Parents: how/when to introduce children to guns


November 30, 2008, 04:04 PM
I'm just curious as to what other people's opinions on this subject are. What do you think is the appropriate way to go about introducing a child to guns? What do you tell them when they are toddlers, young children, pre-teens, teens, when would you take them to shoot for the first time and w/ what type of gun? Etc...?

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Glock River
November 30, 2008, 04:09 PM
Introduce IMMEDIATELY. Let them handle one as soon as they can recognize the difference between a gun and a bottle. Why do some people imagine that "introducing" involves shooting? :confused::confused::confused: Introducing your kids means just THAT, to show them and let them handle. My son has been handling guns since before he could lift them.

I get tired of these people who claim there is a point where the kid is too young for information and education, because their subtle implication is that education about guns is inherently bad and therefore should be postponed :fire:. I have encountered a lot of that idiotic attitude among gun owners (usually the result of a patently spineless man and/or a man who is trying to compromise with an ignorant wife).

November 30, 2008, 04:22 PM
Whenever they are really able to listen to you and follow instructions properly.

In some cases this will be an 8 year old and in others it may not be until they are 28. ;)

November 30, 2008, 04:23 PM
I think that you are going to get a variety of different responses here. I'll tell you what I do for my 3 kids, ages 3, 8, and 9.

I started my 8 and 9 year old boys (19 months apart) on a pump BB gun with iron sights when they were about 6 and 7. When they learned the basic rules of firearm safety and could demonstrate range safety and muzzle discipline in the back yard, they moved on to a 22 rifle. I would have preferred a bolt action to teach them to slow down and get thier hits, but all I had was a semi auto.

Now, the 8 year old can hit a 8" steel plate at 50 yards with iron sights on a rested rifle and the 9 year old competes in USPSA action pistol.

The 3 year old wants to be involved, but isn't ready yet. She does know that if she finds a gun, she is not allowed to touch it. Nontheless, all firearms are either out of reach or secured.

My boys know that they don't handle ammunition and a gun without being on the range.

I think that no matter what the age, you need to be right behind them at all times anticipating what could possilbly go wrong. Be prepared to grab the gun at all times.

Just like the first time you take youngsters fishing, you don't give them a fly fishing rod and reel, it is also important that the first thing they shoot is appropriate. 22s are good for first timers of all ages.

hope this is helpful, or at least prompts others to share thier thoughts...

Glock River
November 30, 2008, 04:26 PM
I started my 8 and 9 year old boys (19 months apart) on a pump BB gun with iron sights when they were about 6 and 7.Seriously WHY did you wait so long? You wasted years of good instruction.In some cases this will be an 8 year old and in others it may not be until they are 28. If they wouldn't listen until 28 it's probably because you didn't take advantage of teaching them when they were 3.

November 30, 2008, 04:31 PM
I somewhat agree with Glock River, though not quite so harshly. It's really up to the parent to evaluate both the amount of time they have to work on the basics and to determine if their child could be responsible enough.

My son (2 1/2) helps me clean my firearms, and we practice what the parts are called as we take them apart and put them back together. He already shows pretty good muzzle control with his toys, and I think he'll be ready to shoot around 6 or 7.

The shooting age question is really an individual one. Obviously, the child is going to have a better understanding of the rules if you teach from the time they're old enough to start learning. Kids learn things at different rates, and there are things that HAVE to be learned before they handle a loaded firearm. If 3 children start learning about firearms at age 7, one might be ready that year, one might be ready at 9, and one might not get the hint until the 'teens.

It comes down to interacting with your child enough to know where they lie on the maturity scale.

November 30, 2008, 06:50 PM
In my opinion, although I am neither a parent, nor a gun owner, one should not set a definite age at teaching their kid how to properly handle a firearm, however...

Although some might say, you cannot ever teach them young enough, I beg to differ. I believe letting them handle and shoot a firearm shouldn't be for any under 10 year olds. They can however watch you handle yours, but under this age, children just shouldn't do this themselves. They should at least have to be able to fully grasp the seriousness of handling a potential very dangerous weapon.

