(courtesy TTAG Facebook page)

I spent a good part of Easter weekend assembling a TTAG Readers’ Family Photo Album on our Facebook page. [Click here to view.] The collage inspired a reader to write: “I’m looking for some input and or advice, I would like to teach my daughter firearm safety and what an appropriate age would be, she’s 2 now so I have a few years to decide. I’m asking after seeing the family pics you guys have been sharing made me a little more comfortable asking this question, I was thinking I’d start teaching her around 8 years old. Thank you for answering ahead and taking the time to reply hope you all had a wonderful Easter.” Your thoughts?

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99 Responses to Question of the Day: When Should You Teach Your Child to Shoot?

    • I agree with this, children(people) are different and have different maturity levels. It will depend on the age and competency of the child in question.

    • I fully agree with this. In my case, we talked about real firearms at around 7 yrs. I let him hold one at 8. I let him shoot a .22 LR at 9. Shortly after his 10th birthday, he was asking, “when are we gonna shoot the .40 and your AR, again?” Now at 11, he’s comfortable, smart about it, and shows no sign of complacency or ill-placed curiosity.

      • I think the ages you mentioned would be the closest to a “standard” if such a thing did exist.

        I think I shot for the first time at 7-9ish too.

  1. I think it varies and should be based entirely on the kid. Some kids will be ready earlier than others. When they a: express an interest, b: are able to consistanty follow instructions, and c: seem mature enough it’s time. I don’t think you can just throw a number out and say “that’s the age”.

    • The picture above put me in mind of the amusement parks:

      “You must be THIS———- tall to enter this ride.”

      Might not work well with handguns.

  2. Whenever your feel, as their parent, that they have the requisite maturity to treat it seriously, respectfully, and with the proper deference that these tools require. It can be 4, 7, 12, it really doesn’t matter. As long as you’re passing it on, you’re doing it right. For now, my daughter just knows how to load magazines and clean disassembled firearms. I think this summer, she’ll be ready for the jump. She’s 4.

  3. When everthey are old enough.I started talking firearm and knife safety as young as 2. I taught her saftey rules and we used pellet guns on balloons to learn what happens and proper handling instructions. I think it really depends on the kid and the parent.

    • Same here. My daughter will be 4 in July but we’ve been talking about guns and gun safety since she was about 2 and a half. I’m a big believer in answering all of her questions and if I just hid the guns it would make her more curious so I’m always open about them and use her questions as an occasion to reinforce safety ideas. I have no doubt that next summer she’ll be shooting her first .22. She already has a picture of a pink/black camp S&W M&P15-22 that she shows me will be her first gun when she’s big enough.

  4. When? Just after they master the weedeater. Then I can say ‘If you help me with the yard work then I will take you to the range.’

    • There’s a lot of wisdom in this approach. Guns are, in the non-political view of kids, like power tools. They have the power to injure far beyond the physical strength of their operators.

      This, BTW, is how my father and uncle started me on guns a long time ago.

      • Me too, and I think it’s a great idea. I was started on a BB gun (Crosman rifle) to make sure I had the four rules down pat. Dad would accompany me with a .22. Once he was comfortable that I wouldn’t hurt myself or anyone else, I was allowed to start working with the .22, only while he was with me.

        • In my case, weedeater handling started around age 30 when I moved to suburbia.

          I started driving the tractor when I was 10, and running the bush hog at 12 or so. I got the BB gun when I was about 8 or so.

    • Dagnabit! Wish I had though of that.

      Our family started late. I had plenty of exposure to firearms through the military but my wife had a “moratorium” on buying firearms and ammo (no aversion; just couldn’t justify the expense) until our “current administration” cranked up the gun ban rhetoric. That’s when my wife decided she needed to learn how to properly handle firearms and wanted our two sons to learn as well. Everyone got the same fundamentals up front. Starting last year, we try to make it to the range as a family just about every weekend.

      My youngest went through the same progression as a few others who posted here: pellet pistol to 22lr pistol to pellet rifle to 22lr rifle. I didn’t make him move on to larger caliber systems until he felt HE was ready; he’s still a little timid. He’s was 12 when we started, 14 now and I can’t pry my dedicated rimfire M4 from his hands. The nice thing about taking him (and the rest of the family) to the range is he gets exposure to A LOT of different firearms and technologies.

      As I said, wish I had thought of A-Rod’s technique BEFORE my son got hooked on shooting.

  5. I remember telling the kids not to touch the trigger on their squirt guns until they were ready to fire…

  6. Never too early to teach them stage 1, which is don’t touch, leave the room, tell an adult. Fortunately mine never had to use that since they never encountered a gun without an adult present. Next stage, actual proper handling? Began teaching mine at 8, using a daisy red rider bb gun. Same as I was taught, same as my father was taught. Firearms came later, after they demonstrated that the four rules were well ingrained. Again, same as I was taught.

    More generally, it’s going to depend on the kid. Every person matures at a different pace, and it’s not unusual to see a 12 year old serious enough and responsible enough to handle firearms, and a 16 year old who is not.

  7. My goal is to be able to take my daughter out with the 10/22 once she’s about 4 or 5, but i won’t rush it. If she’s not ready until later on so be it.

  8. When the following conditions are true:
    1) Child fully understands the distinction between reality & fantasy (some *adults* never get this far).
    2) Child is disciplined enough to follow instruction.
    3) Child physically capable of safely handling the firearm.

