Every child and parent situation is different but my opinion is that the sooner a child learns a degree of gun safety the better. If you have guns in the house, don’t think your child won’t have noticed! … and worse still, have told all their friends!
I started shooting an air rifle at the age of 5 and it was absolutely engrained into me about gun safety. Many of the things you do with an air rifle are no different from a shotgun or another firearm but although they can be lethal in most cases they are unlikely to be so.
As a result I always suggest to parents that they start their child’s shooting career with an air rifle and once they have mastered basic gun safety and accuracy then progress onto a shotgun. Make sure that the air rifle chosen is a child’s one and a break barrel type – that way the child can get used to breaking the gun whilst carrying it, checking the barrel is clear before loading, etc.
The next stage is a shotgun; usually a single barrel .410 which is cut down in order to make sure that the child is easily able to manage the gun – as this will promote better stance and technique. This stage is between the ages of 7 to 9 depending on both the maturity and physical size of the child.
At this point I strongly recommend a visit to a good quality instructor who can then point your child in the right direction. Choose someone who is experienced enough not get too bogged down so the fun element goes, but equally, does not allow your child to develop bad habits. I also strongly suggest that you do not get involved with this lesson until the instructor asks you to! Your determination for your child to do well often places unnecessary pressure on the child and can actually have a totally adverse effect! Rather than encouraging your child it actually discourages them!
Keep the lesson short to begin with (half an hour being plenty) and I usually ask the parent to come along and watch the last few shots once everything is going well (if it’s not going well keep away!). Remember enjoyment is the key to having a budding youngshot!
Caution! They will be watching you!
Any time which a child can safely spend with you watching you shoot on a game day is time well spent. But please be considerate – this should not be a burden to other guns who are often enjoying their leisure time too.
You should however be aware that all the time, your child is soaking your actions up like a sponge! The good and the bad! Perhaps you should look at your own form and etiquette before taking your child along. I recently had a child tell me how much his father scoffed at someone pillow casing a bird, but then laughed when he himself did it moments later!!
For more information or to book a child’s shooting lesson, please contact us.