What is an apropiate age for kids to be taken to the range


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sturmruger
April 13, 2006, 12:00 PM
Sometime in September my wife will be delivering our first child. I plan on raising this kid to be familar with how to safely operate a firearm at a somewhat early age. The tough question is what age will their first range trip be.

We were over at some friends house last night who have a two young sons(21 months and 5 months). My buddy and I both shoot IPSC and do most of our practicing together, so at what age we start hauling the kids out to the range is going to be an important decision that will be probably be influenced by what the other parents decide.

When I say first range trip I am invisioning one maybe two kids with both my buddy and I there to supervise. We won't have any of our comp gear, and would most likely start shooting with either a pellet gun or bolt action .22 LR. My vote for an official range trip is probably going to be around age 5, but it will depend what our kids are like and how well the listen.

My father got me a slingshot at age 7, and a good BB gun at age 8. I saved my pennies and bought my first .22 at Kmart for $119.99 on sale.

I would be interested to hear at what age you started shooting, or if you have kids what age you started hauling them out shooting with you.

Thanks

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ball3006
April 13, 2006, 12:03 PM
I got shooting a shotgun, 16 ga, for the first time when I was 8 years old. That was a long, long time ago in a different world........I believe now, a kid needs to be tall enough to shoot over the bench at a public range. If you are on private property, what ever age you think they are big enough......chris3

Greg L
April 13, 2006, 12:24 PM
My kids were going to the range while they were in car seats & not crawling yet. As they would get older they would play with the other kids there in a field well behind the line.

As far as actually shooting, once their heads were big enough to wear ear muffs they could (one at a time) ask to come up to the line & shoot. At first they would only shoot (with intense immediate supervision) a few rounds until they got bored & wanted to go play again. This was probably about age 4-5. By the time they were 7-9 they were loading & shooting on their own (still supervised). Again, the attention span wasn't that long but they could shoot as much as they wanted to. Let them decide when they've had enough & have them bring a book or something else to do so you don't have to end your time there if you aren't ready.

ACP230
April 13, 2006, 12:36 PM
Mine started at six or seven with an air rifle.
They'd had to memorize the four rules before that, and got a lot of safety reinforcement at the range.

They all became safe shooters and hunters. Their gun handling was sometimes better than older hunters we met in the woods.

Of course, it depends on the kid. If mine had been more rambunctious and less willing to follow the rules, I'd have waited longer to teach them to shoot.

Sistema1927
April 13, 2006, 12:47 PM
Depends on the kid. Depends on the parent. Depends on the range.

I had my daughter shooting handguns at age 4, however, her brother didn't make his first range trip until he was 17. There were several factors involved. My daughter has always been "old" for her age, listens to instructions, and had good self-control. My son was bit of a hot head, and not too good at following instructions or paying attention. Also, due to several moves, there were times when a range conducive to teaching a youngster weren't close at hand. Also, my differeing job/study duties made a difference in the amount of time that I could devote to do it right.

Just like most things in life, this is a decision best left to those involved.

RyanM
April 13, 2006, 12:50 PM
Going to depend on the kid and their maturity level.

Frandy
April 13, 2006, 12:52 PM
Going to depend on the kid and their maturity level.

+1

pax
April 13, 2006, 12:53 PM
(Edited to add credentials: I've got five sons, ranging in age from 10 to 16. No twins.)

It depends entirely upon the child, and upon how well the parent has trained the child.

You cannot teach them much of anything until you teach them to obey. This starts before they can even talk, and continues until they are making their own decisions in late high school.

Next up: teach them the Eddie Eagle rules ("Stop, Don't Touch ..."). This starts as soon as they are able to talk and repeat things after you. When they are able to recite the Eddie Eagle rules, then you start discussing what the rules mean. When they are able to do that, you add one more rule -- the one that makes it all work. See post here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=2088558#post2088558) for what that rule is and how to teach it to your child.

In my opinion and experience, there is no real benefit in bringing children to the range until they are themselves old enough to shoot. The minimal benefit does not really balance out the risks from noise and lead exposure.

If you choose to bring children who are too young to shoot to the range with you, make sure they have truly adequate hearing and eye protection. It's hard to find muffs that fit little heads (Peltor Junior muffs are worth a try). Their ears can be easily damaged if the muffs don't fit well, so add plugs too. You can cut plugs in half lengthwise to make them skinnier, but don't make them any shorter.

Of course, once truly adequate hearing protection is in place, the child cannot really hear you say, "Don't ..!" -- so again, if the kid isn't old enough to know, without being told, to stay behind the line and keep hands off other people's guns and equipment, he is not old enough to be at the range with you.

Eye protection is another issue. Again, it's hard to find protective equipment to fit little faces. We've had better luck with goggle/strap type eye protection for little guys than we have with even kid-sized safety glasses. The straps are also more comfy than eyepieces when worn with ear muffs.

Before the first shooting trip, your kid should be able to recite and explain the Four Universal Rules of gun safety ("All guns are always loaded ...").

