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Thread: What age to start them shooting?

  1. #1
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    What age to start them shooting?

    Assuming we don't end up with a total ban or a complete civil war, at what approximate age to start them shooting? I've already introduced my 2 year old as far as letting him hold an unloaded firearm. He thought it was pretty cool, but since he's already held it he doesn't really have any outward interest, unless daddy picks it up and does something with it, such as cleaning it or packing it into it's case to prep for a day of shooting.

    I've already decided to start them with airsoft, then bb, then .22 and go from there, when he demonstrates proper safety and responsibility.

    My question is though, at what approximate age before I start? Waiting until 8 or 9 seems a little pointless, as children are able to comprehend certain things long before that age.

    I know it will depend alot on the child, their inteligence, their responsibility level, etc. However just looking for a ballpark figure.

    My oldest is only 2, but he's already extremely itneligent. At about 7 months he wanted on the bed but we told him no. He whined a little, but then started grabbing things and dragging them to the bed to make a ramp or steps of sorts so he could climb up and he did it. He's responsible enough already not to go eating anything that is colorful. He will only drink from his sippy cup or another cup if mommy or daddy gives it to him to drink. He will ask before eating anything else, unless it's something me or my wife give him that he can snack on whenever he wants, like a sleeve of crackers or something similar. He knows what is food and what isn't. He also won't generally touch anything without asking unless it's a toy(although he does EXCELL at making a HUGE mess with everything around).
    Thank you to all of those who donated money or prayers to Kenny. He has had his surgery and has completely recovered from it. He also sends his thanks for everything you have done.

  2. #2
    My target age has been 6 years old but my little dude is only 2 as well. I remember when I was young my father would bring my brother and I to the gun range to shoot his 22 rifle. He would hold it in his knees while we shot it from his lap. At around 7 or 8 he bought a Daisy pump BB gun which we eventually shot out but not before we mastered the open sites and rid the yard of sparrows. The unfortunate this is that my current gun range has an 8 year old age restriction.
    Last edited by pvtschultz; November 13th, 2008 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Spelling...

  3. #3
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    I don't think there is a set age to go by, I believe it's more of a proper attitude and a sense of responsibility. Some kids gets have it at an early age while others never get it.

    Some of my fondest memories are of my father and I plinking tin cans in the back yard with the Daisy, I don't remember exactly how old I was but my guess is about 7 or 8 years old. By the time I was twelve I was passed grandpa's Winchester 1903 as my first real rifle. I tried to introduce my son to shooting at an early age with a pellet rifle and a bow but he did not have the self control, nor the interest. My son is now 17 years old and there is no way I would trust him on his own with even a bb gun, he just does not have the common sense or bearing to handle a firearm.
    If there must be trouble, let it be in my day,
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  4. #4
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    My son is 10 and I started him at 5 with a BB gun. At eight He got his first .22lr rifle, and this past summer his first .22lr pistol, still controlled by me. My daughter got her first .22lr rifle at seven. Both children having grown up in a household with firearms, knives, and hunting and shooting, and being allowed to touch and hold unloaded firearms under supervision have no desire to mess with them unless they want to go shoot, or during cleaning.

    IMHO start them early, under adult supervision, let them hold unloaded firearms, show them how they work, preach the golden rules of gunhandling every time your doing this. Once involved in shooting, every range trip go over the rules again, and have them say it back to you. It will sink in.

    Like I mentioned in the first part my son is 10, and he will correct poor handling on the range, even if he doesn't know the person. Makes very proud every time he does this. He's also becoming a pretty good shot too!!!

  5. #5
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    I can only add my own experience:

    I started w/ a potato gun LOL, at about 5yrs old, onto a BB gun @ 6 and on I probably shot a couple hundred thousand rounds out of it. After I had become a pretty good shot, my dad put a 22 in my hands after learning to ("Point that barrel in a safe direction Son or lose it!")(I'm guessing @ about age 7 or 8). I was never allowed to shoot w/out him present until probably age 12. Wow, then came shotguns and centerfires! He taught me things about being safe that I would have not understood at an early age, even a bit about balistics/trajectory. I did the same thing w/ my 2 sons (now 23 and 28).

    They've always had an interest in shooting sports and now hunting too. I think it's important to allow kids to play with "kid things" until they're interests change. Putting a gun in a kids hand is a big responsibility (I know you all know), and a young mind cannot always grasp all the responsibility that comes with firearms. I didn't want to sour them or have them lose interest by "making them" shoot or attend shooting events with me. Both boys are on the IQ chart @ the genius level, smarts are good, but emotional maturity should always be THE indicator.

    As I've said.. these are some of my experiences and are not meant to chastise or poo-poo the ideas of others and their kids. Just be safe!
    Cows and horses always get enough to eat, pigs never do.

