When I was growing up guns were not taboo, they were tools to accomplish a job. Like any tool it was to be respected, used properly, maintained properly, and was potentially dangerous.
My father was not only a hunter, but was an avid woodworking enthusiast. I was taught the proper way to handle firearms as well as every woodworking tool my father had, when I was of an age he deemed I could handle it.
I never touched my father’s tools unless he OK’d the use and the purpose. That rule was unquestioned and accepted by everyone in the household.
Tools are not just for work, but also recreation and enjoyment like woodworking. Woodworking requires specific tools and a person who is uneducated in the use of the tools can easily get a severe cut from one of the sharp chisels, cut off a finger or hand with a saw, or even propel a nail into one’s body. Tools, when properly used, can afford the craftsman many hours of enjoyment and create objects of beauty.
A Firearm Is Like A Precision Tool
A firearm is no different. Many are beautiful, precision instruments, exhibiting fantastic craftsmanship of wood and metal. They can provide many hours of recreation, and like all tools are potentially dangerous in the hands of an untrained operator.
The only way a child is ever going to learn about firearms or tools is to be taught. The best teacher in the world to accomplish that task is mom and dad. The best way to start teaching a child, boy or girl, about how to use a firearm is to start at birth. You need to keep reinforcing the fact that guns are not taboo, magic, or forbidden, but like many other things, can be dangerous if a person does not practice safe handling techniques.
When a child reaches about 4 years old or 5 years old, it may be time to introduce a BB gun. Children should be taught that these are not toys, but are firing a projectile that can injure and kill. They can be a whole lot of fun to use in a proper setting, shooting at targets or plinking cans.
A child should be taught to always keep his mind’s eye on what is behind his target and all of the basic safety information for handling a firearm. One should never let children get into the habit of playing with BB guns. They are not toys, but are capable of distraction of property and injury, and should be treated like any other gun.
As the child progresses and grows, the parent has the option of going to a higher power air rifle or possibly a youth model .22 rimfire rifle. The power of the modern high-powered air rifles is parallel to that of a .22 rimfire short. So the idea that the air rifle is safer than the .22 short is not true, and they both have about the same muzzle report. The cost of ammunition may be a little less for the air rifle. Both can kill small game up to as much as 50 yards.
From Airguns To .22s
Once the child is competent with that power of rifle, the next step is the .22 long rifle. If a .22 rimfire rifle was purchased with forethought it will handle the hotter .22 long rifle ammunition. This rifle will carry the person through almost anything he wants to hunt in small game, including rabbits and squirrels, for as long as he cares to hunt. It also is excellent for target shooting and plinking. A good gun, including .22 rifles, will outlast the owner if properly maintained. It is an item that can be handed down from father to son for generations.
As an example, in 1957, I was 15 years old, my father gave me a Remington Model 11-48, 12-gauge shotgun for Christmas. It is now over 40 years old and I used it this year for dove hunting. It shoots as it did the day it came out of the box. I plan to pass it on to my son and am sure he will have many hunting trips with it to remember, before it goes to his son.
If a parent has not had the opportunity of growing up with guns and shooting, or if they are a little shaky about trying to teach a son or daughter the fine art of shooting, there is an option. The parent can make a trip to one of the many gun shops or shooting ranges available to the public and talk to them about it.
A firearms training course is a good idea for everyone in our world today. Even if a person has no interest in firearms, hunting, or shooting competitively or for recreation, they should know how to safely handle a firearm and pass the knowledge along to the children. This knowledge will go a long way toward protecting out children from accidental shootings.