And by that time, you should have some experience in helping new shooters at the range. A child is, after all, simply a more extreme type of new shooter.

HTH

pax

M2 Carbine
April 13, 2006, 12:54 PM
Don't have any kids but my friend brought his boys to the (my) range at about age 5 or 6 where we started teaching them about safety around guns.
At about age 6 or 7 we started teaching them to shoot using a 22 Beretta.
Now in their teens they are excellent shots.

They also take delight in handing in pro gun and gun rights papers at school when they get a chance.:)

belton-deer-hunter
April 13, 2006, 12:54 PM
i voted 8 but jsut because they go to the range doesnt mean that they get to shoot... they cna learn saftey first

cracked butt
April 13, 2006, 01:07 PM
Took my little one (3 yo) to the range with me the other day. Didn't let him shoot, but let him watch. I set up a chair 20 yards behind me for him to sit at while I was shooting. Didn't do too much shooting, did a lot of checking his ear muffs. He was very curious and fascinated about the cartridges- he watched me load one, went back to his chair, and after I'd shoot, I'd call him over so he could watch me extract the brass and compare it to a loaded round. We would then walk down to see the bullet hole in the target. Afterwards he asked me if we could do this again tomorow and then the next day and the next day and the next day.....:) It might be another year or more before I let him shoot though, his attention span is a little too short right now.

RyanM
April 13, 2006, 01:15 PM
Hm. If you do Pax's procedure of introducing a child to an unloaded gun, you may want to take out the recoil and hammer springs. Not only to further reduce the chance of discharge, but also to reduce the chance of smashed or pinched fingers. I got my pinkie finger pinched in a Glock ejection port once, and that hurt a lot. It would also let the kid work the action and stuff.

sturmruger
April 13, 2006, 01:25 PM
Thanks Pax for the excellent post, and thanks for the link.

I was raised in a family where obediance was the rule, and I plan to have kids the mind as well as I did.

The hearing protection is a big concern, I was thinking about going with the custom molded silicone plugs. The lady that makes them said she gives discounts for kids because they grow out of thier plugs so fast.

carnaby
April 13, 2006, 01:47 PM
It's hard to find muffs that fit little heads

My full size Peltor's fit my 5 year old great. They're big, but they stay in place and form a good seal around his ears. I used them on him when we're hammering, doing construction projects, or shooting out in the woods. He's never shot yet, just watched Dad. I think next year or the year after a chipmunk .22 might be in order :D:D

His grandma got him a dollar store M16, and his form with it is quite good. I make sure he keeps his finger off the trigger until he's ready to shoot. We also got a pair of nerf dart guns that we blast each other with. Of course I accidentally shot him in the eye (flashbacks of rubber band gun fights with my Dad), so now I put eye protection on him when we have our battles.

On the other hand, I did just get him an archery set which he LOVES. It's a Bear compound bow with a 9.5lb pull. He can pull the bow by himself with no arrow, but not steadily enough when actually shooting, so I give him a little help. Good fun!

Anyway, my point is that there's lots of fun ways that are a little less serious to get kids interested in the shooting sports.

h_tolley
April 13, 2006, 02:23 PM
It depends :D

If there is a firearm that the child can handle reasonably and if the child if trustworthy enough to obey any instructions given then the child is ready. I wait until 7 or 8 and start them with a 22 single action revolver (ruger bearcat). Make certain to have hearing protection that fits the child.

Pafrmu
April 13, 2006, 02:28 PM
I voted: other age

As soon as they are mature enough to wear eye and ear protection.

Larry Ashcraft
April 13, 2006, 02:34 PM
I agree with pax.

My three kids knew the rules before they started school, from watching us and others compete in IHMSA Silhouette. When I gave my son a Chipmunk for his 8th birthday, all I had to do was observe as he proceeded to wear a blister on his thumb from cocking and shooting it. :D

My twin grandsons, almost six, got their first lessons a couple weeks ago, shooting BB guns at a box from the front porch with grandma and grandpa.

On the other hand, I took a 14 year old nephew to the range, at the request of his parents, and I won't take him again. Found out later he has a learning disability where he doesn't understand the consequences of his actions. I was continually on him to quit handling guns when other people were downrange. I don't think he ever got the message, so we packed up and headed home.

PlayboyPenguin
April 13, 2006, 02:40 PM
If you have private range it is your business as long as you supervise in a very hands on matter and very closely. A 4yr old could injure themselves in a split second with a firearm.

As for at a public range I would never want to be next to anyone younger than 8yrs old. Kids are just too unpredictable and you cannot be holding the gun for them the whole time.

Larry Ashcraft
April 13, 2006, 02:44 PM
Forgot to add:

When my kids were old enough to start shooting, I took them to the range and shot a watermelon with a shotgun.

They quickly understood the consequences of violating the safety rules.

PlayboyPenguin
April 13, 2006, 02:52 PM
When my kids were old enough to start shooting, I took them to the range and shot a watermelon with a shotgun. They quickly understood the consequences of violating the safety rules.