    • +1. Particularly number 2, my daughters were much better about being able to listen to and follow directions exactly at earlier ages than my son.

    • The only point where I would disagree is that you say “child.” I’ve known too many adults I’d never take to the rage for not being able to follow even *one* of those rules.

  9. When I was a “Kid” about 8. living on Long Island, NY back in the days 1950’s when it was legal to own & shoot guns..
    We lived in what was called a “Shotgun” house a long skinny home. There was about 35′ from living room down a hall to a bathroom.
    My Dad would fill the tub with water, stack short railroad tied on side of tub, and we would shoot 22 shorts down the hall into targets.. NONE ever missed or penetrated the tub…
    Sure glad Bloomberg wasn’t around then…..

  10. It really depends on the child, and the parent. I first learned about firearms at about age 11. Before that though I learned safety rules well before that. “Don’t touch, find an adult”.

  11. Agree with the above. Another factor is the availability of your time, and a good place to start the kiddo out. In my experience a noisy indoor range will scare off a lot of younger children. High range fees will also be a problem if you want to take your time. I was lucky back when I was about six or seven because my father had a weekend cabin where shooting was OK.

  12. When they can follow instruction and start showing interest in guns. I had the pleasure of being one of the instructors who taught the first graders in my town to shoot a year or two ago. Here in Norway first grade = 6 years old.

  13. Probably just as important is: What is going to be their first weapon when you do decide it’s time to teach them.
    A low powered pellet rifle would be my suggestion, followed by a 22 rim fire of some sort, as long as it’s not an auto loader. I wont go into any farther, as it has been recently discussed in this forum.
    Age wise depends entirely on the individual, and must be assessed by the ability of the child to understand and follow directions, and show they are responsible.

  14. Earlier than eight, for sure.

    You might not want to teach her to shoot any earlier considering recoil, noise and such, but you should most definitely teach her to not shoot long before then.

    A gun is a thing with which she can harm herself and/or others, and a simple “Do not touch” order isn’t guaranteed to prevent bad things from happening.

    Firearm safety, the four rules and honest answers to the oft-repeated “why?” should start as soon as she has a basic command of language.

    My 2¢

  15. I think there is a line between teaching to shoot and teaching to respect firearms:

    1. i.e. When they are on the younger; never touch, tell an adult (basic eddie eagle stuff) etc.
    2. When they can learn that, then they can learn to touch and shoot etc, but only under adult supervision.

    And that’s were I’m at with my kids currently 🙂 (olders is ~12)

  16. “How” is probably more important than “When.”

    I started my three in the basement airgun range; I think they were about 8.

    Since then, we’ve had several camp .22LR range opportunities, and some shooting with grandad.

    And a memorable afternoon that started with .22LR and I worked them up through several other calibers and platforms, courtesy of several other generous shooters.

    Net result? They enjoy shooting and instinctively understand the safety rules.

    Next I hope to generate some shotgun clay target sport interest. We’ll see how that works out.

    Looking forward to many more years of good memories.

  17. My dad started me at about 6.
    I started my son at 8 and my daughter at 10.
    Next up is my granddaughter.
    She’s 5, so I’m just watching and waiting.

  18. Every child is different, around 5 was the right age for my spawn.

    I believe natures tells you when it’s time to start learnin’ em things.

    When they start asking, it’s time to start teaching them, because like it or not, they’re going to start searching for answers, with or without you.

    And, that’s how kids “find” guns and accidentally shoot each other.

  19. My 12 and 16 year olds shoot and each have their own rifle (stored in my safe).

    My (almost) 3 year old is curious. He’s also grabby like an octopus on crack. And he likes to make the trigger go “click”. And he does not grasp the 4 Rules yet.

    My criteria for him are:

    1. Language development to where he can communicate and understand complex ideas (more than: “want juice” or “need to go pee-pee”) – so I can explain how to get in position, get sight picture, etc.

    2. Motor coordination to the point where they can put a bench or bipod rested rifle into a natural point of aim, get sight picture, pull trigger, and operate the safety.

    3. Ability to follow 3-step instructions. Eg: “Push the bolt forward, get a sight picture, go off safety but keep finger off trigger”.

    4. Ability to recite the 4 Rules on demand and observe them at all times.

    Since my youngest is so grabby and impulsive – the way toddlers often can be – and shows no fear of consequences on the monkey gym, I am not sure I want to hold the firearm while he just pulls the trigger. I don’t think that instills the kinds of habits I want him to have AND I think it reinforces the “walk-up-to-a-gun-and-pull-the-trigger-and-get-a-click” idea.
    I keep my guns out of his reach for now, but if I am going to rely on him to practice the Eddie Eagle 4 Rules (Stop, Don’t Touch, Leave, Tell an Adult), I cannot be teaching him to walk up to a gun and play with a trigger.

    Some of you will think this is too extreme, but he’s my kid and my sleep that are affected by this decision.

  20. I like the power tool analogy and help with yard work.

    Personally, I started with a .177 lever BB gun at age 7. I shot an old plastic bottle off of a hay bale. My dad helped me aim so I couldn’t miss. At age 8, I shot a .22 LR Ruger 10/22 in a corn field at clay pigeons. No rapid fire. Prior to the trigger time, my dad talked to me about respecting firearms and not touching them. I never new where the shotgun was hidden, but I did manage to find a belt full of 12 gauge shells at age 6 or 7. Before that was a whole slew of cap guns. I must’ve shot 50,000 caps, and would wear out most cap guns in a week or two. What followed was a lifelong interest in firearms. I picked up the passion for freedom on my own.

