Teaching Kids About Gun Safety

Backofbeyond

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Ok all, looking for some advice, dad to dad, about teaching kids about firearms.

I’ve got two boys, and the oldest (turned 3 in December) is already a huge fan of hunting shows (Fresh Tracks before bed) and to his mother’s chagrin loves to pretend to hunt, with his “shooting guns” that he makes out of legos.

So far his education into firearm safety is that if he sees a “for real shooting gun” he doesn’t touch it, and gets a grown-up. He’s a curious kid, so ALL our firearms are locked away.

I feel like we’re on the right track with him, but what’s next, and when? What about #2? I’m assuming at some point the two of them will be at different stages on learning about firearms, so how did you all handle that?

I tell my wife when she asks me about the kids… “I don’t know, I’m a first timer here.” So I guess I’m trying to learn from you old seasoned Dad’s, what worked for ya’ll?
 

Jbaldwin40

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When I grew up my dad would engrained into me not to ever point a toy gun at a person. I was probably 4 or 5 when he got me a daisy bb gun and taught me about gun safety with it. I don't know how old I was when I started following him around pheasant fields. Probably 4 or 5. He let me carry a wooden gun he made and taught me about keeping it pointed in a safe direction. Shortly after i got a cork gun. I carried that on deer hunting trips. He started teaching me to shoot a .22 at around five. Had all the above rules you have. Biggest thing is keeping your firearms secure. I did the same with my two and never had any issues.
One thing I remember was my dad taking me shooting to show me what happens to something getting shot. He shot a watermelon and a milk jug full of water. I remember him telling me that's what happens to animals and people when they get shot. Left a big impression on me. I passed it on to my two.
 

Bambistew

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Nerf guns and toy targets here, and then bb gun. My 4yo shoots better than the ID Gov sheep tag hunter on barbies and ponies, usually OSOK. They figure it out fast that you don't point a gun at anyone. It's an easy way to make it repetitive and ingrain into memory.
 

Cousin Basil

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When I grew up my dad would engrained into me not to ever point a toy gun at a person. I was probably 4 or 5 when he got me a daisy bb gun and taught me about gun safety with it. I don't know how old I was when I started following him around pheasant fields. Probably 4 or 5. He let me carry a wooden gun he made and taught me about keeping it pointed in a safe direction. Shortly after i got a cork gun. I carried that on deer hunting trips. He started teaching me to shoot a .22 at around five. Had all the above rules you have. Biggest thing is keeping your firearms secure. I did the same with my two and never had any issues.
One thing I remember was my dad taking me shooting to show me what happens to something getting shot. He shot a watermelon and a milk jug full of water. I remember him telling me that's what happens to animals and people when they get shot. Left a big impression on me. I passed it on to my two.
Can't get any better than this - also add take the hunter safety course with them even if you have already done it.
 

FranklinME

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We were just turned loose :)
But with my daughter it was setting up cans and such off the back deck and many summer evenings shooting reinforcing safety the whole time. I mean right there with her within arms reach with a BB gun and then 22.
 

Lyfter1013

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great topic really like to hear some more ideas from others and see what ideas others have.
 

nick87

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Keep it simple, More time behind the gun the better. Encouraging safety everytime. Instill confidence and good habits.
 

Werty

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In our house growing up, we had guns everywhere and you treated them as if they were loaded. If it wasn't yours, you didn't touch it without permission.
 

morley.tyler

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I'm raising two of 'em, 4 years apart. I'm having to figure this out as we go.

I was raised out in the boonies, in the '70s & '80s. And the woods literally started 10 paces from the back door. I got a Red Ryder at 5yo and a 22LR at 6yo! To be fair, it was a Stevens Falling Block single shot... The most searing memory I have about learning gun safety was when dad took me to the barn after he'd skinned a deer. He first showed me the entrance wound that my finger fit into. Next, he spun that deer around on the hoist and showed me an exit wound that I could literally put my fist through. He explained that this is what would happen to a person if they were to be shot. I've said before, he was not a soft teacher, but an effective one.
As an aside, talking about that story years later, he confessed that he carried a 338 Win Mag and shot a whitetail doe, just so he could make that point.

Now, I live in a left coast city, raising two boys. The oldest got his Red Ryder @ 8yo, we set up a beer can shooting gallery in the backyard (surely illegal), where we have a 6' fence to keep the prying eyes of Mrs. Cravitz away.

Rules:
  • The 6yo is in tough luck. Rules are rules, no BB guns until you're 8 (he can make his own rules when he's off the payroll)
  • I keep control of the gun when it's not in use, and it's stored in the safe. We treat every gun the same, Red Ryder to 375 H&H.
  • We focus on fundamentals and the rules of firearms safety
  • Muzzle control and trigger discipline is everything
  • Make it fun

Good luck, being cautious is the sign of a good parent.
 

JustinsDad

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My Dad did about the same as above but I added a little extra twist for beginning hunting with my kid. He had already been target shooting quite a bit and was at the stage where he was carrying a BB gun with me when we went hunting—maybe 6. Rabbit hunting. We did an epic sneak up on a rabbit. He asks if he can shoot too. I said yes, let’s get sighted on it, checking behind the target, finger off the trigger till you’re ready etc but not to shoot until I shot. I pop this rabbit with my 45 long colt and a half second later he shoots his daisy. I take his ear plugs out and tell him he shot it too! He actually might have hit it that time. We did that quite a few times until he started packing his 22. I think it helped because he got the adrenaline rush and I had to remind him to put it back on safety after the shot and all that. It’s easy to remember to put it back on safe when target shooting but if it’s an animal it was harder. More realistic. Now he’s 23 now and shoots better than I ever did and we still love BBQ cottontail.
 

