not strong enough ,so for xmas I got a 20 gauge pump and inherited my dads 12 gauge next yr…so,i am very famliar with guns and safety,and the “wanting” etc…but I still become uncomfortable with the whole idea of what has happened in the gun dad was the sportsman of the year,won many awards,etc…I still have the 1st alumacraft he won for a northern that was bigger than I was at the time…he never saw this coming,neither did I…semi-auto and drums of amo will never be ok with me…part of my respect for guns came from my dads attitude regarding them and what they were…”guns do one thing,they kill INDESRIMINATLY”…I was taught that guns were like a wild animal…lethal…,and all the love and training never changed what they were. this love affair with guns(not the responsible use and ownership)is like those programs you see on animal chan with the guy or gal who truly believed that the adult chimp,or tiger or snake loved them back…the kid on walking dead is not a real kid…this i’m afraid is going to have continued and more dire consequences…I wish not,but I think that is part of the problem here…too much crossing our fingers and refusing to compromise…when we stop being willing to meet in the middle and see that 100’s of millions and around the world billions of people are not all wrong…well it reminds me of trying to tell an addict that the drugs just are not so good for him,and no matter wha,t the delusion is set and life without seems unimaginable no matter the consequence… I truly wish just the opposite,but I fear that common sense must prevail….

  2. This is a great product anyone with a hand gun should have one safety is number one

    • Plantman,

      I’m confused. What “product” are you talking about? You got me curious, but I can’t figure out what you mean.



      • I think plantman is referring to the advertisement at the bottom, the Drag N Draw Gun Vault. I don’t have one but certainly looks interesting. Anyone know anything about it?

  3. It is very important to teach kids to shoot. We own a shooting range and my 11 year old daughter already has her own .22 rifle and within the next year she’ll have her own pistol, probably a .22 right now as well. She is a very good shot and most kids learn so quickly that they are naturals if nobody has tried to make them afraid of guns yet. I took a 12 year old homeschool friend of my daughters a couple of weeks ago and moved her from never having fired a shot to being able to load, aim and fire very effectively and safely in about 20 minutes. We plan to start having classes for home schoolers starting when it warms up enough to sit outside for a couple of hours. Teach your kids to shoot!


      My name is Erin Brady and I’m a producer for ABC News Nightline. I’m writing because we are interested in spending a day in life of a family that carries firearms. I would love to speak about this with you further as soon as possible.

      please email me at [email protected]


  4. I whole heartedly agree that if you have weapons in your house that as soon as a kid can identify it as one they are taught how to respect them. When I was a kid I first learned how to shoot with a spring loaded bb gun in the back yard shooting cans (airsoft (the guns that shoot the 6mm plastic bb’s) was unheard of as was paintball). My next gun was a 20GA that was bought for me at the age of 13. where I lived I was allowed to walk around by myself and hunt. As i was mature enough to comprehend what firearms can do. Although I recieved a lot of training from my Dad, I also went through a hunters safety course. I also recieved more training in the U.S. Navy. Where i obtained expert in the M-14, 45 ACP and 12GA and was well trained in mky favorite weapons the M-2 Browning. Like I said if you have kids you owe it to them to teach them about guns so that they will understand that they are not toys and deserve a certain amount of respect for what they can do. They should also be taught when they can and can not shoot in self defense. Otherwise that can lead to a whole lot of nightmarish problems with the legal system for both the parent and the child.

    • BTW My personal defensive handgun is a Taurus model named “the judge”. it fires a 45 long colt and a 410 shotgun cartridge. look it up on youtube.

      • That model is on my list for “next”.

      • I’ve had my Judge for a couple of years now and I would not trade it for anything. It is so flexible in that one can shoot what i call “cowboy” loads (.45), .410 shot shells and .410 slugs. Mine has the long barrel and is very accurate; a friend has the short barrel, not so much and it kicks like a mule. The advantage of the short barrel over the long is in concealed carry; trying to pull a long barrel pistol out of concealment will take all day. So I carry it in the woods as a varmint gun (snakes such as cottonmouths are plentiful in northwest Florida.) Try one, you’ll like it. There is also a .44/.410.

    • I agree totally. I recommend the FrontSight 4 day defensive handgun course. This is such a professionally designed course, with great facilities, great instructors and a real emphasis on safety and the legal and ethical aspects of using a handgun in defense. While I would never be in favor of mandatory training for the ownership of a firearm, I do recommend that anyone who desires to maximize safety, effectiveness and being a good gun owning citizen of our “free nation” take a course like the one at FrontSight. The instructors and method of instruction is an example of the best practices in education. Novices become competent and enlightened to the very serious and necessary nature of gun ownership in a free society. I know I am much less likely ever to have to use my firearms after this course, but if I ever do I have confidence that I would prevail. To maintain our ability as citizens to guard against a tyranny, we must be the most informed and trained with guns to protect the freedoms for our children and guard against the evils that linger in our society.

  5. I hold a rifle and pistol coaching certificate from NRA and have been involved with high school students in teaching not only gun safety but we also have had in the past a “22” rifle team that participated in state tournaments (until budget costs shut this down). It is extremely important that ALL children learn the basics of fire arms safety, and our school district has gone with the NRA training in our elementary schools for all children. The “Eddie Eagle” program has been very successful, and I am glad that our district allows this to be taught. IF you are interested in this training, you can contact NRA for further information.

