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flamin lib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 05:49 PM
Original message
what is the earliest age to introduce a child to firearms?
We have a lot of options these days: Air soft, youth air guns, especially designed youth rim fire etc.

The issues of hand/eye co-ordination, attention span, capacity for understanding repercussions and ambidexterity are really of more concern to me than ideology.

As I recall I was in my early or pre-teens when I was introduced to a semi-auto .22 rifle as an entry into shooting. That's more abrupt than is possible today I think.
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SteveM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-14-09 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
1. I can only offer my experiences...
At around 8 or 9 years old, I was shown rifles & shotguns by my Dad. He demonstrated their operation and allowed me to hold them when I was able. A year later, I was allowed to shoot a .22 rifle and some god-awful .32 belly gun to understand the kick, noise and accuracy differences (the .32 could barely hit an oil drum at 25 feet). During this time -- the best part of my indoctrination -- I accompanied my Dad on hunting trips -- usually dove, duck & squirrel. I did not use a gun. When 12, I was allowed to hunt with a hand-me-down H&R Bay State single-shot .12 gauge, and an H&R .22 bolt action. When 13, I received for Christmas a Model 870 Remington Wingmaster .12 gauge.

During this whole time, I was drilled on keeping the barrel away from anyone and anything I didn't won't to shoot. We had real-world reason for this. Once my Dad fired his shotgun but nothing happened. He mused about the cause, then it went off -- but into the ground where it should have. Another time, the safety didn't hold on the .22, and I fired a sloppy shot at a squirrel when I placed my finger in the loop -- I was told not to grip the trigger firmly, even if the safety is "on." Again, no harm done.

This is speculation, but I think being in the field on a hunting trip is a damned good way to learn how to use a gun safely and properly without getting all uptight at a range, with an audience, etc. You learn proper carrying posture, how to avoid briers snagging the barrel, examining the gun for foliage which might have slipped into the action bars, how to unload field loads and recognize and load max loads for ducks (once the dove pan out). Being in the field is a fast and efficient confidence builder!

I tend to agree with some gun writers who DO NOT recommend introducing kids to hunting with a .410. These guns require expertise to hit a flying bird, so a child may become quickly discouraged. A .20 or .12 gauge is better.

Of course we had BB guns & such, but they quickly fell by the wayside when you had the "real thing."

Concerning abruptness: Here in Texas, many kids are introduced to high-powered rifles, and take their first deers well before their teen years. Shheesh.
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flamin lib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-15-09 06:33 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Yeah, I think you're right on all counts. I believe a kid has to be at
least ten before there is enough right hand/left hand co-ordination to safely handle anything much less a real gun.

By the time s/he's twelve they should have enough strength and confidence to handle something light under good supervision.

We may experiment with some air soft stuff or perhaps .177 single action airguns before then but it all depends on how interested in the sport my grandson seems to be.
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X_Digger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-15-09 12:02 AM
Response to Original message
2. Define introduce..
I grew up around firearms.

My grandpa was a justice of the peace then a deputy sheriff (35 odd years, iirc). He always had multiple firearms in the house (one handgun on his nightstand, one on my grandmother's; rifle rack with two shotguns and two rifles over the sideboard; 22 bolt action propped behind the back door along with his walking stick.)

When I was small (< 5 years) I knew what guns were, but wasn't allowed to do more than look. When I was 5, my grandpa 'helped' me shoot a 410 shotgun, a 32 revolver, and that bolt action 22- contrary to my mother's wishes (what are grandpas good for, if not to spoil their grandkids.) When I was 7 or 8, I got a pellet gun for christmas. My dad taught me gun safety, the four rules, how to clean and care for a couple of different guns. I had to be able to name every part, explain how all the different parts worked (not down to the technical detail, but generally.)

From 8-10 I shot under supervision, mostly with my grandpa. Most of the time we'd just shoot tin cans or pie plates, but there were a few infamous exceptions- Here's a pic of the foxes that me and my grandpa shot when I was nine- the cut under my left eye is from me crowding the scope. My mother was furious that he a) let me shoot unassisted and b) with such a big gun (Winchester 30-30 iirc). We shot at the exact same time. :)

(sorry for the picture quality, it was a polaroid instant in the 70's)

When I was 11 or 12, an uncle gave me a bolt action savage 22. I had been shooting the bb gun unsupervised, but for the 22, I had to have permission / supervision again. By the time I was 14, I was taking day trips into the woods behind our house during squirrel & rabbit season unsupervised with the 22. (My grandpa had been teaching me woodsmanship since I was big enough to not be carried.) By 16, I was spending weekends in the woods- ostensibly to hunt, but often just to enjoy the scenery or to dig ginseng for spending money.

Almost every November from the time I was old enough to remember until I was 16 or 17, me, my dad, his brothers, and some cousins took off two weeks and camped in GW national forest (Bath County, VA) to go deer & turkey hunting for meat. It was serious business for us back then, as we were dirt poor, and that meat lasted well into July some years (mixed in with cheaper meats or separate.)

If I had kids, I think I'd start with 'eddie eagle'-like material at an early age- don't touch, call an adult, etc. All guns would be locked up in a child proof cabinet.

Around 7 or 8, I'd explain that guns are dangerous, and can kill. Break any potential fascination but don't instill irrational fear, either. Treat guns like an open flame, or a sharp knife- a useful but dangerous tool. If I had an area that I could shoot a low caliber gun like a 22, I'd do so with something like an apple or a melon, just to show that they deserve respect.

Then at 8-9 teach them the rules, and introduce a bb gun or airsoft. Have them treat it as though it were a real firearm. This would be where they get to prove that they are responsible (and you get to evaluate just how ready they are to go to the next step.) Make sure that any violation of the rules of safety will have consequences- my dad threatened to keep my bb gun for six months if I had ever broken a rule the first time, and he'd destroy the bb gun if there were a second time.

Around 10, I'd start with a youth model 22 if I had a place to shoot it close by. I wouldn't suggest a range, as that's noisy and potentially scary to a kid whose exposure to guns up until then had been a bb / airsoft gun.

A friend of mine has a pink 'cricket' 22 ( ) for his 9 year old daughter, they go shooting every couple of months.

When he first started teaching her to shoot, he'd hold the gun and let her sight it and pull the trigger. Once she had the strength to hold the rifle steady (the cricket is only 2.5lbs), he started removing the hand holding the front of the rifle. He's teaching her a little early with a 22 for my taste, but she seems to be responsible, always checks to the sides and in front of her when she's preparing to shoot, always looks around before shooting to make sure everyone has their 'ears on'.
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flamin lib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-15-09 06:42 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Your experineces match mine as best I can remember, but ten years
old was more than fifty years ago and I've slept since then, hence my request for refresher information.

Now I've got two affirmations of my own distant history so I'm comfortable with proceeding with the sport as long as grandson is interested.
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-22-09 12:46 PM
Response to Original message
5. I learned to shoot a .22 rifle at the age of 10 in that fascist hate monger group
Edited on Sat Aug-22-09 12:47 PM by old mark
the Cub Scouts. Later got a merit badge for shooting in the boy scouts. It served me well later in life in the Army and still does on the very rare occasions I go hunting these days.

Shooting has actually been a lifelong hobby for me, along with music - guitar playing - and photography. It has been safe and enjoyable because I learned early how to be safe and think safely about firearms, and these lessons carried over to safety with other machines ans situations.


added: we learned on bolt action single-shot .22 rifles, Marlins and Mossbergs using iron sights - I would recommend something similar today to teach safety and basic shooting skills.
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