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By Jeff K.

As a child I went to Scout camp over the summer and shot a .22 rifle. Man that felt cool. All laid out prone, looking down range 50ish feet, trying desperately to punch out the center of the paper target. That was fun. I don’t know why, but I never shot again until recently. So when my eldest son asked me to safeguard his AR while on tour in the middle east, I did the responsible thing, got all legal (Illinois FOID card required), started looking on-line for knowledge of responsible gun handling.use . . .

If I’m going to store it, and possibly use it, I don’t want to be the subject of a ND/careless use story. And having a few younger kids (pre-teens) in house, yeah, I better man up on doing it proper.

Where to start? NRA? Joined. I used their links to find a proper training instructor and signed up. As my son had provided some basic training on a handgun in a prior range visit, the basics of use were already established, but all the other ‘stuff’, I wanted to know more. Things like stance, grip, trigger control, maintenance, I want better knowledge.

Web sites such as TTAG, and others helped fill in the corners of knowledge that only time and effort can establish. Reading how many ways people ND motivates me to continue gaining knowledge. But nothing replaces sitting in a classroom with a proper teacher. Knowledge costs time and money.

I decided to sign up for class. I wavered back and forth on which class. Basic handgun seemed too elemental and not appropriate to my goals. I had invested probably 40+ hours reading online and had a firm grip of what to do, what not to do. For another day of effort, I could cover those basic points,and get a conceal carry permit. And as an added bonus, beat my son to the punch. So I did it.

I got a lot out of class and it caused me to rethink the cool factor of CCW. Fifty years without a significant ass-kicked fight or encounter, there was no great need for CCW other than to be cool. In hindsight, it would have been worthy to sit through the basic class. I may yet do so, even though I feel I am above this basic state of knowledge.

Now I find myself in a quandary. I took my 13-year-old to the range and let her shoot. We discussed what to do, what not to do. I hovered over her, fully prepared to catch her arms flying over her head as we’ve seen in countless “reckless shooter” videos where the shooter goes flying, dropping the gun from surprise. She surprised me and handled my 9mm better than anticipated. Breathing once again, we finished up the session, went home and she gloated over her experience.

A second trip, this time with a .22 semi-auto. She readily absorbed my comments of what to do to make this better, safer, more fun. So now my quandary begins. Getting her proper training.

So now I am looking at ‘sitting in’ on her basic handgun class. Incidental knowledge may benefit me despite my ego of it being to ‘elemental’. What I don’t care for is the heavy emphasis on self defense. It is a valid point, but it’s not why she gets to use the firearm. It’s for recreation use only. Granted, she’s at that point where self defense is something to start practicing, but legal firearm self defense is several years away.

So I ask the audience, how have you brought your children into the firearm knowledge? What’s your plan of introduction?

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  1. How Did You Introduce Your Kids to Guns?

    Kids, meet guns. Guns, meet kids. Now play nice, you knuckleheads.

    Actually, a lightweight, kid-size single shot or bolt action rifle in .22LR is probably the best training tool for the little critters.

    • Yep, a .22 singleshot is probably the best.

      Though I am sad because the 1917 Krag was converted. Also the 189X Mauser. I guess it is better that they are converted and used for generations to come than rusting on a wall or in a basement.

  2. my son watches me work on em & when he was 2 and I had an AR, he loved sitting on my lap watching me tear it down. now he gets to play with nerf guns at 4 years old great way to teach the four commandments.

  3. I must have been about seven or eight, my dad sat me down with a bolt action Remington 34 and some tin cans. Told me a gun weren’t no toy, watched for awhile then went and grabbed a beer to make some more empty cans šŸ˜‰

    I don’t remember safety glasses or ear plugs back then either. I managed to survive into adulthood. The gun made it too. I still have it.

  4. I can’t answer the “how did you introduce your kids to guns” question because I don’t have kids yet, but I can certainly answer the “how were you introduced to guns as a kid” question, because I remember it vividly and my old man sure did it right…

    It was the first day of Kindergarten, a Monday morning. Coincidentally, also my sixth birthday. My dad was working a 2 & 2 rotation on the North Slope at the time, and he was leaving later that day.

