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introducing a 12yo to firearms. . . .

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by rdt, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. rdt

    rdt SW Portland Active Member

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    my 12yo step-son is fascinated with guns but has been raised "gun-free" so his fascination is rooted in nerf guns and call of duty. . . needless to say he exhibits all the wrong habits.

    seems alot easier when kids are raised from birth around guns but cant do anything about that now.

    I have tried to be open in answering his questions to get rid of the taboo factor he has come pre-packaged with, but encouraging him to think and act like they are weapons not toys has been more difficult.

    I showed him pictures of GSWs, explained how/why Allied soldiers were trained to deal with the psychological effects of facing the MG42, how machine guns have probably killed as many or more civilians than soldiers, etc. Have stopped short of showing him Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Thin Blue Line etc.

    Fortunately his mother and i are allied on this, she wants him to be trained with guns, but right now we are both afraid to let him have one in his hands. . . absolutely no appreciation for muzzle control with nerf guns, for himself or others.

    things that make this more difficult:
    *i am self-educated about firearms as an adult (no model from my own youth)
    *hes 12 and in puberty so his hormones make his act like hes on drugs.
    *im his step-dad.
    *im not his dad.

    any tips greatly appreciated.
  2. unionguy

    unionguy Portland Active Member

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    I did the following with my 10 year old:
    1) Make him learn the 4 rules of firearms safety, memorized. I added a 5th "never touch a gun if you've been drinking" and a 6th "if anyone you are with is violating any of the above rules, leave the area"
    2) Then, I took him shooting. I think once a kids shoots a gun and feels the recoil and sees the ability to destroy things, appreciation and respect should follow. In fact, it's why I'm keeping my son away from first person shooters for as long as possible--he's now 11. They teach kids all the wrong stuff about guns and killing, for that matter. A good friend of mine's father took him out when he was a kid and had him shoot a watermelon. He then told him, "this is what a gun will do to a human head". It made quite the impression on him. I haven't tried that yet...but so far my son shows proper respect for them.

    Obviously, you must closely supervise the first expsoure to guns...only gradually relinquishing the handling and control as he shows he is paying attention to muzzle direction, finger out of the trigger guard, etc.

    Good luck.
  3. elsie

    elsie Way over there on the left Well-Known Member

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    A lot of kids these days don't really get the impact of reality when they see a picture of something. I ran into similar issues with my son when he was that age. It didn't really hit home for him until he saw me dropping a sparrow at 100 yards with my 22. It gave him 3 lessons: 1) Guns have a long range; 2) Those teeny tiny bullets actually do something; and 3) that cute little bird that was sitting in the bush and singing away a minute ago is now dead. I tried the melon and other type targets to make an impression but I never got the feeling that he associated exploding fruit with the damage to a human body.

    He also had muzzle control issues so when I took him shooting, I had him use a revolver (.22 High Standard Double Nine) and every time he started to point it in the wrong direction I reached over his shoulder and took it from him. I used the revolver so I could put my thumb in front of the hammer while doing so. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell elevation from that angle so he had a few over-the-backstop shots.

    He could recite the safety rules well, but it took a lot of me taking the firearm from him saying "Rule 1", "Rule 3" etc before he actually connected them to his actions. I did find his marksmanship improved with reactive targets instead of paper. I used balloons stapled to the target stand. Easy to clean up.

    Then he turned teenager and while still interested in shooting, wasn't interested in doing it with an authority figure. It took quite a few years before we started shooting again.

  4. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    One option I researched for my stepson was getting a realistic air pistol. They have the same heft and profile as a real pistol. Don't buy any Co2 or pellets. Work with him on sight picture, proper stance, grip, and trigger control. I think taking away the bright plastic is a huge step in the right direction. Getting him out to the range is the biggest step though. Not with a weapon in his hand necessarily, but out where he can 'feel' the power a firearm actually has.

    A good friend of mine's father took him out when he was a kid and had him shoot a watermelon. He then told him, "this is what a gun will do to a human head" works too. My kid got his rifle at 9 and did well within the first couple trips out.

    You may have to consider the fact that he may not be ready yet. Work on the fundamentals and don't rush him, you'll see when he's ready.
  5. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    Well hopefully you aren't being ginger around him and the guns.Be firm in the conviction that if does not listen to you and take everything you say as law, *at least when it comes to handling guns* ,then the range time is over.
    Step father,uncle,Grandad,sister,whatever.The kid has to listen to the adult in charge at the range.
    Then like the others have said,go over the safety rules (KEEP FINGER OFF TRIGGER till ready to destroy something,don not point at anything unless you plan to destroy it).

