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Old November 24, 2005, 08:19 PM   #1
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What age to introduce kids to firearms?

my son is 5, and as of now has no knowledge of daddy's guns. All of them are locked away hidden from view, so when he is over here he does not know. At what age do we introduce firearms to kids, and in what capacity? Little Man going to daycare and telling everyone about daddy's guns is not a good thing. I think he would speak about them out of context, as little kids seem prone to do. Right now, I know he is way too young. Maybe in a few more years. I do know that if they are too young to shoot, they are not too young to be shown and told not to touch, but at what age I do that, I'm not sure. He knows about guns and knows about hunting, and we shoot bows and arrows together, so he starting to learn responsibility in regards to dangerous things.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:29 PM   #2
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Firearms Training is a good site to go to for answers to that question. I think 6 is the age that U show a child not to touch and to report to an adult if they see a firearm. I think for shooting they should be at least 13 years old. Now here lies the dilema. If u truly want to show a child / pre-teen how lethal, dangerous and useful a firearm can be - NO TOY GUNS. I don't think a child should practice pointing, aiming and firing a toy gun at mommy, daddy or his friends. Don't go to early on the violent x-box, playstation 2 and PC games as well. IMHO.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:32 PM   #3
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He has no toy guns. I also keep violent programming away from him. I don't want him to start seeing these things out of context.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:32 PM   #4
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I say it's never too early to learn - abstractly speaking. Shooting - always a subjective call based on maturity.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:37 PM   #5
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All of my kids started shooting at 3 years old and were as good as many adults I know by the time they were 6. 13 is way too old to start them out. My boy is 10 and went on his first deer hunt (actually carrying a rifle with a hunting license) this year and has been shhoting a .22 rifle basically unsupervised for about a year and a half now. I killed my first deer when I was 9 and carried a gun on the hunt the year before that.

THE LONGER YOU WAIT, THE CURIOSITY YOU CREATE AND THE MORE LIKELY YOU ARE TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT!! Take the curiosity away early and your child will be much more responsible at an earlier age.
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Old November 24, 2005, 08:40 PM   #6
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i started shooting at 5 or 6.
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Old November 24, 2005, 09:37 PM   #7
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I started with the NRA "Stop, Don't touch, Tell an adult" when my daughter was 7 or 8. In my own case, I started shooting BB guns at about that age, and got my hunter training cert at age 10. Depends a lot on the responsibility level of the kid.
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Old November 24, 2005, 10:02 PM   #8
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every kid is different i would say start him with air guns when you feel that he is mature enough to handle it
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Old November 24, 2005, 10:05 PM   #9
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I was introduced to a BB gun at about 6 was taught all the fundamentals (don't point it at anyone, always act like it's loaded, etc.)and could ONLY use it when my dad was around to supervise until I was around 10. Then I could shoot secada's out of trees or little plastic army men in the back yard. Then around age 13 or 14 I was introduced to the .22 long rifle semi auto and a single shot 12 gauge shotgun.
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Old November 25, 2005, 03:36 PM   #10
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My boys have been exposed to guns since birth. I always have carried around them, and they have always seen me taking them apart and cleaning them, working on them, etc. As infants, they would be in the truck when we went shooting, so to them they are just part of life. They don't talk to other people about daddys guns, because to them they are no big deal, just like daddys hammer, or floor jack, etc. That being said, they do understand the don't touch rule. Same as they don't touch the saws, drills, and other dangerous tools. I got my oldest boy a Henry Mini-Bolt when he was 5. He is awesome with it, and takes it VERY seriously. The younger one, (4), is not ready for it yet by his own opinion. I have told him when he thinks he is ready, he can start shooting too. He knows all the rules, but isn't ready to do it yet, and I'm not going to push him.

