Comparatively, all children, teens and even adults have a natural curiosity about firearms, it's innate. Is it our primal instincts to live off the land like our ancestors did? Dunno. Perhaps it's the allure of Hollywood's glamorization of crime and murder that feeds this insatiable obsession. Too much finger pointing? Either way, proper education of firearm safety is greatly lacking, everywhere, and it's compounded by general negligence of firearm use and maintenance. Hence, we've cultivated a society of ignorant firearm enthusiasts, but let's change that, starting now.
Phase One: Safety, Demystify and Clean
An excellent way to introduce anyone to a firearm, especially children, is through basic cleanings. They'll get to see all the innards and components that make it go "boom", while learning the essential skills, and importance, of a good cleaning regimen. In this controlled, safe environment, you can demystify the firearm and hammer home, to your bright eyed pupils, to "always treat every firearm like it is loaded.” To never point a firearm at anything that you don't want to kill or destroy, and why it's imperative to, always, be aware of your surroundings, at all times, when handling a firearm. Your message needn't strike fear or startle your intrigued students, but rather instruct them of the real life consequences vs. pretend, that they might, or might not of, conjured up. The Eddie Eagle GunSafe program has a simple message that all children should be taught and demanded to recite daily. "If you see a gun: STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult." It's rudimentary, cuts to the point and saves lives. What's not to love about it?
Phase Two: Duration and Practicality
Unless the learner is three years of age or younger, opt for something just above an airsoft, pellet or BB gun, to begin shooting with. A practical choice that I prefer is the Ruger 10/22 Takedown Autoloading Rifle. It's lightweight, compact, extremely accurate and the felt recoil is almost nonexistent. Once they become accustom and proficient with that caliber, they can graduate up to something in the realm of a 9mm pistol and a .223 rifle. Again, both of these caliber choices have low recoil, but are an ideal segue into self-defense and hunting. Now, aside from the actual shooting, you'll want to consider their attention span, overall interest in firearms and especially comfort. If it’s too hot or cold, that factor alone could make or break your time at the range, so be considerate of others. Note: first and foremost, be sure to outfit all shooters and onlookers with adequate hearing and eye protection before shooting begins. Secondly, all new shooters are required to shoot from a bench or off of shooting sticks to promote safety and good shooting habits.
Phase Three: Set A Good Example
Behavior is almost contagious among children and good behavior, by their peers, will spread in a pleasing manner. Likewise, undesirable actions will be modeled, too. So if you or your friends are facetiously reckless when handling a firearm, that child will emulate that behavior. If you neglect the importance of safety glasses and hearing protection, they'll follow suit. If you're aggressive and, all too often, take low percentage shots, that mentality will be adopted, as well. Plain and simple, this new shooter will learn all about firearms from watching you, so put extra emphasis on responsible shooting. End of story.
Phase Four: Let The Good Times Roll
We learn so much subconsciously: example - the kids game Twister. That idiotic thing has taught millions of children color recognition, their right from their left, balance, how-to patiently wait their turn and why it's a terrible idea to play it after meal time. Similarly, firearms are lively, they're entertaining and will accomplish all of the aforementioned, and then some.
See, subliminally, every time a shooter squeezes his or hers trigger, they're reaffirming their right to self-defense, to provide nourishment for their families and are enjoying a rich piece of American history that was, and still is, vital to our existence. Heck, I can pretty much guarantee that all readers of this blog grew up idolizing sharp-shooting heroes that defended a homestead from danger, and still romanticize how the frontier was settled in a blaze of glory. In short, by thoughtfully instructing and passing down our firearm traditions, we will afford our children the ability to control their own destiny, rather than having it decided for them. Plus, why should us adults hog all the fun.
Hugs, Handshakes And Happy Hunting.