    And if he even hesitates or looks the other way when you are talking to him,be done.
    Tell him to go sit in the car and go thru a few mags.He'll see how fun it is and start to listen.
    And he will get the safety and discipline aspect down after a few fun days.As long as you do all the right stuff every time.

    Be patient but be firm with the safety parts.The skill level will come.

    And good luck.
  6. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    sign him up for a State Hunters Safety course. Many times having someone else do the basic training can be advantageous. You will still need to go through everything with him but having that outside instruction can be very helpful. Much the same as Drivers Ed for 15 year olds.
  7. Who is John Malt?

    Who is John Malt? West Sound New Member

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    +1 on everything stated already. My son took WA Hunter's Safety at 7-1/2 yrs passing both the written and field tests. It's not about the age of a kid. He's now almost 11 and I still refuse to take one of his best friends to the range due to the boy being very immature at 12yrs (and no muzzle control). One recommendation I might add is to shoot a lot. We try to go to the range at least every week even if it's only for 30 minutes. He shoots my .40 CC decent but is a better shot than I using long guns with iron sights and very accurate scoped. Mostly due to younger eyes, but also he's very disciplined and steady. Our local range is starting a small-bore club soon and I look forward to getting him into competition in a structured setting. Kids need the consistency and structure. ****, it's fun for us grown-ups too so volunteer!
  8. mjbskwim

    mjbskwim Salmon,Idaho Well-Known Member

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    Ya know what? This is probably one of the best suggestions. Experts will always tell guys to let someone else teach their wife/girlfriend to shoot.Take that relationship tension off of it.
    Probably a great idea for a Step dad/son relationship too
  9. MarkAd

    MarkAd Port Orchard Well-Known Member

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    You will get a lot of good ideals on this, so heres mine.
    First teach him the four commandants of firearms. When he can recite them word for word and then explain what they mean take hime to the range and let him learn them on a 22 LR.
    Have him handle the rifle and in doing so have him explain which commandent he is following.
    Of course a rifle round into a watermelon helps demo the force of the round. and is a lot of fun.
  10. gunnails

    gunnails Hillsboro Active Member

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    One thing I did which I always thought was clever, was i made her help me dissemble and clean then reasemble several different guns to make sure she knew how a gun actually works, before I took her out to shoot them, kinda took the mystery out of it..

    That and be a total hard a$$ about mussel control.
  11. Who is John Malt?

    Who is John Malt? West Sound New Member

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    Exactly. My kid cleans the long guns when we return from the range.

    We haven't shot watermelons but we did "carve" pumpkins at the range for Halloween.
  12. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Start with the basics... go from there.
    I have started with my 5 year old already and while he doesn't grasp it completely it will come in time.
  13. sandman1212

    sandman1212 NW Oregon Active Member

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    I have to agree with the "Be firm" thought of firearms training and letting another person teach him as long as you trust them. Kids that age "tune out" parents, but not other adults, especially ones that they don't know or are that familiar with.
  14. Billy 4 HP

    Billy 4 HP Skagit Member

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    Just my $.02. I was around guns my entire life that I can recollect and just this past weekend took my 8 yo son shooting for the first time and it was an outstanding experience for the both of us.

    That being said, I have the following thoughts on the subject:

    IMHO just for gun safety, a pistol should not be a young shooter's first exposure, there are just too many things that can go wrong when a pistol is involved and too many bad habits can start far too early. A single shot .22 rifle is what hundreds of thousands of youngsters have trained on (myself included when I was young) as they are basic and have few malfunction's that can get in the way of the learning process.

    Even a higher end air rifle can be an effective training tool as long as it does not have a toy look or feel to it.

    I don't completely agree with the notion that young people disregard what a parent's trying to teach be it firearms or mathematics, unless the parent is not confident in their ability to teach without becoming frustrated, emotional, etc. But you have a not so unique situation of being the "step father".

    Step father or not, the youngster should understand that firearm handling is a serious business and what you are teaching is a privelege - not a right. So if things don't go as you expect (i.e. he quits listening to what you say), lesson over.

    With firearm training, a huge emphasis needs to be placed on the proper handling and safety aspects of things long before a firearm is placed into the youngsters hands. This includes training in basic gun terminology (breach, trigger, muzzle, hammer, etc), basic gun handling, what to do in case of a missfire, maintenance and care, etc. If the youngster does not seem to understand the reality that improper firearm handling could end up in injury or even death to oneself as well as other's, IMHO the child isn't ready for the hands on exposure to any firearm and needs time to realize that firearms and nerf guns or video games have no real world similarities.

