Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Kids and shooting

I was thinking earlier about how I taught my kids, thoughts triggered by an upcoming wedding. No, not mine. Friend of mine is getting hitched to a lady with a 7 year old. The lady has little liking for firearms, but has accepted that since her hubby-to-be is an owner and user, and since there will be firearms around, the kid needs to be trained. I trust my friend to do so well, and the kid is, let us say, greatly excited by it.

My daughter fired her first shot when she was about 2. It was a .54-caliber plains rifle, and yes, it was firmly rested on sandbags(beanbags actually, but who cares?). Between the noise and smoke she was delighted, and has stayed that way. My son was about 7 as I recall, and started with a .22, a leetle bit more appropriate, and he's still shooting too.

I've been going back over how they were taught. SERIOUS lectures about safety, and what would happen if they broke the rules. The water-bottle demonstration. Drawing the sights and how to line them up, breathing, trigger squeeze.

And it's been worth it. I have no idea how many thousand rounds of .22's they've put downrange. My son decided he loved a #4 Mk. 1 Enfield, and watching a kid weighing about 75 pounds shooting ball out of that was interesting(he stuck the rear sandbag between the butt and his shoulder), and my model 94 Winchester found favor with him also. My daughter mostly stuck with the .22 in rifles; with handguns she's become rather fond of my .45 Kimber(I told her no, she couldn't have it). First time she fired handguns above a .22 we started with .38 Special target loads, and moved up. She didn't care for the revolvers, but with the Kimber she placed her first five shots in a 2" group at about 5 yards, recoil not a bother. Shot about the same with a Sig P229 we borrowed.

One of the things that has stuck in my memory is when a man once handed my son a rifle to look over. First thing he did was cycle it to check for loaded with no prompting. Made me very glad, both that he did it right and that it proved something: sometimes he really did listen to me!(not a bad thing for a parent to learn)

Besides the general fun and utility, it's also given my daughter a chance to weird out her friends(the Kimber target is framed on her wall, that group just right of the X-ring of the silhouette gets their attention). And it made her a bit more active politically. Having it pointed out that if the weenies had their way, she'd never be allowed to shoot again ticked her off, and led to studying the facts. I think it also made her more picky about civil rights in general, to the point of having a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights handy. It's interesting finding out one of your kids outdid a teacher in an argument on our rights. And pissed off a somewhat sorry excuse for a teacher when she brought up some facts about the Revolutionary War, in particular the Battle of Saratoga, that he didn't know and didn't want to acknowledge.

My son isn't quite as politically active, but I believe he does pay attention to the matters, at least partially for the same reasons. His favorite handgun is a Sig Trailside with a scope on top, just wonderful at breaking clay pigeons out to 50 yards.

Have I mentioned that clay pigeons are wonderful targets for kids? They do something when you hit them, and then you can break the pieces. Start off with paper to make sure they understand the basics, then go on to more interesting things.

It's been a wonderful thing to do with them. I think my friend will find the same in teaching his kid.


og said...

Sweeet! I'm gonna be taking the daughter shooting again soon, she's excited about her Cricket bolt action.

Firehand said...

Excellent. When mine were small my Dad found an old Springfield single-shot for them, and Lord, was it used!

It's sitting in the lockup right now, waiting for grandkids or other suitable next user.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog via your link to our comic.

EXCELLENT post. My daughter is turning four tomorrow - that means in one year, we will be going out and carrying on a family tradition. In our rather expansive family of California Mountain Folk (living in Dallas now) there's one thing you do with EVERY child at the age of five: Take them out shooting.

Some say it's too young an age, but I disagree. I'm the eldest of four kids with a single mother. We always kept two loaded firearms in the house, and all four of us children knew where they were.

Not one gun-related accident. Ever.

Because we didn't play with toy guns. We didn't think guns were "cool". We knew what rifles were, what a pistol does to a target, and how they work. We knew that a firearm is always loaded until it's stripped, and how to check the chamber.

By the time I was ten, I was a crack shot with a 30-30. My younger brother made Sniper in the Army, and the youngest brother wowed his Navy buddies when he placed 8 shots of .45 in a 2 inch grouping at 20 yds. My sister, the youngest, still kicks ass with a 12 gauge.

But most importantly, as kids we never played with guns. We never abused guns. And we never shot one another.

All because when each of us turned five, my uncle took us down into the Mojave and had us burn through 36 or so rounds of .22.

Good on you, mate.

Firehand said...

Thank you, Anon.

5 to 7 seems to be a good age to start them; can impress them with the seriousness of handling guns, and get rid of the 'mystery' factor that leads so many to trouble.