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Many people feel it is NEVER OK for a child to handle a gun.

There are many people in this country that are very uncomfortable with combining children and guns. In light of recent national tragedies, the statistics on accidental shootings involving children, and the media’s propensity to overreact, it is certainly understandable for those unfamiliar with firearms to think it is crazy to encourage children to shoot. However, as demonstrated by young Katie Francis, Dylan Holsey, and Miko Andres, children are just as capable of mastering firearm safety and control as adults. Clearly, these children (and the hundreds of other young, well-trained shooters like them) are in no danger and do not pose any threat to themselves or society. In fact, I would feel safer next to them on the range than many of the adults I’ve seen shooting. So what makes the difference between these children and those that end up on the front page? Training.

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In interviews, these young gun enthusiasts frequently, and quite unintentionally, offer valuable information for parents and firearms instructors. What training advice can we glean from these children?

  1. Teach gun safety first.

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    If you want to encourage your child to shoot… start small. If you want to scare your child away from guns forever… start with the biggest calibre you have.

  2. Once safety is ensured, introduce firearms under close supervision.
  3. Begin with a small-calibre firearm.
  4. Prevent the firearm from having the “forbidden fruit” mystique by allowing the child to gain (closely supervised) experience with a firearm.
  5. As the child matures, gradually increase their responsibility for maintaining safety.
  6. As the child matures, gradually increase the challenge.
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Increased Challenge… Increased Fun!!

These six steps appear as common themes throughout interviews and conversations with current young shooters and in the memories of many adult shooters. How you, as a parent or instructor, implement these steps is completely subjective. Given that no one knows your children or your family better than you, I will not presume to give a specific age at which such instruction “should” begin nor which methods to employ. You are the parent (or instructor) and I trust you know what’s best for your specific situation.

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However, it is vitally important that you as the instructor are competent and well-trained before you attempt to teach somebody else. A poor instructor will teach poor habits. For example, during a recent interaction with a couple I noticed the wife (a beginner) repeatedly putting her finger in the trigger guard (particularly while attempting to rack a slide). I gently corrected her but she repeated the action a few minutes later. A while later, I stepped out onto the range and noticed her husband placing his finger in the trigger guard while racking the slide. There is no shame in being a beginner or making mistakes, however please do not pass those mistakes on to others. An instructor with poor safety habits will only teach poor safety habits. If you have never received professional instruction, please get some before you begin teaching others. Or, better yet, bring your children with you to the class. You will all learn valuable information. You will be able to help each other remember the key points. And you will have fun together.

With the dramatic increase in gun sales over the last few years, many families are now grappling with the concerns of firearms, safety and children. Locking the firearms in a safe, or otherwise making them inaccessible, is certainly a key component to a family’s overall gun-safety plan, but training must not be ignored. Firearms safety instruction for the whole family will give you a peace of mind that will not be achieved by locks alone.

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Other Reasons to Teach Your Children:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiiQQP4-Ijw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPfz7ENFUB0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz3VX1ZAqoA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-q2zHIovOE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQcoNr6ZIEc

And finally… They win scholarships and gain the confidence to stand up to a bunch of gun-banning politicians…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_-N9_tnWBo

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