    Most shooting ranges have low cost or even sometimes free firearm safety training where both the adult and youngster train together doing class work first for several weeks and then ending with range time with live weapons. This is what I did way back when with my father and I feel is probably the best way to train a young shooter to be a safe and a responsible shooter.

    Don't rush things and use your own judgement prior to handing them a loaded weapon. Just spending a Sunday afternoon at the kitchen counter with a unloaded / safe weapon explaining things is time well spent to help determine if he's ready.

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  15. slyguy

    slyguy Eugene Member

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    I started both of my boys a little younger with all of the above. They started with the single shot bolt 22 that I was taught on. There are no mistakes and now at 10 and 12 they understand how much fun firearms can be and the responsibilities required. Patience and repetition my friend.
  16. tom sawyer

    tom sawyer Seattle, Washington, United States Member

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    Hopefully I can add another unique perspective.

    My son is 11. He never had toy guns. Never has played gun video games. (neither have I) closest we ever came was water pistols in 2005.

    In 2008 I acquired a gift .357 from a relative, was going camping where there could be bears. I decided to apply for and get a CPL. Then purchases a 9mm for me and a 22 pistol for my (then 8yo) son. We purchased ear-muffs, shooting glasses and went to the indoor range. I taught him the respect, the care, cleaning.

    •Always assume EVERY GUN is loaded.
    •Never look down a barrel
    •Always assume EVERY GUN is loaded.
    •Keep barrel point away from self and others always
    •Always assume EVERY GUN is loaded.
    •Only load at the firing line
    •Always assume EVERY GUN is loaded.
    •Always stop at hand to adult when a misfire occurs.

    I did purchase an airsoft pistol for plinging in the front yard.

    We discuss firearms all the time, about what to do "if" a gun appears "out there" in anothers hands, on the ground in the bushes... whatever. I'm very confident he has a good understanding of the safe handling of firearms, I trust his judgement. It's a great bonding tool. We go to gun shops often. I just purchased a pump action shotgun, we will shoot that this spring.

    Hope this helps.
  17. rdt

    rdt SW Portland Active Member

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    this thread is the most rewarding internet experience i have ever had. thank you for all the great input, i will keep you updated on how it goes. :)
  18. Shooter98

    Shooter98 McMinnville, Or. Member

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    By the age of 12 I had won the annual turkey trap shoot at our club 3 times, lol... I grew up with my Dad putting a weapon in my hand wether it was a gun, knife or bow. Always and I do mean always the importance of safety was stressed. My mom was completely against it but my dad insisted on me knowing for future safety and I agree it has made me a very aware gun owner. Once I was caught at the age of 13 showing my friend my single shot 12 ga. trap gun. Even thoughs there was no ammo in the room, the simple fact I grabbed the gun and put it in the hands of another person, my dad grounded me for 3 weeks to my room (back in the days when they meant what they said) and had my gun range and hunting ability taken away for a year. Along with that I had to sit down every weekend and explain gun safety to my dad. It sucked, but was a great lesson.
    I will do the same with my future child, luckily for me my wife is a very avid shooter and supports our children growing up knowing safety.
  19. SVT-ROY

    SVT-ROY Tigard Resident Beretta guru

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    My 10 year old nephew has been shooting since he was 9. He is doing amazing at muzzle control and safety! I had to start him early so he would respect Firearms. I took some video at the indoor range at TCGC and his mom was amazed with her little boy lol.
  20. teflon97239

    teflon97239 Portland, OR Well-Known Member

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    A young teen I know was involved in a kid's BB gun marksmanship club in Forest Grove, OR at the age of 12. Sponsored by Daisy I think, with regional and national competitions. It was a parent and child thing (not just for guys) with heavy emphasis on safety, range discipline, etc. Then at 13, he took the requisite hunter safety certification with his dad, a rite of passage in that family. Sorry I'm light on details. You'd have to look up how to pursue these things. But here's the point...

    Typical goofy jabbermouth kid, good at sports, decent student, video games, airsoft, skateboards, etc.

    When I took him shooting, my adult buddy going with us was thinking, "Oh great, babysitting." Different story the next day at work when we talked about a fine day of blasting in the quarry. He was totally impressed with this youngster's safety consciousness, weapon handling, listening skills and top-notch marksmanship.

    No amount of clubs or classes can alleviate adult responsibilities in mentoring young people with weps. But combine conscientious supervision with a strong foundation of credible instruction and lots of practice, that makes for fantastic reinforcement. Potentially a lot more powerful than learning it all from just one person.