And I also agree with the no toy guns. Yes they go around with sticks, and "guns" they make out of legos, (they come up with some pretty cool looking stuff! Like the "AR-172-FP". That was my favorite. ) playing "military" but boy's will do that. It's not the same as toy guns, I don't think.
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Old November 25, 2005, 03:49 PM   #11
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What age? I think it depends on the gun culture at home. If the family hunts or does things like regular target shooting or plinking, the child will be exposed to guns early. First you take them along with you when you shoot and safety concerns are explained. I think by the 2nd grade, they are probably old enough for a traditional BB gun. First supervised shooting and after the fundamentals are learned, then they are on their own. They'll make mistakes, but usally the mistakes aren't as potentially serious with a BB gun.

From the BB gun, next comes shooting a 22 rifle supervised and the experience level continues to evolve. I don't think you necessarily have to jump to a pellet gun stage. It depends on the child. At approximately age 10-12, I think a 22 rifle should be acceptable if you live in the country (older if in the city as guns are associated with different things in the city). Boy Scouts is good training.

Hunting starts at about Age 13 or beginning of high school. You can take the young person with you earlier hunting if that is your preference. I would take them small game (varmints, squirrels, rabbit, etc.) with Dad's rifle or shotgun and then they can evolve to their own 22 rifle or shotgun. Being quiet in the outdoors is less a problem small game hunting.

I don't believe in children sized guns. If they can't handle a normal sized rifle or shotgun, they are too small or too young. Get the first 22 as a christmas present and it should be a very big deal or they aren't going to be interested in shooting or hunting.

Shoot with the young people and take join in with their friends for shooting sports to educate and supervise. You have to be convinced that they understand the lethality of real guns and are mature enough to join into this adult activity. You don't want them to grow up to be like that kid in Eastern PA who shot the girl friend's parents.

Ultimately, it depends on the maturity of the child and what their friends are doing. If friends are shooting, then they will want to get their first 22 as soon as possible. No handguns until they are older. Personally, I think they should buy their own handguns. That usually means they will be at least 18.
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Old November 25, 2005, 05:02 PM   #12
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My son will be 3 years old in just about 2 months. When he sees dad put his gun on when we go out, he'll look at the gun, turn to his mom and say...

"Daddy's gun. Not a toy! Tell adult". You can never get them started to early IMHO.
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Old November 25, 2005, 05:18 PM   #13
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Start when they are old enough to notice. I have 4 children all were introduced sometime between age 2-3. My youngest is now 7.
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Old November 25, 2005, 05:49 PM   #14
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I just look back to my own experience. My dad was not much of a "gun-guy," but he first let me fire his .22 rifle when I was about 8 years old. He showed them to me before that a few times with warnings not to touch.

I don't know when I'll start talking to my kids about them. Not yet -- the oldest is only 3.
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Old November 25, 2005, 06:07 PM   #15
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I think

my dad gave me a 22 rifle at 14 but I shot my brothers at age 13. I would always start a child out out on bb gun or 22lr. once the child has concepts understood like gravity and leverage and results and what can happen if we are not careful, have at it. I know for myself when and if I have kids. once I feel kike they know the 'situation' and what is 'going on' they are ready.
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Old November 25, 2005, 06:20 PM   #16
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My daughter was 11 and my son was 6

The first gun they ever fired (with help from me) was a .44 Bulldog.

They had no interest in messing with the guns until they were older and I only taught them to shoot when they expressed their interest.

The noise, the recoil and the way the water-filled-gallon-jugs looked, was enough for both of them...

They are now, son 24 with a Springfield .45ACP Compact and, daughter 29 with a Glock 27 (.40 cal)...

Both are excellent shooters...
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Old November 25, 2005, 08:50 PM   #17
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I bought my Red Ryder when I was 5. I got the Winchester .22 the Christmas before I was 9. I bought my 03-A3 when I was 9 (Mom was POed because I got mine before she got hers. )

We didn't have the 4 rules when I was growing up. It was "The 10 commandments of hunting."

