When do you think a child is old enough to learn how to handle and use a firearm?


PDA






LY
December 27, 2011, 07:25 PM
My nephew is 7 years old. I am thinking that I want to introduce him to a BB gun (although not considered a "firearm" by definition) to begin with. It's not that I feel that he isn't old enough to handle something like a .22, but he doesn't have any experience with guns.

What are your thoughts on how old a child should be to begin using firearms?

If you enjoyed reading about "When do you think a child is old enough to learn how to handle and use a firearm?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
almostfree
December 27, 2011, 07:33 PM
It depends on the child and how they act around firearms. My daughter just turned 4 and she has been introduced to firearm safety. Every time she sees me with a firearm she reminds me to keep it pointed in safe direction. She has shot a youth 22lr rifle (chipmunk) with help on several occasions. She is still too small to shoulder the rifle, but she can sit in my lap and hold the rifle and pull the trigger, while I make sure it stays pointed down range.

Psa1m144
December 27, 2011, 07:37 PM
Whenever they become curious enough to ask about them. Depending on their individual ability and intelligence you should let them do "more" with said guns. My 3yr daughter asks me occasionally if she can hold my gun. I make sure it's unloaded of course and let her hold it while constantly telling her the rules of gun safety. My hands are never more than 2 inches away from the gun while she does this, in order to guide her. Should her curiosity continue as she gets older I will let her shoot my 22 when she is 4 or 5 depending on how well she understands the safety rules that I am teaching her now. Visit this link, it has some great information on introducing kids to guns http://corneredcat.com/Is_Your_Child_Ready_for_the_Range/

Bottom line is.... every kid is different but the rules of gun safety never change. As long as they are able to understand and follow the rules, they are ready (with guidance of course).

AK103K
December 27, 2011, 07:37 PM
Our kids started handling them as soon as they physically could hold their Chipmunks, and were shooting live ammo at 4.

We started constantly hammering home with safety and the basics, even before they were really aware of what was going on, just like anything else thats a "danger" in the house.

Skribs
December 27, 2011, 07:38 PM
I had some friends in high school that I would not have trusted near my firearms if I had any. It depends on the individual kid.

The Sarge
December 27, 2011, 07:39 PM
Kids are all different in maturity ranges. My oldest Grandson was very mature.....he shot his first deer @ 6 years old with a .223 single shot. His little brother...I wouldn't give him a sling shot. They are all different.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
December 27, 2011, 07:41 PM
I agree with others, it really depends on the character of the child, they are all different.

Some children are "ready" for "serious" issues way before some other children.

Some "children" would NEVER be ready, even at 45 years old! :rolleyes:

I think it is easy enough to ascertain which child is and is not ready to teach gun safety, guns in general and shooting sports.

Odd Job
December 27, 2011, 07:41 PM
If handling it on his own, when he is old enough to understand and abide by the four rules.

AK103K
December 27, 2011, 07:51 PM
Im not sure I understand the logic of waiting until the kids are "mature" or show "character". You are the programmer, and should have the programs in place right from the start. Do you wait to teach them things are hot, or sharp, or whatever until you figure they can handle it, or do you start from the git go?

My buddy always used to say, "you plant potatoes, you get potatoes'. You get in your children what you "plant". If the kid seems immature, or lacks character, then look to the mirror for the source. Its not the kids fault they had faulty programming.

fpgt72
December 27, 2011, 07:56 PM
Kids are all different in maturity ranges. My oldest Grandson was very mature.....he shot his first deer @ 6 years old with a .223 single shot. His little brother...I wouldn't give him a sling shot. They are all different.
So true, my son got his first .22 at 10. Now at 14 we both shoot together quite often. My neighbors son is another story....his dad has given him a rifle already and I think of him as "one of those fathers" and I will just not be around when they are out.

45_auto
December 27, 2011, 07:58 PM
My 7 year old granddaughter has been shooting for several years. She knows all her gun safety rules and handles firearms better than many adults you'll see at the range.

Her favorite gun is a lightweight AR15 with a collapsible stock and a Burris Fastfire red dot on it. She adjusts the stock all the way in to get the right length of pull. We throw cans in the pond, and the .223 blows them apart and over the pine trees. She started shooting it with a .22 rimfire kit in it, but once she tried it with the .223's she never wanted to shoot the .22's again.

LY
December 27, 2011, 07:58 PM
The maturity of my nephew is hard to determine, he can be very mature for his age. He looks up to me for everything, and always listens to me. But observing him when he is with his younger sister (she really pushes his buttons), he fights with her constantly. I really don't know how to evaluate him.

