I prefer a rifle for my 11-12 yr olds. A long gun is easier to shoot accurately and harder to accidently point at someone (meaning if they try to turn around , point it the wrong way I can control it better).
In fact had 2 kids out today shooting my 10/22 ruger.
+1 best to start out with a rifle.
BB gun, .22, shotgun (20 gauge is good) revolver, then into the automatics. JMO
I started my son, (now 18) and my daughter,(now 24) out on a Rugar Mark 1 Heavy. It encouraged them with almost "instant success" because of it's inherant accuracy and low recoil.
It still shoots great and will reliably digest any brand of .22 LR.
The Mark 111 that was given to my daughter has an intrugal locking feature too, just in case your junior would like to keep it in his room occationally.
Buy the way, my daugher just got her CWP training & permit fees for her birthday and should recieve her permit any day! (proud father!):yup:
My 11 year old has no issues at all with my XD9 Service, or 10/22 rifle.
I am a firm believer in the KISS principle starting out a new shooter, especially the younger ones. I think the .22 cal Ruger SA6 is by far the best line of thinking, then immediately followed with a Ruger 22/45 or MarkIII. I started my pre-11 year old grandson with the Ruger .22 wheel gun for the first range trip or two, then started alternating in the 22/45. A few months before that was the introduction to firearms with an antique Winchester 1892 .22 short gallery gun (rifle) and a Ruger 10/22. On his 11th birthday he got a Rossi "convertable" .22 rifle and .410 shotgun barrel. He now, at age 13, would rather shoot any of my handguns in the "30-somethings and 40 somethings" or shotguns in the 12's.
You can't start them too young with good hands on, well supervised training. One caveat is that you make sure they fully get the basics of safety, handling and good starter technique, and most importantly make for certain that it is a pleasurable and or exciting experience for them
just some opinions from a "new guy"
edited to add.... my personal opinion of starting a kid with a small concealable type handgun is - don't! I have the belief that handling the smaller pistols/revolvers is more prone to making mistakes than the larger bulkier guns.
FWIW, I have had incredibly good service from S&W on the Walther P22s we rent at the range. I had unforgivably dismal service from Sig regarding the Mosquito that was owned by a customer. I do think it would be safer to start off with a little longer barrel like the 5" P22 with the fake compensator. If it's too heavy for some reason, you can move the front sight and take off the comp.