And frankly, in my opinion "wasted training time" is not really a serious argument. But then again, this is my personal belief and I might get convinced otherwise in the future when I do have kids of my own.


November 30, 2008, 07:18 PM
A very young child should be taught to never touch them. I'd say around the age of 8, you should consider introducing them to a .22 bolt action, and buy a BB gun so you can teach them in your backyard if space permits. Once they have a couple of years of practice with proper handling procedures, you can introduce them to .22 pistols and work up as they get more experienced and more able to control a higher powered load.

November 30, 2008, 07:30 PM
Glock River has an excellent point. However, I didn't buy my first gun until 2 years ago. At that time, they were interested in firearms and so I started working with them. Also, props to the Boy Scouts of America, as they shot thier first BB guns (Daisy Red Riders) at a cub Scout camp. They had a blast, so we got them thier own.

November 30, 2008, 07:51 PM
Both of my sons shot guns when they were 7 or 8. Loved it.

November 30, 2008, 07:58 PM
I was introduced to my dad's Remington .22 at 5 y/o. I got to shoot it with assistance of course. I was introduced to small game hunting around 9 which meant carrying a 22/20 over/under, and a .22 revolver.

Never have been involved in an "incident" and never went poking around in the gun closet on my own.

November 30, 2008, 08:08 PM
There is no age at which its right to start them... there are kids that will be ready at 5-6 and thier are kids that are still not ready at 45.

November 30, 2008, 08:10 PM
I was started with a Daisy air gun at the age of about 6, and wouldn't have it any other way. Just be sure they know how to handle a handgun, too. I never shot a handgun until my 20's.

November 30, 2008, 08:11 PM
i was introduced around 6. .22 pistol was the first gun i shot. i would say that what i will do with my children when i have some is that i will teach gun safety right off the bat, b/c i own guns. im not sure when i would begin allowing them to shoot, but i have already started teaching my younger sister gun safety (shes 3), and she understands my words (maybe not the ideas behind them), and she has shot a pellet gun several times with me holding onto it and helping. shes not much of a shot yet, :) but that will come in time. i would say that as young as the maturity or understanding allows. with parental supervision of course

Glock River
November 30, 2008, 08:27 PM
Although some might say, you cannot ever teach them young enough, I beg to differ. I believe letting them handle and shoot a firearm shouldn't be for any under 10 year olds.Again, shooting doesn't HAVE to go with handling. Some people seem to continue to misunderstand this point. I'm not saying that kids should be shooting as soon as they can stand up. I'm saying that you should put it in their lap and let them hold it. My son was taking the magazine in and out when he was three. He's 6 now and just barely began being able to shoot the .22 pistol without my hands over his.

November 30, 2008, 08:27 PM
I have two boys ages 4 and 6. I taught them about firearms safety over a year ago. And though some may disagree with this, I showed them a couple of pictures of what happens to a human who has been shot. The concept worked well with them and the effects of playing with matches/fire, so I applied the same to firearms. They now know that you cannot put a person back together and that once a bullet has left the gun that you cannot take it back. I was sizing the boys up for a .22 at my dealer and he was impressed that they knew to check the chamber, safety, etc. Their mom and I both feel that they are ready for strictly supervised shooting after the man in the red suit visits them in a few weeks.

I do not feel, however, that all kids this age are ready for that. Reason? Not all kids are interested in firearms and will not take it as seriously, and some kids just won't be still enough and don't have a long enough attention span. There isn't a specific age, and age shouldn't be a determining factor. The child mentality should.

November 30, 2008, 09:04 PM
My sons (aged 3 and 5) have both known for a long time that daddy owns and carries guns. And they are curious about them.

I sat them down and said to them that if they ever wanted to look at any of my guns, all they had to do was to ask me. We'll sit down and handle them safely. And that is what they do. And whenever they ask, I accommodate them.

The point is that I don't ever want the kids to look on guns as forbidden fruit. They know that they are never allowed to so much as touch anything related to my guns in the house. And to date, they have not broken that rule.