    These days I may not allow my 14 month old son Emerson to have a cap gun without supervision. Its sad to say, but I don’t want a twitchy cop to feel that he needs to return fire. He’ll probably get his first squirt gun around age 3 or 4. We’ll see.

    • That’s actually scary. I grew up in suburban Canada, and didn’t know anyone who had guns in their home (doesn’t mean that they didn’t, but they just kept it quiet), but we had all kinds of toy guns from cowboy cap-guns to plastic Uzis and Colt Commanders. My mom didn’t really like them, but she understood how boys are, and there was never even a thought that someone could be shot by a cop – first because I don’t think we ever saw a cop drive onto our cul-de-sac, and second because no cop in our suburb would assume that ten year old would have a real Uzi (back then), so of course it was a toy. Hell, even in high school we would do drive-bys with Super-Soakers (ok, that’s really dumb).

      But now I have to worry about kids getting hurt or killed for playing with a toy. I hate that.

    • A two year may be able to do that, do you think a two year old child, barely out of diapers, is ready to handle firearms?

  21. I’m from the rural Arkansas area and my dad had me shooting 22’s and 410’s at 5. By 7 I had killed my first deer out of the blind with dad. By 12 or 13 I was taking the dogs and rabbit hunting by myself, but those were different times and kids were a whole lot morally mature and responsible. Especially us farm kids. We were taught about life and death and were made to be accountable.

  22. I have two kids, a 7 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. I have recently started trying to get them into the “gun safety” mode. I got them interested by having them help me clean my guns and help with putting my reloaded ammunition into their boxes. Now that both of them are ALWAYS asking if they can do “gun stuff” with daddy I have started using the ARMY method for training. Instructional blocks followed immediately by practical exercises.

    For the practical exercises I have set up a mock range in our spare bedroom and a couple of low end and low powered airsoft guns (one rifle, one pistol). At the end of the practical exercise I always allow them finish off with a full auto volley with the rifle (giggle switches keep them interested apparently).

    The meat and potatoes are in the lesson plan. Kids need structure, especially mine! At my kids’ age their attention span is around 15 minutes for my 4 year old and about 30 for my 7 year old. That is an insanely short amount of time for any lesson, to include practical exercise. So teach them just one thing during each lesson.

    Lesson 1: Rules of the house (i.e. what do they do when they come across a gun, how to identify a real gun vs a toy gun, what to do if you see someone else playing with a gun, etc…)
    Lesson 2: 4 pillars of gun safety (yeah, its 4 things but they all go together)
    Lesson 3: Range Rules
    Lesson 4: Proper handling of firearms
    Lesson 5: Trigger control (deserves and needs its own lesson all to itself, trust me)
    Lesson 6: How to aim

    These are the 6 lessons I have covered with my kids so far over the past three weeks.

    Lesson plans by themselves are useless. You must make sure to ingrain what you want them to take away from the lesson plan. If they want some desert after dinner ask them to give you one of the range safety rules or all of them! If they want an extra 30 minutes on the iPad, same thing. Make it so the knowledge is second hand and part of every day life.

    My plan for introducing real firearms is to take a day off from work with just one of the kids and head to the outdoor range during a very slow time. Having others shooting might spook my kids so the first time out I want them calm. Being outdoors should alleviate some of the loudness from shots fired as well, so no public indoor ranges for a while.

    You know you are doing right when you go to a birthday party where kids are shooting nerf guns and your 4 year old son tells another kid “you don’t point guns at other people” or watching your daughter give lessons on how to aim.

    All this being said, I will reiterate what others have said here in other posts. Each kid is different. While I think my daughter is ready to move up to a 22LR my son has several years of airsoft ahead of him. Yes, he is younger but he is also much less mature than my daughter was at his age. So to answer the question of this thread, the first criteria would be maturity level, I don’t think anyone would argue that point. Second criteria would be the ability to properly handle the firearm.

  23. I am not a parent but I am a fan of the idea that at 4-5 get a BB gun and treat it like a real firearm. You can easily teach all the basics and safety lessons with one, and has the benefit of being able to be shot in your yard. That laws you to give them the opportunity to shoot when ever your home when your kid wants to, and hopefully keep interests in the sport. It is also much safer than a real firearm if they violate on of the safety rules.

    When to graduate them to real firearms depends on the kid, but you should be able to get a good feel when they are ready based on how they are handling the bb gun.

  24. Depends on the kid. I was squirrel hunting with my dad at 8 or 9, deer hunting by myself at 12. My nephew is 12 and he isn’t ready for a bb gun by himself.

  25. Eight years old is a good rule of thumb, but like all such rules, it really depends on the child. Some kids may not be ready until they reach responsible adulthood. Hell, some adults never reach responsible adulthood.

  26. It depends on the kid. I got a pellet gun at 8, started shooting at 10.

    I started my little brother out with a bb gun last year, and he shot my 10/22 for the first time yesterday. He’s 8, and did just fine.

