Teaching Someone About Guns: Make it Fun and Safe
Russ Chastain 12.31.19
I firmly believe everyone should know how to safely operate a firearm. This includes loading, firing, and unloading — and of course, being able to hit one’s intended target and nothing else. Teaching someone about guns is best done while a person is young, and there’s really no set rule for the age when a person is ready to learn. Everyone is different.
When it’s time for a kid to learn about guns — and the sooner the better — a responsible, knowledgeable adult should teach him or her the basics. No pressure, no judgement, just education and guidance with safety and fun as priorities one and two.
Make it Enjoyable
Some people tiptoe around the subject, but I’ll just say it: Shooting is fun! Yes, it requires serious devotion to safety and must always be done with great care, but if we do our shooting grimly in a regimented way, soberly poking holes in paper targets from afar, that’s actually pretty lame.
I was recently surprised to learn that my 13-year-old niece had never fired a gun. Alas! But there was something I could do about that; I fetched a couple old 22 rifles and some Federal BYOB ammo, set up a series of soda cans on a safe private backstop, and began her firearms education.
We began with the old Winchester 69A bolt action rifle my late father bought in his teens at Art’s Swap Shop in Tampa. The rifle cost him a whopping $15 — and he had to make payments on it. Years later, he used that rifle to teach my sister and me how to shoot. It was great to start my niece off with that very same Winchester.
After running through a few magazines — which she loaded herself — we changed over to a Winchester 62A pump-action rifle. This is another oldie but goodie, made in 1954. In this way, my niece could quickly gain experience shooting with both a peep sight and open sights, learn to load two entirely different types of magazines, and learn to operate two completely different types of actions.
We probably spent no more than 30 minutes at it; light rain began to fall and it was time to skedaddle… but even without the rain, I intended to keep it pretty short. We want shooting to be interesting to newcomers, not boring or tiresome.
In the end, she was hitting more often than missing — especially with the 69A’s factory peep sight, which is easier to use than open sights.
Education Leads to Safety
Not everyone who learns about guns and shooting becomes a marksman, and not everyone will shoot on a regular basis. But everyone should know how to use a firearm safely and effectively. And when it comes to kids, it’s especially important to remove the aura of mystery placed upon guns by popular media. Remove the mystery, teach them how to use firearms, and make it clear they can do so anytime as long as you are there to supervise and help.
Teaching someone about guns is one of the best things anyone can do to ensure the endurance of our beloved sport. Let’s make a 2020 New Years resolution to teach more people how to safely use firearms. Together, we can make this world a better place.