I also instruct them that if one of their friends asks them if they want to see their dad's gun or anything like that, he is to say NO and come straight home and tell me. I educate my boys the way I talk to them about drugs and alcohol. It seems like the best way to me.

November 30, 2008, 09:19 PM
I'm saying that you should put it in their lap and let them hold it.
Just should make sure they don't think it's a toy, or treat it like such.

November 30, 2008, 09:37 PM
IMHO children can be "introduced" to firearms at any age . For the unsupervised use of a gun i would say about 16 years of age when they are introduced to another unsupervised item commonly refered to as an automobile. As a parent both events cause me an equal loss of sleep.


November 30, 2008, 09:56 PM
I have always shown my sons when I buy a new weapon. Mostly so if I leave it out or something like that they have already seen it and the curiousity is already gone. I grew up shooting bb guns from a very young age but I do remember finding a .22 rifle in the closet as a kid and thinking it was a bb gun. this was my first introduction to a real gun (not a daisy). I didn't want to make this mistake with my kids. I come from a non shooting family. So I just kinda decide ok now it's time to teach ya this or that judging from the childs maturity level and attitude.

November 30, 2008, 10:08 PM
I sat them down and said to them that if they ever wanted to look at any of my guns, all they had to do was to ask me. We'll sit down and handle them safely. And that is what they do. And whenever they ask, I accommodate them.

I also instruct them that if one of their friends asks them if they want to see their dad's gun or anything like that, he is to say NO and come straight home and tell me. I educate my boys the way I talk to them about drugs and alcohol. It seems like the best way to me.

That is exactly how I have handled the situation in my home.

November 30, 2008, 10:30 PM
To quote Vertigo: Although some might say, you cannot ever teach them young enough, I beg to differ. I believe letting them handle and shoot a firearm shouldn't be for any under 10 year olds.

You prefaced that you are not a gun owner; that is obvious. Like many here, I have been handling firearms since I was literally 3 years old, and shooting small caliber centerfire handguns since I was around 5 years old. All with supervision, strict supervision. As with anything, the person learning must be mature enough and supervised enough to handle the situation accordingly. You might as well say no one should drive until they are 25 years old. Oh, by the way, I have tought dozens to shoot the M16A2 service rifle, and between myself and all of my students, no one under my supervision ever had a negligent discharge. That is because I live and breathe safety, and always will.

My teaching included this restriction: I didn't own a BB gun until I was 15 years old, and had to purchase it myself. I already owned 2 .22 rifles and a 6mm Rem. deer rifle by that point. My father refused to buy me a BB gun because he didn't want me EVER thinking that a firearm could be a toy. Something I carry to this day.

Parents, teach your children responsibly about firearms, and you have to be the judge of when they are old enough to use them properly.

December 1, 2008, 08:11 AM
well, my kids have seen guns since they were a few weeks old, but as far as handleing, and then shooting, that is a different story. handleling an empty gun, in my lap can begin as soon as they can talk so you can communicate with them. shooting (bb gun) can begin when they can follow instructions reasonably well. you can not expect a child to be perfect, they have a pretty short attention span. my son was sharp enough to get his own 22 @ age 6&3/4 (early birthday gift). but, i stand right over him or next to hin all of the time. a mistake with a gun is not an "OOPS". you have to watch them like a hawk.

Hot brass
December 1, 2008, 10:22 AM
I started my kids off with gun introductions when they were 2-3 yrs old. Bought my daughter a .22 before she was born, bought my son a .22 when he was 3yrs old. What has this done to my kids? They know a gun when they see one. They were told at a young age if you are at someones home and a kid or an adult is handling a gun leave, call me or mom and we will come and get you. Why do you ask? I told my kids that bullets do not have eyes. If someone shoots you, sorry is not enough. Sorry did not do it. Leave get away. My kids started shooting at young ages. 3-4 yrs of age they were shooting .22`s. When the kids were 6 and 3, I would remove the mag from a 1911, lock the slide open and place the gun on the floor and after a few minutes leave the room. I would be watching from around the corner to see the reactions. It ended when my daughter walked over by the 1911, put her hands on her hips and yelled, MOM dad left his gun on the floor. Tell him to come and get it. Guns are not new to my kids and I made sure that the couriosity of guns did not get the best of them. When I buy a new gun my son will ask when are you going to shoot it? The daughter will ask what is it, turn around and leave. Guns are no big deal to them, but they both own guns now.

