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Bringing Up Baby

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Terence, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. Terence

    Terence Member

    I'm hoping to learn some approaches from the board for gradually teaching my active, curous 3-year old how to safely handle firearms. and eventually be comfortable with them as well as respectful. He's naturally curious and very energetic. A typical situation is something like this: I come home from the range, and he comes over to say hello and sees me putting my pistols away in my safe.

    I don't go out of my way to show him my guns, but he's been around when Ive been cleaning them (late night appearance when I thought he was asleep) and coming in from range trips, etc.

    As he's only three, I'm not planning to let him hold them yet, but I have let him look at them, and we talk about the Eddie Eagle safety rules when he does.

    I've let him hold a .45ACP round and he sees how its big and heavy it is, and we talk about how it might be dangerous. (He's very smart and has observed quite a lot without me telling him anything - first I showed him a .22lr and he said no, he wanted to see the big bullet.)

    Also he gets a real kick out of putting on my 'eyes and ears' (safety glasses and ear muffs) So I've tried to turn the whole issue to having a big safety focus at the moment.

    Any suggestions for things that have worked in the past with kids? I know a lot is dependent on the maturity level of the individual child -- a previous poster said once that he was comfortable taking his 8-year old daughter shooting, but wouldn't put a firearm in his son's hands until he was 17.

    Hope to hear some good advice, Thanks!
  2. phreeq

    phreeq Well-Known Member

    Check out Cornered Cat

    It is run by one of our mods, pax. Loaded with great info!
  3. pax

    pax Well-Known Member

    Go hit my website, www.corneredcat.com -- there are pages and pages full of information about kids & guns that I'm just too lazy to type out here again. (Credentials? I've got five sons, ages 11 to 17, who haven't yet shot themselves or anyone else, and who are growing up to be wonderful young men and good shots too. ... Nope, I'm not proud of them at all! ;) )

  4. High Planes Drifter

    High Planes Drifter Well-Known Member

    Good question. My little boy is 4. Im certainly not an expert here, I could use some advise myself. I thought 3 was a bit too young to get him around my guns and ammo. I waited till this year before letting him sit with me while I cleaned them, and to let him hold them. Maybe some of the older members here with more experience will chime in.

    Looks like I took too long responding LOL.
  5. Derek Zeanah

    Derek Zeanah System Administrator Staff Member

    I never shot until I was 5; my wife was shooting at 3 or 3.5, after her Daddy jury-rigged a lawn mower handle to carry the weight of the .22 rifle.

    It's up to you. In elementary school I was pretty safe around guns, and we had fairly simple rules:
    • I could handle any of the guns in our house as long as I asked permission first and me parents made sure they were safe.
    • Friends were welcome to see "my" guns, but I had to let my parents know (you'd be surprised how many 5th graders think the idea is no longer any fun if parents are OK with it. Weird).
    • The .45 under the bed was to never be touched except in an emergency as it was always loaded. Asking Dad to unload it first was fine, touching it on my own without permission was verbotten, and I understood and respected that.
    Of course, 6 and 3 are very different. I don't have kids yet, but past experience suggests this is a good time to get them excited about shooting, and to train them to be safe and respectful around/of firearms. :)
  6. Terence

    Terence Member

    Cornered Cat

    Thanks, Pax.

    A lot of great stuff here. Im particularly interested in the early stages, though. I guess Im wondering how much to show him and how much to discuss with him at this early stage when handling is too far off and range trips are years in the future. ...
  7. pax

    pax Well-Known Member


    In my opinion, handling is NOT too far off, although shooting might be a couple years away yet, depending on your kid.

    In fact, I believe three years old is just right for allowing him to safely handle your unloaded firearm with your direct and very, very, very involved supervision. The longer you wait, the more tempting it will be for him to get into your guns whenever he has opportunity. You need to disarm his curiousity about guns as early in his life as is physically possible, and continue to take the mystery and temptation out of it as he grows.

    (Oh, keep the guns locked up too, of course! Suspenders and a belt ...)

    See www.corneredcat.com/Kids/firstlesson.aspx for step-by-step instructions for introducing a 3 year old to your gun, or see www.corneredcat.com/Kids/disarming.aspx for a story about how that worked out for us in practice.

  8. Stickjockey

    Stickjockey Well-Known Member

    I started mine out when he was about 2 1/2. not shooting, but he started to develop an interest in what wasin the Big Black Box in the "Men's Room." so I sat down in front of the open safe with him on my lap, and grabbed a rifle from the rack. From then on, he knew that all he had to do was ask, and we'd go down and see the "downstairs guns."

    Still too young to get him out shooting yet; maybe next year.:cool:
  9. Bubbles

    Bubbles Well-Known Member

    My daughter will be two in July. DH and I figured out really fast that anything she was "allowed" to play with, like her toys, bored her. Things she isn't allowed to touch, like knives, fascinate her.

    So, we've already taken the fascination out of the guns. As soon as our little girl showed any interest she was permitted to investigate them - unloaded, and supervised - until she got bored and moved on to the next toy.

    Obviously we'd never leave a loaded firearm where she can get to it, but it's nice knowing that if she comes across one at a neighbor's house she's not likely to mess with it because she'll have seen it, and she'll be more interested in checking out the new stuff.
  10. MD_Willington

    MD_Willington Well-Known Member

    My almost 5 year old knows how to strip and re-assemble an AKM, we did this a few weekends back, he learns quick.

    He also understands he is never allowed to touch any firearm if my wife or myself are not present.

    Any time we have a firearm present, he will tell us to make sure there are no bullets in the firearm...