    As I was getting ready to leave, he called me up to their bedroom. When I arrived, he said he wanted to give me his present before he left, because it was a special one. I was confused, because I thought Mom and Dad went in on a present together, and I’d be receiving it later.

    But no, this was a special dad and son moment. From out of the closet came a long rectangular box, and I had no idea what it was. When I opened it up, I saw a single shot, bolt action Marlin .22 rifle laying there.

    I could hardly contain myself and asked when I could shoot it. He promised me we’d go the day he got back. Which we did, two weeks later. He picked me up from school and we went out to our property (we were building a house at the time, and living elsewhere in town) where he had spent some time setting up a shooting range for me. We spent all afternoon out there, shooting all manner of targets from paper to apples to “exploding targets,” actually just soda cans that he’d shaken up as he set them on the sawhorses.

    I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life, and hopefully I’ll be able to instill the same joy in my children someday as my father was able to do for me.

  5. If my dad had a gun, I never knew about it. I think my first introduction might have been in Boy Scouts but it wasn’t until I was 17 that I was bought my first gun, a Ruger 10-22. The community where I bought that gun has now turned into a whining elitist yuppie enclave of panty wetting Obama supporters.

    When it came time to bring my own kids up to speed, and for their own and everyone else’s safety, I sat them both down to have an important talk. With me, I had a plastic toy gun and my Browning Hi-Power II 9mm Parabellum. The boys were about 4 and 8 at the time. I asked what the difference was and I guess I had already been blessed from heaven because they BOTH figured out that the heavy one wasn’t the toy. I stripped the 9mm down and showed them how it worked. I let them feel the heft of the 9mm versus the plastic feel of the toy.

    At the same conversation, I had also brought out their toy plastic carpenter’s saw with the excruciatingly dull plastic excuse for a blade and laid it next to a recently sharpened Millers Falls Crosscut saw. I had them touch the sharpened teeth and they could feel that the sharpness could hurt them.

    What they came out of that father/sons chat with was that there was a huge difference between Tools and Toys, whether it be cars, tools, guns, knives, anything. The difference between what they were being allowed to play with and the real Mccoy was the level of responsibility they would have to eventually assume in order to keep themselves and others from being hurt by their eagerness to simply “play” with something they thought they understood.

    Maybe I was lucky, but so far so good; that all happened over 20 years ago.

    • That’s really smart, coming at it from the perspective of the difference between a tool and a toy. I especially love how you explained the difference, with the level of responsibility required. If I ever have kids myself, I’ll need to remember that.

  6. Pellet and BB guns, a Powermaster for my oldest son and a pink Daisy for my daughter. After learning basic handling/safety, I introduced the 10/22 and Marlin 25 bolt action, then came the Buckmark and Single Six. My oldest son now loves to shoot anything, with a preference for bigger calibers such as .40, .45, shotguns, and my Mosin. At 12 he has earned the Boy Scout rifle shooting merit badge, and plans on getting archery and shotgun at summer camp! My daughter is asking when we get to go try out the Bearcat I just traded for because she digs my Single Six but struggles with its size. My youngest has tried out the BB and pellet stuff. They are regularly shown the damage caused by various rounds, and must recite safety rules prior to any shooting session. We all enjoyed putting our jack o lanterns to rest with Tannerite and my Norinco Hunter. My wife is better with a rifle than I am, but I am better with pistols.

  7. I cannot comment as to how I introduced my kids to guns as I don’t have any yet. As to being introduced to guns, there was no fancy ‘four rules’ for me. My dad finally decided to shut me up and take me clay shooting. Yeah, right. The closest the old fogie instructing us came to gun safety was ‘if you point that damn thing at me my collie will bite your bollocks off.” And this to a nine-year-old. I shot the crap out of some air, with the occasional clay strike. Afterwards my shoulder ached, my forearm ached more and f**k me if I didn’t have a headache from the lack of hearing protection. That was the last time I shot a gun, so I’ve been reading TTAG to make up for my lack of ballistic ecstasy.