December 1, 2008, 11:47 AM
My 4-year old daughter comes to the range with my me and my wife, and she shoots my wife's Walther P22 with assistance.

With a kids natural curiosity and the tendency of everyone to want to touch forbidden fruit, it seemed obvious to me to teach her early. She knows never to touch them around the house (although they are locked up) and only has access to them at the range.

This approach allows her to appreciate through observation the destructive power of a gun... This is something she could never learn without direct experience.

I do not believe that BB guns or Airsoft guns are a good starting point for kids, because it does promote a toy-like notion of guns. Even adults tend to be careless and waive BB guns around since they know that you don't usually cause much damage with them. This is not a notion that I ever want my daughter to associate with any weapon.

Mark K. C.
December 1, 2008, 12:16 PM
I have four kids. Each one had their own BB gun at age 5. In their teen years they all shot .22 to the .44 mag. with good precision. Now they are all in their twentys and love to shoot everytime we get together.

December 1, 2008, 12:35 PM
In my opinion, you start children with guns when they are interested in learning. There are things to learn before they can just grab a 22 rifle and head for the woods to shoot with their friends.

I think the real interest (rather than curiosity) starts around 7-10 years old when children are starting to see outside their little world at home. Essentially school attendance starts the awareness.

I started with a bb gun in the second grade. I had an older brother and we got bb guns at the same time. I don't recall any formalized safety training by my Dad, but I'm sure he kept an eye on us when we first started shooting. Moved to 22 rifles in later grade school years and owned one in 9th grade. My Dad would shoot with us from time to time, but for the most part we were on our own. We also hunted together and I'm sure that is where my Dad paid the most attention to our gun handling.

I'm pretty strict and would not do as my father did with my kids. But I would start them with BB guns as soon in grade school as they showed the appitude and interest. The world has changed somewhat.

December 1, 2008, 12:39 PM
as soon as they understand no. my nephew is almost two, and i have guns in my room so my room is off limits. although i have found him in there once trying to play with a shoty on the bed, i freaked out and was really glad he couldnt reach it. but he knows not to touch them anymore. as for trusting them with a gun, if you trust them with a 10 dollar bill to go by some milk, and nothing else. then there old enough to get a gun. this is how my dad got me my first gun.

December 1, 2008, 01:53 PM
My son is 10 months old, so I've a while to plan my strategy. I do have a follow-on question of sorts, however- how do you handle *other* people?

What do you teach a child of young age with respect to talking to friends, friends' parents, or teachers about firearms?

December 1, 2008, 01:58 PM
You should probably give kids a safety talk as soon as possible, tell them to always treat it as loaded, if you see one don't touch it, etc.

December 1, 2008, 02:48 PM
I second the safety talk. At first it is "Don't touch" and then it gets revised to proper handling. In general I wouldn't want my kids handling firearms at other homes until they were way old enough to understand what a firearm can do.

December 2, 2008, 10:36 AM
Introduce them at a very young age. The rule in our house is that they may look at them at any time - ONLY WITH DADDY OR MOMMY TO SUPERVISE! They may NOT do so otherwise.

They get to come to the range when they can demonstrate both safe handling of a firearm and FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS without having to repeat them! They simply MUST understand how serious a thing it is.

They get to actually shoot when they demonstrate good range manners a few times (3-4 times maybe).

Our son began coming to the range at age six, began shooting a 22LR (CZ 452) at age seven, and is now able to shoot a 9mm or small centerfire rifle at age 9.

ALL CHILDREN ARE DIFFERENT - do not push your child if they are not ready! SAFETY ALWAYS!!!

December 6, 2008, 07:32 PM
I guess the average age for most people is around 7 years old.

