Teaching Kids Gun Safety & Shooting Techniques
It’s every gun-owning parent’s dream that their kids will be just as interested in the hobby, whether that’s competitive target shooting, hunting, or just plinking.
If your kids share that interest with you, that’s great. We’ll take a look at some helpful tips, tricks, techniques, and equipment that will ensure that both you and they have a great time on the range and in the field.
Not every kid is going to want to take part in shooting sports, and that’s fine, too. However, as the parent, it is still your responsibility to teach gun safety to them simply because there are guns in your home. We’ll go over ways to help them learn how to stay safe and not be scared.
How to Get Started
Your kids may or may not have already begun to show an interest in guns and shooting. Either way, there are a couple of first steps to help determine if this is something they want to take a step further, or if they decide that it’s not quite right for them. Remember, if they don’t show an interest, that’s fine; they may change their mind as they get older.
Take them to the Range to Watch
They’ve seen you head out to the car with a range bag and gun cases, drive off to someplace called “the range,” and come back a few hours later – probably with a big grin on your face.
Offer to take them along with you on the next trip so that they can see what it’s like. Make it a no-stress trip by only shooting small calibers yourself and maybe even bringing along another family member to keep them company.
See if They’re Interested in Learning
After that trip to the range, it will likely be easy to see if they’re actually interested in learning more or not. This will help determine how you move forward with your teachings on gun safety.
Gun Safety for Kids
Teaching gun safety to a kid is different from teaching it to an adult. Obviously, there are the basic rules for gun safety (covered in the next section), but you also want to take the mystery away from the gun, make sure that they know it is not a toy, and what to do if they or their friends encounter a gun on their own.
For this, there’s no better advice than the Eddie Eagle program from the NRA. If they come across a gun and there’s no adult around, they should:
- Stop – If you see a gun, do not go near it.
- Don’t Touch – Under no circumstances should you touch, hold, or pick up the gun.
- Leave the Area – Leaving the area minimizes the chance of injury if another person decides to handle the gun.
- Tell an Adult – Find a trusted adult figure and tell them what you saw.
Basic Rules for Gun Safety
The basic rules of gun safety you should teach your children are:
- Always treat the gun like it’s loaded (even if it’s not).
- Always point the gun in a safe direction.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
How to Hold a Gun for a Child
Kids are obviously built differently than adults, and so we must keep that in mind when teaching them how to hold a gun.
They need to know to hold a rifle tightly into their shoulder to minimize recoil. They need to know how to grip a handgun firmly but not so firmly that they’ve got the gun in a death grip. They also need to know how to line up different kinds of sights on different guns.
Sure, there are some ways to modify certain grips and techniques when using larger, adult-size guns, but the better bet is to get a gun that is actually sized properly for a child. This brings us to our next topic.
Guns for Kids
Some guns just “feel right” to us. We’ve all been there. It could be something about the weight, or the caliber, or how it fits you. Well, the same goes for kids. If they aren’t physically comfortable with the gun, then they aren’t going to want to shoot it.
BB & Pellet Guns
Pretty much everyone started out with a bb gun or a pellet gun. This is a great first step to introduce your kids to shooting without making it into a huge ordeal. There’s very little noise, it can often be done on your own property, and they’re very affordable in case your kid loses interest. That way, you’re not out a bunch of money.
.22 Caliber Rifles
Your first “real gun” was probably a .22 caliber rifle. As a result, it makes sense that this kind of rifle would be your kid’s first real gun, too. Maybe the one you learned with is still in the family. If so, that’s great. If not, there are plenty of child-sized .22 caliber rifles on the market and they’re pretty much all good options.
Small, .22 caliber pistols are another great way to introduce kids to guns. There are a wide variety of options from which to choose, but two solid choices would be the Smith & Wesson SW22 Victory and the Ruger MKIV pistols.
Children’s Shooting Gear
Gear that is designed for safety and for enhancing the shooting experience are essentials for adults and kids, too. Make sure you take care of their needs on the range so that they have a safe and fun experience.
Earplugs tend to be a one-size-fits-all deal, and they may be too big to fit comfortably and effectively into a child’s ear. If that’s the case, fit them with a kid-size pair of earmuffs.Add a Suppressor
If you’re going to be shooting a larger rifle (probably not on their first range trip), then you might want to put it into a weighted sled for the first time they pull the trigger. This will allow them to experience how the gun is going to react without worrying about it jumping around and hurting them.
Teaching Shooting Techniques
Over time, your personal shooting techniques have probably evolved to some degree or another. With that in mind, make sure to consider this when teaching techniques to kids.
Don’t expect them to adopt your exact shooting style. Instead, present them with a variety of options and let them choose the one that is best for them. This is most important if you discover your child to be cross-eye dominant or you’re a righty and they’re a lefty.
We touched on this a bit above, but the grip is key to solid shooting fundamentals.
Make sure your kids understand how to pull a rifle in tight to their shoulder, even if it’s just a .22 caliber rifle for starters. Instilling that part of the process will ensure that it carries over to larger caliber guns later on where that becomes more important.
When it comes to handguns, show them a few different solid, two-handed grip options and let them choose which one is most comfortable and effective for them.
Whether they’re excited or nervous, your kid’s breathing is probably a little elevated and erratic on the range. Teach them some of the slow breathing techniques you use so that they, too, can have a calm experience while shooting. Plus, if you teach them how to time their breathing with their shots, then they’ll be more accurate, too!
Shooting with Eyes Open
Shooting with both eyes open is certainly an acquired skill. If your kids are able to master it right off the bat, that’s great. If not, don’t worry. The important thing here is to get them to understand how a sight picture works and how to put it all together with the other techniques that you’ve taught them.
Let them shoot with only one eye open if that’s what it takes to keep them interested for now. You can always come back to the other method later.
Take the Tikes to the Range!
There’s no solid answer about when to take your kids to the range for the first time. That is a decision that must be made between you and your kids, and it may be different for each kid. The important thing is to foster the interest if and when it is there.
When it comes time to take them to the range, there’s one other piece of equipment that you might want to bring along: a suppressor. Mitigating the noise of the gunshot and some of the recoil is a great way to ease kids into the joys of shooting. If that’s something you’d like to do, then give Silencer Central a call. We’ll get you set up with the right suppressor and then ship it right to your front door once it’s approved!Shop Suppressors