    • Good story on you and your dad…

      Question for you. As the vote for Scottish independence is later this summer, do you think if they vote for it the citizens of Scotland may roll back some of those draconian UK gun laws? I’m half Scottish by blood.

  8. I bought a chipmunk for the kids when they turned 10.
    I would try and take them whenever they asked. I figured if they asked, it was on their mind.
    Besides targets for accuracy, I had them shoot things like fruit and water bottles to show them what bullets can do.

    Going to buy another one. The granddaughter is asking to go shooting. I’m stoked!

  9. Safety briefing with great emphasis on safe direction. Age: 6. Tools used: single-shot (over-under) Savage .22/20 gauge, CCI CB Long low-velocity .22 ammo, Weaver Quik-Point red dot sight. Gun was rested on a sandbag on a bench for all firing, child on one side, me on the other. Explained sighting, loading and unloading, cocking hammer and firing. Check range for safety, load gun, get on-target, cock hammer, grip gun, put/hold dot on target, pull trigger gently, watch empty can jump!

    Demo for danger level was done with same gun, loaded with CCI Stinger hyper-velocity hollowpoint ammo, directed at a full can of pop. Once exploded, point was made that gun could do the same thing to a person if shooter was not very VERY careful AT ALL TIMES.

    Caliber raised in subsequent range visits, with iron sights and scopes added. Eventually, handguns were used, with additional briefing on how easy (and very unsafe) it is to swing a handgun in the wrong direction. Used the “laser analogy” to help with muzzle direction: If the handgun had a laser on it, where should the dot be shining at all times? On the target, or on the safe backstop. From the moment it is uncased, until the moment it is put away. Hey, where is the dot right now? Would it be shining on your hand? What does that mean? Range session is now over for the day (actually, a month), because you did something unsafe. Consequences for unsafe actions are real and non-negotiable, as in real life.

    One day in his late teens he and his buddy were arguing about whether or not you could realistically do something with a gun in a video game they were playing, and I stepped in and said “well, how about we go out to the range this weekend, and you can find out for yourself?” Took several ARs, a precision rifle, and a couple of .22 semi-auto rifles and pistols. Hooked!

    He owned his own handgun at age 22, and a rifle soon after. Didn’t show any interest in shotguns until his late 20s, at which point I took him to the trap/skeet range, covered safety and shotgun range etiquette, went over position/mounting and pointing vs. aiming, and we shot a couple of rounds of trap. I gifted him a shotgun and some ammo, and now he has a good basic battery of guns (handguns, rifles, shotguns) and uses them all safely and effectively. Years ago he spent his own money on a safe for secure storage, and is now getting into reloading. Slowly done, but mission accomplished.

  10. I started him at 10 with a .22lr bolt action rifle and a NRA instructor. After 5 lessons, we moved him to a Browning 1911-22.

    Now he has his own bolt action .22lr, lever action .22lr, semi-auto .22lr and his 1911-22.

    He really likes his mothers Colt Mustang, so I see one of those in his near future.

    • Always found the Colt Mustang to be weird regarding the name. I mean, a .380 is not exactly a wild, strong and independent spirit like the real Mustangs are.

      Though I guess they (the pistols) kick like Mustangs.

  11. I’ve got a sweet little 3 yr old that has seen my guns from time to time. My guns are always put away and made safe to little hands. She’d never actually really looked at one, and had certainly never touched one. Then about 2 months ago she says “daddy, I want to look at guns.” This thrilled me, so I obliged.
    We went in the garage and I had 3 guns ready in their cases, all unloaded and safe. Before I opened the first I sat down and explained to her the 3 yr olds gun rules; 1) only mommy and daddy are allowed to touch guns and 2) if you see a gun laying around, leave it alone and go tell mommy or daddy. I asked her this several times, and routinely quiz her to this day on the two rules. I warned her that these are very dangerous and can kill good people if used in the wrong way. But I also told her that when used the right way, they protect good people against bad people. She understood.

