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Introducing kids to firearms, some advice, tips, hints and experiences requested

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Botte Hork, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Botte Hork

    Botte Hork Camas WA Well-Known Member

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    I've got a 3.5 year old boy running around here. He's gotten very interested in the gun concept, probably from playing with some older boys at the daycare and perhaps a cartoon he's seen that might've slipped our attention. He sometimes plays with finger guns, anything L-shaped is picked up with "pew pew" sounds and when my wife went to a yard sale with him, he was probably close to pooping his pants when he saw the big box with broken Nerf guns. My wife had to buy one for a dollar and he's been giving it much attention. He's also a champion of violating all 4 rules simultaneously. :)

    In any case, he's very enthusiastic about it and we have multiple guns in the house, safely stored of course. He's not aware of these, neither of my CC, but as he's a smart little kid, he'll put 1 and 1 together some day. Some day soon probably. Right now he's too young to understand what to talk about and what not in which company, plus it'll be a lot of new stuff, so I wonder how you all dealt with exposing your kids for the first time. I'm just looking to learn from different experiences, I think there are many suitable approaches, but I need some inspiration, also to sync up with the mrs, so we're on the same page.

    Any advice or experience is welcome, especially stuff about what you did, what boundaries, did you have some phased approach to it, which ages did you start doing/showing what, etcetera, etcetera. Anything is welcome, I just want to learn.

    Cheers and thanks in advance!

    PS. I didn't grow up in the US, or around guns, so I have no first hand experience in this matter. :)
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  2. PinoyBoy

    PinoyBoy Snohomish County, WA Member

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    My friend got his 4 year old kid a cricket from walmart. He is now 6 years old, and to my knowledge, he still uses that cricket. When my friend brought his kid shooting with us one time, my friend asked his kid some questions before he was able to start shooting his rifle. Simple questions like: what should you never do with a gun?. Then the kid would answer something cute, but very true, like: don't point it at people. His kid knows about basic safety rules, and also the trigger of the finger.

    Other than that, sorry. I was also introduced to guns in my late teens.

    Have fun and stay safe!
  3. oknow

    oknow amboy wa. Well-Known Member

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    Good for you having the insight to ask instead of faking it :)
    unklekippy, PopsBdog, Riot and 3 others like this.
  4. gaijinsamurai

    gaijinsamurai Beaverton Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

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    I have a four and a half year old daughter and a son, who's about to turn seven.

    Guns have always been a part of my life, and when I knew I'd be a father I knew safety would be paramount. I decided to expose my kids to firearms at an early age and take the "mystery" away.

    I keep all but one firearm locked up and unloaded, and allow my kids to handle anything they want, as long as I'm present and they follow three rules (which they know well):

    1: I always check the gun first, to make sure it's unloaded.
    2: They never point a gun at another person
    3: fingers stay off the triggers.

    Both kids have fired many of my rifles and pistols on many occasions. They like them, but by now the novelty has long worn off, as they are very used to them. While they're still kids, and need supervision, I feel comfortable with their knowledge of safety and awareness that they are to enjoy but are not toys.
  5. slimer13

    slimer13 Deer Park Well-Known Member

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    Keep them locked up but take him shooting as soon as you are comfortable that he is mature enough to understand basic safety. Don't make them a big mystery. Let him help you clean them. Teach him what they are for (not toys), and what to do if he ever finds one. Information is the best thing for kids concerning firearms.
  6. Netspirit

    Netspirit Bellevue, WA Active Member

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    There is a natural progression from toy guns, to a BB gun, to .22, and then finally to 9mm/5.56/20ga and larger (adulthood).

    The key is to teach and enforce the 4 rules and the right mindset ("pew pew" at random people is not OK), observe their actions, gauge their maturity and upgrade when they are ready.

    Do show them your guns. Let them touch them, handle them (unloaded), let them participate in cleaning, etc. as often as they want. It removes unhealthy fascination so that everybody is safer if one day you fail to hide the keys.
    slimer13 and (deleted member) like this.

    JSJPDX East Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    I took a bit of a different direction with my sons and now grandchildren; I didn't/don't allow toy guns of any type in the house; guns are not toys. My sons were exposed to firearms at a very early age and were allowed to see/touch them whenever they wanted but always with me there. When mature enough, I started taking them shooting and it is still something they enjoy doing today.

    Mas Ayoob has a short book out called "Gunproof Your Children". A good source of information on kids and guns.
    Botte Hork and (deleted member) like this.
  8. Botte Hork

    Botte Hork Camas WA Well-Known Member

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    First of all, thanks for the replies so far. One of the problems is that he's being raised tri-lingual (well, actually bi, but I try to do some stuff in my native language occasionally :)) and although he understands things, it's not easy to communicate with him, although he's been improving a lot recently. Other kids his age speak a little better, but he'll catch up. I'm also not fond of the "pew pew" pointing the finger gun or busted Nerf at us or others. He likes to play though, so it's a fine line between disappointment and responsible play. I usually try to minimize that type of play.