Cool, that works with older kids. Younger kids it does not. Up until around age 5-7 (depending on the child) children have only a "literal" understanding of their surroundings. This means all they would get from shooting a watermelon is that "watermelons explode when shot". They would lack the ability to form any real life link between what happened to the watermelon and what could happen to them. Their brains are not processiong indirect relationships like that yet.

ColoradoKid
April 13, 2006, 02:54 PM
I voted 7 years old, but actually probably would be closer to 8-9 years of age. I say this taking into account, attention span, concentration, interest, timidity and desire to learn about something new. Most of them will probably have their curiousity slaked and not take them up again until years later.....some males, not until they join the military...

Dr.Doug
April 13, 2006, 03:03 PM
FYI- a shooting bench makes a dandy diaper changing station! My oldest kid's first time to the range was at about 1 month- it's a private range-and he slept the whole time in his car seat.

As far as saftey and shooting, we started teaching safe gun handleing skills with the many toy guns they had over the years.

Both my kids got BB guns for 6th birthday gifts. The oldest started with a .22 at 7 1/2, but the younger didn't until he was 8 1/2 (difference in maturity level).

Doug

DevLcL
April 13, 2006, 03:06 PM
It really all depends on the child. Most childen (IMO) who have been raised properly, will do great at the range at an age as young as 4, maybe younger. I also see alot of lazy parents who don't have a clue as to how to raise a child. You can spot it a mile away at the supermarket or the video store.

Kid: Mom can I have this?

Mom: Pretends not to hear.

Kid: Can I have this? Mom? MOM!

Mom: NO! Put that back right now!

Kid: Pouts.

This lack of communication, respect, and understanding could be disasterous at a firearms range.

Anyway I'm going to go ahead that most parents taking the time to read this post have probably done an outstanding job. That said, Go Ahead! Take the little tyke out and show him/her a good time!

-Dev

rnr4me
April 13, 2006, 04:01 PM
When my kids were old enough to start shooting, I took them to the range and shot a watermelon with a shotgun.

They quickly understood the consequences of violating the safety rules.

Me too, except I used p-dogs and .223/.243/.22's. Yup all torn up and bloody.

They'd grown up seeing me butcher deer, I'd show them where the bullet went in and sometimes the hole it made on the other side. We'd have anatomy lessons too. I'd show them the blood shot meat etc.

Pretty much the 'awe and mystery' of guns were gone from my kids pretty early. They didn't have the 'hey check this out' mentatilty. They knew that guns were off limits unless I or mom were around and we were heading out to go shooting.

JShirley
April 13, 2006, 04:14 PM
I fired a .22 and .410 at 4. I was hunting with my father by 1st grade, with a 20 gauge H&R Topper Jr. Man, that shotgun kicked! Much more than a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500.

I was small game hunting in the woods (with Dad and older brothers elsewhere on the property) by age 8.

Unfortunately, like many of the older crowd here, my father knew nothing of ear protection. :( Keep those ears safely covered at the range!

John

pax
April 13, 2006, 04:14 PM
PP ~

You're assuming parents don't talk to their kids about what they are doing, what it means, and why they are doing it.

Those stages of learning/understanding assume that the kid is a completely blank slate, has never had stuff explained to him, and can't possibly understand even if stuff is explained to him in terms he can understand.

Funny story: friend of mine in college, taking a child development class. Professor (childless of course) lectured on stages of kid development, claimed kids under age (I forget specific ... 5?) were unable to really comprehend the idea of a deferred reward, or of either a reward or a punishment happening later than the behavior. Part of the lecture was the claim that if you took a toddler, showed him a piece of candy, and told him he could eat the candy now, or wait ten or more minutes to receive 2 pieces of candy, the kid would always eat the candy immediately because he couldn't possibly understand the idea of waiting and being rewarded for waiting.*

Friend went home. Got his barely 2-year-old son and set the kid at the table. Put a piece of candy in front of him. Said, "DJ, here's a piece of candy. You want it?" Kid nodded. "Okay, you can eat it now, OR you can wait a few minutes to eat it. If you wait to eat it until after dinner, I will give you two pieces of candy."

Kid looked at the candy, and said, "Okay Daddy." Then he climbed down from the table, looking wistfully behind him at the candy still sitting there. Candy sat on the table all afternoon, with the kid coming over to look at it from time to time. After dinner the kid was given two pieces of candy.

DJ was not any brighter than most 2-year-olds, but somewhere along the way someone had explained "waiting" to him in terms he understood.

So, no, a 4-year-old might not understand that the watermelon blowing up means something. But if someone takes the time to explain what just happened and what it means, and to engage the kid's imagination -- well, that's a different thing entirely.

pax

* IMO, the real reason little kids "can't understand" the concept of waiting when promised either a reward or a punishment is because their parents lie to them so often. Would you believe someone who lied to you all the time?

akodo
April 13, 2006, 04:16 PM
aside from the safty aspect of a firearm discharge, you have to worry about hearing protection and eye protection, which was discussed already. I have to throw two more in.

