Over the winter, my wife’s cousin, a young man in high school, had shown interest in wanting to learn how to shoot. Now…when someone asks me to take them target shooting they usually get a bit more than they bargained for and I offered to take him with me. I thought he was talking about waiting until warmer temps but he wanted to shoot and now!
After a briefing on safety, this kid began shooting and I mean he shot! hundreds of rounds of ammo and just did not wear out. He was thrilled about the single action pistols, the autos, the heavy boomers and of course he loved the smell of the powder. Now…if you don’t get excited about the smell of gun powder….I can’t help you. Throughout my high school days, the alluring smell of Hoppes #9 bore solvent exuded from me like cologne. After about two hours, this kid was hooked. He asked all sorts of questions, hunkered down to try with all his effort when he missed the target, only to come right back and shoot the center the next three shots. His eyes lit up like I had never seen before and I have known this kid quite a few years.
I am often shocked at how many parents LOOK for ways to connect to their kids. Take them to the range for some target shooting. That time spent will be priceless and a whole lot of fun. They will learn all sorts of valuable skills including responsibility, coordination, what it means to really have to work hard to achieve something (and good accurate shooting is achievable by just about everyone once they learn how). And of course, they will learn how to SAFELY handle firearms and enjoy them (now that is a skill that would benefit anyone). Oh by the way… my wife’s cousin called the other day, on his own, to ask if we could head back to the range for more shooting! You bet we will!
Tips For Taking A Youth Shooting
**Before any shooting occurs, both the adult and youth should be knowledgeable about safe firearm handling skills and practice them. For more on firearm safety skills see http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp
1. Start with a comfortable and safe facility like the new facility at Platte River State Park – for more info contact
2. Start with low recoil firearms like air guns or 22 rim fires.
3. Make the outing fun and find fun targets to shoot at such as interactive spinners, animal targets, charcoal briquettes, lollipops, etc.
4. Instill a bit of challenge and make a game out of it.
5. Make sure they know safety before ever touching a gun! If you can not provide this, find someone who can. A child who learns the wrong way to approach firearms is a danger to him/herself and others!
6. Enroll them in a Hunter Education class.
7. Make sure you use eye and ear protection and start them on the right track.
8. Bring snacks and drinks with you for outings lasting more than one hour.
9. Did I mention SAFETY yet?
10. Start them off at shorter ranges (10-15 yards) and move them back to 25 yards only after they have been successful at the shorter distances. Each distance they achieve should be rewarded as it quite an accomplishment to master shooting skills.
11. Now it is time to buy junior that new gun!
12. Finally – and I hate to say this but some adults approach teaching a youngster shooting skills like a drill sargeant. Don’t do this. Be firm yet fun. Insist on safety but enjoy the time at the range just shooting and having fun!
Get Em’ Out There