When should children start firearms lessons?!?


February 25, 2003, 01:18 PM
I ask because....

I just became a father!

Sofia Gabrielle Barber was born on Monday, February 24th at 6:18 pm. She weighs 7lbs. 13oz. and is 20 1/4" long.

That being said (puffs out chest), when is a good time to begin Firearm Safety lessons? I know that some say 6 or 8 or so, and I think that a child has to have an understanding of concrete facts before introducing such a serious tool into their lives.

But kids who see crud on TV and have access to unlocked guns and their ammo because parents aren't watching them and dcide to go "play" also happen.

So, birthing announcement aside, and given that this child is years from handling a gun of any sort (even air-rifles), what is a good time to begin such instruction?

Thank you,
:D :D :D <very proud right now!!!>:D :D :D

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February 25, 2003, 01:33 PM
Congratulations, Beorn!

Let's see here. I'm 20 now, I had my first air rifle when I was 6, and my first .22 when I was 8. I grew up around guns, and ever since I can remember (which was well before I turned 6) my parents never tried to hide guns from me. They simply told me that if I ever touched a gun when they weren't around, I would be done for (in so many words). It worked.

That being said, I will probably introduce my future children to guns around the age of 6, and drill them in the 4 rules daily until I believe they're responsible enough to have their own air rifle. Of course, I'll always drill them with the four rules, regardless of how old they are.

Again, congrats on the new addition to your family!

February 25, 2003, 01:48 PM

To answer your question...about the time you trust them to eat with a fork and not poke their eye out.



Felonious Monk
February 25, 2003, 01:50 PM
Congrats Beorn!

Changes your whole life, your outlook, you begin to think longer-term, you get more careful (in some ways), etc. etc.

Between ages 6-9 would be my guess, but they'll pick up the "safety" aspects from watching you LONG before that. When they're starting to show interest, and responsibility, let 'em handle them. All 3 of my kids know how to check and clear ALL of my guns. It's habit now, when I hand them a gun, the FIRST thing they do is confirm that there is no round in the chamber/barrel. The two oldest can tell me the 4 safety rules from memory, and the youngest (7) is working on it.

You can tell that they feel "honored" with a special privelege to check out Dad's gun, and they show responsibility in other areas as a result.
First, though, ya gotta get her through the toddler craziness, terrible 2's and so on. Baby-proof for now.
Lesson time will come soon enough.

Greg L
February 25, 2003, 01:50 PM

Training starts now. Don't try to hide them like some dirty litte secret. When she's old enough not to eat everything that she can stick in her mouth :rolleyes: let her help you clean them by handing you things & watch what you are doing (as long as she wants to). Satisfy their curiosity as they are growing older and they won't mess with them later in life (however they still need to be locked up or otherwise stored safely (your choice if that applies to the kids or the guns :D )).

Actual shooting of an air rifle probably started around 5 years old (I would hold the rifle, they would pull the trigger), rimfires +/- 7, & centerfires +/- 9. Don't force it on them but don't make guns a mystery to be experimented with either.

Enjoy the time now. It's kind of noisy but she isn't moving around yet, that's when it gets interesting. :D


February 25, 2003, 01:53 PM
First of all, congrats on the birth of your child,I don't smoke anymore,if I did,I'd lite up a stogie for you.
As far as firearm safety education I'd say the earlier the better. I'm saying that from experience. My dad was a LEO back in my hometown of KCMO and he always exposed us & taught us how to handle his guns in a proper safe manner. My mother used to tell me my father would show me & my brother the different parts of his service revolver when we were around 4 & 5. Even before I was born,my father and grandfather always had guns around,hunted,and always carried some type of firearm when my father & mother were growing up in west Texas so it was always in our family life.My father grew us respecting guns,enjoyed shooting & hunting,and knew how to handle firearms because of what my grandfather taught him at a very early age,and I benifited from the same.
I'm sure your incorporating proper & safe gun handling in your everyday life as a shooter, just continue that around your child from a early age,as well as teaching her the same,and she will be just fine.

February 25, 2003, 02:15 PM
Congrats on the new addition!

