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The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

Image source: thewellarmedwoman.com

I love my kids. The energy they bring to our home, the warm embraces I receive every morning when they wake, and the joy of watching them learn and grow. All of these things make life beautiful.

I want them to grow up knowing the Lord, following God, valuing life, to be handy with a shovel, able to use a tractor … and a crack shot with a rifle. I desire them to be able to hunt game, dispatch a rabid coyote, and be able to drop a sexual predator with a well-aimed barrage of gunfire. In short, I want my kids to learn not only how to handle a firearm, but to respect that firearm and the responsibility that goes with it, and shoot extremely well.

Safety

As a firearm instructor, my top concern on the range is safety. This has to be our step one as a parent when it comes to teaching our children to handle guns. Every child needs to be taught to respect a firearm. They also need to be taught that a firearm in an inanimate object, and it is only dangerous if in the hands of a dangerous or evil user. My wife and I know a woman who was raised by her parents to fear guns. To this day she is deathly afraid of the sight of a rifle, shotgun or pistol. This should never be our goal as a parent.

Teach your young children to never touch a firearm, except with Mommy or Daddy’s permission. I let my 5 year old handle a firearm unloaded. I am already instilling in her little mind that her finger never touches the trigger until she is ready to shoot, and to keep the muzzle pointed in the safest direction possible. I am always right there when she handles it, and it is always unloaded unless she is firing at a target with my help. Our firearms remain locked up.

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Our goal should be to see our children become confident, yet not cocky. Respectful, and not fearful. I want to raise my children in such a way that if they were to come across a firearm at a friend’s house someday left out and loaded, my child could safe that weapon — meaning he or she can determine safely if it was loaded or not, and unload and safe the firearm if needed.

I have an example here in my own life. As a teenager, I once came across a potentially dangerous situation at the home of a farmer I knew. I used to hunt and work his property part-time. During deer season one year, the farmer who never practiced the best firearm safety had gone into town with his son. They left a few rifles and shotguns in a common building on the farm fully loaded.  One of their shotguns, a Browning Auto-5, had a round in the chamber, and four more in the tube magazine. The muzzle of the shotgun was completely full of hardened mud and pebbles.

The Right Way To Teach A Child To Shoot

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I was aghast at the sight. I had grown up as a hunter and around firearms and I knew my way around them extremely well. I grabbed that shotgun before some of the other part-time employees who were a wee bit reckless came to work. I unloaded the shotgun, and then proceeded to unload the other firearms, a Remington 700 and a Mosin M1991/30. The shotgun with the plugged barrel sure made me feel uneasy, so I raced over to the tool shed, retrieved a cleaning rod and gun oil and gave the barrel a thorough cleaning. By the time the other knuckleheads arrived to work, I had stored the guns in a safe place out of their sight and told my boss. He shrugged as I handed him the ammunition I retrieved, but I knew deep down I did the right thing.

That is how you want to raise your kids to behave around a firearm.

Shooting a Firearm

Never start your kids on a high-powered rifle. I have seen so many idiots — and idiots is too kind a word — hand a youngster a .12 gauge or .30-06 for their first time shooting. When the kid is naturally bruised or knocked on his rear, the adult explodes in rip-roaring laughter. I honestly want to grab the firearm and wrap the barrel around the adult’s neck when I see this.

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We should desire to see our kids grow up to love shooting, hunting and the outdoor sports. The first time out should be with light cartridges and small guns. Even a BB gun is great. A .22 is terrific for youngsters. Get them comfortable shooting, and then work on accuracy.

A .22 bolt action is the best tool to teach a child how to shoot. I never let a youngster use a scoped rifle unless they really need one. Start with iron sights and build confidence. Gently teach, and encourage your child. However, be strict with firearm safety. You must never waiver with a stern hand when it comes to safety.

Also, never let your child handle a firearm that they are not capable of handling.  Many of us can remember last year when a firearms instructor in Arizona let a little girl handle a UZI submachine gun with tragic consequences. Let’s not let that happen. Start slow.

If they are going to start deer hunting, why not a light kicker like a .223, which contrary to many armchair gun expert’s opinion, has dropped plenty of deer. If you must go heavier, think a .243 or .7mm-08. A .30-30 can do fine for an older child.

As your child gains confidence, feel free to teach them how to handle larger chamberings. I strongly suggest waiting to introduce the shotgun until they are comfortable enough to handle recoil. I have found many larger 8 and 9 year olds are ready for a youth .20 gauge and turkey hunting.

Stay safe, and God bless!

What advice would you add on teaching a child to shoot? Share it in the section below:

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3 comments

  1. Great article. Safety is always number one definitely. I fully agree with your points. I was shooting before I could hold a bb gun with the help of an adult. While other kids were playing army with their bb guns, mine was locked in the gun cabinet. I do the same with my sons rifles. Currently working on my 10 year old. I had to teach myself not to hover over him, observe yes babysit no. He is shooting a 60 year old rifle my father bought brand new and hitting 1 inch targets at 25 meters while manipulating the rifle himself. I can’t hold his hand and cycle the rifle for him his whole life. He has shot my ar in very controlled settings (limited ammo prone) On the way home from shooting there is much praise for his accomplished shooting as well as well as building pin safety. I will be taking him hunting next year and our compromise is he can carry his rifle, but the bullets will be in his pocket to avoid a slip and neglegent discharge. Our motto is that if we are safe there is no bad day even if we never see anything. I try to keep it interesting by doing more than punch paper but paper tells him if he is doing everything right or getting in too much of a hurry. It is great to see that I am not the only dad continuing the shooting tradition as I feel that way when we hit the range. Great article

  2. My advice on teaching a child to shoot? I don’t have any advice to offer, because my parents never taught me how to shoot. None of my friends learned to shoot either. In fact, after nearly half a century, I think I know one person who shoots (as part of his job). So I guess we’re all pretty hopeless when it comes to the use of firearms. On the upside, very, very few people ever get shot around here…

  3. Growing up in Upstate New York, guns were a part of growing up. In Jr High School we had classes on gun safety and were required to take a hunter safety course before we could obtain our hunting license. This was a great way of learning and I sure wish we could go back to it so that all kids learn proper safety and gun handling. Oh yea, we also had our guns in the school parking lot in our cars and trucks during hunting season and we NEVER had any problems!

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