Air quality protection. It is one thing for me to expose myself to the tiny risk of a lead ladened atmosphere. Most indoor ranges are well ventilated, and I am fully grown and see driving to work as more risky, and pumping my own gas as more likely to cause personal pollution problems...BUT...I wouldn't let a young growing kid under 10 to an indoor range unless it had a very good ventilation system and was a slow day.


Unsafe Neighbor Factor. - we have all heard the stories of morons at the local range. If you have access to a private range, great, but i'd be a bit leary about bringing a young kid to a public range. Fear of harm to the child from poor gunhandling is one, emotional impact of a moron hurting himself is another, general exposure to the word *uck would be a third

cracked butt
April 14, 2006, 12:02 AM
Up until around age 5-7 (depending on the child) children have only a "literal" understanding of their surroundings. This means all they would get from shooting a watermelon is that "watermelons explode when shot". They would lack the ability to form any real life link between what happened to the watermelon and what could happen to them. Their brains are not processiong indirect relationships like that yet.

Maybe, maybe not depends on the kid. When my kid was 2, he told others that daddy shoots deer with a rifle and brings them home to eat. He understands that his toy gun doesn't use 'real bullets' and is different than his daddy's rifles. Even with the toy rifle, he has been taught since day 1 that its not to be pointed at people, he follows this rule better than a lot of adults I've seen.

cracked butt
April 14, 2006, 12:06 AM
Funny story: friend of mine in college, taking a child development class. Professor (childless of course) lectured on stages of kid development, claimed kids under age (I forget specific ... 5?) were unable to really comprehend the idea of a deferred reward, or of either a reward or a punishment happening later than the behavior. Part of the lecture was the claim that if you took a toddler, showed him a piece of candy, and told him he could eat the candy now, or wait ten or more minutes to receive 2 pieces of candy, the kid would always eat the candy immediately because he couldn't possibly understand the idea of waiting and being rewarded for waiting.*


I'm guessing that that psychobabbler had never heard of Santa Claus or right now, the Easter Bunny and how parents can use these fictional characters to leverage better behavior for a future reward. :D

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 12:19 AM
I'm guessing that that psychobabbler had never heard of Santa Claus or right now, the Easter Bunny and how parents can use these fictional characters to leverage better behavior for a future reward.

Actually that statement just shows you do not understand what he was saying. I love how people with no mental health training love to write off information from people with advanced degrees and doctors as psychobabble but they will believe everything hacks like Maury Povich Oprah or Dr, phil tell them.

PAX
You're assuming parents don't talk to their kids about what they are doing, what it means, and why they are doing it.
No, I am not assuming that at all. I am just telling you the a 4yr old does not usually possess the cognitive abilities required to process and retain such abstract relationships. No matter how many times you tell a 2-4 yr old something you will still find yourself having to reprimand them for not listening when they did indeed listen. They just lacked the physical ability to completely process the information. Who hasn't had a small child say "I don't know" when asked why they did something they were told not to do. Unless you are saying that you have never had to punish your small children because they have always done what they are told. In which case you are a very, very lucky man. :)

cracked butt
April 14, 2006, 12:53 AM
Actually that statement just shows you do not understand what he was saying. I love how people with no mental health training love to write off information from people with advanced degrees and doctors as psychobabble

Advanced degrees in pseudoscience? Where do I sign up for one of those newfangled phrenology classes?:neener:

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 01:04 AM
Where do I sign up for one of those newfangled phrenology classes?
Of course you'd say that...you have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter! :neener:

pax
April 14, 2006, 01:05 AM
PP ~

All I know is that the levels of kid development are often treated as though they were handed down at Mt Sinai, but that of all the kids I know personally, not one ever fit neatly into the outline. Kids are individuals, just like adults are, and have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and their own ways of reaching maturity.

In re your comment to Cracked Butt above, he was out of line with the insult about psychobabblers. But your response was out of line and off base too.

With five children in the house, I've found that the stuff I got in child psychology in college was worse than useless in dealing with actual, live children. Maybe the stuff they fed you was better. But how would you know? You've never lived with a houseful of kids, so maybe the theories about what kids are supposed to be capable of or not capable of seem sound enough to you.

Personally, I'd take the word of someone with real-life experience over the word of a childless someone with a degree, who got his training from a similarly childless someone with a degree, whose own theories were more than several steps removed from any actual children.

Rarely if ever ask one of my kids why he disobeys. Usually ask 'em, "Can you tell me what happened? ... What did he do? ... What did you do about that? What happened next?" But asking 'em why they failed your expectations is just asking them to create an excuse or lie to you on the spot -- either of which is a bad lifetime habit.

