Today was great day! It was not hot. In fact, it was a comfortable 75 degrees and sunny … a perfect day to teach my four year-old daughter how to shoot her BB gun. Now, admittedly, she has shot this before, but it has been a little while. So we had to go over the lessons and the rules again . . .
I have always found that answering the questions as they arise, rather than skirt the issue or lie to a child, will actually help squash the dangerous curiosity that leads to gun accidents. This worked wonders with my son. Once he began to ask questions, I had him help me clean my EDC. Of course he now wants to help whenever I clean it, but he no longer asks me if he can shoot mommy’s gun or touch my gun or carry my gun for me. A simple explanation that he is too young to shoot, but can help clean the spring was all it took. Once he matures a little more, he will also get a BB gun of his own to learn to shoot.
My little sweet pea is four years old. Sitting down with her and talking about the gun before we shot it is the most important part of the “gun discussion” a parent can have with a child. You only get to instill safe usage of a gun at a young age before they are subjected to the media’s ridiculous version of the gun culture, so this was important. I made her tell me what the basic parts of the gun were, show me where the safety is (I called it the “stop” button also so she would understand) and point to the trigger. The trigger was the most imperative part to me teaching a young child to shoot. Much like my father told me, that is the one part that cannot be overlooked. My dad said “It doesn’t matter what type of gun you shoot. YOU are responsible for the bullet that leaves that gun. If you can’t handle that, you don’t pull the trigger.”
Finally, as I finished my lecture, I asked her “who is responsible for the bullet even if you miss?” Her response floored me. She said “I am, mommy. But I will be like you and daddy and Grandad and I won’t miss.” I couldn’t help but smile at her answer. I wanted to say that I have missed many many times, but I didn’t think discouragement would help in this particular situation, so I just told her she was correct and we could shoot the BB gun if she could point out the safety. “Here’s the stop button, mommy! Can I shoot now?”
It was time. Luckily it was just a BB gun, so shooting at our house was not an issue. She was ready, already having on her safety glasses (that came with the BB gun). After a quick instruction on how to hold the gun, and a reminder to not touch the trigger until I tell her it’s safe, she was ready. She sat patiently while I used the lever to get a BB in position. Then I handed her her gun, and told her when she’s ready, to push the safety button so she can shoot. She did amazing. Keeping the gun pointed forward, she was able to release the safety, and pull the trigger shooting the pile of dirt I asked her to aim towards.
“Please can I shoot again, Mommy!” She squealed. How could I say no? Well, I couldn’t. We spent the next hour shooting dozens of BBs. Finally, I told her we had to stop because it was dinner time. She understood, and when I asked her to put the safety back on, she was competent to do so.
I know I made the right decision in teaching her gun safety and the basics of shooting. I am teaching my daughter that she will never have to be a victim. I’m teaching her that guns can be safe and fun. She had a blast, and I am looking forward to helping her shoot in the future.