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Old November 25, 2005, 10:02 PM   #18
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Growing up, my brother and I always knew about dad's guns. We knew where they were (and he did have them secured) and we knew what they could do. We started shooting when we were about 4-5.

Now I'm the dad and started teaching my 3 year old this summer. Started off slow, taught him to pull the cord on a skeet thrower. When he saw me cleaning my guns one day, the lessons went a little more in depth.

- "What are you doing?"
- "Daddy is cleaning his guns. Do you know what this is?" (showing my 357 mag)
- "That's a GUN!"
- "Who's gun?"
- "Is it yours?"
- "Yes it is. Do we play with guns?"
- "NO!" (His emphasis)

It gets cute when I hold up my M-1

- "Do you know what this is?"
- "That's a big gun!" (Again, his emphasis)

And so the story goes. The simple truth is, start simple and teach them young. I plan on doing the same with my younger son (In a couple years, of course. He isn't due til Christmas).

Good luck teaching your kids.
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Old November 26, 2005, 11:07 AM   #19
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my dad gave me a 22 rifle at 14 but I shot my brothers at age 13.
I do hope that was a typo .

I think I was around 8 or so. Pellet rifle than .22 at around 10 or so IIRC. I think it's like toilet training, they will show you when they are ready to learn about firearms and when they want to start shooting (real interest, not just curiosity).

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Old November 26, 2005, 11:49 AM   #20
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Shamus ~

Keeping guns locked up is essential when you have kids, but I think most of us realize that as our kids grow, locking up the guns simply isn't enough. Even if no one in your house ever goofs and accidentally leaves a gun out, the fact is that the bigger the kid gets, the more places he'll go and the better the chance that he'll be visiting at the home of someone who doesn't have your committment to keeping guns locked up & out of sight.

Me, I'm a suspenders-and-a-belt type person. I believe that any plan that relies entirely upon human beings (of any age!) to be perfect is a flawed plan. So around here we lock up the guns and we teach the kids what to do if they find one. That way, we aren't relying on the kids to be perfect & never disobey, and we also aren't relying on the adults to be perfect and never goof by leaving the safe door open.

Here's how we gun proofed our kids. We began when they were barely old enough to talk and were able to more-or-less chant back to us stuff that we said to them.

Start by teaching the Eddie Eagle rules:

If you see a gun, STOP.

Don't touch it!

Leave the area.

Tell an adult.


When you have him chant those rules with you, discuss them. Once he's got a basic idea of what the rules are, then you can ask him this very important question:

"Do you know what to do if you really, really, REALLY want to touch the gun?"

He may or may not be able to tell you, so you tell him the rules again. Tell him that no matter what he must not touch the gun. But the next step is the critical one. You're going to disarm his curiousity so that, if he ever does come across a gun when you aren't around, he won't be so curious and desperate to touch it that all of your good teaching goes right out the window.

So you need to teach him one more, very important, rule: "If I really, really, REALLY want to touch the gun, I will leave the room and ask an adult if I can!"

In order to get him to the point where there's a better-than-even chance he'll obey those rules when you aren't looking, you want to demystify guns. You do not need to go to the range for this. What you need is

1) an unloaded gun, and
2) a absolutely safe direction, and
3) a patient, calm demeanor.

What you are going to do is teach your son that any time he wants to hold a gun, you will drop whatever else you are doing and stand over him while he holds the unloaded gun pointed in a safe direction. You are doing this so that his curiosity doesn't kill him sometime when you are not around, and you are doing it so that "leave the room and tell an adult" will never mean the end of fun to him. You are doing that so that "tell an adult" is to him a promise that the adult will satisfy his curiousity and let other good things happen too.

(And for goodness' sake! If he ever does come and tell you about it, give him a candy bar or take him to the playground or do whatever it is that you would do to show him that you are really, really pleased with him. Don't react with panic ... react with pride and let him see how pleased & proud you are because he did the right thing!)

