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Growing up as the youngest daughter to an outspoken NRA member, avid hunter, weekly trap shooter and hunter safety instructor, I was no stranger to shooting sports and the time-honored tradition of conservation through hunting. While my kids have (obviously) grown up with the outspoken offspring of my gun-toting father, they haven’t always been hugely into firearms. Partly because I am so adamant about gun safety, partly because when I’m shooting it’s usually for work.

In any event, over the past few years, my kids have been more open to going shooting with me. Last summer, when my (then) 10-year-old daughter was nervous about going into middle school, I suggested we get outside with a few SIG SAUER air guns, some splatter and spinner targets and work on her self-esteem.

It took her a bit to get comfortable with her stance and grip, but I tell you, once she got herself dialed in and saw those targets EXPLODE, her confidence soared. She woke me up the next morning at 5:45am asking if we could go back outside and shoot some more.

This summer, I had the opportunity to bring both of my daughters with me to Brownells HQ in Iowa to shoot the promotional video for their new BRN 22 line of Retro Rifles (look for them soon!!) and after assembling their own .22 rifles and shooting them on the range (and maybe getting to ‘dump a mag’ for some slow-motion action), they were both open to the opportunity to shoot more guns.

So, what’s a Mom to do? Get them out shooting!

Admittedly, I’m a bit spoiled to have my amazing collection of firearms – handguns, rifles, AR’s, shotguns, airsoft, etc. – from friends and colleagues in the industry and thankfully, my daughters were open to testing a lot of them. My 13-year-old Katie actually outshot me with my Daniel Defense DDM4 V7 on steel targets!!! (I swear, the wind took two of my shots – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

While Katie enjoyed shooting an AR for the first time and experiencing the difference between my Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm and their new 380 EZ Pistol, the point she really lit up was when my dad and I started slinging clay.

I have to admit, I love shooting trap. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as watching that saucer burst in the air. Aside from the fact that I’m an avid pheasant hunter, I genuinely enjoy taking my shotgun out and busting some clays.

But shooting trap and handling a shotgun on your shoulder after shooting an AR from a bench is difficult for beginners. So when we brought Katie out with my new Mossberg 590A1 and a few boxes of Winchester ammo, I was just hoping she’d take a few shots to experience it for herself.

I let her run the clay target trap for my dad first to get her used to what would be happening on that end of the process. Then I stepped up and walked her through everything, showing her how to shoulder a shotgun, stance and follow through – just the basics – as I took a few shots myself.

When she felt comfortable, she stepped up and into the hot seat. Getting used to the weight of the shotgun was a challenge for her as was learning to follow through on the moving targets, but after taking her first shot at a static target, she felt she was ready for a clay pigeon.

Shot one: not so good, but it got her acclimated to how she needed to be following through and she quickly reloaded to try again.

Shot two: BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA!! Exploding target!! Excited teenager!! High-fives all around!!

Katie stuck with it, taking a few more shots and improving with each one. She even asked if we have a facility near us where we could train throughout the summer!

“The AR was easier to shoot,” she told me. “But it was way more fun shooting trap!”

Imagine that.

So seriously, if you want to get your kids interested in shooting sports, there’s no shortage of options for you. Pop Packs, airsoft guns, Battleship splatter targets, lightweight AR-15’s and 10’s – they’re all great and great fun but if you want to get back to basics and really get them hooked for life, take them trap shooting.

As for me, I’m just thrilled to have another pheasant hunter and trap shooter in my camp.

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  1. The most effective way to teach firearms safety to children is to start them young. Let them handle (unloaded) firearms, under supervision, of course, which will satisfy and satiate their natural curiosity about such things. Most children will remark how “heavy” real firearms are. When they are old enough to understand that firearms will destroy whatever they are fired at, it is time for supervised firearms instruction (range time). Most children enjoy shooting at paper targets, and when they are of age, hunting, if they so choose…

  2. “Want to Get Your Kids Interested in Shooting . . . period? Do This…”

    Go to war with Mexico and China at the same time.

    Just sayin.

      • At least you didn’t say I was wrong. We’ve been at war with Mexico 2x as long as we have with China, but both have been over 50 years.

    • Indeed Joe, someone strike the match please. Neither country is any kind of match for a nation that has had guns in their hands since the birth of the Republic.

  3. Watching a clay target fly through the air and blasting it to bits is absolutely therapeutic. At the end of a work day dealing with all manner of idiots, trap is quite the stress reliever.

    • And maddening at the same time when you know you shot over/in front of/behind/off the side the bird.

      • “Do they have nice ranges in Chicago?”

        Wide-are open range, city layout. Multiple shooting lanes over 1,000 meters. Very dynamic targets.

        *CAUTION* – No RSO on duty, but will occasionally respond if called.

        Open 24-7-365.

        *snicker* 😉

        • Sounds great!
          What are the range fees?
          Can I pick up my brass?
          How much do the targets cost?
          May I rapid fire?

  4. That her/them to an Appleseed. Well trained instructors, high quality training, highly focused on range safety and lots of rounds over the 2 day event. An a dose of Revolutionary era historical education which kids today don’t get in the gov’t school.

  5. Ironicatbest thinks in the future being a firearms advocate will get one thrown in prison. Perhaps for the children’s future firearms should be scorned.

  6. Hello I work as a instructor at River Bend hunting lodge in fingerville south Carolina. we have a teaching program for children rifle pistol and clay shooting . The kids love it ! Call me for details 828 242 9646

  7. Not everyone likes the same things. People are different, and have different likes and dislikes. This means that not everyone will like trap shooting, just because you might.
    I can boil this down to one simple sentence. If you want to get someone(not just your children) interested in shooting, get them to shoot at targets that REACT! It matters not whether it’s with shotguns, ARs, or pistols. Get them shooting at some kind of reactive target. Clay pigeons, steel plates that fall or flip, foam cups that bounce and go airborn, soda cans or tanerite that explode, whatever. Just so when they hit, it’s obvious. That is what will make an impression.
    OFC, this way is way too simple to make a whole article out of. There are many more words in expressing why one’s own preferences are the best. More satisfying for an author also. But not as useful for the reader.

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