Training Kids...


My children are small - 2 and 6. I recently started 6 year old son how to shoot (currently with a Crossman BB pistol - will graduate to a .22 after time), and I will do the same with my daughter, when she gets a little bit older. We always start of with the rules before shooting - pointing in safe direction, checking safety, check if loaded etc...

I was wondering if anyone has any insight to teaching children about guns / gun safety / technique etc...


In Another Era

I taught my boys gun safety at an early age, having been given stellar advice by a union ironworker who was also a deacon in his church. He said, "First, take away their curiosity so they won't do something terrible when you aren't home. (If you think back to the news stories about kids getting dad's handgun out from its hiding place in a shoebox way up high in the closet and the terrible consequences that ensued, you can see his point.) I put hearing protection on them and went outside at dusk to fire my Ruger Security 6 with my assistance. The muzzle flash at that time of evening was impressive to them as was the power of the round expending in their hands. (Of course, I was holding on to the weapon with them.) Then we set down at the coffee table and unloaded and loaded, unloaded and loaded the revolver. Being a Ruger, I could let them dry-fire it. (BTW: at that time, I only had revolvers because I could show them how to open it, empty it and see clearly that there was NO round in the pipe. Only when they got older and knew more about guns did I purchase a semi-auto.) So, they learned how determine if a gun was loaded or not, how to operate it and in the process, I took away their curiosity while teaching them gun safety. They felt included in the process of gun ownership and the serious responsibility that "goes with the territory". The rule was this: Any time you want to get the guns out, just come and ask. We'll get them out and sit here at the coffee table and handle them. Now, if you want to play with matches, we'll take the kitchen matches out in the backyard and set them off, but we don't want to burn the house down do we?

So they were taught that to treat any and all guns as loaded along with the other rules of handling a gun. The last thing I did was go through scenarios such as "Someone's stealing your bike..." or "A man is running up to our picture window with a machete and a knife making death threats..." They were taught when they had the right to defend themselves and when to call the police. After all, calling 911 is usually nothing more than a report about something the police will do more reporting about; they cannot be everywhere all of the time. Said best and repeated often: "911. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."
I don't have any kids yet. I do intend to teach them early about guns. I never remember not owning a gun. But Dad taught us safety and we knew not to handle them without supervision. I agree that safety is first, then take the curiosity out of them.
When my kids were little and I got a new firearm I would show it to them, let them hold it, check it out and we would talk about gun safety and how from now on it would be loaded, even if it was not, so they were never to touch it again without asking me first. That way their curiosity was delt with at the beginning. I never had any problems with them and firearms. Of course the other thing was that they did not have a lot of unsupervised time on their hands either.
My daughter is 6 and has begun expressing an interest in guns. She desperately wants to come to the range with me, but I told her she has to demonstrate she knows the rules first. She immediately got out a piece of paper and pen and said "OK, tell me the rules". So I began to list off always treat the gun like its loaded, keep it pointed in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, etc. Then, when I thought I had covered everything, she says "and the most important is 'Never walk in front of the gun'." Think of how different life would be if everyone, bad guys included, followed that one. Anyway, she's memorizing the rules and soon we'll begin practicing in the yard with the Crosman BB pistol.
I can't really add much of value to all of that.We all seem to be on the same page as far as our kids go.I think the key is education,and,like you all said,take the curiosity out of the picture.My sun is 15 years old now.He has used several of my guns up to this point,all with supervision.I had a gun of one king or another all of his life,just about.I used to keep a shotgun under my bed.He never messed with any of them.I taught him early on the difference between real guns and play ones,and the importance and responsibility of handling a real gun.And I told him I would break his arms if he messed with them without my permission.Whether or not I would have doesn't really matter;he BELIEVED I would,at least enough to not want to chance it.I never hid them from him,though.And he never messed with them.Like I said,education.Like so so many other issues we face,the answer is simple.Be a parent.
ton of bricks demonstration

