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

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by LY, Dec 27, 2011.

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  1. LY

    LY Member

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    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?
     
  2. Rio Laxas

    Rio Laxas Member

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    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.
     
  3. Psa1m144

    Psa1m144 Member

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    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).
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  4. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    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.
     
  5. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    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.
     
  6. The Sarge

    The Sarge Member

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    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.
     
  7. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Member

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    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.
     
  8. Odd Job

    Odd Job Member

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    If handling it on his own, when he is old enough to understand and abide by the four rules.
     
  9. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    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.
     
  10. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    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.
     
  11. 45_auto

    45_auto Member

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    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.
     
  12. LY

    LY Member

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    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.
     
  13. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    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.
     
  14. snakeman

    snakeman Member

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    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.
     
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    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
     
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    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.
     
  17. wep45

    wep45 Member

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    there is no "correct" age. some people can safely handle a gun while in grade school. others are not capable in their adult years.
     
  18. OH_Spartan

    OH_Spartan Member

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    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.
     
  19. PoserHoser

    PoserHoser Member

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    i was 3 when i killed my first gopher with a 10/22. dad helped rest it out the window of the truck
     
  20. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    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.
     
  21. WhistlinDixie

    WhistlinDixie Member

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    I began shooting a 10/22 at 4. My father had been teaching me on BB guns before that.
     
  22. ShawnC

    ShawnC Member

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    ^ 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.
     
  23. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Member

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    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. :)
     
  24. LongTimeGone

    LongTimeGone Member

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    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.
     
  25. Rail Driver

    Rail Driver Member

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    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.
     
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