    Other than that, there is no mystery involved and he will quickly become bored with them and go off and do something else.
  11. AJ Dual

    AJ Dual member


    Unlimited supervised exposure to demystify firearms, combined with absolute security (at least in terms of a child) with a safe, and quick-access lockboxes for loaded self-defense pieces is the way to go.

    My point is that it's not just your kid, but your kid's friends you need to watch out for, and your kid when with their friends.

    No matter how strong or well-behaved your child is, "Acceptance by the peer group", a.k.a. "peer pressure", is insanely strong. Despite all the dumb stuff it makes kids do, it's actually a survival trait and incredibly difficult to overcome until adolescence is completely over. It's literaly a holdover that the monkey not accepted by the tribe is on his own, and going to get eaten.

    Safes and locks keep honest people honest.
  12. Bobhwry

    Bobhwry member

    I can't understand why any responsible adult would allow a 2-5 year old an introduction to firearms under any circumstances!! Boy, wouldn't the anti's have a field day with that! Your only piquing their interest not suppressing it with familiarity. Someone here said his five year old has been told not to handle a firearm unless Mom or Dad is present? Give me a break!! A five year old does not have the cognitive ability to make that decision.
    I have three grown kids and 12 grandkids and age 8-10 is a good age to responsibly begin firearms training.
  13. Shipwreck

    Shipwreck Well-Known Member

    I book marked that site and will read it when I have time. We are expecting our 1st - and while I have a few years, it has occurred to me as I am making preparations to keep everything secure.
  14. pax

    pax Well-Known Member

    Bobhwry ~

    The anti's have a field day with lots of things they shouldn't.

    Massad Ayoob's excellent little book titled, Gunproof Your Children! makes a pretty solid case for the procedure.

  15. kludge

    kludge Well-Known Member

    I have five children; 9, 7, 5, 3, 1.

    The 3 y.o. has not yet become aware of the guns. As soon as they become aware (around 4-5 years) they start getting lessons.

    There's no sense in hiding it from them, I shoot often and carry, it would be impossible to "hide" it from them, so educating them is the only choice.

    Ayoob is right on, so his book is highly recommended. Pax's website deals with a lot of the practicle matters and is a good place to start.

    I have some rules in my house...

    No toy guns or squirt guns. OK, so I'm a fuddy duddy, but the kids KNOW that ALL the guns in the house are REAL. You want to play with your friend's AirSoft? Fine. Bring it over to our yard? Fine. If you're old enough to want to play with an AirSoft, your old enough to shoot a REAL gun, and learn the rules, and you will not be deprived of the fun. You don't need a toy gun when you can have fun with the real thing.

    Can I hold your gun?
    • Yes. What are the rules?
    • Always make sure it's not loaded and double check. (Have them check it too!)
    • Always point it in a safe direction. (Have them pick a safe direction.)
    • Always keep your finger off the trigger.

    All guns are cased and unloaded, ammo stored separately, except...

    Loaded self-defense handguns are kept in a holster on my hip.

    If it's not on my hip it's in a lock box. NEVER leave a loaded gun unattended or out of your immediate control.
  16. Springfield_1911SS

    Springfield_1911SS Well-Known Member

    I remember when I was like 4-5 the only guns I saw were when my Dad would take them out to go hunting, otherwise they were always hidden when I was about 12-13 he let me see his browning hi-power. I also remember watching the Eddie Eagle movie more than once. When I was about 9-10 he let us shoot a .22 rifle and pistol. With all the safety warnings, he gave through out my childhood I was afraid of guns. I stated Hunting at about 14.
  17. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Well-Known Member

    When I was very young dad showed me his guns anytime I asked. We had some pretty basic and straightforward rules.

    1) If I wanted to see/handle a gun I had to have adult permission. They were off limits at all other times. (This lasted until I was 13 and I got my first .22LR).

    2) I earned permission to see/handle the guns by helping Dad clean them up after he (or we) had been shooting. Having to do the maintenance went a LONG way towards de-mystifing guns because now it was another chore <grin>)

    3) I was not to discuss our firearms with anyone else outside the house because "bad guys" might want to come and steal them.
  18. MD_Willington

    MD_Willington Well-Known Member

    Well since I clean my firearms on the back porch or in the shed, and my children are allowed on the porch and in the shed, any time I'm there doing that task and they ask to see what I'm doing, I show them.

    Same goes for working on the lawn mower, chainsaw, weed eater, automobiles, barbecue, circular saw etcetera, those machines/tools can hurt, maim & destroy children too.

    I'd rather be right there with my children supervising, than to have my wife call me at work screaming on the phone that one of my children found this or that and now they are in the ER.

    De-mystifying the object really does work.

    BTW, my son has accompanied me to several gun shows, and has not gone nuts and picked things up that he is not supposed to.
  19. sansone

    sansone Well-Known Member

    my sons 7 & 9 love shooting 22's. pistol & rifle. I'm always within inches of them if they handle a gun. they know to leave any home where a gun is being handled without my prior approval. my dad did the same for me. it works
  20. StuckInMA

    StuckInMA Well-Known Member

    Didn't have a chance to check out the site yet but I bookmarked it. Thanks for the link.

    I have a question about gun safes and children. We've been slowly teaching my almost 5 y/o about firearms since she was old enough to ask "What's that?", but I've purposely never let her see or know where any of our gun safes are. She knows that if a gun isn't on my hip it's "locked away in a safe place", but that's as far as I feel comfortable with at this point.

    Do you think I should point them out to her so if she runs across one at some point she's not curios as to what it is? And if so, do you think I should add it to one of our general conversations about guns or make it a point of conversation?

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