Has your child ever asked you about your firearms? Just because kids aren’t asking about gun safety doesn’t mean they don’t have questions.
The truth about gun safety is that the only thing that’ll keep a child safe is the training, education, and respect for firearms you instill in them.
Although there’s no cookie cutter answer for the exact age or time you should safely introduce your children to firearms, there are proactive steps you can take, even from a young age.
If you follow these steps, you can safely introduce your children to firearms and make shooting at the range, or a weekend of hunting, fun and safe for the whole family.
Have a Conversation
The first step to safely introducing your children to firearms is to talk about them!
Every parent must decide when they feel their child is mature enough to understand gun safety, but don’t underestimate your child and their curiosity either.
Of course, you’ll need to tailor the conversation to the age of your child, but even from the young age of three, firearm safety is something that should be discussed. This is especially true if you store your guns at home.
The most important rule to teach young children is if they see or find a gun, stop, don’t touch it, leave the area, and tell an adult they trust immediately.
Don’t be afraid to repeat these rules as often as necessary. It’s not too much for your child to hear these rules every month or two.
If you have a partner or someone you share custody of your child with, you’ll want to make sure you’re both on the same page. It’s essential that children aren’t hearing conflicting messages about gun safety from each caregiver. This also goes for grandparents and even babysitters. Consistency in messaging is critical, especially when it comes to gun safety.
Remember this is a serious conversation, but it’s not a lecture! Let your children ask questions and participate in the discussion too.
Let Your Child See a Gun (But NEVER Hold it Alone)
If you’re the type of family that loves hunting or shooting and actively uses guns, then it’s safe to say that by the age of seven or so, your child will be keenly aware that Mommy or Daddy owns guns. And, as most children learn how to behave by emulating the adults in their lives, they will likely want to use firearms too.
That’s why, at this age, it’s best to show your child a gun to pique their interest, but don’t let them hold it on their own. This step should focus on the three basic safety rules:
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, away from other people and yourself.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you’re prepared to use it.
Once again, it’s important to repeat these rules often and confirm that your child understands them. Once you feel that your child has these basic safety rules ingrained in their minds, start to look for signs of maturity to take the next steps.
Is your child demonstrating good behaviour, reasoning, and self-control? Have you taught your child to handle other potentially dangerous objects like knives? If so, have you seen any transgressions? If you feel that they don’t yet have the maturity to handle a firearm, then it is not time to learn more about shooting safely. If you’ve seen good behaviour and maturity, then it might be time to move beyond just talking about guns to actually seeing them in action.
This might also be the age when kids start to see guns used in television and movies. These can be fun to watch, but the ways guns work in popular entertainment is rarely accurate. Pointing out where the movies get it wrong can be a great way to teach your kids respect for firearms. Teach them that gunplay in films is usually fantasy, and rarely reflects the necessity of gun safety in reality.
Let Your Child See You Shoot
The best way to safely introduce your children to firearms is to show them what guns can do. Once they are mature enough (usually around the age of eight, but it depends on each child), take them to a place where you can shoot targets. Targets like soda cans are reactive, so your child can instantly see when the target is hit or missed, giving them a clear idea of the power a gun holds.
It’s crucial to talk about the permanent consequences of shooting a firearm. You must ensure that your child knows about using safe backstops, that they know where their target is, and what is beyond it. Speak in simple rather than technical terms and don’t be afraid to use examples. For instance, you could shoot a piece of plywood to show them how a bullet can quickly go through and hit something on the other side. Don’t be afraid to be real with your kids, without being too explicit about the bodily damage a gun can cause.
Let Your Child Shoot
The last step to safely introducing your children to firearms is to allow them to shoot a gun themselves. It’s usually a good idea to start your child off with a low-velocity BB gun, such as a Daisy Red Ryder. Make sure your child is well aware that a BB gun is not a toy, and they can genuinely injure someone with it if they aren’t practicing gun safety at all times. It’s also critical that anyone firing a bb gun understand that the bb can bounce back off the target. Insist that everyone around wear eye protection.
If you’re confident that your child has learned the critical lessons above, you can let them load the BB gun themselves while you teach them the fundamentals of shooting like sight picture, sight alignment, stance, trigger squeeze, and more.
The important part is to make it fun while keeping an emphasis on safety. Allow your child to learn the fundamentals over time. You can even set goals for them, such as, “When you show me you can do everything properly, you’ll be allowed to shoot something more powerful.”
Once gun safety rules have become second nature to your child (often one year of BB-gun practice is standard), then they’re ready to move on to a .22 rifle or light-recoiling shotgun. For most kids, this typically takes place between the age of eight and 10, but keep their size in mind. Even if they respect firearms and show an understand of gun safety, they might not yet be physically large enough to fire a more powerful gun safely.
Visit GTA Guns with Your Children
Instilling responsible gun safety lessons in your kids is the ultimate way to get them to respect and cherish firearms just like you do! Your children will be much better off for it too.
If you’re looking for that perfect starter rifle or light-recoiling shotgun for your child, check out GTA Guns Online Auctions. You’re sure to find the perfect piece at the perfect price.
We also offer safe storage options if you prefer not to store your guns at home around young children.