It is never too early to start instilling the respect of firearms. My son is 3 and knows that if he ever even thought of playing with my guns he is in BIIIIIIG trouble! He also knows how to tell if they are loaded (knows that it is not a good thing to handle if they have a shinny bullet in them...)

One thing to always remember, it is ALWAYS easier to gun proof your kids than kid proof a gun. No matter how locked up the guns are remember that if a kid wants to see them he/she will. Also if your kid is gun proofed then you will not have to worry about them in other households with firearms since they will respect them as well!

And do not even think of not letting kids play with toy guns because of the PC CRAP that has been going around. All of us played with guns and darn well knew the difference between play and reality. Kids today are smarter than we were so they get the point also!


February 25, 2003, 02:36 PM
Mazel Tov!

When you start depends on the kid. When they're old enough to hold a gun with only minimal help from dad, go for it. This might be a good time to invest in a couple of .22's :)

February 25, 2003, 02:41 PM
Congrats! My dad started me on a Winchester 9422 at age five. I would start the Four Rules around the same time that you teach them any other safety precaution.

February 25, 2003, 03:21 PM

I started mine as early as they started playing with toy guns.....don't point 'em at people except in an officially sanctioned gunfight, and on from there. It's never too early to gun-safe your kids.

Hope you are getting some sleep.

February 25, 2003, 03:22 PM
Congratulations, DAD! :D

I introduced my guns to my son when he got old enough to communicate w/ real words. I didn't teach him how to shoot until he was able to ask me himself. Then I was able to sit down & explain safety to him.

February 25, 2003, 03:39 PM
Congratulations! Hope you're all caught up in your sleep, because you've enjoyed your last peaceful night for about 18 years. :D

We started both our children young, beginning with awareness of guns, the Four Rules and the Eddie the Eagle's program (Stop, Don't touch, Leave area, Tell adult). That's the foundation: start that part very early and you'll be able to get her shooting as soon as she can shoulder the gun.

I started my 6 1/2 year old son Matt shooting a BB gun about a year and a half ago. He showed the mental maturity to shoot at 4, but wasn't coordinated enough to safely handle the gun until five. Its great to see how quickly he integrated the safety rules into his handling without thinking. Finger straight, muzzle aware, looks around before he shoulders gun, etc. Much of this because of the long standing foundation laid regarding gun safety.

He has great fun pointing out safety problems on TV (by rule number: "Dad, rule 4!"). He turns 7 in late May and I've already bought my gift for him: Henry Mini-Bolt 22. I'm really looking forward to spending the long summer evenings on the range with my best-buddy!. Yippee!!

While I am always within arms length when he has the gun, and this will be the case for a while, I have more confidence in his safe handling than a couple adult shooters I know (recently shot with one of these for the last time after he swept the range with his finger on the trigger of his loaded Glock while he chased a hot case that went down his shirt).

We also have an almost 3 year old girl. Her greeting to me is often, "How was the range, daddy?" She knows what guns are, and already followed Eddie's rules by tracking down and telling her mom about the gun in the family room when I recently "tested" her (unloaded gun on table, me watching through crack in door). As girls are often more coordinated and mature at a quicker rate, she'll probably be ready to start shooting in about a year.

Double Maduro
February 25, 2003, 03:43 PM
Congrats, Beorn,

Hang on, having a daughter is an "A ticket" ride.

The time to start teaching your daughter about guns is NOW.

Every time you handle a gun do it in a safe and respectful manner, explain to her why you are doing the things you are and you will be surprised how much she has learned from watching you.

I agree that you should secure your weapons, she may have friends that don't understand that all guns are always loaded.

February 25, 2003, 03:52 PM
I started my son on the .22lr at age 8. If they're big enough to hold the rifle earlier I think that is Okay but by 8 I was sure he could remember the safety rules and hold the rifle steady.