But yes, I'm a lucky ... er, person. ;)

pax

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 01:11 AM
My response was a quote from the Simpson. mr. Burns to be exact. How dare you not recognize that. :D

As far as child development, I have had hundreds of clients that thought their kids should be capable of more than they were and I have never found a 4yr old yet capable of abstract reasoning. it comes down to this...would you set you 2-4yr old child down on your new white suede couch with a bottle of chocolate syrup and say "I am going to leave for the day...you sit there for the next few hours and do not get any syrup on the couch". I doubt you would. it is normal to want to advance our children to a point where they can partake in the same things we enjoy but when firearms are concerned it is best to make it a non-opportunity until they are definately old enough.

cracked butt
April 14, 2006, 01:13 AM
Pax- don't sweat it, PP had a pretty clever, if obscure comeback, I found it quite funny.

pax
April 14, 2006, 01:14 AM
:D :D

PP, both you & CB posted a second time while I was composing the above.

Sorry for the confusion!

pax

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 01:16 AM
Pax- don't sweat it, PP had a pretty clever, if obscure comeback, I found it quite funny.
OBSCURE!?!?!?! Mr. Burns is not OBSCURE!!! You take that back. :D

BEARMAN
April 14, 2006, 01:33 AM
A suggestion on taking kids to the range. DON'T DRAG THEM ALONG BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING, THEY WILL GET BORED AND NOT ENJOY IT. Make it a time for them, with you probably not shooting more than a round or two, to demonstrate. Make it a set time limit( like maybe 2 hours), not until they are sick and tired of the range. LEAVE WITH THEM WANTING MORE BUT BECAUSE OF THE TIME LIMIT YOU HAVE TO LEAVE, THEN STOP AT THE TASTY FREEZE ON THE WAY HOME FOR A TREAT. Make it a fun day. This can work with most things you want to introduce your kids too. But sad to say some kids still may not like it or have fun doing the same things that DAD does. That doesn't mean they can't learn the basic safety rules.

pax
April 14, 2006, 01:35 AM
By the way -- Sturmruger, the point I'm getting at is that you really need to talk to your child. It isn't enough to think he's "old enough" or "not old enough." From the time he* is too little to understand, talk to him as if he can. If you do that, it won't be long until he surprises you with all the stuff he can understand.

The attachment is for you, if you're interested. I promise there aren't any viruses in it.

pax

* Or she. They come in two sexes, I know. But all of mine were "he."

KC&97TA
April 14, 2006, 03:41 AM
I got my Red Rider at 4yr, Daisy Pump at 5yr, also got a CO2 pistol at 5

22lr at 6yr, also at 6 my father showed my brother and I what his 44mag would do to a 1800lb bull by shooting it in the head at close range, which taught us at that point not to mess with dads hand guns.

2nd grade was the first time I shot a .270 and at 10 I got my first hand gun. At 12 I was deer hunting with a 300mag and a Glock 10mm, 16 I started to hunt with my high school buddies.

I grew up with 'many' loaded guns in the house and trucks, never had an accident or any problems, but I was taught young and never had toy guns either, do to all the real ones being around.

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 04:04 AM
I am all for introducing children to gun safety and later to gun handling and ownership but what good does exposing a small child to a grisley killing do for anyone? Children like animals generaly and doing something like "see the pretty bunny, BANG. Now see the pretty bunny's blood and guts" just doesn't seem very positive to me. But then I guess some people still live by the "negative reinforcement" policy that has caused so many of this past generation to grow into tight sphinctered, hooker loving, power grabbing, hate mongers.

dfaugh
April 14, 2006, 09:55 AM
Going to depend on the kid and their maturity level.

There you have it. Start with gun safety early, as early as you can. I didn't start my kids shooting very young, but that was because I was actively involved in shooting much at that time (and their mother my EX-WIFE) is a bit of a hoplophobe). But, I would say, either of mine would have done fine at 7 or 8 years old.

Mizzle187
April 14, 2006, 10:54 AM
Here is why I said other but this could change depending on my kids maturity when they get older. I just have in theback of my head that I take my say 8 year old to the range and shoot a 22 or even a pellet gun and he or she is so intrigued by it when at home(which guns should be put up and will be but still) or at some friends house(where guns arent put up as well God forbid) they will see a gun and think "hey I know how to shoot this now" . I know that it is a case by case/kid by kid scnenario but how is it not in the back of your head? Obviously before I take my kids shooting or having them around any guns we will have all the needed talks. Thats why as of right now having only a 4 year old I wouldnt feel comfortable with exposing her untill at least 12. Ill have to play it by ear!

sturmruger
April 14, 2006, 12:16 PM
Thanks Pax for the reply and the doc. We just found out today that the little bundle of joy on the way is going to be a boy so all the "he" we used turned out to be appropriate.

One of my favorite things to do is talk to kids. They always have such interesting ideas, and thoughts about life. I am obviously way out ahead on this subject any decision on when the kids will have their first range trip will be decided by how well they understand and follow basic gun safety, and if my wife and I think they are ready for it.


Thanks for all the educational comments.

bigdaddyb
April 14, 2006, 12:30 PM
I started both of my boys at 7.

The 11-year-old shot 22, AR-15, and my 1911 at 7. He wasn't overly fond of the 1911, but shot it once.

My 9-year-old is Autistic. I started him at 7 too. We're still working on some of the basic concepts, but he makes range trips from time-to-time too.

