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Well, it’s official. My little man just turned four. For his birthday, he had asked for only two things: anything with Thomas the Tank Engine on it and a BB gun. After a lengthy discussion, my husband and I made the decision to buy him the Red Ryder and, well, he loves it.

When he opened the present, he knew right away that he’d gotten his first gun. He wasn’t the only one who was excited either. Our daughter proudly exclaimed that she also has a BB gun, but hers is pink, not brown.


Not long after tearing the paper off the box, I took it out for him to shoot, but we had to go over the rules first.¬†Obviously, kids will tend to forget rules, so we made sure to keep it simple. Don’t touch the trigger until Mom or Dad says to, and never point the gun at any person or animal. That rule will change as he gets older and likely becomes a hunter like his father, but for now, I was concerned about the safety of the cats.

As he listened and we made him repeat the rules as we did with his sister, he got increasingly excited to shoot his new gun. Eye protection is a must. Sure, it’s just a BB gun, but they can be dangerous too, and he will eventually shoot something else. Having that as a rule seems more than reasonable.

After making the poor boy wait painstakingly while my husband set up a cardboard target with some balloons on it so he could see them pop when he hit one, the two of them sat down together in the beautiful fall weather of Western Wyoming.

My son loved it. After sending the first BB at the cardboard target, he didn’t even care that he hadn’t hit a balloon. He just jumped and said “One more time!” We actually had to ask him to calm down a little because the jumping was threatening to give my husband a bloody nose.

His experience was a happy and good one, and he asks to shoot his gun every day. It’s important to make sure that we, as gun owners, teach our children about guns before their¬†friends at school or the media have the opportunity to mold their minds. Neither of my kids are old enough to take their BB gun into the woods on their own, but in time, I’m sure they will.

Regardless of the input from my liberal in-laws, my husband and I are confident in our decision to teach our kids about guns at a young age. Curiosity killed the cat and since they already know that we both have guns. Lying about guns in the house isn’t an option especially if you expect your kids to respect the weapon and be safe with them.

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    • I’m trying to remember how old I was when I figured out how to cock a Daisy lever rifle (the model below the Red Ryder) with my foot in the lever. I’m thinking the muzzle probably swept things it shouldn’t have but I don’t remember exactly how I did it.

      I was 9 when I got my first BB gun, a Marksman 1010 pistol (the Daisy rifle belonged to a friend, probably a couple years earlier). Cocking that imitation 1911 was a real chore at first. Shooting that Marksman was how I first acquired upper body strength.

  1. It’s cool to see that your son is in the state where you think he can learn about his first gun. Mine’s the same age, however I don’t feel like he’s ready because he doesn’t listen quite well enough yet. Oh well time and work will fix that at some point.

  2. I got my first Daisy @ 5 years old ,a Daisy Golden Eagle. Wood and metal. I still have it. The spring is just about shot and it looks like it was drug behind a truck. It’s one of my keepers.

  3. The only question I have is why the Red Ryder and not the Buck? My nephew couldn’t properly shoulder the Ryder at 6 so I got him the Buck. I told him he would get the Ryder when he grew into it.

    • I got my 6yo girl a buck too. It’s still even a little big for her but I’ll probably end up making a custom pink butt stock for her once she earns it. Probably rig up a cheapo red dot too.

  4. You brought me to tears. I miss learning to shoot from my father (a Navy Rifle Team/UDT member). That was 55 years ago. Thanks for the memories. Some things never change.

  5. Just went camping this summer and my girl (7) just got her Red Rider. Pink of course. Same rules, same story. She loved it and it’s just one of those moments I remember with my dad and now she can remember with me. There’s more to it than just shooting. There’s a magical moment in there that is almost impossible to explain.

  6. How have my kids and I made it this far without sharing every moment of our lives on social media?

    • You must have missed Ms. Tipton’s last post, where she whined about the big scary Internet reaction when she posted online details about herself. Well, now she doubles down and posts the details of her kid’s lives. Logical. Not. I know I can’t write, therefore I don’t. Mommy tripe.

  7. Even TTAG needs a little comedy relief from time to time. On Fridays we have the photo caption contest. The rest of the time we have the occasional posts by Gray Man.

  8. Thomas the Tank Engine. I still have nightmares over the theme music, especially from the old short episodes.

    I wonder why it wasn’t used for tor^H^H^H mental conditioning at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. Probably because there’s an Amnesty International ruling it a cruel and unusual punishment.

    At least kids eventually grow out of Thomas. I’m glad mine did. Now he likes Star Wars Rebels and Guardians of the Galaxy. At least we can watch them together.

    My son is awaiting turning 12 so he can get his junior’s permit. We have been discussing a training plan to start him from the beginning, which is what he wants to do.

  9. Someone has to say it…”You’ll shoot your eye out!” I’m from the generation whose mothers always objected to BB guns and used that warning. I have a Daisy Red Ryder in my gun safe.

  10. What is this word coming to…someone giving their child an “assault bb gun”.

    That thing holds way more than 10 rounds. I bet your hoarding ammo for that death machine too! You probably bought one of those 6000round barrels of ammo that y’all camp out at Walmart for.

  11. I was about two years older when I fired my first BB gun. It was a daisy pump. We shot cans in my grandpa’s backyard. I was super excited. Whats funny is I didn’t get my first BB gun until after my first real gun. It was a crossman single shot pistol. I got in trouble with that one. I shot my dad’s metal shed a few times, or twenty. He was pretty ticked off from all of the dents.

  12. As an Ophthalmolgist I have to interject – In your lead pic, your son has glasses on, but you don’t. It is rarely the shooter that takes the BB in the eye, maybe because they are tight behind the gun. It is usually the on lookers, those who don’t feel the need for safety glasses, that lose an eye. High speed projectiles damage eyeballs in a manner that is often not repairable.

    EVERYONE within range of a BB MUST wear eye protection!

    As an aside, lead pellets or lead BBs, are much safer than steel BBs as the ricochet potential is much less. Their easier deformability on impact with hard objects reduces the projectile’s energy.

  13. Got back my 67-year-old Red Ryder from Jim Dry in Oklahoma. I sent it to him to fix it up a bit–it was rusty and a bit weather-worn. It came back as good as new! Shoots great! Wooden stock and forestock, no safety, non-adjustable sights, aluminum lever. Vintage about 1946. Really brings back memories.


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