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Old March 16, 2010, 12:36 PM   #1
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What is the right age to teach kids to shoot?

I have a daughter, a step-daughter, and a stepson. The stepson is special needs; I will never be teaching him to shoot a real gun, will only be able to teach him that real guns are dangerous. My two daughters, however, I plan to teach to shoot. They are 11 and 12. I have just started to teach them about gun safety, and let them see some of my guns (but not the handguns, or where I keep them). I want them to have a healthy respect for guns and know about gun safety before we start leaving them home alone for any length of time.

I can't remember exactly how old we were when my dad and my uncles started teaching me and my cousins to shoot. Anyone know what most range policies are on kids? And how old were you when you learned to shoot, or how old were your kids when you started teaching them?
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Old March 16, 2010, 12:42 PM   #2
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GM.Everyone has their own little book on going about this so you will recieve many different responses. I was taught in a farm so I realy don't know if there are special laws and regulations regarding the matter. Common scence dictates ask the range master beforehand. Be safe .
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Old March 16, 2010, 12:42 PM   #3
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In my opinion, it's important not to teach them to shoot, but rather to instill a respect for guns in them. Start teaching them at the youngest age possible, put their curiosity to rest at a young age and as soon as they're big enough to hold the gun safely, teach them how to actually shoot it. I was raised away from guns and the few times I handled them, I was always in shock and awe. I feel that I wasn't properly raised with guns and I didn't really have the respect and discipline required until a year ago when I purchased my own. At 15, I admit, I thought of them as "cool toys" and even "played" with them when I could find them (I luckily would make sure they were unloaded, I learned that much).

I advise you to raise your children (regarding guns) differently than I was. Make sure to instill in them a respect and understanding about what the guns are, what they do, what they can do, what they are for and what they're to do with them.
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Old March 16, 2010, 02:41 PM   #4
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My kids are all grown(23-30) but the grandkids are here and more on the way. One of the hardest lessons you can teach a young child is the fact that once something is shot, its a done deal. Whether shot by accident or on purpose, this isn`t TV. Its permanent. My kids learned very young(as I did) that although guns were fun they can cause death. We enjoyed many hunting trips together starting when they were 5-6yrs old. As a result they learned Bugs and Bambi were not going to get up and run off after being shot. They were dead. As part of the hunt, they watched me field dress the game and safety was being taught all the while. When they got old enough to shoot(about 6-7) things came kinda natural for them.

My dad shot competively for years when I was a child so I can never remember not being around guns. Dad made shooting fun but very serious and if punishment for screwing up for not acting safely with a gun was needed, it was dealt out swiftly. You didn't make same mistake twice. Safety was constantly being maintained and preached.

Lastly, I have four children. That was to many for me to teach at one time. Until they got older,it was two at a time for me. Don`t take more kids shooting then you can watch at one time. If you take more kids than one, only take one gun. Make the others listen and watch as shooter and you are at the line. Run through the safety basics with each one as they're at the line. If you take three kids, each will hear safety rules three different times.

One other tip is to have children leave cell phones at home when going to shoot. Again, all attention should be on shooting and safety.

Goodluck and have fun.
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Old March 16, 2010, 02:47 PM   #5
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On a side note, I'd try and get them a gun that is a little more fun than a single shot bolt action. You really don't want a semiauto just yet, so consider the Henry lever action. The kid gets more involvement with racking the lever, and is short/light enough to fit them properly.

Guess I'm biased, I had one of those Red Ryder bb guns as a kid and literally wore it out.
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Old March 16, 2010, 02:51 PM   #6
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What is the right age to teach kids to shoot?
Depends on how smart and mature the kids are.

I have a nephew that is 4 and he is getting close to being ready, but not quite there. Every person is different.
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Old March 16, 2010, 08:27 PM   #7
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I started my grandson at 4 with a S&W model 18 .22lr.He is almost 16 now, and outshoots me.
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Old March 16, 2010, 08:53 PM   #8
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I started my two boys when they turned 6 with a Marlin LIL buckaroo, (IIRC it is the 15yn or similar), this is a single shot 22 rifle with iron sites and a VERY short LOP.

It is not a chronological age that is important, it is their mental age/awareness - do they show some responsibility and listen? Can they remember the basic rules of safety? Do they understand the consequences for failure to do those things? If yes, then start them, if not wait until ready
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Old March 16, 2010, 08:56 PM   #9
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NRA Jr. Rifle

The NRA Jr. Rifle Program at our gun club takes kids at 12 years of age.

They will however take kids younger, if their parents are with them and they show proper safety skills during their "probation" period.

With that said, my daughter took her first boar with my AR at 9 years of age. She started shooting a couple years before that.

It depends on each child's own level of maturity and ability to follow the safety rules.
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Old March 16, 2010, 09:44 PM   #10
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I started taking my two older kids to the range last year. At the time they were 5 and 7. Safety needs to be priority, and the rules need to be laid down long before they ever get to the range. Then we review the rules every time we go. Grandpa got them a Cricket last year. My daughter (7year old, well 8 now) can easily shoot that by herself. My son(5) is still a bit small to shoot it by himself, so I help him hold it while he shoots. In my opinion, kids should start on a single shot 22 rifle. It will be a few years before I let them try any handguns.
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Old March 17, 2010, 07:55 AM   #11
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Question, why the "Never" with the Step Son? Seams to me one of the best ways to teach someone how dangerous they are is to let them shoot it. As long as you keep them properly locked up at the house you should not have a problem with any of the kids. May even take him out on a one on one session with one gun and some time, bet that would mean more to him then it would to the daughters. Just saying I love the time I spend with my step son when we go shooting, helps us bond when blood doesn't.
"And finally, the Baby Bear looked and he said, "Somebody's sleeping in my bed, and the bastard's still there!" But Goldylocks had a Remington semi-automatic, with a scope and a hair-trigger!"
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Old March 17, 2010, 08:06 AM   #12
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I've seen a dad teach his 4 year old to shoot. Honestly, it made me a little nervous - the kid really didn't have the strength to hold the little .22 single shot rifle.