    Then I brought out the first gun; semi-auto Ruger LCP pistol, my EDC. I didn’t let her touch it, I didn’t explain how it works or what the trigger does or anything, because it would undermine rule #1. But she studied it with her eyes, and I again asked her about situations regarding the 2 rules. She answered correctly. I bragged on her and kissed her and put the gun away.

    I followed the same routine on the next 2 guns; a Taurus Judge revolver and a Remington 870 pump shotgun. She answered correctly after each viewing. We put the guns away and I told her to go tell mommy about the guns we saw and the 2 rules, which she did with glee.

    My story so far is merely an introduction. I’m not going to let her hold a gun until I’m ready for her to shoot a gun, which will be a .22 in about 4 yrs I’d guess. Right now, my purpose is gun safety. I showed her 3 different styles of guns that are representative of most guns; semi-auto pistol, revolver and long gun. After each time, she responded with the 2 rules correctly and I positively reinforced her. My goal is to for her to have a base- line of knowledge on these weapons, in the event that encounters one lying around (not at my house). I tried to instill the seriousness and danger of these weapons in the wrong hands, while removing some of the mystery.

    But most important, I had a memorable 20 minutes with my daughter that I’ll never forget. I’ll do the same with my 6 month old when she reaches that age.

  12. I was about 10 or 11 vacationing with my grandparents in their motorhome. My grandpa (former rangemaster at a prison, associate warden, and former hunter) asked if I wanted to shoot. Since I had just started watching the history channel and learning about WWII and equipment and everything, I was pretty enthusiastic. He grabbed his Remington pump .22 that had a scope. I don’t remember the model but a couple years ago we dated it to 1944. I was popping soda cans left and right all afternoon. After that we made occasional range trips where he always instilled the handling rules into me and taught me proper care (mostly because he didn’t wanna clean them himself). He bought me a Ruger 10/22 for my 16th birthday and a Mosin 91/30 for Christmas when I was 18. Now he’s enamored with my AR-15 and is contemplating buying one himself

  13. I think the pellet gun and BB gun should be the precursor to the .22. Archery is also a great start. The flight of an arrow is an obviously dangerous projectile, and safety needs to be lesson #1. I like the fact that he typical Boy Scout camp offers rifle, shotgun, and archery. Teaching kids to shoot was the most fun job I’ve ever had.

  14. I recall a chat with the shooting coach at a summer camp where shooting the .22 single shot target rifle was a required part of the program for the 9 to 12 year old kids.

    He told me that every summer the program discovered more than a few kids with vision problems that had escaped being found for the whole of these kids schooling to that point.

    Just an interesting observation.

  15. I would love to introduce my 6 yr. old grandson to the shooting sports. I know he would follow every direction and rule, but ….. I hesitate based on today’s mores. I’m afraid that he would go to school and start talking about Poppa’s guns; and I would be getting visits from authority figures, or nasty-grams sent home from school. Even though we live in gun-friendly Florida, one never knows with today’s educrats. Has anyone had any experiences like this scenario ?

    • It’s a day late, so I hope you see this. My sister has three kids (two boys and one girl, ages 8, 6, and 5) and my brother-in-law has a daughter from his first marriage who is also 5. I’m a former Marine and my brother-in-law is a former Soldier so of course we spend a lot of time together, and shooting is one of our favorite things to do (my sister has gone so far as to say we have a “bromance”). This got the kids interested, and all four of my nieces and nephews now have their own rifles. The girls have single shot .22 rifles and the boys have 10/22’s. That being said, the boys would much rather shoot an AR or an AK. They have talked about it at school, and have even got some of their friends interested, as well as some parents (who had never had any exposure to guns). So far, no issues with the school or parents. I’m not sure how Ohio compares to Florida, so YMMV, but you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.