February 25, 2003, 04:04 PM
When they learn to crawl teach them what they can and cannot touch (windows TV computer picture frames guns-no; tables chairs toys dog handrails-yes) Then as they learn more you teach them more. My son is almost six I have shown him how to clear a couple of handguns, even though he does not have the stregnth to do it yet. I have also taught him how to hold (fingers away from trigger) and how to not scare a friend who may find/pickup a gun outside of our house. Then, to get the gun safely away from the other child.

It greatly depends on the responsibility level of your child and thier personality. My son acts like an adult (usually) and seems to be a natural leader who will step up to be in-charge or take charge of any situation. He scares me with how smart he is.

February 25, 2003, 06:41 PM
I had five kids and the age at which they were ready to learn about firearms on a specific basis varied with each kid. Non specific lessons began as soon as possible. Lessons such as "don't touch", "no no", began as early as possible. I put a .22 in the hands of one kid at 6, another not until 9. Some kids showed a great deal of interest in firearms. One never has. So, there's no magic age. Just play attention and carpe diem. Good shooting;)

February 25, 2003, 07:07 PM
When should children start firearms lessons?!?

From the day you bring them home. Read your firearms manuals to them.

February 25, 2003, 07:41 PM
As soon as they can pull the trigger:D

February 25, 2003, 07:52 PM

My dad began teaching me and my sibs about guns, and gun safety when we were toddlers. I did the same with my two. There is no better time to begin gun safety training than when they first can walk.

Mark D
February 25, 2003, 07:55 PM

Get the book, "Baby Wise". It will save you hundreds of hours of sleep.

I like the ASAP approach to training. My seventeen-month-old son knows that daddy's guns are something cool, he just doesn't quite know why. He always wants to look in the safe if I have it open. Even at seventeen months, he knows that there is something particular about the guns that demands a degree of respect. My wife and I want him to grow up knowing that guns are nothing mystical, just tools that are to be respected. As he grows, we will make sure that his knowledge of firearms is commensurate with his comprehension and responsibility.

Jeff Thomas
February 25, 2003, 07:59 PM
Sooner the better. I taught my 6-year-old the 4 rules, and would pay him a quarter when he recited them. And, took him to shoot when he was 7, as I recall.

Never too early, and remember that most of your lessons will come from watching you ... be on your best firearms safety behavior, for your child's sake as well as yours.

Congratulations ... this will be one of the most wonderful, and traumatic experiences of your life. ;)

Regards from TX

Standing Wolf
February 25, 2003, 09:18 PM
I've never had children, so I speak with no authority, but I've seen children as young as four helping their parents shoot .22 caliber rifles under very close supervision.

Double Maduro
February 26, 2003, 02:23 AM

Got pictures?

Actually after thinking about my answer earlier in the thread I realise I was wrong.

I now want to change my reply to:

All fire arms are dangerous and should not be around people under the age of 18.

As a service to a new father I am willing to accept and store all of your firearms until your daughter reaches that magic age. I will take them out and exercise them on a regular basis and keep them clean and well fed.

I am surprised that none of the other people on this board have offered to help you in this way.

e-mail me for my snailer.


figured you'd be up anyway.

February 26, 2003, 09:59 AM
No sense putting a rifle in a child's hands until they have sufficient fine motor skills to control it. That said, you've got many years of acclimation and training you can accomplish.

When your child shows interest in what you are doing (a predictable event in any child's life) show them. Cleaning guns? let them participate. Eddie Eagle? Good idea.

Teach the 4 rules of safety. Award a penny everytime they identify a violation of the 4 rules on TV or a movie. Give'm a dollar everytime they catch you in volation.

After 5 years of training, mentoring, and exposure your child should be ready to try an air rifle where the mechanical aspects can begin. Take thm to the range so they can experience use of safety equipment.

I suspect 6-8 is a good starting point. I was shooting a rifle with my dad at 7. Wouldn't trade it for all the world.

El Tejon
February 26, 2003, 10:44 AM
My brother has started with his 4 year old. Noah carries a replacement stock for a M1A about to learn safety and is learning to "shoot" with a rubber band gun purchased at a gun show (a pillow on a chair in the basement provides proper backstop).

Depends on the child, but age 5 or 6 would be a good time for a first time with a real firearm. Maybe?

