We’re not talking BB gun, water gun or a paintball gun. We’re talking about a real-life, working gun -- loaded and the safety off.
There is no magic number a kid reaches when they can be trusted with a loaded gun. But there is a set of skills they must have.
Respect for authority -- specifically, your authority -- is key to creating a safe-gun environment.
The ability to listen and retain information is also important. You can give them all of the info they need to be safe with their gun, but if they can’t remember it, then the training may as well have never happened.
Finally, a kid must be able to show maturity when it is necessary. Kids will be kids and they will play, shout and run around. Yet if they know when it’s time to be still and behave, then they may be ready for a gun. Above all else, the two most important things young kids need to know about guns are muzzle direction and where their trigger finger is.
You may have been ready for your first gun at 7, but that doesn’t mean your kid will be on the same schedule. 6, 7, 8, 9? There is no hard-set age for when it's right for a child to use a gun that everyone should follow.
Ultimately, as a parent, you’ll know when the time is right to let them shoot a gun. But gun safety education starts even before you let them pull a trigger. After all, a curious but clueless kid around a gun is a lot more dangerous than an educated and curious kid. And no matter what precautions you take, accidents (and near accidents) can still happen. Check out this article by famed outdoor writer Keith Sutton on the Hard Lessons on Gun Safety he has learned.
When your kid is ready, it’s time to choose a gun. So what kind of gun is best to train kids with?
A lightweight, easy-to-use .22 long rifle is a good option for a young gun owner. The Henry Mini Bolt .22 or the Henry Lever Action .22 are two fine youth rifles that may be what you’re looking for. The gun experts at Bass Pro shops can also help find the perfect fit for your young boy or girl who is looking to join their family at the range or on a hunt.
So what age were you when you got your first gun, and what lessons have you learned when teaching your kids that you could share with others?