  6. #6
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    I was hunting alone at 10
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    I bought my son his first .22LR plinker on the way home from the ultrasound where they told me I was having a boy. Now, he hasn't gotten to shoot it yet, but he knows that it's his and that he'll get it when he's older.

    He is 4 years old right now, and much to the chagrin of my wife, I've got him using her decorative plates on the fireplace mantel as "targets" for his clicker gun. He'll come and grab me carrying the kitchen timer, a green plastic revolver that makes a "click" when you pull the trigger, and the plastic belt and holster that came with it, saying "Daddy, it's time for competition!"

    He holsters, goes into surrender position, and waits to hear the beep from me hitting a button on the timer before popping every one of those plates with a "click" and his imagination.

    He's fired a BB gun a few times, and loves his Nerf guns. He knows the rules, and I even got a call from his preschool teacher that he was apparently lecturing a kid at school playing cowboy that you should "only point that at something you want to kill or destroy, even though it's just a toy, safety first."

    He's gotten to hold his .22 rifle as well as a few of my handguns, unloaded of course, and refers to the gun safe as the "don't worry about it place" after asking me where his "real gun for when I'm older" was kept, and I replied, "don't worry about it."

    I just hope that the current political environment doesn't ruin it for him, or for me getting the enjoyment of watching him.

  8. #8
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    Well, I guess I will be a little different than some people. I bought my son a Henry Mini-Bolt before he was born.

    I started him out with it one month after he turned two years old. He had safety glasses and ear muffs. I squatted down and held the rifle, he "aimed" it and pulled the trigger. After about a dozen shots, he was done for the day.

    He has gotten more interested as time has gone by. He will be six before the month is over. He now has the .22, a Henry .17HMR, and a 788 Remington in .243. He also shoots some of my hand guns in .17HMR, .22lr, .38 S&W, .38 Spcl, and has even shot my Anaconda .44 mag a couple of times, at his request.

    I have been told that I started him too young. Maybe, maybe not. I let his interest level be the guide. By starting early, he had no bad habits to break.

    When we first started, I had complete control of the gun at ALL times. That gradually gave way to me being very close by, with my hands right there. By now I am usually a few feet to several steps away.

    He does his own loading, cocking, and shooting. I built him his own small scale shooting bench, and he is self sufficient. He is also a lot safer than quite a few adults that I know.

    By the way, all of our shooting is done a home in the lower hay field. I have never been to an honest to goodness range, either public or private. If you shoot at an organized range, you may want to wait a while yet. I don't know if they have age limits or not

    Oakville Shooter

  9. #9
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    My Children all brought up around firearms, started at different ages. As a former Range Manager I was also asked the same questions as the topic of this thread. The answer to when to start shooting I always gave was how involved do you as a parent want to be? And the answer for their first BB gun or .22LR is always different for every child, especially to be unsupervised.
    My oldest son Mark has shot .22's with my help since he was 3. He received his first .22 at 8 and started shooting Center-fire Competition in the IBS @ 9 and this year now 10 shot both the IBS and the IR50/50. He is very meticulus and safe. He passed his hunter safety course this fall in NJ as an out of state resident for Shotgun and his Rifle permit.
    His younger brother Daniel now 8 on the other hand has shot since the same age and is a better off hand shot but does not yet own a .22. He does well with a bb gun, but just has that impulsive attitude I do not yet trust. He did shoot In a IR50/50 match this summer, and did so very safely, but directly supervised by me, and he did not shoot when I did.
    My daughter now 13 started @ 5 or 6 and has been trustworthy since day one, but always supervised. She loves to shoot, has a trophy case full of awards and ribbons, will never hunt, and has just asked me for a full Competition rifle. Says she wants to try for a shooting schollership for college!
    Needless to say I've put a few things up for sale to fund the project.
    Kim

  10. #10
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    I beleive it really is based on maturity and an ability to understand and abide by proper safety rules

    My son started with BB guns with the Cub Scouts at 5, and got his own 22 bolt action at 9.

    That was a perfect age for him
    Do not anger the dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

  11. #11
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    As others have already stated, it is different for each chid. Based upon maturity, responsibility, interest, and ability/willingness to listen. Also, as fixinit pointed out, you have to be involved. A child is never old enough to just hand them a gun and a box of ammunition and send them out on their own. They have to be taught. One of the best teachers is them watching you doing it right and safely, with some verbal instruction from you.

    On a side note, keep it interesting. Reactive targets are best, as they lend themselves to instant feedback/gratification. I can shoot paper targets all day, but they are very boring to most children. If it makes noise, or blows up, it will be more fun for them, and hold their interest longer. Metal spinners, steel plates, dink bottles full of water, fruit/veggies, helium ballons, green plastic army men, etc. Anything that instantly shows a hit or a miss.