    One of the things that concerns me is the timeframe between discovery and the right age to start. Maybe it'll be OK and he won't accidentally figure out I have a gun on my hip, but he associates very well and I have a few typical gun bags/cases in the closet, so some day he might associate it with a gun due to some picture he's seen somewhere.

    Once he's the right age, I want to do the rules, cleaning and Cricket thing with him, but it's not like it's a sudden switch that gets flicked from playful toddler to responsible child. Anyway, thank you for the advice so far and keep it coming!

    Thanks, I keep that for work. :) ;)

    Thanks! I'll check that book out. I'd be happy to pick some good things up from one of the experts.
  9. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    I agree with exposing them to the kids early. I know my dad let me shoot but the guns were off limits. he even took the bold out of his Mosin. well, as a kid being a kid, i would play with it when he was at work, even found the bolt, figured how to put it back together and put it back into the rifle. He did make sure that i know the rules of safety though and i thank him for that.
  10. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I'm 60 years old.
    With my kids (grown now) I got crossman BB rifles, one each.
    Like the other folks;

    finger straight, off the trigger
    muzzle in a safe direction
    load, aim, safety off, squeeze.

    Targets were can lids swinging from bent coat hangers stuck in the grass.
  11. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Google NRA Eddie Eagle kids training programs. I noticed one for parents also!
  12. Skier

    Skier Beaverton/Washington County Active Member

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    I let my kids start shooting BB guns (just your basic spring- loaded, lever action Daisy) when they were fairly young, and I taught them all the basics like I was taught in the military: parts of the guns, basic gun safety, and basic shooting, then we shot pop cans and paper targets in the back yard. Lots of fun. :) I also showed them the holes they made in the cans and helped them think through what could happen if you shot a person (could hurt, break the skin or damage an eye, etc). Then talked about how there were more powerful guns (like they might have seen on TV; this was before I had any other guns I actually shot) and that those could go right through YOU or other people, just like that pop can, so you need to be safe ALL the time, and that includes things like following all the safety rules even with BB guns (to build good habits). We talked about how guns themselves aren't bad (they're a tool), but they can be dangerous if you don't follow the safety rules (they're not a toy), and reminded them about things like "if you're at a friends house and you see them start playing with a gun of any kind without an adult around, find/tell an adult and make sure you're being safe and watching out for what they're doing and/or leave if they're being unsafe, etc. Teach them to be safe so they'll recognize when someone else isn't being safe, but at the same time, share the fun of shooting with them.

    P.S. The kids really seemed to like it when I surprised them and filled the pop cans with water during a little break when they weren't looking and the next time they shot them water started shooting out of the hole their shot made. :)
  13. soulrider

    soulrider Aloha/Beaverton Member

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    I second the "EDDIE EAGLE" videos. I have seen it and think that, with the video and you teaching them the proper way to handle a firearm they will learn respect and know what to do around them. I was taught how to shoot from my dad who was a D.I. in the Marine Corps as well as a range master.
    Now I taught my boys about firearms, they shoot airsoft all the time, but I taught them to treat the airsoft and bb guns with the same respect as the .22's. I did all that as they got about 5 and 7. The "pew pew" stopped right after that. Before that they had some nerf guns, even then I told them "dont shoot at people or pets, I will take it away and you have to earn it back" there is my approach, I hope it and all other advice helps you teach your child and they grow up to pass it on to theirs.
  14. Peteralexander78

    Peteralexander78 vancouver Slow is smooth, smooth is fast

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    I had the same issue with my son when he was 4. He is 6 now, but he loved toy guns and love to shoot the imaginary bad guys. I did what most everyone says. Teach the 4 rules and clean the gun and tell them how it works. One thing I also did was see if he could rack the slide on his own, just to know what he could do on his own if he found my guns. I also showed him what guns could do by going to youtube and showing him hunting trips. Watching something die is a big light bulb for kids. I also took him shooting to let him know how loud they were. To test him I left out my practice gun (airsoft look alike) unloaded. I watched from a distance to see if he would touch it. I also told my two kids if they found ammo, guns or anything that I take shooting, to come and get me and they would be rewarded for letting me know and not touching it. So far it has worked. I have taken my 8 and 6 year old shooting and they love the .22 pistol, everything else is still a bit too much. For me to convince my wife it was more for their safety than anything. I told her that you dont want our children to go over to a friends house and that their parents dont teach but hide and the kids get into the guns there.
    unklekippy and (deleted member) like this.
  15. Oregonhunter5

    Oregonhunter5 2C IDAHO Well-Known Member

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    First rule in my house, don't make guns a mystery, or a secret to kids. Grab a shotgun, unloaded, and lay it against the wall in a corner. Let your kids see the gun like its furniture. Next, get them on a BB gun. Next have them shoot big guns early. Teach them. Make guns there language. Works for my 4 kids.
  16. Doublejack

    Doublejack Maple Valley, WA New Member

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    The worst thing is to do what my mother did.