  16. I don’t have kids, but I learned the basics in Boy Scouts. One of the fathers was a member of a gun club so we spent a weekend there shooting when I was 11. I believe I did the rifle station first, and shot a .22 rifle. I then went to get in line for shotguns and wound up with a 12 gauge (there was only one or two 20 gauges). Looking back I have no clue how that thing did not knock me on my ass, considering I could barley hold it up (I was quite small and nothing but skin and bones at the time). The rest of the day I made sure to get a 20 gauge, though late in the day some one showed up with a .410 though by that point my shoulder was pretty beat up that .410 hurt just as much as the 20. A couple of fathers brought along pistols as well, though not enough for all of us boy scouts to shoot so it was mostly for themselves to plink with. Lucky for my My father was one of them so I got to also shoot a pistol that day, his S&W .357 magnum. While My father had always enjoyed shooting, after us kids were born he really couldn’t afford to continue that hobby so he only had a handful of .357 magnum rounds left from when he had last bought ammo which was probably 10 years prior to that point. Fortunetly one of the other had also brought a .357, but only had .38 special for it so my father traded most of his rounds, for me to shoot. He did let me shoot one .357 Magnum round with the warning “This is going to hurt your hands.” It kicked, but I kept my elbows locked and a death grip on the pistol, so the pistol did not recoil back and hit me in the face, and instead swung my out stretched arms up above my head. After that I told that did not hurt my hands, may I shoot another one?” He replied “Well they hurt my hands” and after a couple more .38’s he let me shoot one more .357, which was the last round of ammo he had for the pistol, until earlier this year when he asked me to pick up some ammo for him the next time I came to visit after I had decided to take my step sister to introduce her to shooting, and she invited him to come as well.

  17. My 6 year old has a Red Ryder BB gun he got for his birthday. He regularly watched me cleaning my pistols and is familiar with the 4 rules. So far so good.

  18. 6yrs old daisy buck bb guns, 8 daisy red rider, 9 pellet gun 10 – 410 shotgun and a small game liescens -13 deer liescens and 20 gage. 14 marlin 308 win, sks , and so on .

  19. My sons were all introduced to the concept of guns at around age 2, watching Dad clean guns, reload ammo, cast bullets and reloading ammo. They each had done a bit of shooting with a shortened Glenfield Model 25 that I’d had modified as a training rifle for a nephew several years previously. They had been exposed to what a Stinger would do to a grapefruit, and had seen me clean rabbits and squirrels and put 2+2 together. All three were competent with the rifle by age 6, and with my Ruger Mk II bull-barrel by age 8, as well as with my old Model 15 S&W .38 and 686 .357. The eldest received a Mossberg 500 20 ga. for his 10th birthday, and he graciously volunteered it for his brothers. He is 27 now; his brothers are 24 and 22. He no longer shoots, by preference; the middle son outshoots me due to my intro and his experience with counter-terror/drug interdiction; the youngest has had a Para 15-40 for about 6 years (under my control until age 18) as well as a Savage .308, an old Winchester .22, and a High Point 9mm carbine his grandfather gave him. All are competent and safe.

  20. My boys are in Scouts, and regardless of what you’ve heard, the BSA is not emasculated yet. BBs, slingshots and archery are all de rigeur at campouts (with a repetition of the Four Rules), and my 11yo Boy Scout has even been taught to load and shoot a black powder rifle at camp, something I have yet to do. I ran a knife clinic when I was den leader, as well, just to round them out. Despite having shot ARs and 9mms, their favorite guns are still .22s.

  21. My wife and I just started our 13 year old son off with a cheap, clear plastic airsoft Colt 1911. My wife is doing the majority of the teaching, as she grew up around guns and I did not, so she has more experience and patience than i do. Hes yet to shoot it, mainly because hes struggling with “safe direction” while just holding it.