    If they say they are done for the day, stop their. Also, limit the shooting that you do if it is their trip. Kids can get bored watching dad doing all the shooting.

    Just remember, the shooting sports, like a lot of things, are always one generation away from extinction. If we don't pass them on to our kids, no one will.

    Oakville Shooter

  12. #12
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    Looks like everyone has pretty much done what I have, and made some sort of introduction at 2. I firmly stand by the primary factor of his "graduation" up will be primarily due to following safety rules and protocols as opposed to marksmanship.

    As for local ranges, there is no age restriction perse as they are public land. Local OHV park has a gravel pit people shoot at and I also go to an old abandoned airstip that is now overgrown and used for shooting. In addition there is an abandoned shooting range about 7 miles from the inlaws house. It was put up with little buildings and such back when it was just a logging town. While logging still goes on and it's the area's primary industry, the sections of logging are in different area's. There are 2 ranges. One is about 100 yards and the other is a bit over 200 yards. The shorter one has about a 12 foot berm for a backstop and the other one has about a 20 footer. There are no dirt roads or trails beyond the ranges, and nobody goes walking up through there because they all know the range is there.

    Another 20 miles up there is a gravel mine, and the company leaves it open for people to shoot. They have 60 foot tall piles of gravel for backstops. While they dont' have it "designated" as a shooting area, it's an unofficial company shooting area, and they leave it unrestricted access to the public. They've even brought out makeshift target stands and left them out there for people to use. Most of the "offcial" ranges around here have a 16 year old age limit.

    One thing I know for sure, my son will start with airsoft, and will not be allowed to step up to bb/pellet until he at the very least learns not to point it at anyone. Mindful of the direction of the barrel at all times. That way airsoft just hurts(I know I've been shot with one before), but there's no real danger as long as I have my safety glasses on if he accidently shoots me.

    I appreciate all the reponses. I'm kinda aiming(pun not intended) for about 4 years old, but I will see how it goes. So far his inteligence and responsibility level indicates 4 will work. He knows not to run out into the street, if he hears a car coming, he comes up next to the porch and waits there. Hopefully we won't be robbed of our rights, but so far it's not looking very good.
    Thank you to all of those who donated money or prayers to Kenny. He has had his surgery and has completely recovered from it. He also sends his thanks for everything you have done.

  13. #13
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    I've started my GF's son at 6, with a youth 22 single shot, under close supervision. Two weeks later his mom noticed that all of his toy guns were gone. She asked him where they were and was told, "guns are not toys, mom!" Good kid.

    John

  14. #14
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    Started all mine shooting at 3 years of age.
    It removed the gun curiosity from the equation.

  15. #15
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    Mine started shooting BB guns around 4-5 yrs old. This winter they are progressing to .22's

  16. #16
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    Started mine at 3, me with arms around him while he squeezed the trigger. Spent a lot of time getting him to understand the concept of sight picture. Every time guns are mentioned in our home, there is also discussion of the 4 rules.

    My son seems to be taking a break from firearms right now. He says the noise bothers him. He's 5.

    He's fine with helping me clean and handling ammunition. I'm getting into reloading, and I suspect he'll be interested, as well.
    Liberty will not descend to a people. The people must raise themselves to Liberty.
    -Emma Goldman

    That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State - and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.
    -Article 16th, The Vermont Constitution

  17. #17
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    I was 5. One of my fondest memories is that day, shooting with my father and grandfather, both of whom are gone now. I still have "DaDaddy's" bolt action .22 rifle that we fired that day, though! This past summer, I started my great-nephew (10) and great-niece (8). I hope their memories of our day will be like my memories of mine!

  18. #18
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    when i was 7 my dad gave me a .22 rifle & revolver.

    when i was 9 i got 'unsupervised' use of the rifle. when i was 12, unsupervised use of the revolver. this was in a rural location with a strong tradition of household firearms, and no social friction about them.

    MY kids didn't get access to firearms until they were teenagers, due to different circumstances. Living in town, divorced from anti-gun mom, (I had/have custody), and very careful to protect my kids and myself from moms ability to disrupt our lives.

    Circumstances matter. They have guns NOW, but they missed out on years of practice and safety training.

    It's a compromise I wasn't happy to make, but I'd do it the same way again.

  19. #19
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    My son seems to be taking a break from firearms right now. He says the noise bothers him. He's 5.

