Introducing Kids To Firearms by Shane Hurkmans
I’m asked about guns for kids all the time. With most guys thinking I’m crazy because I tell them that they should first get their kids a BB gun and learn the basics before they move into a bigger gun. Then there are the kids just getting into hunting late in their young lives. I’m talking kids that are 15-18 years old who are going hunting for the first time. Their fathers or someone in the family has a gun for them to borrow. Just about every time it’s a deer caliber, 308, 30-30, 270, 36-06 and everything in between. They are great calibers for hunting but for a first timer not one of the best choices. I suggest taking a 22 cal. with and start them shooting that before you put the center fire in their hands. With the 22 go through the rules of safety and how the gun operates before having them shoot the gun.
Have them shoot a target at 50 yards till they get comfortable, then go to the center fire, let them shoot three or four rounds to get used to the recoil. Go back to the 22 for a while if there is a flinch with the center fire, you can correct it with the aid of the 22. Shoot a few more rounds out of the center fire. Don’t over do it, take the time to make a few trips to the range. Each time you go make them shoot fewer and fewer with the 22 and more with the center fire. You will find where a youngsters point for handling the recoil is, over doing it can result in misses and bad shooting form.
The other asked question is how young to start their child on a gun. The younger the better I tell them. With my boys I showed them what a gun was from the time they were born and kept up with it to this day. With all my kids, I had them shooting BB guns at the age of 3 in the back yard. When you start your kid out, have something for them to shoot that is going to fall down or be knocked over. And at this age their attention is not that long and they will get board with it fast, three or four times is all they are going to shoot. You can help them learn when you are cleaning your guns too. Have them help with this and show them what every thing is on the gun. And show them the right way to hold the gun while doing this and other aspects of caring for a gun and the rules of it.
When in the woods let them take their gun along but don’t load it, just let them take it. Make them follow the rules while handling the gun and always be watchful.
With this all said I have to tell you that not all children are ready at the same time for handling weapons. You the parent have to decide when your child is ready to handle a firearm. With this all said and the child is getting used to shooting the next area of questions concern the right caliber that would be the most practical for them to hunt whitetail. I suggest the following, 243, 6mm, 308, 30-30, 7mm-08 and the 35 Rem. Those of you that are in shot gun areas, I would choose a 20 gage and if the law allows it go smaller like a 410. There nothing wrong with a 410 for deer, just remember that the deer must be close. For actions I would start them out with a single shot and then a bolt. I would wait with pumps and leaver actions as a new person on their first hunt can get over excited and the more they have to operate, the more that can go wrong. So keep it simple for the first time.
Continue to keep simplicity in mind and have them shoot open sites for the fact that a kid can grow from year to year. You would have to fit the scope every year and worst yet they could get bit with the scope causing bad shooting form in the future. I know that when I get bit by the scope on a larger caliber, I don’t want to stick my head back there and get bit again. I would recommend a scope for some one that has been shooting for a while. Go back to the 22 with a scope and get them used to looking through one before giving them a scope on a center fire rifle or a shotgun.
I hope this helps you get your kids out in the outdoors and having fun while doing it. Take it slow, take the time and you will have a hunting partner for the rest of your life, I know I do.