RNB65
December 27, 2011, 08:00 PM
7 is a good age to start teaching how to safely use a firearm and a BB gun is a great way to start. But only under very strict supervision. The degree of supervision can slowly be relaxed as the child demonstrates the experience and maturity to handle the weapon safely. Something which may happen surprisingly quickly or take years, depending on the child.

snakeman
December 27, 2011, 08:09 PM
It depends on the kid. I started at 5 with a daisy buck. Then moved up to a red ryder and a iver johnson 22 at 6. I shot my first deer with an ak when I was 7. I'm 24 now and times are drastically different, kids have less respect for the whole of things these days.

rcmodel
December 27, 2011, 08:40 PM
Whenever they become curious enough to ask about them.Exactly.

If they are old enough to ask questions, they are old enough to go looking for a gun to play with when you aren't around to supervise them.

I started both my sons when they were still in diapers.
As soon as one ask, they got to hold and handle the gun they ask about.
All the while instilling gun safety in their inquisitive little minds.

By the time they were old enough to hold up a gun and shoot it, the safety training had already been completed.

They both assisted me when I was teaching Kansas Hunter Safety classes before they were 10.

rc

gamestalker
December 27, 2011, 09:33 PM
I've raised 5 boys and 1 girl and exposed all of them to firearms at as early an age as could. When I say exposed, I referring to letting them hear and observe the firearm being discharged. Beginning at around age 1 yr. I like to let them have periodic hands off exposure and then work them into discharging them with my direct physical hands on control. During every encounter and exposure event I constantly recite and display proper gun safety. I guess you could say I employ a form of brain washing so they will eventually know and display gun safety without having to think about it, much in the same manner as learning to ride a bike, they just know after repeated practice and exposure.

And during our outdoor activities such as bird hunting or simular hunting, a BB gun in their hands with me observing how they carry it, and correcting mistakes as they occure. When they graduate into firearm target shooting and have shown to be competent, they move up to hunting. I've had moments when one of my boy's would make a serious mistake for which nothing more than lack of attention to safety was to blame. I remove the firearm for an hour, day, or longer if issues persist. but by no means do I remove them from exposure and participation. This means I put them back into training by placing the BB gun back in their hands during the remainder of the hunt or a portion of it. 99% of the time they learn very quickly to focus so as to not lose precious huntng privilages.

The early on exposure to guns has been very effective in letting them see and hear first just exactly what a firearm is. Seeing the blood from a dead rabbit killed with a firearm, and hearing the loud blast form a firearm in such manner of course to prevent hearing damage, is very effective in preventing curious handling when Mom and Dad aren't home. I've asked my children who are now grown adults with children of their own, if they had ever handled the firearms when myself or Mom wern't home. And to my expectations they never even considered doing so. There was nothing to be curious about because of constant exposure early on. Allienating them from exposure creates curiosity, which leads to unsupervised handling, or worse.

So picking an age to expose them to guns, I would say when they can walk. Beyond that begin with non firearm training and making sure they know what guns are capable of. Use common sense as to when to graduate them up the scale to live firearm handling with 100% attention and correctional intervention as needed during each level of exposure.

One last absolute I and my Wife agreed on is never, ever, allow them to own toy guns, and especially such kinds that allow them to engage in the play act of shooting each other, nerf guns, cap guns and so on. Those are a major obstacle in my opinion, and will add to the task of teaching the practice of gun safety. My Wife is now involved in child care, and has made it crystal clear to the parents to not drop off their children with toy guns to play with, we don't allow them in our home. We also have grandchildren and don't want them getting confused about what they've already learned regarding safe gun handling.

I'm refreshed and inspired every time I hear of a parent asking when and how to begin teaching children about firearms and the proper use of them. Good for you, your approaching this with the right mind set, just by asking. My parents were not firearm trained and had never ever even handled one. I learned by reading gun safety rules at an early age, and eventually took formal training voluntarily and was amazed to find I had been practicing about 99% from the get go, all on my own.

wep45
December 27, 2011, 09:38 PM
there is no "correct" age. some people can safely handle a gun while in grade school. others are not capable in their adult years.

OH_Spartan
December 27, 2011, 09:56 PM
My son got an air rifle for Christmas this year. I had it for him before his 8th birthday this summer, but was not convinced of his safety awareness. He wouldn't take me serious when it came to reciting the 4 rules.

Now, he not only knows the 4 rules, but practices them. This fall I got him a sling-shot and only allowed acorns. I think he needed another 6 months. Now, with my son in the lead, I think his little sister is ready. His little brother...different story.

There is no right answer to this one. As long as they grasp and practice the 4 rules, there really isn't a wrong one either.

PoserHoser
December 27, 2011, 10:11 PM
i was 3 when i killed my first gopher with a 10/22. dad helped rest it out the window of the truck

beatledog7
December 27, 2011, 10:12 PM
If you're an attentive parent, why does it matter what other parents think is appropriate for other children?

Ok, that off my chest, I'm sure that every child is different. I agree with what many have said--when they're ready, you'll know.

