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Old January 11, 2019, 03:30 PM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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Teaching kids to shoot

I know it's pretty individual, but generally speaking, at what age do you think kids have the concentration and manual dexterity (and strength/size) needed to shoot a longarm.

Specifically, when I've been shooting my new air-rifle , my eldest (5.5yrs) is very interested in what I'm doing. Seems she'd like to have a go and I have let her squeeze the trigger when I've sighted in the rifle on a suitable target.

A firearm is out of the question but a small break action airgun like mine could be an option, but I'm worried I may be over-estimating her abilities.

She's very smart for her age and is very conscientious and she's already familiar with the principles of firearm safety, but then again she's just a little girl and will have breaks in concentration etc and will struggle to hold a rifle, even if I look for a kid's one.

Thoughts?
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Old January 11, 2019, 03:32 PM   #2
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I started my two boys when each reached the age of 6 with a Marlin 15yn, aka, Lil Buckaroo; a kid's sized single shot bolt action .22 with open sights. I could watch them as far as safety went at the range and could hand them each round until they showed the roper attitude about being safe. Still have that rife 25 years later.
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Old January 11, 2019, 03:49 PM   #3
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Depends almost entirely on the kid. The issue is the kid's attention span. That is usually short with a 5 year old. Mind you, there's the whole LOP thing too.
Sounds like you're doing exactly what you need to do now though. She's having 'daddy time' and you're having 'daughter time'. Isn't likely to last from what I've seen. When she's 13, you won't be cool any more. And it'll be DAAAADDD!!!.
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Old January 11, 2019, 04:08 PM   #4
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A youth sized with a regular action is what I recommend. The sooner the kids learn correct safety procedures and habits, the better, the sooner they learn that the only real safety is behind the eyes and between the ears....
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Old January 11, 2019, 04:12 PM   #5
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If they are showing the capability and responsibility, I agree age 6. I was about that when my dad started teaching us to shoot (22)

I am also a bicycle rider - I see a wide range of kids.

Some at age 10 are all over the trail and not a clue.

Some are so tiny its amazing and they are focused and riding the right side and staying there. Those are the amazing ones.

So, if its a space cadet, never, a reasonably focused kid that listens and has it together you could probably start at 5.

Gender is not a factor, either they have it or they don't.

Never discount the bonding value. When things get tense and likely will, you have that as a base.
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Old January 11, 2019, 04:52 PM   #6
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I started my daughter at five years old. The most important thing is to get a rifle that fits them, and safety, safety, and safety. If the rifle is too big and heavy then they can't learn to handle them safely.

After that have fun spending time with the kids.
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Old January 11, 2019, 05:54 PM   #7
Pond, James Pond
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Nice thoughts! There is a .177 carbine break-action air rifle sold here with adjustable stock and cheek pad.

It can have the stock removed making it a pistol, which i wanted to get, so.....
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Old January 11, 2019, 06:16 PM   #8
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I started with a Daisy Red Ryder when I was seven. No city ordinances against BB guns, back then. About the only instruction was, "Don't shoot at people." So, I was on my own to figure out sights and holdover and all that.
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Old January 11, 2019, 06:25 PM   #9
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Probably depends on the kid's personality and temperament, etc.

Patience is a virtue when training kid's in anything...I started mine at a young age (about 7 or 8) on BB guns just to go over the fine points of gun handling with an emphasis on safety and memorizing the 4 rules as we went along.
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Old January 11, 2019, 08:20 PM   #10
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Agree with most of the other posters...beginning shooting with a child depends on the child. Temperment, attention span, desire, and physical ability all have to be considered. Also, let the child determine when it is time to stop for the day.
Son-in-law and I started the grandson at age 7 with a youth model single-shot bolt-action 22 rifle. Of course, he had been instructed on gun safety for a couple of years already.
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Old January 12, 2019, 10:10 AM   #11
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I started my kids at 4 yrs old single shot break action that they could hold. We shot from a bench until they had aiming and confidence. The entire time I stressed safety and fundamentals of shooting. They don't have to shoot from standing position to have fun. They don't get a repeating arm until I see total concentration and ability to carry safely.
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Old January 12, 2019, 12:07 PM   #12
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There is no "right" age. It always depends on the kid, their intelligence, maturity and interest level. I taught my niece to shoot when she was 5 years old. We used a Beretta Minx because even the small child-size rifle was too big for her to hold properly and I didn't have any other small-caliber hand guns at the time. With the tilt-up barrel, it was perfect and she did well. Still shoots to this day, 25 years later.