Personally, I'd say that 6 is an ok age - that's when I first learned to shoot under strict controls. Sort of depends on whether the kid wants to learn to shoot also.
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Old March 17, 2010, 08:16 AM   #13
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it depends on the maturity of the child. take a walk thru a mall sometime. there are 18 and 20 year olds i wouldn't trust with a squirt gun.
ya only got 1 arm and ya carry 3 guns for Christs sake. Well I don't want to get killed for lack of shooting back.
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Old March 17, 2010, 09:32 AM   #14
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I would say that you teach children about gun safety and familiarity far before graduating to actual shooting. I think 4 or 5 is the appropriate time to teach a respect for guns, to never touch them without an adult present, and they can hurt very much. Death is still a difficult concept at this age, and since firearms cause death I'm not comfortable graduating to using a firearm. 6 is appropriate to let them see and touch them, explain some of how they work, and work on to the safety rules. If you have a super mature kid, it may be time to start out with an air rifle. Most kids are ready for range trips by 8, some earlier, some not even close.

This is my take, but I definately feel the "awe and wonder" of guns should be queled early by actually letting them hold them and teaching safety long before it's time to shoot.
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Old March 17, 2010, 10:32 AM   #15
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I started teaching my kids about guns when they started walking. If you don't want your kids getting into your guns unsupervised...put a gun in his hand every chance you get. They'll be so bored with the heavy clunkers that they'd much rather seek out a nice light plastic toy to play with.

Shake up a can of soda and let em watch you shoot it and explode then pick up the can and hand it to the and say fix it, make it better...of course they will be dumbfounded and you start repeating 'This is real, not TV' 'This is real, not TV' 'This is what would happen to your brother or mommy if you shot them...and so forth.

My kids had to recite the 4 rules before being able to handle a gun when asking.
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Old March 17, 2010, 10:34 AM   #16
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My pappy taught me the ropes around 5ish. Just give them lots of supervision when they're young, and back off as they get older.
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Old March 17, 2010, 08:35 PM   #17
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My dad, as soon as I showed an interest in real guns. Signed me up for a NRA safety course.
I was about 12.
This from a man who was a combat vet of the south pacific and a 20 year metro DC cop.
He knew that some class room style training was the best.
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Old March 18, 2010, 07:05 AM   #18
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Its all up to you to determine if they are responsible enough for it and it could be as young or younger than 5 or as old as 25. It will most likely be when they show an intrest in it and if they don't do not force it on them you may lose them to it forever.
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Old March 18, 2010, 09:50 AM   #19
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My friend's daughter is 7 years old,,,

For her birthday this year he allowed me to buy her a Daisy BB rifle,,,
It's the perfect gun to teach her the basic safety with,,,
And it's fun to go on "Safari" in the yard.

So far we have been having a blast with this Daisy,,,
I haul out my "Spitting Image" daisy,,,
She gets her "Buck",,,
We go hunting.

I set out some plastic dinosaurs in her back yard,,,
We go crawling through the jungle,,,
And bag us a T-Rex or two.

All the time her Mom and Dad are sitting in the house,,,
Laffin' their @$$'s off at the potbellied old man,,,
Slithering around in their backyard lawn.

If she still likes shooting after the newness wears off,,,
She might get a Davy Crickett .22 single-shot on her 8th or 9th birthday.
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Old March 19, 2010, 12:31 PM   #20
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I started at 7 or 8 years old with BB gun and from there I went to a Pellet gun. After that I went to the rifle range with my Dad and was taught to shoot 22lr bolt action rifle. He then on Christmas at the age of 15, gave me a Rem Model 742 243 win. It is important not to put too much gun in a young person hands at too early of an age as it can ruin a shooter for life as I have seen on a few occasions.
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Old March 19, 2010, 06:41 PM   #21
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As long as they can listen and follow directions age doesn't matter.

A scatter brained 16 year old vs. a four year old that will follow directions(with supervision), I'll take the four year old.
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Old March 19, 2010, 07:33 PM   #22
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my oldest who is almost 19 started shooting at the age of 3 my youngest is 16 and he started at the age of 5. he's a plinker and hunts in deer season IF he feels like getting up. my oldest can out shoot me buy a long shot and i thought i was pretty knowledgeable on my firearms then he just blows me away with something new. he's heading for a career in the US ARMY as a cav scout. couldnt be a more proud dad !! hes been in the army reserves since nov 08 as a combat engineer and has switched to active duty army as a cav scout as his new mos.
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Old March 19, 2010, 07:42 PM   #23
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It depends on the kid. My nephew is 15 but is not ready yet. My niece is a couple of years younger but she's ready--in fact had she been interested I would have happily taken her to the range several years ago.
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old March 19, 2010, 07:48 PM   #24
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As soon as the inside the waistband holster fits in their diaper. I picked 10 years old for my sons, I felt they were then old enough to understand the mechanics and safety of a firearm. They didn't get out of arms reach till many trips afield as I wished to study their behavior pertaining to safe handling. We started with rim fires and moved up the food chain rather quickly as they progressed.

The first thing I did was fill a jug with water and blast it with my 45acp, this was to make an impression upon them as to how dangerous a firearm is when handled carelessly. I also impressed upon them KNOW the range of the gun and where that bullet is going to end up!
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Old March 19, 2010, 08:41 PM   #25
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If the child is mature and curious, I'd say eight years old to start. Shooting BB guns are fun for children. Teaching gun safety and sportsmanship are lessons that they won't ever forget.
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