well I'm still too busy and young for the kids thing yet, but I've spent a bunch of time teaching kids about guns. I have several jobs as gunfighter/reenactor and spent most of my summers teaching kids about gun safety and guns. Curiosity is a huge part of the problem. I always tied down the six shooters as little kids were always wanting to pull them out and look at them. I'd pull them aside and go over rules and demonstrate everything. Then make them repeat the process as they handled the gun. As said above, safety is number one. I make everyone say the safety rules over to me. The curiousity needs to be taking care of, but I found it very helpful to demonstrate the reasons for the rules about guns. Its something as I kid I really did not fully grasp I think until I was old enough, and its something a bunch of youngins tend to nod their head and say yes about, without a clue why. I always did demonstrations of the sheer power and damaging force of a gun. Some places I'm restricted to blanks, but even blanks ream home the danger of misuse. I've found that by going through each rule and then nailing it home with a demo or discussion of why its important (at kid level), they tend to get more out of the discussion. Ripping apart a solid tin can at 10 feet tends to have meaning of danger with respect. I think going from bb to .22 and up is a good choice. I was exposed to the guns and the aspects of safety but never releaved of the curiousity until later at a friends house where I shot a .50 S&W. That point on is history.
Man, it's nice to have a bunch of people agree! I'm glad my Dad had guns, and passed on solid ethics, ground rules etc to me.

(queue up "I'm proud to be an American...)

Now, especially after hearing from ya'll, I feel proud passing the legacy down to my kids.

One thing too, when I was young I really, really wanted to go hunting. That is really what started my Dad teaching gun safety. At the time, we lived in GA, and my Dad, brother and I went to a Hunter's Safety course at the library - I think it was state sponsored, because we got a certificate afterwards that allowed me and my brother to get a free "kids" hunting license. I can't remember the all details - I was only 8. :)

Anyway, that safety class - I still remember it! It was very two nights of video, instuctors, and handouts. I remember, the game warden was even there, and there were rifles that we all could handle. Thinking back, I can't believe they had guns in a library... LOL Shows how much has changed huh?

Does anyone (especially from SC) know if the state offers hunter safety courses? I would like to take him next season (plus I haven't been in a long time, and yes, I'm using him as an excuse!)
Some time ago Remington had a good tape they sent with new gun. The tape was very good on basic for kids. I made my kids watch it wtih me over and over. Then to BB guns 22 and up.
Does anyone (especially from SC) know if the state offers hunter safety courses? I would like to take him next season (plus I haven't been in a long time, and yes, I'm using him as an excuse!)
You can get info here, he can take an online test or click on See a list of classroom courses. On that page click on Hunter Education Courses Calendar There are several through out the year offered in Greenville.
We have three little ones and I have an FFL, so guns go in and out of our house all the time. They are just as excited to see what's in the long boxes as I am. My oldest is 8 now and I went to Hunter's Safety with him when he was 7. The course here is long and he didn't last to the end, but it was worth my money and time to take him for the reinforcement of the safety rules and education we both got! He'll get to go again when he's older to actually get the card, and dad wants to go with him then. Our kids have a BB gun that they can shoot with mom or dad supervising, and the 8 year old and 6 year old have both shot black powder and our .22, again with complete adult supervision. Our 3 year old is a bit young to shoot anything yet, but she already knows not to touch any guns but her own wood ones :) They get to watch us clean our guns and ask any questions they want. We go over rules of safety every time we have a gun out, and I think starting young helps develop a healthy and safe attitude toward firearms.
I have a 3 year old son. I've been working on firearms safety with him since he was around 36 months old. Due to the nature of my work, I have a lot of firearms and keep several of them in the home for protection. My son sees the pictures of daddy hunting, competition shooting, and dressed up for work. He once asked me what "that" is, pointing to my shotgun. I told him that it's my shotgun that I use to hunt birds. After explaining that I hunt birds so we can eat them, he understood. On another occasion he saw a picture of me shooting at the range. Pointing to my pistol, he again asked "daddy what's that?" I explained to him that it's my pistol that I use for work and at the different shooting places (he watched a competition when he was 2). We went toy shopping and he saw a pump action toy shotgun and a semi-auto toy pistol. He asked if he could be like daddy. I explained that if he wanted to be like daddy, he would have to treat the toy guns like daddy treats his real guns. He agreed, so the teaching began. First things first, he will have to ask daddy, mommy or grandma permission to play with his toy guns. (Kind of hard to get to them on his own, they're locked up in safe with the real ones :)) Once he has the toy guns in his possession, the first thing he does is open the action and check if it's loaded. He's then allowed to shoot at a toy bird hanging from the roof in daddy's work room, or at target set up in the corner. The guns don't fire, though they can be "loaded" with shells and cartridges, and do expel the cartridge or shell when "fired". If he "plays nice", then he's allowed to play until he's done. If he "makes boo boo", then he'll have to lock up the toy guns for another time. So far he's been pretty good at "playing nice". Only saw him "make boo boo" once. Another time he came to me crying and said that he "shot piggy by mistake". Once he busted me for leaving my paddle holster on my bed. I was in the kitchen making lunch. (Pistol was in the gun safe under the bed) My son walks up to me and says "daddy, come please". He takes my hand and leads me to the bedroom. Pointing to the holster on the bed, he says "daddy make boo boo, you naughty". I thanked him for being observant and he got a cookie, while daddy didn't get an extra piece of apple pie for "being naughty". I'm now careful to put away anything firearms related to eliminate any confusion the little guy.