By the same token, I know adults who don't have near the maturity level to shoot, others who are so uncoordinated that taking them to shoot is a dangerous proposition, etc.

Bottom line is, you just have to know the person.

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Old January 12, 2019, 12:36 PM   #13
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Agreed on the bench for shooting particular rifles (22, BB or Pellet)

I split a card off a bench, forget the distance, 20 feet maybe. Wish I had kept it (we moved a lot). Never did it again but the group was impressed.

We were well informed on gun safety for time before we shot. Very active kids and working projects for my dad so the physical end was well in hand. I was as big as my two older brothers so we went into it together.

My dad had a 38 Special we did shoot free hand.
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Old January 12, 2019, 05:43 PM   #14
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I taught both my daughters when they were 10. I felt they had to be old enough to read the rules at the range, read, memorize and be able to recite and understand the 4 rules of gun safety. Taught them both on a Ruger 10/22. Wasn't long before they were shooting AK's and SKS's and moved to the shotgun range for skeet and trap. Remington 870 youth model 20 gauge...20 inch barrel, sweet gun !!
Handguns, started them on my .38 special with magtech. 38 special shorts, then wadcutters.
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Old January 12, 2019, 08:17 PM   #15
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My oldest son killed 3 deer at age 5. One was a nice 10 point. He killed a doe that year at 219yds.
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Old January 12, 2019, 08:57 PM   #16
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The Ben Avery Sharpshooter Program, required 9 yrs. Taught Jr. smallbore from NRA Jr. Shooting book. All basics of safety and firearm handling (NEVER say weapon). Tues and Thurs night usually had 20+ kids and parents. Program had waiting list....we were limited by the no. of rifles.

Of course one on one with your own is better. Must know and be able to demonstrate safe handling of the firearm. This also assumes physical strength capable.

Would not teach hand guns to kids...too many chances for accidents. Handgun requires close 1 on 1. As a line safety ofcr, seen too many parents give a jr a loaded handgun then turn their back to talk to someone else...I hovered around that firing line position. Parent usually didn't appreciate the learning opportunity, until the G and F deputy explained the options to them.

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Old January 13, 2019, 03:15 AM   #17
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I started my sons out at 6 and 5, respectively. They saw dad going to the range, and wanted to go along. A Winchester 67 22 single-shot started them out, then they graduated up to repeaters. Now (15 and 11) they have their own centerfire rifles that they shoot and clean and hunt with, although hunting here in WA state is just poor.

How well do they shoot? Not too well, but they can hit a 6" bullseye at 50 yds, so I let them keep on practicing. My oldest is getting the idea that the rifle can shoot really well, so he wants to get better.
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Old January 13, 2019, 06:41 AM   #18
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I think I started at 6 and wouldn't hesitate teaching some in that age group. Of course bipods, fieldpods or lead sleds would make that easier. By 9 my brother was shooting groups with a full length 30-06.
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Old January 13, 2019, 06:57 AM   #19
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Mine got interested at about 5, so I took her out with a BB gun. As enthusiastic as she was, she really couldn't focus long enough to shoot safely, so we ended that session and it would be another couple of years before we tried again. When she hit her target, she'd get all excited and whirl around to tell us about it (even though we'd seen it), sweeping everyone in the process. At about 7 (or was it 8?), we went back out with some "Shoot-N-C" targets and let her shoot to her heart's content. By then, she was big enough to handle the BB gun on her own, and could better follow all of the safety rules.

A BB gun or pellet gun is a pretty good place to start, IMHO. Like millions of others, I started with a BB gun. Yes, you could put an eye out with it, but the odds of actually killing someone with it are pretty low.

I'll also suggest that kids do much better with some kind of reactive target. Punching paper is fine for adults, who can wait a while to see whether they hit their target. For kids, though, some immediate response from the target helps hold their interest. I'm not sure it matters if it's something like the Shoot-n-C, which has a "splash" of color show up when you hit, or a steel target, that goes "ping," or something different entirely. I've always been a big fan of soup cans. They're heavy enough that they won't (generally) blow across a field like a thin aluminum Coke can, but they'll move and go "ping" when hit. Heck, I still like 'em for my own plinking today.
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Old January 13, 2019, 09:14 AM   #20
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Strangely enough i didn't receive my Daisy Red Rider BB gun untill i was a freshman in high school.
With the warning of be careful with it.
Now go outside and play...
I still have it, along with the box it came in.
I didn't buy/ shoot my first rifle till i was 18. Everything for me was self taught. I read, i watched, i asked questions, i experimented.

