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Thread: Teaching a Kid

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Teaching a Kid

    I'm buying my nephew a chipmunk .22 for Christmas, and will shortly thereafter take upon the task of teaching him to use a gun safely and properly. As he is 7, I think he's a little too young to sit through a formal ADF&G hunter Ed course (maybe when he's 10?), so I'm going to do this myself.

    My question, especially for those of you who have taught your own children, is the steps to take in order to ensure a successful training experience. I know the lessons to teach him (gun safety, gun cleaning, shooting accuracy, game care, etc), but I'm just not sure of exactly how to go about it. Sit down and talk with him many times before taking him to the range? Teaching it hands-on vs. talking about it at length?

    Really, I'm not sure of which questions to ask, but I know that there is a wealth of information here from those who have taught their own children. Any advice? I'm all ears!

    -Brian

  2. #2
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    Default Teaching Youngsters

    The number one thing after safety is make it fun for kids. Buy the targets that show when they are hit so they can see where the bullet went. I also set up clay pigeons for him to shoot with a 22. Make sure they stay warm on cold days because they won't want to go again if they are not comfortable.

    When I thought my son was ready (Age 10) for the Hunters Safety class I bought him a bolt action 22 repeater just like the guns provided at the class. We filled out the class workbooks together and he aced the test.

  3. #3
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    Default Young Shooters

    Brian,

    It must be fun and not too serious at first. Seven is a good age to start.

    I talk about the gun and all it's parts. The stock, action, barrel (muzzle and breech), bolt, magazine, sights, trigger. Look through the barrel, all the parts and actions must be understood. Then talk about the safety which is located between the ears of the shooter, they like that. Responsibility for safety, muzzle control, and trigger finger. All hands on and can be done at home in a quiet corner. Then we talk about the muzzle and where it is pointed and who's in control. Then we talk about the sights and how to align them. Draw pictures of square notch and post. Talk about the focus on the sights. Dry fire during this session is part of the familiarization process. Use a box of papers and a target for a place to point in the basement or garage. Muzzle control is always practiced. It takes a while.

    They seem to like the mechanical operation as much as the shooting at first, I would do a lot of that, cycle the action, looking to see if it is "clear", both chamber and magazine out, (if it has a magazine). I use the word clear to mean you can see clear through the rifle. The chamber is empty; the magazine is out; and the action is open. This is the only way we leave the gun on the bench to go down range to check the targets.

    This is a good start and should be done in two or three sessions before shooting. Pass this test then you're ready. Have several little mini quizes to keep the interest.

    It works for me. Ages five to ten is the best. Also I would punctuate all this with stories of hunting or shooting and all sorts of interesting provoking talk. To me it always seemed the Hunter Ed course was a little too dry and formal. And BTW a six year old can and has aced the test.

    Please note, there is no mechanical safety mentioned on the gun nor do we use one. Oh, sure it probably has one but to me it seems to put the job of being safe off to the gun manufacturer and not in the hands of the handler.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  4. #4
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Once you do get to the range and start shooting, I have found that reactive targets keep the kiddo's interest more than poking holes in paper. Some good ideas are the "flipper" style .22 targets, pop cans filled with water, , balloons, various juicy fruit, and (my favorite!) there are some nifty exploding targets that make a BIG bang when hit. The ones I have seen are about 3" square by 1" thick. I have stapled a paper target to them so they can't be seen and the shooter isn't aware they are there. When they get a bullseye....BOOM!...the entire paper target explodes. It gets quite a reaction from the kids. I haven't seen them for a while, but a shop like Mtn View sports would probably be able to get them.

    Simple things like this keep their interest and make them strive to actually hit the target rather than simply pulling the trigger to hear the bang.
    AKmud
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  5. #5

    Default Youngster Training

    I don't have kids and my brother's aren't ready for the responsibility, so I'll share my safety training. I lived in Alaska until I was 12, got a Remington Model 571 (I believe) single shot .22 for Xmas when I was 6 - man was I excited!

    I got the .22 both for Xmas and as a reward - for carrying my toy gun during the fall hunting season when I was 4 and 5 years old, and showing my Dad I could treat it like a real gun (muzzle control, check the safety, check the chamber, etc). I understood that I would not get a REAL gun until I passed Dad's safety course.....it's amazing the things you can grasp and do at a very young age, when you really want to.

    SO, that Fall when I was 6, I got to carry my REAL gun in the field! Unloaded, but stil required to check the chamber and the safety every time we started hiking, sat down, ate lunch, etc. At the end of the day, when we got back to the truck I would get to shoot a few rounds at a target.

    Convinced my Dad I took this whole business very seriously, and was able to carry the .22 loaded while hunting snowshoes by that winter. The lessons I learned were strongly ingrained - anyone who hunts with me might think I stillhunt too much or don't use cover scents as I should, but they're not likely to ever cross the business end of my rifle, loaded or not.

    Thanks for bringing back some great memories, and good luck with your nephew.

    Michael

  6. #6
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    Default

    Brian I went through this a couple years ago with my son, and although the gun was his first he has sat there with me while I clean and work on my own guns for sometime so he kinda knew a little more than say a kid that has never handled a gun. The single most important safety tip that I worked on with him and still do to this day is muzzle awareness. Even with an empty gun when we were hiking around looking for grouse and bunnies I stayed on him about where the barrel was pointed and I truly believe that this is one of the most important safety tips for young shooters. The rest of the lessons I am sure you know. Oh and when you finally get him to the range, better have at least a brick of .22's cuz they cant stop shooting em.<grin> have fun.

  7. #7

    Default Kids and guns

    This has worked for me. It has to be fun for them. I always started them close to the target and shooting from a bench. But first I pounded these 4 things into their head. " Thankyou Col. Cooper" 1. All guns are always loaded. 2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have decided to shoot. 4. Be sure of your target and it surroundings. Truth be told we can point a gun at something all day and never cause it any physical damge. But if you break rule number 3 sooner or later a negligent discharge will result. If rule number 2 is being broken at the same time then we have a recipie for disaster. Always teach them how to safely load and unload a weapon. Good ear and eye protection. Sight allignment and trigger press. A target they can hit and see the results. I am waiting for my grandkids to get older. At age 3 we started with the BB gun. For now we are learning rule number 2 with the toy guns. Good formal firearms training is a good investment.
    Last edited by .338 mag.; 12-23-2006 at 08:40. Reason: Left something out.

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