  27. This is a no brainer!! Teach your children gun safety as early as possible. Teach your 2 year old safety now. If your child is curious take away there curiosity by letting them touch, hold, etc. If you take away the forbidden curiosity factor you will find they become disinterested. My father had me shooting a .22 when I was old enough to walk and talk with him holding my hands and the gun. (Basically I pulled the trigger when he told me to)…..He always stressed safety, but more then that the scary consequences of death. Honestly the death part scared me into OCD safety till this day. When I was growing up I was in situations at friends houses where they pulled out a guns from under the mattress’s or from a closet, etc. I was the one that said DO NOT touch that and treated it like a live grenade. I was the one that explained how it only takes one small mistake to kill yourself or your loved ones. I explained that you should never touch a gun without an adult present. I was the snitch that told the parents that me and XYZ found a gun under the mattress and we were duty bound to tell them.

    • “If your child is curious take away there curiosity by letting them touch, hold, etc. If you take away the forbidden curiosity factor you will find they become disinterested.”

      This goes a long ways to reducing accidents. We still must not ever entrust young children directly with firearm safety. However, in the event of a mistake (someone leaves a firearm within reach), this could be the difference between the child telling us that we left a firearm out and someone getting seriously injured or killed.

  28. Safety you start immediately. Same time as don’t touch the stove, don’t push things in electrical outlets or body openings, don’t be behind/in front of vehicles etc etc. Change batteries in smoke det twice a year.

  29. I would start teaching children around age 4 … under extremely close supervision of a responsible adult of course. Start off exclusively with .22 LR. I also recommend having your child watch you shoot a large caliber (handgun or long gun) from 20 feet away or so to really instill respect for firearms.

    The real question is when they are old enough to begin handing a firearm with general supervision — meaning an adult is within several feet and keeping an eye on the child but not necessarily within arm’s reach. I think that age could vary considerably from something like age 10 to age 16.

    Case in point: this weekend some of my extended family met at a family member’s farm and squeezed in a few minutes of plinking. In spite of past training and hunter safety last September, a 13 year old family member swept three people with the muzzle of a firearm. Three of us saw him begin his sweep and all three of us managed to put hands on him and the firearm almost immediately. Needless to say he still requires extremely close supervision.

  30. Although all my family owned guns and hunted (the gun case was a standard furniture fixture in all my families homes), my first trigger pull cames was a result of a family friend in NW Wisconsin. I was 9 years old, we went on his back 40 on his homemade pistol range, I shown the ropes and fired my first gun… S&W .357 magnum. Needless to say I was hooked.

    The next year the same man gave me my first gun, a single shot Remington Model 33 .22 LR. A great gun to learn shooting as a 10 year old. The following year I started duck hunting with my Dad and Grandpa.

    So based on my personal experience, 9/10 years old for first exposure, did well.

  31. This inquiry will raise as many questions as answers, but, the reason is: the question of very vague.

    Shoot what? Water pistol? Airsoft? BB/pellet gun? 22? My Ruger LC9? My 30-06? My Berret?

    Lets refine the question:

    1. When should you start teaching your child gun safety?

    10. When should I let my allow my child to, by him/herself, handle your Ruger Blackhawk chambered in 44 magnum? (…insert any other high powered, mistake can easily be lethal, firearm…)

    There is only one aswer to question 1: If they can walk and talk (and, arguably, even before then!), its time to start handing them a gun of some type and teaching them gun safety.

    From then on, the answers vary greatly depending on the child, the environment, etc.

    My son is 15. He has his own 357 magnum and 9mm pistol. One I gave to him as a gift. The other he gave me his own money and it is considered his since he can’t legally “buy” a gun. He goes out and shoots any time he wants, sans supervision.

    I bought him his first rifle when he was 10. I had him shooting 22s and 223s when he was 8 and 9. Before that is was airsoft, pellet guns, etc clear down until he was about 5 and earlier. Before that the only thing he handled were toys, except for the occasional wanting to see a pistol. But, even at 5 years old, he’d run around with his finger off the trigger. If he didn’t, he knew he’d be reminded! I remember one comment he made. Some adult said something to him like, “Be careful with that gun! You’ll shoot your eye out.” I still rmember my boy turning to the adult, saying, “Nah. Its just a toy. It don’t even have a safety.”

    I have a somewhat different approach to gun safety than most. TGIAL: The gun is always loaded. You never concentrate on *IF* the gun is loaded or *UNLOADING* the gun, you just put your full effort in making sure the gun is always safe regardless of where you lay it or how you handle it. You have no idea how many people have been shot by unloaded guns. I know that sounds silly, but, its one less thing to worry about. (A recent gun show accident comes to mind where the “unloader” filed and sever people were hurth by birdshot from a shotgun that went off. Yet another “unloaded” gun accident.) You never concentrate on if the gun is loaded, finding out, unloading and *THEN* pointing it in a safe direction, you simply don’t even think about those other things. You simpley handle every gun as if it were loaded. In fact, my son is OBSESSED with the fact (as am I) that the gun is always loaded. It is the only way to be.

    Teach your kids: There is only one rule – The Gun Is Always Loaded.

  32. No good answer. All my sons are grown up. Two I would trust at a young age & 2 I’ll never take shooting. My grandkids live far away with little influence from me. It’s not a lot different than teaching & modeling good behavior/ moral choices. I know my dad took us shooting at 9 or 10 & none of us shot anyone.

