August 2018

2024 Apr 3rd

There is no age too early to start hunting and shooting. I consider myself a late start into hunting, being born in January I didn’t go hunting until September when grouse season opened and I rode in the truck in my car seat. My children were hunting even before they were born, thankfully each one gave me a weeks vacation from morning sickness for the deer hunt. As infants all my children went along hunting as soon a season opened, one even helped bring home a deer in a snuggly in my coat.

As soon as a child can understand the concept of what they are holding get them a toy gun and begin teaching safety. Never point it at anyone, no exceptions allowed, if they do the toy is taken away for a while and explain why they can’t play with it and what needs to be done differently next time. In my family the only exception is a water gun- and it must be loaded with water. Without water is still not allowed and even a gun drawn on a paper being pointed at someone is unacceptable in my home.

Teach them not to touch a real gun EVER, it’s just not allowed PERIOD unless a qualified adult supervising allows them to. With today’s safety requirements of storage and handling this should never be an issue but it is still very important to teach. Just because you follow the rules doesn’t mean that they won’t ever be in a place where someone doesn’t. Tell them the consequences so that they can understand why they are being told that- not - just don’t touch it.

Once a child has reached a point where they have the maturity level to understand what they are doing, (this is individual to each child, not just an age) start them out with a bb gun. Explain how it functions and how to be safe with it long before they get to touch it and be FIRM with the fact that it must only be handed with an adult. Depending on their age this often begins with holding it together, with the assistance of the adult holding it at the same time. Teach them how to be sure the firearm is unloaded and how to store it so that it is safe.

When they are ready, take them to the range and start with a small caliber gun. The worst thing you can do to an aspiring shooter is scare them. This happened to me. Being stubborn I insisted I could fire the 12 gauge with my dad, I really should have listened when he said it would kick. Let them see you shoot first and they can see how it is kicking you. Start smaller and get larger. A very reasonable progression is from a 22 rifle to a .410 shot gun, just a little kick to start with. Then when they are confident- go to a 20 gauge and progress to a 12 gauge and larger rifles.

Every exposure is an opportunity to teach safety. For example, if you see someone on television, explain what they are doing right or wrong and why. A very important lesson to learn is once you pull a trigger- you cannot take it back.

Each persons upbringing has influenced their views on hunting. Explain to children why you hunt. For my family it is for food. An animal gave their life so that we can eat, and for that reason we make sure we use every portion we can and are thankful to have it. This is not a difficult concept when they have been taught that way, all meat began as a live animal with no exceptions no matter how it made it to your plate. Teach them the importance of making a good shot, caring for meat and ensuring it is processed correctly. Again, there is no age too young for this, my daughter has been assisting with butchering since she was about 2 and each year she helps more.

If your child never decides they would like to fire a firearm that’s o.k. too. My oldest son has a slight interest in shooting but has shown no interest in hunting and I respect that. No matter what their choices are every child should at least be shown the basics of respect for firearms and be taught an understanding of what they are meant for.