I taught my daughter when she was 10 and decided to show an interest in hunting.
She just turned 21. She loves shooting pistols, and is a decent shot with my wifes 223.
( of course with a 24" heavy barrel, it's hard not to be)

So the answer is as has already been said. It is entirely individual. Just enjoy the time spent together.
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Old January 13, 2019, 12:29 PM   #21
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I started my kids with an air rifle a few years back. Son was 5 and daughter was 8. This year they are getting in with a 22 for the boy, and center fire for my daughter. My daughter is showing a lot of interest in shooting and hunting. My son is as well, but not as ecstatically.
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Old January 13, 2019, 03:01 PM   #22
TBM900
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pond, James Pond View Post
I know it's pretty individual, but generally speaking, at what age do you think kids have the concentration and manual dexterity (and strength/size) needed to shoot a longarm.

Specifically, when I've been shooting my new air-rifle , my eldest (5.5yrs) is very interested in what I'm doing. Seems she'd like to have a go and I have let her squeeze the trigger when I've sighted in the rifle on a suitable target.

A firearm is out of the question but a small break action airgun like mine could be an option, but I'm worried I may be over-estimating her abilities.

She's very smart for her age and is very conscientious and she's already familiar with the principles of firearm safety, but then again she's just a little girl and will have breaks in concentration etc and will struggle to hold a rifle, even if I look for a kid's one.

Thoughts?
Maturity is far more important, and for that every child is different.
A child should be started with the fundamentals from a rested position (bench or prone).
Thus weight would be a non-issue and they can focus on the basics.
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Old January 13, 2019, 04:30 PM   #23
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I got my own 22 at 5th birthday and had a dozen guns by age 8. This isn't like I was free to
run around with them. The one thing that was taboo was a BB gun. The 50s & 60s were the
era of the BB gun battles. Just or one little village had 3 kids with glass eyes, this isn't a joke. My dads theory is kids knew what a 22 or 410 could do. They were real guns but kids had no respect for BB guns. Young kids walking through town with 22s on the way to the dump would draw no attention. Kids with BB guns would be stopped by town cops and usually rode home. I don't think there was ever a accident with kids and 22s. My grandkids
having herd this story bought me a Red Ryder a couple years ago for my birthday. Of course
the card included " Don't shoot your eye out".
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Old January 13, 2019, 05:17 PM   #24
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As everyone else has already stated, as far as age goes, it depends.

I don't have kids of my own, but I have 9 godchildren (I know, sounds ridiculous), and have to this point taught 4 of them to shoot. The youngest was 6. With all of them I started them from the bench, off a bag or bags. Always started them with a .22 rifle, my Henry lever H001L, which at first was never allowed to leave the bags. They'd shoot a round, then I'd pick up the rifle and lever a new round and put the gun back on the bags, and they'd shoot again.

Eventually, they'd graduate to the .22 pistol (Ruger, or now my Victory), again strictly from the bag with each mag containing only one round.

Kids are pretty quick, so it doesn't take all that long before they learn the basics of manipulation and safety procedures, so within a few sessions I let them run the lever on their own and drop/insert mags on their own. However, it was usually a dozen or more sessions before I'd let them shoot off-hand with either.

With my oldest godson I think he was 9 or 10 before I let him shoot one of my AR-15s, and again I started him off the bags only one round at a time. Which didn't matter much to him as he probably still wasn't strong enough to hold and shoot the gun off-hand yet anyway. But he'd shown by that time a solid understanding of safety protocols so I felt comfortable letting him shoot the AR. As I recall he put 20 rounds into a 6 inch bullseye at 50 yds using the irons right off the bat, and he's turned into a pretty good shot now.

My point here is to have a solid plan for safety when it comes to kids and things should work out fine. And be fun for you and them.

P.S. Something I should've mentioned near the top: when I take kids to learn to shoot or just to shoot in general, I go with the understanding that I'm probably not going to do a lot of shooting myself, if at all. My main priority is their/everyone's safety, which requires me to spend 100% of my attention and focus on them while they are hands-on a firearm.

Last edited by Rangerrich99; January 13, 2019 at 05:23 PM.
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Old January 14, 2019, 10:48 AM   #25
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Girls are~~competent and likely have the physical dexterity _by 8-9.
Most important: Is appropriate to at least ask~~ if the young lady has interest in being taught?

Young boys on the other-hand. {Tutoring today's young fellows?} to shoot and other appropriate subject matter?~~Huh.~~ Leave it too the professionals!> Army Navy Air Force Marines Coast Guard or a Police Academy is my sensible thinking /way of.
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