  33. I have been confronting this issue over the weekend with my wife. I started teaching my daughter about firearms safety around the time she turned 3 because she saw my guns and asked the question. I have made it a point ever since that any time she wants to see my firearms I will drop what I am doing and show her whatever she wants to see (she loves the shotgun the most) but before she can touch any of them we review the 4 Rules – Toddler Edition. By in large my wife just shakes her head and walks away when she peaks in my office and sees us on the floor looking over any given weapon.

    Where my wife and I disagree is right time to start shooting and right time for her first firearm. Right now I am getting ready to leave on a work assignment for a year and was thinking I would get myself… er… I mean her a M&P 15-22 as soon as I get back so I can start teaching her to shoot at that time (she will be almost 5 by then). My wife is very opposed and insists she will not go to the range until our daughter is 10. I figure if my daughter is still interested and still able to tell me the 4 Rules then at 5 years old she is ready to go plink with daddy and we can move up to larger caliber firearms as she gets bigger.

    Really it is maturity and size that are the driving factors for when to teach a child to shoot. Can they handle the responsibilities of handling a firearms under direct supervision and are they physically able to manipulate the gun in a safe way? If yes to both then lets go shoot!

    Also, the 4 Rules – Toddler Edition
    1. If you want to see the guns you have to ask, never touch without daddy there
    2. The end is what makes the ouchies, don’t point the end at anything we don’t want to hurt
    3. The trigger is daddy’s, don’t touch the trigger without permission
    4. Keep our fingers out of the gun holes (stop it you pervs) because there might be ouchies there too

    It isn’t THE 4 Rules but for a 3 year old and with me going by the four rules myself it keeps her and I safe.

  34. I hope to start at 8. We’ll see what the wife thinks. My daughter was super interested when I took her gun shopping though. (she was super curious about the range, haha)

  35. Children begin training for war at age 7. And don’t stop training for war until adulthood at which point they go to war. Once they go to war, they come back with their shield, or on top of it. As the Spartans did it.

  36. I had my first rifle at age 8 it was a cooey 22lr 5rnd tube Mag, bolt action. Loved that thing. The important thing with teaching kids firearm safety is to ensure that they are 100% supervised 100% of the time, other than that, you’re good to go whenever you feel they are ready to learn

  37. Since firearms were always in my household, I thought that it would be most prudent to teach my children a soon as possible. I taught them all at about 2 years of age. They all have a very healthy respect for firearms today. They never touched daddy’s “guns” without permission and supervision. They are all good ambassadors for firearms safety. As an example, when one of my son’s friends received a BB gun for his birthday, my son went over to him to teach him the basics of firearm safety, I was very proud to say the least.

  38. I asked a variation of this question to my CCW instructor. I asked, when should a child be taken to a range to see what a gun does (in my case, my great nephew). He said, probably 6 or so. Then I said that he had watch his dad from birth play lots of gun related/military video games, his answer changed to “Get him to the range now!” (we’ll be going in the next month)
    The instructor then went on about how destructive fantasy (video) gun play is on a child, rattling off the research of many researchers. His children grew up with guns as _real_ objects with _real_ rules and consequences. His kids are all teens now and can use any of his guns, but he said even before I taught them, before they had ever shot a gun he had talked with them and showed them enough that he was certain that if he were incapacitated, his children could have safely used a gun to protect themselves. The same could never be said for fantasy guns.
    My personal opinion is 7 is about the right age for a 22 rifle, 8 for a 22 revolver, both with supervision. Then based on the child, the caliber and shooting on their own moves up from their.

  39. My son is 3YO and he shot for the first time on my M&P 15-22 three weeks ago. He is very well versed with gun safety and he follows directions exactly. We did lots of dry fire training and verbal rehearsal of gun safety rules. My wife and I felt that he was more than ready to shoot. We were floored when he shot balloons at 30 yards with a red dot. Every child is different. We were going to wait till 5YO but he proved us different. We may get him a cricket in a year.

  40. My daughter started with all firearms are dangerous if not properly handled with all the other “danger stuff” (hot stove, power tools, et cetera….).
    At age five she started handing unloaded firearms with coaching and direct supervision (all ammo locked up/separate from weapons). She fired my 38 single SAO S&W 640 with light 38s in it that same year with her sitting in my lap/firearm under my direct contact at ALL times. She dry fired first, then with live ammo she shot a paper plate five times at 20 feet with five rounds. Then she shot a pumpkin to see the damage a firearm can do.
    She’s 13 now. She owns (mine till she’s 18, but hers in her mind) and can field strip, clean and fire (9/10 in the 10 ring with open sites, unsupported at 75 yards) a Ruger 10-22.
    All kids are unique and there is lots of science about development and responsibility that is applied to when children can accept certain responsibilities. We have firearms in our home and we live in a rural area where my wife or daughter might need to dispatch a rabid animal to protect our animals or worst case scenario wait 35 minutes for Police response while I’m at work…
    Her 12th birthday we were going to go to a gym and swim and climb their climbing wall… the gym’s hours were crappy for both options so I asked her what she wanted to do instead…. without skipping a beat she said, “Dad, can we shoot cans in the backyard?”.
    Our firearms are safely stored and like my father taught me, she understands that they are not toys but very serious tools. This is why she started with an actual center-fire gun to learn on, instead of pellet or BB gun. I think there is value in starting kids early learning about firearm safety with the caveat that access be totally limited until they are mature enough to be trusted with certainty. Also, as is the law with new drivers in NY, no friends are allowed to be “in the car” when the new driver is driving makes certain sense to me….
    Just some thoughts….