December 6, 2008, 08:00 PM
As Soon as they Begin to understand. Three or four years old. My son is a terrific shot but doesn't share the passion I do. To me that is fine. that passion will kick in at a later age. My daughter does just fine shooting a 45 ACP at the age of 16. They know for a fact that guns are not evil. they know that there is a difference between societical values and parental values and they are way different. I refuse to let society raise my two kids on any playing field.

They know how to shoot well and the functionality of most guns. I can't beat that with a stick.:)

December 6, 2008, 08:50 PM
5-10 years old my girl is 10 and I am just started her shooting due to a lack of maturity. It is differant for each child.

December 6, 2008, 08:56 PM
Whenever they are really able to listen to you and follow instructions properly.

Until they are old enough you tell them not to touch them. Once they are old enough, start with less lethal airguns, for example and move them up as they safely progress.


December 6, 2008, 11:32 PM
I wish I was raised with guns.

December 7, 2008, 02:39 AM
I didn't get to shoot my first gun until I was 7 and didn't get my first bb gun until I was 10.

My daughter got her first bb gun for her 4th birthday. I built us a small bb gun range behind my shop and we shoot out there at least once a week.

For Christmas, if I can get together the extra cash, she's going to get a Pink Cricket. She's 5 now.

She has shot my .22 Crackshot with great success, albeit she still needs help to hold it because I refuse to cut the stock and her arms are not quite long enough for proper placement.

She has also shot the Savage bolt action .22(don't feel like digging it out for the model). She does good with it, as long as it's benchrested, it's a bit heavy for her still.

She started hanging out with me while I was cleaning guns and asking a thousand questions. Now she's around everytime I get ready to clean and she lays out everything. She still has trouble with which brush is for which gun, but she's learning.

As for the bbgun, if she notices it's not in the safe she makes me open the safe and find a spot for it.

I mean, that's what she would do if I wouldn't have lost everything in a poker game I was playing with a Unicorn and Leprechaun.

Gun Slinger
December 7, 2008, 11:39 AM
My son being just less than a year old at this time has given me plenty of time to plan and prepare.

When he:

-starts asking questions about guns and why I own and carry them he'll get straighforward answers that are age appropriate with an emphasis on safety, following instruction correctly, ethics/morals and the duty to maintain the equipment.

-asks if he can handle and shoot them, he'll be given the "open door" treatment and permitted access to them whenever he asks, so long as it is reasonable, so that the guns are "demystified". While children do need limits, nothing is so tempting as that which is forbidden for no justifiable reason, especially to a child.

-wants to go shooting, I will make every effort that I can to honor his request and spend the quality time with him not only for the sake of shooting, but for the opportunity and benefit of introducing him to the shooting sports and imparting to him all the personal qualities that he should develop so that he can be the best man that he can be.

-asks why I CCW, both on- and off-duty, I will explain to him that it is because it is a God-given Human Right of all Free Men to defend themselves and those whom they love and cherish and that to forfeit these Rights because others are uncomfortable with them or don't believe in them is absolutely wrong.

-asks when he can have his first gun (within reason of course) it will be explained that all those that are mine are also his for the asking.

I can hardly wait to begin "corrupting" the little guy. :D :evil: So many toys, so little time...

December 7, 2008, 12:12 PM
I can hardly wait to begin "corrupting" the little guy. So many toys, so little time...

Don't worry. You get to do the same thing with grand kids. :)

Gun Slinger
December 7, 2008, 12:55 PM
Don't worry. You get to do the same thing with grand kids.

While that is quite a way off for me, I look forward to doing that as well.

December 7, 2008, 01:36 PM
My son is nine now. When he was about 3 or so he noticed daddy's revolver, so I took it down, unloaded, checked cleared and then showed it to him. He LOVED playing with the revolving spinning wheel as it was smooth and silent like a machine. He's grown up around them all his life and I've tried to make him realize that they are just tools, like handling power tools. They are an excellent servant and never get behind the power curve around them.

The rules in my home for my son regarding weapons.

If you want to see a gun, come get me and I'll show it to you.