WhistlinDixie
December 27, 2011, 10:50 PM
I began shooting a 10/22 at 4. My father had been teaching me on BB guns before that.

ShawnC
December 27, 2011, 11:12 PM
I had some friends in high school that I would not have trusted near my firearms if I had any. It depends on the individual kid.
^ This. I have a seven year old, who respects my guns, but at this point doesn't have the attention span or maturity in my opinion to handle guns just yet. For his eighth birthday, we're going to take the BB gun or maybe .22 plunge with him. But I have seen 4 and 5 year olds who were responsible enough and had the proper temperament for it. It depends what you have observed of his behavior and know of his upbringing.

3KillerBs
December 28, 2011, 09:37 AM
...

My buddy always used to say, "you plant potatoes, you get potatoes'. You get in your children what you "plant". If the kid seems immature, or lacks character, then look to the mirror for the source. Its not the kids fault they had faulty programming.

You are mistaken.

I have 4 children, each of whom is AND HAS BEEN FROM BIRTH a unique individual with his/her own distinctive characteristics -- including his/her distinctive rate of maturity gain. Parents have some influence, but inborn temperament is a major influence on their development.

My oldest son has always been amazingly responsible and mature for his age. Being in addition large and strong, as a 3yo he was mistaken for a kindergartener, as a 14yo he passed for an adult in our Civil War Reenactment group (the captain said he trusted our son with the guns more than he trusted some of the middle-aged guys), and as a 17yo he was taken for the father of his two younger brothers, then 3 and 8. Had it been legal I'd have trusted him to carry from the time he was 16. Had we stopped at one child I might have agreed with you that parents could create responsibility if they tried.

My daughter was a difficult child to raise because she was a rules-tester and completely lacked a sense of personal danger. I had to cling tightly to her hand in parking lots until she was 6 or 7 because she just didn't understand that moving cars could hurt her. Had we been shooting at that time we'd not have dared take her to the range unless we were prepared to keep a hand on her at all times. It was not that she intended to misbehave, but there was something in the way she was wired that didn't let her envision the possibility that the world could hurt her. Then she hit puberty and matured in a tremendous rush. She developed at least a modest sense of self-preservation and became highly concerned about danger to others. She's even taken the Range Safety Officer course and, though not old enough for certification, is often our family's range officer due to her superior situational awareness.

My 11yo is a highly compliant child who does what he is told -- IF he listens. His head is in the clouds most of the time and he's prone to "good ideas". He means well and wants to make us proud, but he has very little common sense. When he's at the range with us he requires tight supervision, not because he doesn't want to obey the rules and do well but because he loses focus. When shooting we keep him the line between 2 of the adults so we can keep him tracked on what he is doing.

The 6yo is more contrary than the others -- a rules-tester like his sister, but is developing a good deal more sense than the 11yo. The only time he's been shooting he handled the Crickett well, even learning to load and cock it himself. At that age he, of course, requires an adult to give up shooting and devote the session entirely to monitoring him. But his responsibility level is high unless he's in a contrary mood.

Any mother who has borne several children will be able to confirm that you can tell a lot about your kids while you're still pregnant. You learn their activity level, their intensity level, and something about their up/down patterns. You can can bend the twig to some extent, but much about its nature is set by nature and you get far better results by working with a child's nature than against it. But there is no guarantee that you'll get the results you want at all. :)

LongTimeGone
December 28, 2011, 10:52 AM
I am taking my 6 year old grandson to the range in about an hour.
It will be his 1st range visit.
His dad is a hunter and he spent last week in the woods but he doesn't get to shoot the centerfires.
Today will be his 1st time with my cz452.

Last week I took my 7 yo granddaughter for her 2nd trip with me to the range. She is in the woods hunting this week with her mom and dad. She has gotten to shoot a .243 and didn't like it too much but she loves the .22lr.

Rail Driver
December 28, 2011, 11:02 AM
My son is 2 and a half. I've been introducing him to safe handling (unloaded and under my direct supervision) around the house since he could walk. He's fired .22 rifles from my lap and loves it though he's not ready to be shooting or handling weapons without me being in direct control at all times.

I don't know when my son will be ready to handle a firearm on his own, but I'd say if his rate of progress continues, I hope to take him to his first Appleseed around your nephew's age, give or take a year.

ErikO
December 28, 2011, 11:08 AM
My 10 year old was dissapointed that Ralphie got a Red Ryder and his wasn't under the tree. He treats his nerf guns better than some of the gun owners I know treat their guns.