  41. well imho well show them young and teach them young get em started on the all american classic a dasiy red rider and start from there age wise i was started around 5 or 6 so mileage may vary ……

  42. While there is no specific answer as it varies from child to child, I’d say kids are never too young to learn the basics of gun safety. If your looking for a specific age to start teaching them to shoot personally I’d say about 7 is right.

  43. No specific age. Just have to Beattie enough to follow instructions. I’ve taught 8 year olds to shoot and I’ve taught 19 year olds to shoot. I think I first shot at 6 with a 336 marlin. Lol not a great first choice I cried for 10 minuites and couldn’t even lift the gun to shoulder it. Start .22 or with a BB gun.

  44. I started my 5 year old step-daughter out with a .22 just a few months ago. She isn’t even close to shooting it on her own, but I wanted to get her started early, in order to reinforce the importance of safety.

  45. My older daughter knew all the external parts of a 1911 at 2. She got her Crickett for Christmas when 4, and now at 6 wants a .22 pistol to start shooting pistol matches with me. Her sister at 5 is just starting to show interest.

  46. I was 5 when I was taken out by my father and grandfather. (grounds for child abuse charges these days) 22 rifles at first, then on to handguns about 7 or 8. I received my first 22 rifle at 7. First shotgun: 9. First handgun: 15. Still have all 3 of those guns at 62. And wouldn’t you know it. None of those guns ever shot anybody in those 55, 53, or 47 intervening years.

  47. When Oleg Volk is interested in taking pictures of your kids, they’re old enough to learn how to shoot. Then make sure they don’t find themselves in a room alone with him. What a creeper.

  48. Depends on the child’s maturity levels, to be honest. But definitely not younger than five, in my opinion. Six, seven maybe, a look, teach them the four rules, handling, etc. Eight, that’s when you let them shoot. A .22, maybe an introduction to something bigger. After, take them shooting regularly. At ten, let them shoot something like your carry pistol. After, definitely let them shoot regularly, and at 13, get them their own gun. Something they can call, really call, their own.
    Just my two cents.

  49. My ten year old daughter started at 9 and is now a crack shot with a 10/22

    I may wait til my 8 year old is a little older due to her maturity.

  50. This comment may be read by no one (which is fine by me), but I have to say I have an “issue” with many of the photos on the FB page. So many of them are kids posing with Daddy’s rifle or handgun — when they are clearly too small to shoot them. OK, fine, you’re acclimating your kids to guns, so props for that. But it doesn’t look like “training” or “instruction.” To an anti, it looks like “indoctrination,” or to be explicit, “here, kid, hold this loaded gun, which I obviously value more than your life.” I couldn’t give two boxes of .25 ACP what they think, but there’s something a little off seeing toddlers posing with guns they couldn’t possibly control.

    As evangelism, I’d rather see real parent-child instruction, like in the photo that kicked this whole thing off. I’m the proud parent of two shooters who love hitting the range, and the only way I’d let my kids handle a large caliber rifle or handgun is if it was rested and I was right next to them. You all can do as you please. Don’t be surprised to see these pix show up on Everytown for Gun Safety’s sparkly new FB page.

    • in line with my comment below yours, we horse people give a lot of flack to folks who take photos with their kids on or around horses alone (little children I am talking about, like this one) because bottom line horses are dangerous!

      the only photos that get “approval” are ones where the parent is clearly in the photo, controlling the interaction and the child has appropriate footwear and a helmet on.

      so generally I’d agree with you.

  51. We don’t take kids in Pony Club or riding lessons until they are at least 7 years old when they have enough attention span to be taught the skills and also how to be safe.

    I’d put firearm training about on the same plane as equestrian (horse) training

  52. There’s a difference between firearm safety, and being taught to shoot.

    The former should be as soon as possible, whether they understand the implications or not…the safety portion can be drilled into them just they way not touching a hot stove can…as soon as they have a large enough vocabulary to understand the words.

    Actually shooting a firearm is different, in my opinion. Part of when that’s a good time is when they actually come to have an understanding of what the firearm safety you’ve been drilling into them for some time, at that point, actually means. The other thing, I think, is that they need to be physically capable of handling the firearm. Hands/fingers need to be big enough to properly reach the trigger, and they need to be strong enough to properly hold the firearm.

    Beyond that, it’s up to the individual child and their parent’s comfort level. Sooner is better, but it’s not a race.

  53. I feel it depends on the kid, the parent, the gun and the situation.
    Airsoft, bb guns, pellet guns, .22cal and on up… incremental steps. Long guns and then hand guns. All under very close, one on one supervision. You can allow a id to slip up with an airsoft and correct it. Not so much as you go up the ladder. My big personal milestone is handguns. It is just too easy to misdirect the muzzle for so many reasons there is no good way to “let” a kid shoot one below an age that they are not able to display absolute maturity in the situation. Revolvers are safer than semi autos for the obvious reason that once fired they are essentially inert and the long travel trigger really goes a long way toward preventing accidental and possibly tragic discharges. I load one round at a time in the semi auto and keep my hands inches from theirs until they can consistently demonstrate muzzle discipline. Also be reasonable with caliber. .22 cal is great. Small pocket pistols increase the risk due to their uncontolability in the hands of a startled or scared kid. There is really nothing funny about this.Then and only then do I put more than one round in the mag. Always inches away. A rifle or shotgun is so much less stressful. One responsible adult per kid. When the instructor shown such concern it helps to instill the seriousness of the situation. Also procedure must be drilled endlessly. The situation should not include distractions such as might be found around a campsite with other people and kids and pets and and and… Yes… not a simple answer. Despite all that, it is so much of a joy to share the experience with your kids.