Both are VERY safe around firearms. Firearms aren't a mystery to them. They know safe gun handling and practice it.

akodo
April 14, 2006, 01:12 PM
Maybe, maybe not depends on the kid. When my kid was 2, he told others that daddy shoots deer with a rifle and brings them home to eat. He understands that his toy gun doesn't use 'real bullets' and is different than his daddy's rifles. Even with the toy rifle, he has been taught since day 1 that its not to be pointed at people, he follows this rule better than a lot of adults I've seen.

I got to say, I really question if a 2 year old can wrap his brain around the concepts here. Real vs unreal, life vs death, etc.

Your kid may be able verbalized the desired answers to you, but that is simply saying what he is taught to say because it makes dad happy. Doesn't mean he has any cognative grasp on what he is saying.


I am sure if you asked your 2 year old to describe the difference between real bullets and not real ones, he wouldn't be able to. I am sure if you asked him to tell you about life and death for people and for animals you weren't going to eat, he wouldn't be able to.

Nickotym
April 14, 2006, 01:38 PM
My younger daughter shot a .22 revolver and .22 Cricket at age 4 with some help. Next two oldest who were 6 and 8 at the time shot as well. Haven't taken our now 4 year old boy yet. we will see how he does over summer. Just got a .22 revolver of our own to teach them on. Would like to get them going on helping reload this summer but we will see. (Hand daddy that empty shell, kiddo.) :)

Nickotym
April 14, 2006, 01:40 PM
Akodo, do you have any kids yet?

Kids vary widely even within families on their maturity level. Our older son I would not have even thought about taking shooting at age 4, but our present 4 year old is more mature and if he asks I will take him shooting with daddy providing hands on help.

The Freeholder
April 14, 2006, 01:41 PM
To my mind, the appropriate age is as soon as you can get effective hearing protection for them. Have them supervised by someone who isn't shooting, and let them grow up know that guns are a useful tool, and only the bad guys have to be scared of them.

Wayne D
April 14, 2006, 02:00 PM
When they are old enough to do this every time, without being reminded, even when handling replicas.

http://webpages.charter.net/wayned/Alex%20Jamestown%20Rifle%201.jpg

pax
April 14, 2006, 03:16 PM
I just have in theback of my head that I take my say 8 year old to the range and shoot a 22 or even a pellet gun and he or she is so intrigued by it when at home(which guns should be put up and will be but still) or at some friends house(where guns arent put up as well God forbid) they will see a gun and think "hey I know how to shoot this now" .
I understand that fear, but I don't think it's a realistic one. I say this because, if your kid has ever seen a gun used on TV or a movie, she already knows "how to shoot this now."

So if she does come across a gun, and you've never talked about firearms with her, never admitted to her that you have guns in the home, if she's going to be overwhelmingly curious. After all, that would be the very first time she's ever seen one in real life instead of in the movies. Who wouldn't be fascinated? Without education, without being taught that handling firearms is really rather boring when you follow all the rules. So she won't have any motivation at all to leave it alone in the first place. And she won't have even a rudimentary understanding of firearms safety rules (muzzle direction & trigger finger) which might put the brakes on tragedy even if she did deliberately disobey and pick it up.

Ignorance is really an ineffective strategy for keeping kids safe. It relies on adults to be perfect -- and we're not. We're human beings and human beings make mistakes.

On the other hand, if you show your kids your gun early on, and teach them the safety rules, and make sure they know that any time they are tempted to touch a gun all they have to do is come find you and ASK and that you will help them handle it and stay safe, then you have just removed nearly all of their motivation for picking up a gun when you are not around. Why risk a spanking or worse, when all they have to do is ask? There's no longer that aura of forbidden fruit to entice them to do something stupid.

And if you have taught them well, there is at least a thin veneer of gun-handling knowledge (re muzzle direction & trigger finger) which might prevent an outright tragedy even if you negligently leave the gun out and they deliberately disobey.

Humans are not perfect. Neither children nor adults are perfect. So any safety plan that relies on humans of any age to be perfect is a flawed plan.

Keeping the kids ignorant and trusting the firearms locks relies on adults to be perfect. It assumes that none of the adults around them will ever goof by leaving the safe door open. You might never, ever, ever leave your own safe door open -- but can you say the same of every one of your kids' friends' parents? Probably not.

Leaving the guns accessible, or just putting them out of reach rather than locking them up, relies on children to be perfect. It assumes that children will never be tempted to disobey, and will never be pushed by their peers into doing stuff they know they shouldn't. Anyone who's ever lived with a child knows how unlikely that is.