We'll see how he does with his Daisy and will go from there. At worst he loves to help me size and expand my brass. :)

porchdog
December 28, 2011, 11:53 AM
When I was probably 5 I was allowed to play with an old .22 rifle that did not have a firing pin. I was taught to handle it like it was a functional weapon. Soon after I got a BB gun and was informed if I pointed it at anyone or anything that was not my proper target that I would lose it. Birds were fair game. (sorry bird lovers but that was life in the late 50')

hardluk1
December 28, 2011, 12:20 PM
I started shooting with dads controls at 6 years of age. No bb guns. Started with a winny lever 22lr. Also as soon as I was comfortable with shooting it My dad took some soda cans shake'n well so when i hit it the can just exploded. Made me think about the power of a 22lr was more than it was but it did keep me in check for doing to many stupid things. Use to shoot some allmost every weekend with dad. Around 13 I had by then my own colt 22 huntsman and 12ga shotgun and would head for the woods with a buddy in an old jeep pickup to shoot ,ride and if hunting season was in, try to learn enough to kill a deer. Yea to young to be just kids with guns but different times then. That took another year to get my first deer. Those were great days.

My girls learned to shoot also at 6 years of age but never took to firarms till they both got married and had kids. Go figure. I stayed in the woods on weekends with my wife and kids 4 wheel'n and atv's as much as I could but the girls when young would rather do other things.

Different times today, different things for kids to do. We took our firerms to school ,atleast in the trucks to the parking lots. I don't think I have seen a rifle in a trucks rear window now in 15 years.

fallout mike
December 28, 2011, 12:40 PM
I started my 5 year old out with a .22. He is 6 now and can out shoot a couple of my friends.

ShawnC
December 28, 2011, 08:52 PM
[QUOTE=3KillerBs;7830654]
My 11yo is a highly compliant child who does what he is told -- IF he listens. His head is in the clouds most of the time and he's prone to "good ideas". He means well and wants to make us proud, but he has very little common sense. When he's at the range with us he requires tight supervision, not because he doesn't want to obey the rules and do well but because he loses focus. When shooting we keep him the line between 2 of the adults so we can keep him tracked on what he is doing.
QUOTE]

Sounds exactly like my 7 year old. I think when it's his birthday this summer I'll take him to the range for the first time, just he and I, limit the distractions and see how he takes to it. I'm hoping if he finds something he likes enough, his focus will get better.

Serenity
December 28, 2011, 09:13 PM
I'm hoping if he finds something he likes enough, his focus will get better.

This was/is definitely the case with my son when I took him to the NRA Pistol class. He was 14 and a typical video game player/zombie book reader with zero attention span for "dry" material, especially in the summer, and he was riveted.

oldgold
December 28, 2011, 10:38 PM
I have two nine year old grandsons. Older daughter's son was raised in a family with both parents have ccw and shoot often. I won't even give him a pocket knife. No maturity at all, no attention span.

Younger daughter's son has been shooting for two years. His parents are sort of indifferent to guns. He has his own .22 and wants a pistol.

Two completely different kids and raised pretty much the same.

I got my first BB gun at five, bought, on my own, a .22 rifle at nine. Kids are all different.

gc70
December 28, 2011, 10:51 PM
My granddaughter is 7 and will lecture you in a minute about unsafe gun handling. I trust her more with her Cricket than I do her father with any gun.

Bentonville
December 28, 2011, 11:02 PM
I raised three boys to adulthood with guns as a big part of our lives. I dragged them to many many gunshows and guys homes that had a WW2 gun or story to tell. They sat in the van with headphones on and watched me shoot M1s, 1911A1s, revolvers, SKS, etc...and then watched me clean them over and over again. When they were strong enough and hands large enough to control the weapon, they were allowed to fire it. Always, respect and awareness of where the muzzle was pointing and where the trigger finger was placed was drilled into them from about 3 or 4.
I gave weapons as gifts all throughout their lives. Nerf guns, waterguns, slingshots, BB and pellet guns and pistols along with blowguns and archery equipment were available under my supervision. They learn to enjoy weapons at very early ages. They had cap guns by age 5 but were supervised and instructed over and over about the dangers of hearing loss and eye injuries due to the blast. Firecrackers were always a part of our fun. Always supervised. Guns are just extensions of these other "toys". At least that's how I see it. Responsibility, even at an early age, always comes with any of the above items. One of my kids just took chances in everything he did. One didn't really care about anything but archery, and one is very serious and loves guns.He goes to the range with me every chance he gets. As stated on other posts, each kid is different but I never allowed any gun to leave my sight until early teen years and years of showing the proper attitude. I taught them basic marksman ship with a single shot Winchester .22. Supervision is the key. Fishing can be dangerous! We have to watch them.
A few years ago I was shocked to see that a young boy was given the opportunity to fire an automatic 9mm. machine pistol. He could not control it and it climbed and somehow reversed muzzle direction and shot himself in the head. All in the blink of an eye. He just wasn't strong enough to control it. I learned a lot by that incident. Trust isn't all that's involved. http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6121915&page=1

If you enjoyed reading about "When do you think a child is old enough to learn how to handle and use a firearm?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!