While handling a weapon, pay attention. This is not a toy; it's a tool.

If you ever find a gun, leave it alone or come get me.

If you ever find a gun outside in a strange place, leave it be and come get me immediately.

If you have questions about weapons, I'll always answer them.

If someone ever asks you if we have guns, you say no and you tell me asap

He started shooting the 22 when he was seven. (After we had a nice demonstration of what a milk jug full of red food coloring getting shot with the caveat, "This is you if you do not respect that weapon")

December 7, 2008, 01:57 PM
marked for later...

December 7, 2008, 02:19 PM
There're are different levels of "exposure"

There's the basic safety.... "don't touch", similar to the wood stove, electric outlets, etc... This can (and should imo.) be done at a very young age... 3 or 4.

Then there's introduction to safe handling and shooting (starting with BB guns and working up.... is a good idea imo).

I think having a BB gun of their own is a good way to gage whether they are responsible enough to handle firearms or not. Just leaving Jr. to his own imagination can be a recipe for trouble though (this is how my Dad became very well aquainted with our local PD). Being involved with them and steering their shooting in a constructive direction will avoid this.

Then there's the first "real" gun of their own... My Dad made me complete the hunter's safety class before he let me take possesion of the break action 20 ga. I got for Christmas.

Demonstrated maturity is what you're looking for. Some kids mature earlier than others.

Now for my "not so humble" opinion....

anybody who posts parenting advice who hasn't either raised their kids or is in the process of raising kids has nothing credible to contribute to conversations like this.

December 7, 2008, 04:40 PM
It begins with one rule: you may touch this ONLY while I am physically holding it also (credit to my father-in-law for that one).

A weapon is never forbidden, never 'un-touchable', NOTHING is beyond your reach with my help: (NOTHING is--that is MY mandate and charge from the CREATOR-----MY trust---NOT to stand in your way and say 'no-no---YOU are TOO small--but to meet you where you are at---at your level and to teach you what I know as you are ready).

A funny thing, I was talking to my oldest child (she's five) about the "Christmas Story" movie today.
I asked her if she wanted a bb gun for Christmas. She found it funny.

She has a .22 Cricket we've been shooting since her last birthday--and an M-1 Garand that is hers. Her little sister will get her own Cricket next year--but her M-1 is also waiting patiently.

Probably age 9 or so on the M-1's (from the prone/ sandbag supported 'foxhole').

They can paint the stocks hot pink if they like, too.

December 8, 2008, 01:29 AM
I'd say 7-8 for a BB gun, 10-11 for a single shot .22 rifle/.410 shotgun.

My 3yo grandson loves toy guns. If he can't find a toy gun, he will put two sticks together and pretend it's a gun. The other day, he pointed to one of the statues on my trapshooting trophies and asked me: "Gwampa, is that you?". Then he asked me: "Gwampa, when I get bigger, will you teach me to shoot at the orange dishes that go up in the air?". "Yep, you bet I will Andrew." I almost teared up right there. I can't wait. Only one of my own daughters (not his mom) ever showed any interest in guns.

December 8, 2008, 05:55 AM
I taught mine at 5. I took them outside and they fired a bunch of .22 cal at a 2 x 12. When they were done the shattered board showed them what bullets do when they hit something. Even at 5 that demonstrated why they should never touch a gun without dad around.
My guns were always locked, but keep in mind that the neighbors have them as well, and theirs might not be where their kids can't get at them. I never had a problem as they grew up.

December 8, 2008, 08:22 AM
10-12. They should not even know you have them any younger.

December 8, 2008, 06:19 PM
They should not even know you have them any younger.

Wow, I would beg to differ with you on that sir!

When weapons are dirty little secrets from your little ones they become the 'forbidden fruit' that they WILL discover one day.

December 8, 2008, 07:01 PM
No kidding, I don't try to hide anything from my daughters. I grew up in a somewhat sheltered environment and don't want my daughter to get caught up in what she sees on television.

There are very strict rules in place about the guns and she knows exactly what to do if anyone(teacher) asks about guns.

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