Harrier

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I raised two (now grown) boys in the big city with their non-shooting, non-hunting, animal-loving pacifist mom. BB guns and .22s in the back yard weren’t options, so any practical instruction had to wait until they were old enough to go to the official shooting range.

As they got older, I always kept in mind that the daughter of a good friend, who had plenty of firearms safety instruction, shot herself when she was 18. Teenagers go through some weird $hi+ that doesn’t mix with guns. We still never, ever have loaded firearms in the house. Any ammo is locked up separate from the firearms, and only I control the locks.
 

p_ham

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I've got a 4yr old, and like you I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.
I keep everything locked up. He's got a bb gun and a 22, along with a little compound bow.
Since he was old enough to understand we've had a don't touch unless dad says it's OK rule.
Whenever we go shoot, he knows not to touch the trigger until I say it's OK. I keep control of the firearm at all times but still explain to him muzzle control and what he's allowed to shoot at.
If I get into the safe for anything he always wants to check out the goods so we spend some time going over rules and letting him touch some guns while supervised. I think it helps satisfy some curiosity.
He's been hunting a few times and he always finds a stick to be his rifle. He's learning how to carry it and be safe with it.
I think he understands death, but I'm not sure because he always expects those rabbits to come back to life when we start skinning.
 

neffa3

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We just talked about it a lot until they were 4, then they got to shoot bb guns under supervision. By 6 they could shoot .22s under supervision. Now at 8-10 everything is still under very tight supervision, though I would probably trust both of them with the bb guns if we were out camping, maybe the oldest with a .22, but probably not. Prepare yourself for what you'll do and say when they mess up.

"an ass whoopin'" ain't universal medicine.
 

406LIFE

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Whatever lessons you teach, practice zero tolerance in enforcement. My old man did that for me, made me sit out whole weekends of shooting with no gun after I stuck my .410 in the mud and he had to clean it out for me. Hard lessons, learned right.
 

Dougfirtree

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I've got 3 sons who are 8, 12 and 14. All guns are kept locked in a safe. Ammo is kept locked in a foot locker in the basement. I control access to both. I did supervised shooting of bb guns starting around 5 and .22's soon after. With the .22, it was always one at a time, so I could just focus on the kid with the gun. That was really helpful(this can make for some great 1 on 1 bonding time). I still don't like having a bunch of them around at the range, though it's do-able now.

I would put the rifle on a sandbag, at a table and be right there the whole time, often with a hand on the gun. I treated the bb guns almost as seriously and I was always clear with them that we're using a tool that can quickly and easily kill. They seemed to get it and have been impressively diligent about firearm safety.

To offset the strictness around safety, I tried to keep shooting fun. Very little shooting at paper bullseyes and much more at cans, spinners, shotgun shells, etc.

Honestly, I think I'm going to continue to have everything under MY lock and key until they're grown. Maybe I'll change my mind, but I don't like the idea of having guns and ammo in their rooms (even though that's exactly what I had).
 

Addicting

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Guns are tools, tools with very specific purposes. They take lives to provide food for us to eat. They also protect us if someone is trying to take our lives.

There are guns in the house and those are the rules. If your not working on practicing for one of those they are not used nor touched.

Kids started with nerf time on targets with muzzle down range and never pointed at anyone. Minus the occasional parental declaration of nerf war. From there we went to daisy and pop cans. More supervision and structured but still fun. Now they use the 22 when we go to the range and practice. All range rules apply and are reinforced. Direct supervision and discussion of why we are there. They are 8-10 now and wanting to take hunter safety.

My ways may not be yours but they have been effective in conditioning them where guns in the house are just part of daily life. There is a healthy respect for them. If someone asks my kids about guns they give the purposes listed above. It works for us.
 

rke

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Similar to what has been written, we have never let our kids point toy guns at people nor do we let them play since-less killing games (video or otherwise), watch since-less content, or listen to the same. They all started hunting with me when they were around 2 years old. They brought a toy gun along, but had to follow the universal firearm safety rules. From there, they graduated to an unloaded BB gun... to a loaded BB gun... and so on. Now, my oldest is 16and is incredibility responsible with guns and otherwise. His 4 younger siblings are at different points on their firearms journey, but headed in the right direction. I have no fear turning my 2 oldest (16 and 14) lose on a deer or bird hunt with firearms. The other thing my wife and I did from a young age, was openly talk about mass shootings, self defense, defense of others, and so on.
 

Indianajoe

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I highly recommend a Hunter safety class once they are old enough to pay attention and understand what is being taught. as written above; never point a gun at something you don't intend to shoot. always treat a firearm as if it is loaded. keep your booger hook off the bang switch till you are ready to shoot. when my kids were young and showed curious about guns, I would sit them down and explain how they work and how to safely handle them. any time they wanted to see them I let them handle them with careful supervision. they both handle guns better than most adults now.
 
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