So instead of relying on adults to be perfect, keep the guns either under the conscious control of a responsible adult at all times, or locked up where a child could not possibly get it. And educate your children against the day when an adult goofs.

pax

rbernie
April 14, 2006, 04:28 PM
Children like animals generaly and doing something like "see the pretty bunny, BANG. Now see the pretty bunny's blood and guts" just doesn't seem very positive to me.My five year old thinks that it's VERY positive - it means that he gets to eat rabbit for dinner. :D

It's all in the maturity of the kid and how they're raised to see things. My kids LOVE animals (we have fish, birds, herps, dogs, and cats) and they love to interact with them. At their present ages, they could no more kill an animal as they could kill a family member. But at the same time, from the time my two younger children first started eating meat they were taught that the meat came from an animal. As soon as they were old enough to grasp the concept of death (generally around age 3) they learned that Daddy probably killed the animal to get them the meat that they eat. They have seen dead animals, and they understand what it means both positively and negatively. They may not want to do that, but they daggone well know what it means (well, at least for the eleven year old and the five year old - the two year old grrl is still too deeply into toddler fantasyland for such things). They know that animals kill and eat each other, and they know that they themselves are animals.

My five year old will probably be mature enough to go shooting with me by the time he's six or seven. My eleven year old (being raised by my first wife) still isn't ready - he's too emotionally immature and I'll not force something upon him that he can't handle. My two year old - well, let's just say that there'll be heck to pay when she starts shooting. She'll likely outshoot us all and do it with a grin on her face.

PlayboyPenguin
April 14, 2006, 04:51 PM
Nothing wrong with children understanding where meat comes from but we have to be careful. One of the most prominent signs of children that grow up to have anti-social tendencies is how they treat animals at a young age. Also, even though they know where meat comes from does not mean they have to witness a gorey event at an early age. Shooting a bull in the head in front of a small child is not necessary or positive. Then these parents wonder where all the hostility and anger is coming from when their kids or 15 or 16. I had to deal with it every day when I worked for CPS.

JShirley
April 15, 2006, 09:17 AM
negative reinforcement

PP, you're hurting me here. After the lecturing about not understanding Psychology, you've made an extremely common terminology mistake- one I would not expect, given what I believe you're presenting as some reasonable knowledge of the subject. (Most people confuse negative reinforcement with punishment.)

Here (http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/proj/nru/nr.html) is the first result that popped up re this. In brief, negative reinforcement is removing something unpleasant from the environment.

Shooting the bull would only have been negative reinforcement if the bull were threatening or painful- :uhoh: - and the child completed some action the parent wanted to reinforce.

John, not a Psych major...and thinks most Psychology is soft science. :D

LAK
April 15, 2006, 09:57 AM
For actual firearms, somewhere around 7 - the age of reason. Some people shoot their first much younger, and I do not have a problem with that. But it makes sense to me that an understanding of all relevent subjects is possible.

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cracked butt
April 15, 2006, 11:01 AM
You wouldn't want the kids to know how meat gets to the table, its much better to lie to them and put them in front of a Disney movie with talking animals that have human personalities.

rbernie
April 15, 2006, 11:13 AM
One of the most prominent signs of children that grow up to have anti-social tendencies is how they treat animals at a young age.That's a fundamentally correct statement. It is a clear marker (although, as with most of this stuff, nothing is ever cast in concrete).

My kids LOVE animals (we have fish, birds, herps, dogs, and cats) and they love to interact with them. At their present ages, they could no more kill an animal as they could kill a family member. And this was my statement on that.

Followed by: But at the same time, from the time my two younger children first started eating meat they were taught that the meat came from an animal. In my household, responsibility is defined as a balance between an appreciation for the life that surrounds us and a willingness to understand and accept our innate need to consume and destroy some of that to further our own existance. That is why I choose to hunt, and I want my children to understand their own nature even if they themselves never choose to hunt.

My kids get to see their parents care for the household animals and they are responsible themselves for much of that. They see us perform 'catch and release' on common house pests, and from that they learn that all life has value. My kids also get to confront, in a lighthearted kind of way, the fact that their existence is predicated upon the taking of an animal's life - I let them choose which dead animal's meat gets eaten for dinner and we often talk about how Daddy killed it.

And all of this gets back to the original question in a roundabout way. My kids are being raised to value life, and they're being raised to understand the death that firearms cause because they get to see it (and profit from it) from the time that they start eating solid foods. When I believe that they're old enough to begin to handle the business end of that, they get to go to the range. But I'm not overly concerned about them not understanding the consequences of shooting firearms since we've been consciously and subconsciously working on that since their birth.

PlayboyPenguin
April 15, 2006, 11:28 AM
If you read my post carefully you will find that I did not use the term incorrectly. I did not state tha shooting an animal is negative reinforcement. I was making a correlation between people that would do such a thing as brutally kill a bull in front of a child and the type of people that believed that the best way to teach someone is to hurt them until they do it right. That is why, if you notice, I put the term in quotations.

CAPTAIN MIKE
April 15, 2006, 11:31 AM
My # 1 job is "DAD".
Everything else comes after that.

I learned firearms safety and how to shoot in the Boy Scouts of America.

My suggestion is that in order to help a child get the "Hey, I Can DO THIS" feeling, they have to feel confident and NOT overwhelmed by a big scary gun.

