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get thier attention....safely


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Another thread in this forum was brought to life by Buzzsaw and involves gun cleaning. It is a very good topic and will be left as is for that purpose. But at this time of year when handling guns seems routine because of all of the hunting seasons, it seems that youngsters also peak in their curiosity about firearms.

Knowing this, now is when kids who have shown an interest should be shown the firearms in a very safe setting. I have two daughters, both grown and away, who were allowed to first handle my guns when they were out for cleaning. They got were shown the proper way to hld them, pointing up ans away from anything not intended to be shot at and to be aware of the surroundings in which the guns were being handled.

Part of today's fast paced lifestyle can put guns in the hands of kids before they are ready to even handle them, almost like Dad is ready for Jr to go shooting one day and the time is right, lets go. Kids though, need to know what a gun really is, what the real use of that gun is and that the action of using that gun is mostly irreversible. When the gun is apart and the components are being tended to starts kids in the proper direction by allowing then to understand the mechanical action of a firearm. Letting them wipe down sturdy parts also gives them a sense of "belonging" , a part of the experience. Over time they will pick up on how the gun comes apart and goes back together. My daughters could field strip the Wingmaster by eight years of age, accompanied me while hunting ducks and geese, but never did develope an interest in shooting per se. They could, and still can, handle these weapons with skill and safety very apparent.

In light of the recent tragedy involving a youngster and a dead deer hunter, I would urge all hunters with kids who have shown a desire to go along on the hunt to first allow them the time to learn about guns and how to safely handle them. Once they have handling in the house down pat, that first season should be done with an empty air rifle, but allow them to carry some ammo for an occasion plink at something. The next year, if the air gun works out, an empty .22 with the ammo apocket can be considered. And when you return home, let them wipe down their own weapon, they'll honestly feel as though they "belong".

Hunting and other shooting sports are underfire and the recent hunter accident will be on the list of the antis. Those of you who have children approaching the age that will show the desire to begin shooting should be taught very young, long before the first shot is fired, how to safely handle the weapon and they are able to do this at a much younger age than most parents give them credit for.

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Good thought CT! I was cleaning my rifle and my young son was so curious... I went out of my way (if you will) to make him understand that guns are dangerous and not to ever play with them... he was wide eyed as I told him this and listened very attentively. If you can keep your guns locked up, you should. Also don't keep the shells near your guns... all common sense stuff I know, just a friendly reminder.

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Great post Tom. The method you describe is the one I was brought up with and will use with my daughter. The other benefit that this method enhances is that it fosters a good dose of anticipation in a youngster. I see too many kids that are given the opportunity before earning it. I dont think they develop a love and respect for hunting as much as those kids who have to wait until they meet the safety requirements of the mentor and the legal requirements of the law.

I know of an 11 yr old who stood with his dad and dad let him shoot the doe (he had passed Firearm Safety). That afternoon, the kid had no appreciation for the doe, but was off playing like kids do. He did not want to follow up with the harvest process. I think a good dose of waiting and building up appreciation would help on both the safety front and the sport in general.

Again, great post Tom.

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Very good post, Crappie Tom. I never really thought of gun cleaning as a good time to work on safety training, though once you posted it I realized that that's pretty much what my dad did. I sometimes get labeled as antigun over in the outdoor issues forum because of some of my views about handgun laws, but truth is I am a bird hunter and I am all about going to nth degree when it comes to educating kids about guns.

I have already talked to my son several times, who just turned 4, about gun safety. Remember that 5 year old that shot another kid in Michigan a few years ago? Basically I make sure he hears and repeats that he is not old enough to handle a gun yet, that he needs to tell an adult if he sees another kid with a gun, and that he understands that he or someone else could get seriously hurt if he doesn't follow these rules. His preschool also has a little safety program to tell the kids that only adults should handle guns and what to do if they see one that isn't in an adult's hands.

To add another twist, my wife does not like guns at all. She doesn't like me hunting or shooting, but to her credit she doesn't try to stop me. She has told me repeatedly that she doesn't want me to take our son hunting or show him how to shoot a gun. Basically she grew up with little exposure to firearms. My point to her has been whether or not he ever develops and interest in hunting that our son will eventually come in contact with a firearm through his own curiosity, or worse yet, through one of his possibly undersupervised friends. I've told her that I absolutely want him to understand that guns are serious business and how to handle them (or not) when that situation arises. Should he ever decide to shoot a gun, I want to be the one who shows him how, not one of his friends. Should one of his friends ever attempt anything unsafe with a gun, I want him to be able to recognize that fact and respond correctly.

Knowing my wife's objections to hunting, I don't want to "make" him hunt, but I do want him to know that there is nothing wrong with hunting, why I do it, and I want to be the one to take him if he decides he wants to try (he's already hooked on fishing, so that's a good sign grin.gif). But independent of the hunting situation, I think it would be very difficult to raise a child in northern Minnesota without teaching firearm safety because contact with a gun is pretty much inevitable. For this reason, I think that even parents that don't hunt should at least consider a firearm safety course for their child.

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