This time, the topic of kids and firearms isn’t going to be about keeping kids away from firearms – it’s introducing them to firearms and taking them to the range to let them experience first hand what it’s all about.
At our house, for example, I reduce the curiosity factor by telling my kids they can see and handle my firearms any time they want. All they have to do is ask, and I’ll supervise them while exaggerating safety (if there is such a thing as exaggerating safety).
Once I feel they are old enough, I offer to take them to the range any time they want to go, within reason of course. Age isn’t necessarily as much of an indicator of readiness as their maturity level. There are some 4 year old kids who are ready, and some 12 year old kids that aren’t, it’s not good or bad, it’s just the way they are. It’s up to the parent/guardian to make that call, and to be there to supervise them, while at the same time making a point to preach and demonstrate safety.
At a minimum, it’s a good idea to recite safety rules whenever firearms are present, but any time is good – at home, on the way to the range, at the range, on the way home from the range, etc.
- All guns are always loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you are ready to shoot.
- Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Be aware of your target and what’s beyond.
It’s also important to teach kids what to do if they find a firearm when an adult isn’t present.
- Don’t Touch
- Leave The Area
- Tell An Adult
Following the basic safety rules and knowing what to do if an adult isn’t around should they find a firearm are crucial.
That said, taking kids to the range can and should be an enjoyable experience. Visual aids like balloons, fruit, even soda bottles help encourage kids, and can be used to not only show that they hit their intended target, but also that firearms are not toys and must be respected at all times. Seeing something ‘pop’ or ‘explode’ is visual, and will stick with them long after the range session is over. Remember, don’t just preach safety – demonstrate it! Make sure to provide a visual for your child so they understand, show them that your finger is not on the trigger when you are taking aim, only when you are ready to fire. Don’t let them catch you breaking the rules or they might think it’s OK to do themselves.