Teaching Your Kids to Shoot

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

One of the things the anti-gun crowd likes to harp on is that guns and kids are a poor mix. Sadly, there are kids every year who are injured or killed in firearms related accidents. In most of these cases, the culprit is simple curiosity. Kids see guns on television and in the movies. If they know there are guns in the house, they’re likely to go looking for them. After all, we all know that guns are pretty cool, right?

In the political left’s wisdom, anyone who has guns should keep them locked up, just to keep this sort of thing from happening. I really don’t have a problem with keeping guns that aren’t being used locked up; but I carry a gun every day, so that I can protect my family. That one can’t be locked up, for obvious reasons.

So, the question then becomes how to keep those guns from being a danger to our kids. One sure way of keeping control of any gun is keeping it on your body. But there will always be times when you need to take that gun off, even if it’s just to take a shower. If you’re not going to lock it up, then the safest thing to do is to teach them how to use a gun properly. Kids who understand guns and the four rules of gun safety aren’t going to get into accidents with them. They’ll respect the guns. It’s the kids who don’t understand guns who get in those situations.

That raises the question of just how young to start teaching kids to shoot; a subject of much controversy. There is no hard and fast rule, simply because not all children are the same. Some are more responsible than others and some learn easier than others. A child who doesn’t have good fine motor skills really isn’t ready to shoot, as they won’t have good trigger control.

The best place to start, with any child, is training them on gun safety with toy guns. When I was a kid, we used to play “cowboys and Indians” and other such games, using our cap guns. Of course, that meant pointing our toy guns at each other and “shooting” each other. Granted, even if those had been real guns, we probably wouldn’t have hit anything, except by accident. Nevertheless, looking back at it now, I realize that my dad should have pulled me aside and taught me why I shouldn’t be pointing my toy guns at my friends. Safety has to be number one with firearms. It’s possible to play those sorts of games, offsetting our aim, so that we aren’t pointing even toy guns at each other.

There are probably some exceptions to that. I can’t see where Nerf guns or water pistols would be much use if we weren’t actually pointing at each other. So some sort of exception would have to be made and understood by the child, allowing them to “switch modes.”

Nerf guns are actually a good place to start teaching the basics of shooting. I’ve had a few that were amazingly accurate within ten feet. I could aim at something across the room and actually count on hitting it. So, to me, that’s a very safe way to start shooting.

The next step up, before getting to “real guns,” is pellet rifles and pistols. While it is still possible to injure someone or even kill them with a pellet gun, they have a much lower muzzle velocity, much less recoil and are considerably safer than even a .22. Not only that, but you can safely shoot them in the back yard, as the pellets can’t go through a cedar privacy fence. Nevertheless, take the same sorts of precautions as with a real gun, for training purposes.

Children can learn a lot shooting pellet guns, to the point where they can become fairly good marksmen. There are even competitions which are solely for pellet rifles. The nice thing about teaching kids to shoot with them, is that it doesn’t cost much. Avoid the type of pellet guns that use gas cartridges though, as the muzzle velocity lowers as the gas is expended, affecting accuracy.

By the time a child is 8 or 9, they should be ready to step up to shooting regular firearms. Start them off slow, with a .22 rifle or pistol. I’ve used both in teaching my family and besides the money savings, it’s much easier for a kid to start off shooting something where they don’t have to worry about recoil. People who hand someone a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot, just so they can see them fall on their backside, need to be knocked on their own backside.

Moving up from a .22 is a big step, because they will have to deal with that recoil. If you can, go in small stages, rather than just handing them a .45ACP. I stepped up to a .380ACP, then 9mm, when I was training my kids. A lot here depends on the child’s hand and wrist strength, as they need to be strong enough to handle the gun comfortably.

It’s a bit counterintuitive, but avoid using small pistols with kids. Those small pistols have a lot worse recoil than larger pistols of the same caliber. A heavy pistol is easier to hold onto, but a pocket pistol is going to try and jump out of their hand.

Through all this, be sure to encourage your kids and any progress they make. Everyone thinks they’re going to be able to shoot like John Wayne their first time out, not realizing that John Wayne was shooting blanks. It takes time and practice to get good and kids don’t always have the patience needed, without a bit of encouragement.

Teaching your kids to shoot not only helps ensure their safety around firearms, it can also provide them with the ability to defend themselves, should that need arise. While I hope my kids never have to take up arms in self-defense, I’d rather have them prepared; just like keeping my powder dry and my survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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