    You may want to try here for kid size hearing protection if you don't already have any. Kid's ears are much more sesitive to noise than an adults. My son complained some when wearing muffs, so I got some child size plugs. Now he wears plugs and muffs. seems to be ok now.


    http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net...-children.html

  20. #20
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    my first pull of the trigger i was about 4-5. dad had an older percussion cap muzzloader and loaded it with powder and a paper wad...big boom, lots of smoke...recoiled like a bb gun. best time of my life until about the 5th shot he snuck in a lead ball... he caught me with one hand and the gun with the other. i remember it giving me a better respect of what firearms were capable of.

    from there it was a lot of time behind a 10/22 (always supervised, and if i wanted to shoot it i had to load the mags). the got my own bb gun at 8 w/ unsurpervised rights (just had to ask for it). first shotgun at 10 (20ga single shot, never unsurpervised, hunting/practice only). and fired first high powered rifle at 13 (7mm rem. mag.) that was pretty much the end of the haydays because parents seperated...just got back into guns/shooting a few years ago and will never look back. also, from the time i was 5 i always new where the key to the gun cabinet was, and never once went in without dad there.

    i think it comes down to how involved you are with the kid and like OAKVILLE SHOOTER said, keep it interesting and who wouldn't enjoy this wonderful tradition/sport.

  21. #21
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    I believe it really is based on maturity and an ability to understand and abide by proper safety rules
    Yeah, no kids of my own but a passel of nieces and nephews. I trusted the oldest boy with a .22LR way back at age 6 . The middle girl is 7 and shows a lot of maturity like her oldest brother. The other boy is now 9 and it's a little harsh but I'm still not sure I trust that one with a pop gun let alone a firearm <sigh>.
    .
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  22. #22
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    There is no such thing as a magic number. For us ownership was at 6 for BB guns and 8 for .22. But the younger is still struggling with muzzle awareness on his BB gun so it might be later for the .22. I think this is partly my fault as I spend more time paying attention to the older one when we go to the range as he has the .22.

  23. #23
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    It is all about how they feel, act and handle a weapon.

    There is no age that can be put on the thought if some child can handle a gun.


    I don't agree with people putting a gun in a 2 yr old's hand. That is doing something for the parent, not the kid. But when they are ready and can know what a weapon is, that is the time to see if they can handle one, and I don't mean if they can hold one, can they handle one with the mentality of knowing what it can do.


    Would you trust a 2 yr old with a loaded gun behind you?





    Just some of my .02.................




    GRP

  24. #24
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    My $.02....

    When I was a kid, dad gave me, and later my brother, a BB gun and turned us loose at age 6. Later, at about 10 or 12, we got him to buy .22s (a Marlin-Glenfield model 60 for me) for us with OUR money..... but basicly, we had no supervision....... He did require I take a hunter safety course before I could hunt on my own...... I had a .410 shotgun and hunted doves after school by myself when I was in 5th grade. I managed to pepper my brother with #6 shot (from a couple hundred yards away) accidentally...... He did not spend a lot of time actually hunting with us.....

    I decided that when I had kids things would be dfferent.

    My oldest daughter pulled her first trigger at age 3 (.45 flintlock rifle). I take the kids shooting with me whenever they want to go along. I take them hunting with me after they turn 6, if they want to go. This meant a few years without a buck (and 1 year with no deer at all!) because kids are noisy and don't sit on stand very long in the cold. I got certified to teach 4-H Shooting Sports so they could shoot in a silhouette competition.... I have 5 kids, and not all of them like to shoot, but my wife and I require them to take a year of 4-H Shooting Sports and a Hunter Safety Class for the same reason we make them take swimming lessons: at some point, it may be the single most important lesson they ever learned.

    The kids each bought (with their own money) a single shot .22 at age 8, so they could participate in 4-H Shooting Sports......

    Thus far:

    Eldest, 12, has joined the jr high trap (first year), team and breaks an average of 15 of 25, got her first dove and her first deer this year (pheasant remains elusive, as of this posting), can recite The Four Rules from memory, and has pointed out safety violations by others to me at the range.

    Next, 11, does not prticularly like to shoot, but can give you the 4 Rules with a little prompting..... she does not hunt..... to each his/her own...

    Jac, 10, likes to shoot, though she's not real good at it..... she goes hunting, but mostly just to tag along.

    The Boy, 6, went hunting for the first time this year, and did not (normal fo a 6 yo) last long on stand..... though he liked listening to the turkeys waking up all around us.....

    Dinnie, 4, "Like(s) the silver little pistol"..... (Ruger 22/45).....
    "If it looks like a rabbit, and acts like a rabbit, it will be treated as such- prey for all predators.
    If it looks like a rabbit and bites like a rattlesnake, rabbits will be safer, and predators more reticent."

  25. #25
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    I was having this conversation with my wife the other day when I was buying a .22 for our soon to be child. She was said no gun until they expressed intrest. fair enough. I had interest early one, shot a few buddy's bb guns but no gun of my own. Finally started buying bb guns at 18, and bought my first actual firearm at 22. I take my dad out trapshooting almost every time I go and he likes it. For reference my grandpa had guns, and my uncle has a few left, and shoots trap with me as well.
    remington wingmaster 870 12g
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    marlin model 25n .22 rifle

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