So, start 'em with a bb-gun then a 'Chipmunk' .22 made by Rogue River Arms.
The bb-gun should be the shortest stock you can get. I believe it's called the Red Rider. The 'Chipmunk' is a nice little single-shot .22 that has a stock short enough for the little guys.

I think you'll be pleased at both the price and the enjoyment your kids will have. Mine certainly have enjoyed it a great deal....and now they have learned to be respectful not afraid of firearms.

PlayboyPenguin
April 15, 2006, 11:35 AM
Is that your kid. If so you should be applauded. That is the kind of young man that will be able to be a good representative of RKBA.

BlkHawk73
April 15, 2006, 08:06 PM
Age shouldn't be the determining factor. maturity and responsibilty should be the deciding factors. There's grown adults of all ages still not mature enough to safely handle firearms so again, age isn't the determining factor. the ability to understand the safety issues at hand, maturity and responsibiltiy is what's needed.

sturmruger
April 19, 2012, 12:41 AM
I was reading some of my old posts when I cam across this post.

My son is now 5 1/2 and I bought him his first gun. It is a Red Ryder BB gun that is really the perfect size for him. The downside is at 5 he just doesn't have the coordination to shoot it yet. Even sitting on my lap he just could get everything together enough to look down the barrel and use the sights. I put it back in the gun safe and told him will will take it out later in the year or maybe next Spring.

drsfmd
April 19, 2012, 10:04 AM
Mine already come to the range with me from time to time, but they won't get to shoot until they are at least 12.

jrdolall
April 19, 2012, 10:31 AM
I have three kids and all of them started when they showed an interest. My "Range" is in my front yard so the kids saw and heard guns well before they could walk. I made it a point to leave guns, usually hunting rifles, laying on the couch or a chair while I was watching tv. This acclimated the children to the sight of a gun which, IMO, took away the "wow" factor. I taught gun knowledge and safety before I ever allowed them to shoot anything. Each one had a small BB gun, Daisy cheap-o, by the time they were three so they could shoot targets with mom and dad. This kept them interested for all of two minutes usually. My daughter could shoot a 22 and an AK-74 at 7 years old from a sandbag but my middle son was 10 before he would shoot anything other than a 22. My oldest son killed his first deer at 10 and my middle killed his first at 14.
I think it is important to allow them to progress at their own speed. Teach them gun safety, preach gun safety, use gun safety. My kids will all take a gun that is handed to them and immediately verify that the gun is unloaded even if I unload the gun in front of them and then hand it to them. I handed my daughter a semi pistol a couple of weeks ago that she had never been around. She could not rack the gun so she ejected the mag and started looking for a manual safety. It was DA and has no safety so she handed the gun back to me and asked how she could make sure it was not loaded.

I also feel that it is important for kids to understand that we are meat eaters and an animal dies for us to eat meat. That does not mean we should take them to a slaughterhouse or make them drink deer blood at 10 years old but they should understand that there is nothing wrong with an animal dying to provide food.

I sat next to a young woman, 30 or so, on a trip to Chicago a few weeks ago and we were talking about general things before I brought up guns. She has never held a gun and considers herself anti-gun because all she ever reads is the bad things that can happen. She has lived her entire life in an apartment building in Chicago. Never owned her own home or even lived outside an apartment and she thought that was perfecty normal. I wonder why there are so many anti-gun people? I try to educate them every chance I get.

Ryanxia
April 19, 2012, 10:36 AM
There's no set age, it depends on their maturity level and ability to follow the safety rules.

rajb123
April 19, 2012, 08:26 PM
I was given my first gun, a Remington 22lr rifle in 1962 at age 6. I was given instructions on safe gun handling and sportsmenship.

Because children grow up faster today, I beleive a first gun could be given much earlier. However, it depends on the child. Some mature early and some do not.

earplug
April 19, 2012, 08:31 PM
My major concern was hearing protection. Many earplugs would not fit or muffs were not small enough. Kids have to get big enough to be able to have the protection needed.
With the right targets shooting can be fun at a early age.

Teachu2
April 19, 2012, 08:39 PM
My stepsons were 6,7 and 12 the first time I took them to the range. Each got a safety discussion and got escorted to the firing line, where they got to fire a mod 66 2.5", .38 WC load. The oldest then got to fire a .357 125gr JHP - and none of them ever thought of a gun as a toy again. I married their mother shortly thereafter, 24 years ago in June. The boys (men) still shoot, and are safety conscious. Once they had shot one, they were able to control their curiousity. As wild as they were, none ever got in trouble with a gun.

ErikO
April 19, 2012, 10:24 PM
I voted 8 as that was my son's age. We will probably have his 16th at this range as well.

SFC Ed
April 20, 2012, 01:23 PM
I took my oldest Grandson, age 10, to the range two weeks ago with a Winchester 72 bolt action, tube load. He is a real marksman and can't wait to go back and I can't wait to take him again.

TanklessPro
April 21, 2012, 01:34 AM
Depends on the child. My daughter was 3 on her first range trip. Now every time I go she wants to go too. It maybe because all of her safety equipment is pink.:) I really don't care why as long as she wants to go.

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