  6. I would like to share a resource with you all that has helped our family learn more about guns and the proper way to handle and shoot them. My husband passed away before he could teach our children how to handle guns and take care of them, so I had to learn because my knowledge was not much above my kids! Someone invited our family to an Appleseed Project event. For a very nominal cost, the kids and I were able to get hands on training and information on how to be safe with our guns and we learned about the importance of our 2nd Amendment rights too. I don’t know how I would have been able to properly teach my children about gun handling and shooting without the great volunteers with the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, who sponsors the Appleseed events. My daughter and I want to get our Marksmanship badges this year by taking the AQT test they offer. To find out more, you can visit .
    They have blessed my family and I’m sure yours will be blessed as well by these fine folks if you make the time to come out and join one of the events.
    I am one happy, gun toting mama because of these fine folks!

    • Thank you for this valuable information. I think this is a must in these day. Not only children, but adults should be able to protect themselves properly. Thank you for sharing.

  7. The day I brought our guns home I showed them to my daughters and set ground rules: They can look at and handle them any time they ask, but they have to ask me to assure the guns are safely unloaded and then I supervise them. If they violate these rules, God help them. We discipline in our home.

    They understand and have never tried to touch them or even be alone with them for fear of looking like they were sneaking a peek. Guidance and responsible education trumps the liberal mindset of “hide and cower” yet again. (BTW they were 5 and 9 yrs old at the time.)

  8. The timeliness of this article is interesting, in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and others, in Tucson, 8 Jan. allegedly by a young disturbed man.
    We expect the media to be all over this issue of gun safety.
    I expect the political left to elevate this incident to “crisis” level, and we know how they hate to waste a good crisis.
    This was a matter of terrorism; the unsuspected, in a public setting.
    We can’t ban fertilizer, propane, lead, explosive powder, airplanes, dynamite, jet fuel, shoes and underwear, but I expect the politicians to go after guns and Second Amendment gun rights.
    Parental involvement is necessary, both in instruction, modeling proper behavior as well as identifying traits in our own children that could put others at risk.
    A free society can be a dangerous place in which to live.

  9. teach your boys&girls THE BILL RIGHTS


  11. ive heard theres already a gun control bill going to be presented by the end of the week by a democratic senator they wont let this crisis go to waste i believe the bill is being introduced by rep brady or he is on the committee

  12. Good article and very timely. Having been a life-long gun owner, keeping firearms around is just second nature. The two basic rules of firearm ownership are safety and common sense. The earlier this is instilled, the better. Our whole family is profficent with the guns we own and consider them tools. We do live in the sticks and can shoot when we desire or when needed. Those who dwell in the city however, can generally find it easy to get instruction and range time. Considering the sad state of our society and political climate, being armed and knowledgeable is a very valuable thing.

  13. There are several national programs that are available to teach young children firearms safety. In Colorado there is “Young Guns” put on by the American Legion using air rifles. Age six and up. 4H uses air rifles, .22, muzzleloaders, shotguns, archery, and air pistols. Ages between 8 and 18. The people teaching these are all NRA certified instructors. We have had our grandchildren introduced to shooting at age two. Just keep repeating the 3 cardinal rules. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Always keep your finger off of the trigger. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

    Have someone else do the training. The kids will pay better attention than to mom & dad.

  14. I’d like your thoughts on boys using Airsoft guns to play war games. I’ve got mixed feelings about it. My dad always taught me to never point a gun at someone, much less fire, unless I was prepared to kill them and live with the consequences. Airsofts look just like a firearm and they are a real gun (not a toy). I can see how playing war games with other boys can be fun and educational, but I can also see that it breaks the cardinal rule of never pointing a gun at someone, much less fire, unless I was prepared to kill them and live with the consequences. My two brothers-in-law, both NRA certified instructors, let their sons play war games with Airsoft guns, always emphasizing safety. The boys at our church like to play Airsoft, but the boys in our neighborhood my oldest son’s age don’t yet (though those a couple of years older do).

    If you still emphasize gun safety, is allowing your boy to play war games with an Airsoft gun advisable or not? Is it okay to teach him that Airsoft guns should be treated just like any other gun except for war games with safety equipment, when they can be pointed at other kids who are fired on or should there be no exception to the cardinal rule to never point a gun at someone, much less fire, unless I was prepared to kill them and live with the consequences?


  15. Greets!

    LOVE this article! Thanks! I have a dainty 7-year old daughter who I’m looking to buy a .22 pistol for. She’s shot a time or 2 and FULLY understands handgun safety. I’ve narrowed it down to: Baretta U22 Neo, Sig Hammerli Trailside and Browning Buckmark. Any advice?

    Thanks again!
    -PoppaMike •{)>>>



      My name is Erin Brady and I’m a producer for ABC News Nightline. I’m writing because we are interested in spending a day in life of a family that carries firearms. I would love to speak about this with you further as soon as possible.

      please email me at [email protected]

  16. awesome article! My name i Carter and I teach kids, parents and anyone new to guns about Firearms. Check out my Youtube channel and get firearms informaiton from a kids point of view.

  17. So, I am trying to learn all I can about these guns…my husband has both BB and airsoft guns and has shot my children with them thinking it’s funny…it may sound stupid,…but in terms of the airsoft guns am I being too strict when I say I am not okay with him shooting our children even if it’s with the airsoft rifle?

  18. I think you make some great points. It took me some time to learn the ins and outs of airsoft. It is a sport that should not be taken lightly by children or teens. Check out , for some more info and reviews to airsoft questions.

    hope it can help.


  19. Most important when you are keeping an fire arm and have children at your home. You should teach them proper techniques of handling weapons, safety and how to handle it. It is the most important part of having an weapon.

  20. I agree that giving kids airsoft guns can be a good thing when trying to train them to use a real gun. I would want to make sure that they understand the dangers of misusing guns and even airsoft guns. I will make sure my kids get a proper training course when they are ready for a real gun, Thank you fro the tips.

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