I think he'll be ready for Hunter Ed when he's 7. ;)
Just had another thought about the kids--take them to gun shows or other firearm events with you--of course follow the rules of the show or event, but the shows I've been to allow kids in. Also take them when you go shooting once in a while if it's possible (safety first). We usually go without them, but every so often take them with us and one of us shoots while the other is on kid control duty. We go where nobody else is shooting while we're there with the kids. Bring something you can help them shoot if they want to. Ours each have a pair of those Peltor Junior earmuffs--fit great--I've seen pics of them on infants and they expand enough to fit small adults also--not heavy or too bulky, so the kids actually keep them on.
Took my daughter to the range with me last week. She proudly wore her new safety glasses and headband foamy-earplug thing. After the first 6 rounds from the .357, she added my gun muffs to her accessory list. I managed to get 18 rounds of .357 and 12 rounds of .223 before she had had enough (her hearing is very sensitive). She said for now she just wants to stick with the BB gun, and could she stay home the next time I go shooting. She's going to have to come with when my wife and I both go, so I'll probably just let her watch a video in the car and let her kind of get acclimatized to the noise. I'm sure she'll eventually warm up to it, but I also think she has a newfound respect for the power. Her eyes got as big as saucers when she saw that .357 jumping around in my hands. She asked if that was the most powerful gun there was. When I said "No, there are lots that are more powerful" I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head!
Yeah, shooting with kids is kind of like fishing with kids. As long as you remember you are not there for you, you are there to help them/spend time with them/etc., it's not that big a deal if the day gets cut short or things don't go as planned. Good job getting her out, though! Every kid is different, so just do what works for them to make it a good experience.
I grew up with guns and learned how to handle them safely. I've always had many guns and my kids learned when they were very young about them and how to handle them. Never had any problems with my kids and guns. Now they have kids of their own and the grandkids get to see and hold grandpa's guns.
My daughter asked me the other night who taught me about guns. I told her I guess it was my dad. Even though he wasn't around much because of work, on the rare occasions he was off, we often went shooting. He also gave my brother and I Daisy Red Ryders. He told us we had to treat them like real guns and if he caught us being careless with them we would lose them for a while. They spent a fair amount of time in my Dad's closet;) , but we eventually got the hang of it. The beauty of low powered air guns is that you get to practice safe gun handling, and when my brother shot me in the back it just stung like $%^& ! But at least I was still able to give him a good beatin' in return:D

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