  54. He started learning safety as soon as he could understand the words. To answer the question about learning to shoot? Well as many said that depends on the child, how well they take instruction, how well they took that safety message they should have been getting all along to heart, and is the child big enough to handle the gun.

    Here’s Antonio’s story, though.

    I started teaching him to *shoot* with his first Nerf gun at age 4. He saved up the $40 for it on his own and bought a Nerf Firefly (modeled very much like a Magpul PDR, btw). That included things like how to hold, aiming, trigger use and discipline, which order the two go in… I taught him the basic in breathing, leading a target, etc. He learned respect for when the gun should and should not be loaded. To always treat it as loaded. By both instruction and imitation, he learned a lot about shooting position. So he got a good foundation in the basics.

    When he was 7, he “graduated” to BB guns during summer camp for Cub Scouts. Everything carried forward and much of what he had to add simply supplemented what he had already learned. He also learned range rules. He already had good basic techniques, so there was an excellent foundation to build upon. I do remember that he commented to me that all the stuff I was teaching him with the Nerfs made sense.

    Last summer, when he was 9, we added the Ruger 10/22 to his repetoire. He was more than ready and it wasn’t enough that he could shoot it, he had to be able to handle and load his own mags. He had to be able to operate all the controls – the safety, the bolt, the mag release. He had to be able to demonstrate all of it cycling through with snap caps. By all, I mean both safety and technique. He had to be able to lock open and/or show clear. The thrill of handling and working a real gun – plus the carrot of live ammo at the range – overcame the potential for boredom.

    Last winter, he learned pistol. We started with his airsoft (and I wouldn’t let him have an airsoft until he was ok’d with a real gun) pistol in all the same way and graduated to our Ruger SR22. It worked well for that, too. Except that he got annoyed when he got bonked in the head with brass from a sloppy shot.

    The point of all this is to use what you have at hand as early as possible. Don’t wait to get to the range before you start teaching him how to shoot.

  55. He started learning safety as soon as he could understand the words. To answer the question about learning to shoot? Well as many said that depends on the child, how well they take instruction, how well they took that safety message they should have been getting all along to heart, and is the child big enough to handle the gun.

    Here’s Antonio’s story, though.

    I started teaching him to *shoot* with his first Nerf gun at age 4. He saved up the $40 for it on his own and bought a Nerf Firefly (modeled very much like a Magpul PDR, btw). That included things like how to hold, aiming, trigger use and discipline, which order the two go in… I taught him the basic in breathing, leading a target, etc. He learned respect for when the gun should and should not be loaded. To always treat it as loaded. By both instruction and imitation, he learned a lot about shooting position. So he got a good foundation in the basics.

    When he was 7, he “graduated” to BB guns during summer camp for Cub Scouts. Everything carried forward and much of what he had to add simply supplemented what he had already learned. He also learned range rules. He already had good basic techniques, so there was an excellent foundation to build upon. I do remember that he commented to me that all the stuff I was teaching him with the Nerfs made sense.

    Last summer, when he was 9, we added the Ruger 10/22 to his repetoire. He was more than ready and it wasn’t enough that he could shoot it, he had to be able to handle and load his own mags. He had to be able to operate all the controls – the safety, the bolt, the mag release. He had to be able to demonstrate all of it cycling through with snap caps. By all, I mean both safety and technique. He had to be able to lock open and/or show clear. The thrill of handling and working a real gun – plus the carrot of live ammo at the range – overcame the potential for boredom.

    Last winter, he learned pistol. We started with his airsoft (and I wouldn’t let him have an airsoft until he was ok’d with a real gun) pistol in all the same way and graduated to our Ruger SR22. It worked well for that, too. Except that he got annoyed when he got bonked in the head with brass from a sloppy shot.

    The point of all this is to use what you have at hand as early as possible. Don’t wait to get to the range before you start teaching him how to shoot.

  56. He started learning safety as soon as he could understand the words. To answer the question about learning to shoot? Well as many said that depends on the child, how well they take instruction, how well they took that safety message they should have been getting all along to heart, and is the child big enough to handle the gun.

    Here’s Antonio’s story, though.

    I started teaching him to *shoot* with his first Nerf gun at age 4. He saved up the $40 for it on his own and bought a Nerf Firefly (modeled very much like a Magpul PDR, btw). That included things like how to hold, aiming, trigger use and discipline, which order the two go in… I taught him the basic in breathing, leading a target, etc. He learned respect for when the gun should and should not be loaded. To always treat it as loaded. By both instruction and imitation, he learned a lot about shooting position. So he got a good foundation in the basics.

