How young is too young?

How young is too young?

This is a discussion on How young is too young? within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Depends on the kid, I'd say. My daughter is six y.o. and she regularly does safety checks for me, and she has never failed to ...

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Thread: How young is too young?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Dandyone's Avatar
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    How young is too young?

    Depends on the kid, I'd say. My daughter is six y.o. and she regularly does safety checks for me, and she has never failed to catch when I test her by leaving a snap cap in the pistol.

    She can assemble and disassemble the Davey Crickett that I got her for Christmas, and she can recite the golden rules without any effort.

    She respects the power of guns but is not scared of them. She won't handle them if I or her mother is not around.

    At the range, she never let's the muzzle point anywhere but downrange, doesn't cock the gun until she has the stock raised to her shoulder, and doesn't let her finger into the trigger guard until she is on target. And when she puts the weapon down she always opens the action and shows safe.

    By contrast, my 12 y.o. nephew recently came out for a visit, and I thought it would be a spectacularly cool thing to take him shooting, as like most boys, he has always been interested, but his family doesn't own guns.

    But after about an hour with the kid, I realized that he is not mature enough that I felt comfortable that he would listen to me and not do something dangerous... So, I didn't take him shooting.

    Anywho, I just thought I would share this experience, as I've seen the topic come up from time to time.

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    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    My kid started at just over 7 with a little .22 Cricket.

    That was with some very hands on supervision.
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    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandyone View Post
    Depends on the kid, I'd say.
    ^ Exactly how I view it, too.

    Each child is unique. Start with the basics of Eddie Eagle, absolutely inoculate the Golden Rules of Firearms Safety, and then go from there.

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    I wish you all the luck in the world. A six year old is too young. They do not have the emotional development to really undestand what is expected of them.

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    A twelve-year-old with no previous gun experience will not compare well to a six-year-old with extensive training and familiarity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Str8upguy View Post
    I wish you all the luck in the world. A six year old is too young. They do not have the emotional development to really undestand what is expected of them.
    My own experience refutes that particular assertion. I took my first shot with a bb gun when I was four, with a .22 rifle when I was five, and a shotgun when I was eight. Here I am at age 57 with no adverse effects from my early gun exposure.
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    I took my first assisted shot on my Dad's 410 shotgun at age 5 and my first solo shot at 6 with the Stevens .22 rifle he passed down to me. That was 34 years ago and I've had the utmost respect for firearms ever since! To echo others, it really depends on the child. My son is almost 4, but I've already started drilling him on respect for guns and informing an adult if he finds one. It's still very much a "wait and see" before I feel comfortable taking it to the next level.

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    I started shooting when I was six when my father gave me a JC Higgins Model 5100 .410 shotgun for my birthday. The gun has been in the family since the early 1940's.
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    VIP Member Array BigJon10125's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1956 View Post
    My own experience refutes that particular assertion. I took my first shot with a bb gun when I was four, with a .22 rifle when I was five, and a shotgun when I was eight. Here I am at age 57 with no adverse effects from my early gun exposure.
    Thats what you think! According to the government you are an extremist!

    I believe it is a very age dependent thing. My 2 year old and 4 year old sons and I shoot an airsoft gun in the back yard as a starting point. They know we have guns, though I doubt they ever think about it when they arent seeing them. It will be a while before they go shooting with me, but never to early to start with safety and the basics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1956 View Post
    My own experience refutes that particular assertion. I took my first shot with a bb gun when I was four, with a .22 rifle when I was five, and a shotgun when I was eight. Here I am at age 57 with no adverse effects from my early gun exposure.
    What did I say about "ill effects". The point is it's dangerous to assume that a child is more mature than really are.

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    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Str8upguy View Post
    I wish you all the luck in the world. A six year old is too young. They do not have the emotional development to really undestand what is expected of them.
    Not sure where your info is from, but I started both of mine at 5. They handled it just fine. I think it depends on how the parents are emotionally developed....
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    VIP Member Array rammerjammer's Avatar
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    It all depends on the kid but I would assume 6 years or older is about the right age for a kid to better comprehend what they are doing and how to handle firearms safely.
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    My two boys, now in their mid 30's, were both around my firearms (never locked up), had a chance to shoot them and never went behind my back to touch them. One now has nothing to do with guns, and the other IS a gun nut.