February 26, 2003, 11:10 AM
I introduced my guns to my son when he got old enough to communicate w/ real words. I didn't teach him how to shoot until he was able to ask me himself. Then I was able to sit down & explain safety to him.

C'Mon 10Ring, quit beatin' round the bush, thats about age 3!
Training starts when the start toddling around the house, for safeties sake. My kids knew the 4 rules by age 4? and at age 3 I took them up and let them shoot a single shot 22 rifle from a rest, and a bearcat pistol with CB shorts freehand, with me about 6 inches away, wrapped them with my arms yet not touching them (target at 5ft?).

Massad Ayoob's book 'Gnuproof your Children' helped alot. It said you have to get rid of 'the forbidden fruit syndrome' so they wont handle them without asking first or in not in your presense. It worked for me. I made them a deal. Ask first and you can 'handle' any gun you want to. Dont ask first, and its big big big trouble. This was like gold to them kids. Permission. They each transgressed one time (set em up for failure, left my 45 lay on the table (unloaded) and went to get a cup of coffee (sic)). I held up my end of the deal by responding immediately, even when I knew they were just testing me, to reinforce it their minds that I was serious and could be counted on. I even had to put the card game on hold with company to stand up to my word once or twice. Before handing that gun to a kid, I'd go through a big dramatic 'Lets make sure we dont point it at anyone/anything and check to make sure no bullets are in it..." scenario. At around age 6 or 7 I shook up cans of pop and let them shoot them so they had a visual on the power, then picked up the split can and said "fix it"..."This is what would happen to your brother if you shot him"..."fix it"...("I cant")..."Guns are real, dont forget rule #2" and so forth.Ohh the violations they spot..."Daddy, your friend has his finger on the trigger" "He didnt check it for bullets like you did"!!

Congrats on the new addition. (Toddler gunpics are sooo cute.)

February 26, 2003, 11:30 AM
When my son was born I went out and got a 22 for him and put it away. Last x-Mas my brother sent him his firft daisy bb gun. I put it away. I have been instructing my son about the safety rules since he was 3 now soon to be 6, He is very, very smart but, continues to be a little to independent and has been told that he will not shoot a gun until he follows my direction to the letter. That being said , I am going to start working with him in the spring with bb gun. If he does not listen it all goes on hold again... CONGRATS!!!!!

February 26, 2003, 03:27 PM
I didn't even know we had any guns in the house until I was 6. It turns out the place was full of them. Hmm. I guess Dad knew a thing or two about hiding stuff, since they survived several years of me and my brother hunting for christmas presents.

Anyway, Bro was 8 and I was 6, and we started shooting at the same time, even though he got his own air rifle before I did. Before we were allowed to start shooting, we had to be able to decock his model 1897 Winchester Shotgun 100 times without dropping the very worn out hammer. This we had to do every time before we went out, several times. If we were in the house and he handed us the gun and said 'decock this' we got in serious trouble if we even tried since we a) accepted a known-cocked and loaded gun (they were all always loaded no matter what) and b) we were in the house.

Agent Z
February 26, 2003, 05:54 PM
Happy Days for you my friend. The only advice we all can give you is simply as most have said already. It depends on your childs mentality. You have to play it by ear basically.

How my father did it for me was simple and smart. He exposed me to shooting as early as 3 years of age. I never got to come close to the weapons. I just got to watch. I still remember it being fun anyway. I was five when he first began instructions with me. I suppose I'd been really attentive because I was shooting that same day. Naco Waffers taped to a wooded style cross make for fun shootin. I did pretty well, even though dad had to hold that heavy .22 for me. Now I'm 40ish and that .22 I still have and its getting heavy again.

Now my friends (the dumb arsed liberal ones) have me teach their kids about fire arm saftey. Simply due to the fact that even though they do not own any, their kids may be over a friends house and their freinds may show off dads unlocked piece of glock. Smart idea even from a liberal.

Good luck. You have a world of knowlege and a room full of advice from the good folks and members here at highroad.com.
I've learned tons from these people.

The only dumb question is the one you don't ask here.

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