    When he was 7, he “graduated” to BB guns during summer camp for Cub Scouts. Everything carried forward and much of what he had to add simply supplemented what he had already learned. He also learned range rules. He already had good basic techniques, so there was an excellent foundation to build upon. I do remember that he commented to me that all the stuff I was teaching him with the Nerfs made sense.

    Last summer, when he was 9, we added the Ruger 10/22 to his repetoire. He was more than ready and it wasn’t enough that he could shoot it, he had to be able to handle and load his own mags. He had to be able to operate all the controls – the safety, the bolt, the mag release. He had to be able to demonstrate all of it cycling through with snap caps. By all, I mean both safety and technique. He had to be able to lock open and/or show clear. The thrill of handling and working a real gun – plus the carrot of live ammo at the range – overcame the potential for boredom.

    Last winter, he learned pistol. We started with his airsoft (and I wouldn’t let him have an airsoft until he was ok’d with a real gun) pistol in all the same way and graduated to our Ruger SR22. It worked well for that, too. Except that he got annoyed when he got bonked in the head with brass from a sloppy shot.

    The point of all this is to use what you have at hand as early as possible. Don’t wait to get to the range before you start teaching him how to shoot.

  57. When I young – I started with a weak air-gun. I was 8 at the time. Later I was provided a strong air gun at age 10. When I was 12 /13, I got my first 22LR, and began shooting shotgun 12Ga and 410 as well. It all depends on the child in question. Start young with something simple and relatively harmless and work upwards as they demonstrate gun safety subconsciously.

  58. My daughter was at the range for the first time at three years old, shot my .22 converted 1911 with Daddy’s assistance.

    At four years old, she shot the 1911(.22) again, the 10/22 Ruger, and the M4 (5.56), all with daddy’s help, but she did it and loved it.

    As long as you are willing to teach them the proper way to handle firearms, if they have the desire to go, don’t tell them they can’t. My daughter spent most of the time in the pickup watching, but her face lit up like the 4th of July the first time she pulled that trigger. I will always treasure that moment.

  59. I agree with all of y’all, for the most part. Myself, I started teaching my daughter basic gun safety as she was learning letters & numbers. I alson would break down my fire arms to clean as she watched. I also took her out with me when I would target practice so she could watch. For my daughter, physical, visual teaching was a plus. With my assistance, I let her crack her first .22 round off in her early 4’s. She just turned 5 in March, shoots her Cricket .22 & also breaks it down to clean. Might I add, to start every new shooter, weather adult or child out with a single shot bolt action or bolt action in general so the next round is NOT auto loaded. Happy & judicial marksmenship, everybody!

  60. You lot are pathetic, most adults worry about their kids ABC’s or riding a bike,you imbeciles worry about teaching your kids how to use firearms,un fecking believable.

    • Sorry, but the 4th grade 10 year old I described is halfway through Return of the King (though he admits he’s skipping the Elvish poetry), writes at an 8th grade level, wants his bike handlebars adjusted and just got a higher performance scooter.

  61. My 10 year old daughter began learning to shoot a bb gun in our basement when she was six, has been shooting .22 rifle since she was 9, and joined the Illinois Junior Precision Shooters (http://juniorpistol.com/) team last fall. She’s 10 now, and achieved Distinguished Expert a couple of months ago with .22 pistol. She’s going to have to gain more strength before she can hold steady with the target at 50 feet versus 30, but is working on her strength and skill. Props to Coach Jim Hagearty and Coach Phil. My son is four and we’ll probably start him at 5 or 6 on bb gun as well. My daughter passed Hunter Safety last fall also, and has walked with me on some hunts.

    On another note, does anyone know of good youth shooting programs like the Illinois Junior Precision Shooters (rifle, shotgun or pistol), in Phoenix, AZ area? We’re relocating to Phoenix this summer and her coaches feel that there might be good opportunities out that way. They have said that the Ben Avery range is awesome and there are some great indoor ranges as well. We’re excited.

  62. Girls develop mentally/emotionally quicker than boys. So, in most cases, a girl could learn and retain the information at an earlier age. My oldest daughter had memorized the four safety rules at four. And my son, was two at the time, was able to recite the rules with help. A great way to start would be a bb gun. My kids love it despite the heavy trigger pull.

  63. All children will be different. My stepson started with a BB gun at 10. My youngest daughter started with a BB gun at 6. They both have developed a love for shooting and a respect for firearms. The youngest is now 15 and we go to the range together on a regular basis. My stepson has moved out and owns a few guns of his own. He also goes to the range with us on a regular basis. I started all my children out the same way. I bought them the standard issue Daisy Red Ryder and hung it on the wall in their bedroom right above the firearm safety rules that come with that gun. They were then instructed to memorize the rules before they were ever taught to shoot.

  64. I remember my first time. I was 8 years old when my dear old Dad took me out to the woods with a Remington 522 Viper (remember those?) to “Hunt Wild Pepsi”. Good memories, man.

  65. My daughter is 3 and I’ve been teaching her to don’t touch unless I’m there. But at those times… I’ve taught her the difference between a pistol, revolver, shotgun and a rifle. I always unload them. That’s a given. But she can properly identify all the parts of a Mosin Nagant already. Lol. Bolt, stock, barrel, trigger, trigger guard, etc. I agree maturity makes a huge difference and is important. Pellet, BB, then 22 and on is solid advice as well. Be safe!!

    I sometimes have her look through the gun magazines and identify what’s what. Its a start.

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