    The 'gun nut' has two kids...my granddaughter (9 y/o) just got her first .22 semi-auto pistol and is learning to shoot it (one bullet in a mag at a time) and can operate it, and my grandson is 5...getting his first BB gun next week when I go up to see him. Both kids have been gun-proofed, both know the rules, and both will learn to defend themselves as time goes on...
    They also know not to discuss family gun business with anyone except their parents who both carry, by the way.

    Not all kids are ready at the same time.
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    VIP Member Array Taurahe's Avatar
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    I agree, it depends on the age, but your nephews lack of maturity is exactly the reason why he should be taught by a responsible, knowledgable adult. Also, I think not giving him a chance was a bit unfair. A lot of kids have a 5 min attention span, but when you have them engaged in something they like they can absorb it like a sponge. He may very well pleasantly suprise you.
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  15. #15
    Distinguished Member Array TSiWRX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Str8upguy View Post
    What did I say about "ill effects". The point is it's dangerous to assume that a child is more mature than really are.
    Yes, it's very easy for parents or those who are "vested" in the efforts to misjudge their children. Few parents I know can be that objective in the evaluation of their own kids or their relations. But this doesn't mean that we are alone in teaching our children - The NRA Eddie Eagle program starts at pre-K, and there are many well-qualified firearms instructors in virtually every locale who would be willing to work with any family on a one-on-one or even group basis.

    As a parent, I'm inherently biased. I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally have dreams that my now 7-and-1/2 year-old daughter became a top-tier shooter (or at least was able to get a shooting-sports based college scholarship ). But at the same time, I have those same feelings whenever she's watching Through the Wormhole (oh! damn! she's gonna be a brilliant astrophysicist!) or when she's sitting down with her prized "free write binder" (OMG, she's going to be a renowned author!). Yes, as a parent, of-course I carry these hopes, but the truth of the matter is that all I really want for her is to be safe, when she is around a firearm: whether she's at the range with me or if she happens upon a gun at the home of a friend. That is the reason why I started teaching my daughter as soon as I did, because I feared that even delaying it one day could potentially mean the difference between life and death. I don't expect her to pick up my 870 and save the family. I just want her to not pick up a gun that she found and start waving it around.

    It is an easy blanket-statement to say that no child below age X is ready.

    The truth is that each child matures at a different rate. As parents and/or mentors to the next generation of shooters, we owe it to these children to not view them in a categorical manner, but for the unique learners they are. Why is the student-teacher ratio so important to us parents? ostensibly, it's because we know that each child is different and that we wish for each child to be taught according to his or her own maximum potential, is it not?

    As with teaching any child any skill set that carries risk - be it shooting a gun, riding a bicycle, driving a go-kart, gymnastics, or even cooking, it's up to us as adults to make sure that the child is learning at a level that's appropriate to their true understanding and skill level. What's right for one child may not be for another, and they could well be siblings.

    I started my daughter at a very young age because she showed early command of spoken language, and furthermore, is one of those people who are dead-set on "rules." Thus, it was easy to give her, even as a toddler, the commandment of "Don't Touch. Leave the Room." As she grew older, we understood that for her, "not knowing" bred innate curiosity along with the fact that, logically, we simply could not lay down ground rules for what she did not know about: whereas "knowing" took away that danger and allowed logical limits to be set.

    Does this mean that I'm handing her a fully-loaded locked-and-cocked .45 at the range and telling her to "blast away?" No.
    Does this mean that I'm leaving my fiearms unattended and unsecured at home? No.

    She is, after all, a child - and children do not always make the best decisions. And even when they may well mean not to, physical accidents still happen easier because they are not as coordinated as adults.

    But each individual child reaches these markers of maturity differently.

    What this has meant for my child is that she is taught that safety is paramount from as early as she could understand the idea, and that the learning is continually reinforced positively every time she asks "daddy, can I see your guns?"

    I don't push my daughter to learn about firearms any more than I push her to be able to change a tire or to read Shakespeare or tackle nonlinear equations - or push the warning that the stove is hot or the cooking knives are sharp. I do what must be done to keep her safe, and when she's ready to explore the subject, I teach it to her in a manner that is appropriate to her as an individual.
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