So you take your gun. You check to be sure it's unloaded. You check again, and then check one more time. Then you lock the slide back and hold the gun in front of your child's hands, pointed in a safe direction. You show him where the bullets would be if there were any bullets in it. You explain that this gun right now isn't loaded, and that if it were loaded it would be very, very dangerous.

He will not absorb all this or even most of it. You tell him anyway.

More important, you let him see that you never ever ever ever ever point the gun anywhere except the safe direction -- and that you checked three times to make sure it was unloaded -- and that you had him check to see it was unloaded.

You tell him that the gun has to stay pointed that direction, and only that direction.

Then comes the scary part: you hand him the gun.

Hover. Hover and be ready to grab if the gun waves anywhere else.

Answer his questions. Let him poke buttons and try to pull the trigger if he wants.

Hover. Don't let your attention wander. Don't let him turn the gun around. Keep your hands right there and ready to control if you need to.

After about two minutes, he'll be bored because face it, there's nothing exciting about safely holding an unloaded weapon pointing at nothing much, even if you've never done it before. Wait until he is bored, and says so; you want him to end this exploration. When he gives the gun back, tell him you'll let him hold the gun anytime he asks, but what are the rules if he just finds a gun?


Don't touch!

Leave the area.

Tell an adult.

And if he really, really, really wants to touch ... leave the area and ASK an adult.

He'll probably ask to hold your gun about every hour for a day or two, then once or twice a day for a week, and then every once in awhile for a long time. It is worth it to drop whatever you are doing and let him. You are reassuring him that telling an adult is a worthwhile thing to do -- and showing him that holding a gun and poking at it really isn't that exciting.

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Old November 26, 2005, 07:16 PM   #21
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I'm 26 now. I was introduced to pellet guns and then a .22 starting when i was about 10. Moved up to a 20ga at about 12 yrs old. I turned out ok
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Old November 26, 2005, 07:19 PM   #22
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Pax - Very intelligent and well thought out post! I appluad you for your experience and I fully intend to use this same approach with my children.

Hats off to you!
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Old November 26, 2005, 08:57 PM   #23
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I got introduced to guns when I was about 5 by my dad who was in the Marine Core and a Cop. I am now 13 and have shot airsoft guns, bb guns, pellet guns, .22s, .38 Specials, .40S&Ws and that is it. I also now own my own gun, a .38 Special revover, very nice. I am very good with it. I was about 7 when I shot my first .22. I was about 5 or 6 when i shot my first airsoft. I was about 10 when I shot my first CO2 gun and I just shot my first pellet gun 2 days ago. My favorite would have to be .38 Special though, I like .40. I am very careful. Nice post.
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Old November 26, 2005, 11:47 PM   #24
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I was shooting BB guns around 9 or 10. My brother and I would go to the range and I would shoot his 12 gauge and 30-06 when I was about 11 and 12, and got my first gun, an Ithaca single shot 12 gauge at 13. Started hunting at 13 as well. My best friend at the time got a British .303 and we'd shoot that occasionally too.

We were not allowed toy guns as a kid and if Dad ever saw me with one (borrowed a neighbors to play Army) and saw me point it at someone, he'd grab it out of my hands and beat the bejesus out of me with it.

As a parent of a 6 and 9 year old, I'm not sure I want my 6 year old shooting yet but I feel that my 9 year old is mature enough to understand the dangers and obey the safety rules and would enjoy shooting. I've been thinking of picking up a 10/22 for them to learn to shoot with.
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Old November 26, 2005, 11:55 PM   #25
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I was about 5, I think, when I first began to really notice firearms. My Dad always had a self-defense pistol in the house and he hunted every year. Dad used the rule Scott mentioned earlier, i.e., when they start to notice guns, it's time to begin the introduction. I followed that same rule with my own kids and it worked quite well indeed. I don't think my Dad, rest his soul, really understood then just how important a part in my life firearms would play, both as a hobby and, for a time, in military service.
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