  22. I introduced my parents to guns. But they’re New Jerseyans, so it was kind of like introducing kids to guns.

  23. I never had any children so I’m going to talk about my favorite subject “ME”.
    I grew up in small town America northern NM and AZ. I was 12 when I received my first rifle, a Remington Model 550A .22 semi-auto. My step dad gave me this rifle as a present imagine having all that firepower as a kid? 15 .22LR as fast as you could squeeze the trigger even more if you had long’s or short’s. Firearms safety was taught at home by my step dad and grandfather both were very strict and zero mistakes were allowed! I knew nothing about trigger’s, sights, or stock sizing and did not care I had my own rifle and it was the best gun ever made. Living in the country rabbits and squirrels were fair game and expected to bring home for dinner (which I did often). Coyotes, skunks and raccoons were all considered vermin and shot on sight. Myself and most of my neighbors had or skills/safety action’s reviewed by my parents and several others. Over the next couple of years we went from having an adult coming with us too going out on our own or with a couple friends getting game for dinner. I still hate cleaning rabbits and squirrels! The 550A was a full size rifle and I needed a couple years growing into the full size stock. I’d say given zero recoil I never noticed. I was allowed to shoot and the rifle was a present but I had to buy my own ammo (Western Auto in Gallup, NM) sold .22 shorts for .59 cents a box if you bought a brick. I was lucky that the Remington would eat anything as my friends usually had to purchase LR ammo for their SS or bolt guns. I became very frugal with my shots considering I had a semi-auto and actually learned how to shoot because my grandfather and his friends taught me not to shoot if I could not hit the target. I became a pretty good shot with their training and input.
    50+years later I have learned so much and own many different rifles including a bunch of .22’s semi-autos, bolt action, single shot and lever but never parted with the Remington 550A. I had the gun refinished (blued and stock fixed) from all the years of usage. The trigger has been cleaned up and it now sports a 4X scope and it gives fond memories when I shoot it. I can now look at it with a professional eye and see lots wrong with this rifle but it has so much history with me I still shoot the thing and ignore these issues.
    I inherited a step son a couple years back who became interested in shooting given my background I make a few changes. He is/was 15 and spent too much time on video games I thought so his first rifle was a Marlin bolt action with a 10 shot clip. Frankly he was pissed! In the past he had shot my Winchester .22 lever and a couple of Browning .22 SA and a Nylon 66 his thought was why should he be saddled with a simple bolt action rifle. We made him buy his own ammo (sticker shock) and a year plus later he has become a respectable shot. He still prefers my Browning SA but since he has his own rifle he no longer is allowed to shoot these unless it is a special event.
    I’ll be sending him off for hunter safety course this year and intend on introducing heavier calibers as necessary. We are now working backwards as he thought he could handle anything given his skills with the .22. His mouth and ego exceeded what he should be doing. The AR platform was fine for his frame but later he thought the heavy rifles were just as easy. My BSA in .308 corrected the situation, he did not really get hurt but the recoil instilled a new found respect in his frame.

  24. I started teaching my son when he got his first Nerf gun at 4. He learned BB guns at 7 at Scout day camp. I was involved there, since I was a den leader. At 9 he graduated to the Ruger 10/22 and 6 months after to a .22 pistol.

    At all levels I taught him the basic rules of gun safety. Even with the Nerf gun, it was keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot, aim in a safe direction, etc. It was age level, of course.

    However, it carried over directly to the BB gun. All the safety background was there and I was able to focus more on teaching him shooting. How to shoulder, good sight-picture, breathing, etc. When we were trying to keep the guns aimed downrange for the other kids and they were spraying BB’s as fast as they could pump the guns, this Tiger cub was shooting on par with the Webelos.

    So when we moved up to the 10/22, even though I reviewed everything he’d been living for 5 years already, the focus was on handling a real firearm and ammunition – with the additional safety rules that go with that. Before we went to the range the first time, he could load or unload with confidence, cycle the action, knew the trigger pull, make the gun safe and could shoot with scary accuracy.

    What some people consider odd, though, is that I would not allow an Airsoft until he had proven himself safe and reliable on a firearm. I’ve seen to much abuse and sloppiness with the Airsoft that I haven’t even seen with BB’s and I didn’t want that compromising his marksmanship or his safety. Now, though we do use them for target practice when we can’t get to the range. In fact, I’m expecting to do so with him tonight.


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