    I grew up in a single mother home ( not a welfare queen, she worked 2 jobs ) .

    Her boyfriend at the time gave her a .38 special to keep in the house for protection.

    What she did was show me the gun visually and show me where she kept it ... then sternly told me never to touch it. I was 6 at the time and from that instant I wanted to touch it!

    One day I very carefully picked it up and brought it to her asking her to show it to me again. Even at 6 I was extremely respectful of the gun, not touching the trigger and I remember vividly holding the gun flat in my palm as I carried it.

    However.. a mother seeing her 6yo carrying a revolver didn't go over well so she got rid of it that day.

    I agree with most folks here .. Let them get to "know" the firearms in your home. Don't just show them and tell them not to touch it. It just adds to the mystery and excitement of it.

    Also with BB/Pellet guns I just want to caution those with younger kids .. As much as you teach your kids how to respect and shoot air-guns, keep in mind that they may let their friends use the gun. Last year my paramedic friend had the misfortune to arrive on the scene of an incident where a kids friend who didn't know much about guns accidentally shot the pellet gun owning kid in the head and he did in fact die.

    If your kid is going to shoot around make sure you also train their friends! You may ask their parents if it's ok but if they refuse then those kids are not allowed to come over to your house imho.
  17. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    That's exactly what my folks did with me, and what I did with my son! My dad and mom (ranch kid and competitive target shooter respectively) began to formally train me to shoot when I was four years old. We had a big advantage in that we lived in the very center of nowhere so we could shoot off the porch. Good times!
  18. Misterbill

    Misterbill Yakima County, Washington New Member

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    Three and a Half is too young to really grasp most of what you'd want him to learn. Kids that age are generally not cognitively developed enough to grasp complexities.

    What he CAN learn is the Eddie Eagle Rules. Stop-Don't Touch, Leave the area, Tell an adult, when he sees a gun.


    This is a decent video, suitable for him on the subject.

    Educating kids about guns is an ongoing process, not something that happens once. The main thing is to never make the guns "forbidden fruit," and ALWAYS secure your firearms with young children in the home. Also, don't make your guns a secret. You are right, pretty soon he'll figure it out anyway, and if he finds out about them in SPITE of you, rather than FROM you, it sets the tone of the whole issue.

    NRA has a LOT of good information about kids and guns. I hand out a lot of it when I teach classes, even the non-NRA sanctioned ones. My kid grew up around guns and had no issues. She was helping me clean them at age 5 and liked the way semi-autos fit together (Kinda like grown-up legos) and was helping me reload ammo at 6&7.

    I wouldn't recommend taking kids shooting before about 6, again because MOST (not all) kids simply lack the cognitive abilities to grasp shooting mechanics and safety before then and they aren't going to get much out of it.

    PM me if you have more questions.
  19. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    I didn't read any of the responses, so maybe someone beat me to it.

    It I my belief that the most dangerous thing you can do with a child is to portray some sort of mystique about guns. I would say that sheltering him from other kids with toy guns or keeping him from cartoons with guns do just that, but those are parenting decisions that only you can make.

    I was raised with a gun in every nook and cranny in my house. I shot my first gun at 5, received my first gun for my 7th birthday and shot my first deer 2 months after my 9th birthday. By the time I shot that deer, I didn't have the wonder that drives kids to "sneak a peek" at Dad's .45. I knew for sure that this was the only way to raise my son. He will be 10 next month. Guns are a big part of his life. He received his first gun for his 7th birthday as well and we are now looking into a .250 Savage to move him into centerfire rifles.

    Bottom line is this. If you make a big deal about guns and treat them as a taboo subject, so will your boy. You made a comment about not knowing when to discuss it. This is America and there is nothing illegal about a discussion about firearms. In fact, those conversations are some of the few things that prove that America may still have a set. My son is to the point where firearms bore him, while his cousins drool over them and aren't allowed to touch them. An accident is much more likely at a house with children NOT well versed in firearms, than it is in a house where the child has been taught properly.

    You can tell when your child understands what you're talking about. The moment he grasps what the barrel of that gun can do to Mommy or Daddy, or ANYTHING that passes in front of it, you will see the connection in the fear in his eyes. That fear is a good thing. It keeps us all from shoving our face down gun barrels, whether we are 5 or 55.

    Good luck. America was built on the backs of young boys with rifles becoming young men with rifles. It's a beautiful thing, but I believe it must be handled properly.
  20. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    1,000x the truth with this one. Ignorance is one thing, and it is only a step or two from stupidity. Being too "manly" to ask questions in a case like this is horribly foolish. Well done for bringing it up.
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