Would you like to start introducing your kids to the world of sportsmanship?
Perhaps you would love to take your children hunting or to the shooting range but aren’t sure where to begin. Especially with all the negative press around subjects like guns and hunting, it can feel intimidating to even try.But as we all know, there’s nothing wrong with owning and handling firearms as long as you know how to handle guns correctly. And that’s a great place to start with your children: with the basics of gun safety.
But what’s the best way to teach weapon safety to children? As a grownup, you can look up the top 10 gun safety tips whenever you need to refresh your memory. But children can benefit from an instructional, hands-on approach.
This article will try to help you get started. Whether you’re a hunting veteran or you’re new to sportsmanship yourself, this guide should give you the tips you need to get your children off on the right foot.By teaching them proper firearm safety now, you could save their or someone else’s lives in the future. Keep reading to learn how now.
Choose the Right Time to Teach
When is the right time to teach a child about gun safety?
As you might have guessed, the answer depends on the child. When it comes to choosing the right time to begin teaching gun safety, maturity and interest matter more than age.
If your child has shown that they can be responsible in other ways and they’re interested in learning about firearms, it’s probably a good time to begin teaching them, even if they’re quite young. On the other hand, if your child is older but you doubt their ability to act safely, it’s best to wait.
Different children mature at different times, so there’s nothing wrong with postponing your first gun safety lesson.
Interest and desire are as important as maturity. If your child wants to start shooting guns, they’re more likely to take the safety lessons seriously. On the other hand, if your child is reluctant to get anywhere near guns or is uncomfortable, you shouldn’t force them.
It can be disappointing when your children don’t show interest in something you like, but try to see things from their perspective. Talking to them about their personal thoughts and feelings on firearm use and safety can help open them up to giving your hobby a try.
Demonstrate Proper Gun Safety
A good example is the best teacher. If you want your children to be serious about gun safety, then you need to be serious about it, too. Any time your children see you interacting with firearms, it’s imperative that they see you acting responsibly.
On one hand, this may seem like common sense. But on the other hand, some people feel that the rules of gun safety only apply to those with less experience. Don’t make this mistake—not only is proper gun etiquette important for everyone, but your children need to see you acting properly.
Remember, children don’t respond well to things they see as hypocrisy. If you tell them to act one way but they often see you doing something different, they’re more likely to follow your example than your advice. Protect your children by protecting yourself with proper gun safety practices first.
Teach the Rules of Gun Safety for Kids
Finally, it’s time to go over the rules of gun safety. You can read this list to your children, and you may even encourage them to memorize it. But keep in mind that words alone can’t replace hands-on experience, especially if your children are visual learners.
The main established rules for proper gun safety are as follows:
- Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded, even when you know it isn’t.
- Always point the gun in a safe direction—usually towards the ground or the sky, and never in the direction of a home or another person.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you’ve taken aim and you’re about to shoot.
- Always make sure there’s a backstop behind whatever you’re shooting at—a dense wall of some kind to catch stray bullets.
These are the primary rules that all people need to practice proper gun safety. But for children, there are a few more rules they should remember to practice:
- Stay away from guns unless specifically instructed to pick one up. If you see a gun sitting unattended, do not go near it.
- Never touch a gun unless given express permission by a parent or trusted adult.
- If you see someone you don’t know handling a gun, leave the area.
- If you see anything that looks suspicious or unsafe, find a parent or trusted adult and tell them what you saw.
When it comes to teaching gun safety to children, these are the eight rules you need to share with them. Again, the best way to teach gun safety is to show them what proper behavior looks like. Remind them of the rules that are relevant to the situation as they’re handling guns for the first time.
Use the Right Shooting Gear
Having the right tools is important for learning any new school. Nowhere is that more true than with gun safety, where having the right gear is actually necessary to stay safe and healthy.
We aren’t only talking about guns themselves, although something like upgrading your Glock barrel can improve your performance and enjoyment of the activity. Just as important, you need the right protective gear.
Goggles and earmuffs are essential items to have in your range bag. Earplugs can work as well, but smaller children can have trouble inserting them properly, so earmuffs are generally recommended. Eye and ear protection must fit snuggly but not be tight enough to hurt.
It’s important that you model good safety practices for your children. While adults may feel comfortable shooting without goggles or even earplugs, remember that you’re a role model for your kids.
Choose Appropriate Locations for Shooting
You can’t go just anywhere to shoot firearms with your children. If you live in the country, you may be able to go to a secluded unused field you have permission to use. But your best bet is to find a local shooting range.
Shooting ranges sometimes have strict rules about what you can and cannot do, but the upside of this is increased safety. In a specialized area for target practice, you can trust that everything is as secure and safe as possible.
If you go to a shooting range, find out what rules you’ll need to follow before you get there and share them with your kids. Make sure your children stay close to you and out of harm’s way. If you have multiple children you intend to bring along, you might consider taking them one at a time at first to get them used to the experience.
If you’re going to be shooting somewhere in a woods or field, you have an even bigger responsibility to make sure you do everything safely. Use hay bales or sandbags as a backstop behind your target. And double- and triple-check to make sure no one is around where they shouldn’t be before you get started.
Let Them Teach it Back to You
One of the best ways to make sure someone has learned something effectively is to have them teach it back to you. Quiz your kids on proper gun safety and etiquette to make sure they understand what you’ve taught them. If they can explain how to use guns in a safe way, you can feel confident that they know how to keep themselves and others safe.
Keep Your Family Safe With Strong Gun Safety Rules
With that, you now know everything you need to teach your children gun safety. Even if you don’t plan on having firearms near your children anytime soon, knowing how to handle guns safely is still a valuable skill. Understanding what to do if you ever find yourself in possession of a gun, perhaps accidentally, can literally save a life.
No matter what your sportsmanship plans with your children are, hopefully, this guide gave you the knowledge you needed to get started. We have countless similar articles on lifestyle, tech, and more. Keep reading our blog for more.