My daughter’s first target
There is a lot of work being done to protect the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. But if you really want to win the war for our rights, forget calling your congressman or writing a check. The absolute best thing you can do is to teach a child how to shoot.
What we teach kids today will have a lasting impact for generations. If children are taught the safe handling of firearms and the fun associated with the shooting sports, they will protect all of our rights when their time comes to stand up.
We often point to the negative examples of indoctrinating children: global warming, communism, the Hitler Youth, etc. But, we need to turn the paradigm around, and teach our kids the good things that firearms, freedom and self-reliance represent. How long will our society last if children are indoctrinated into the principles of liberty?
Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America is one of those organizations which continues to teach boys and young men valuable life lessons and skills they will need to be productive citizens. One of the skills the Boy Scouts teach is shooting.
In the Cub Scouts, BB guns can be used. For the Boy Scouts, boys can be taught with .22 rifles, shotguns and muzzleloaders. Moving up to the Venturing program (formerly known as “Explorers”), the young men can be taught the use of handgun, rifle, shotgun and muzzleloader.
The Boy Scouts always need more volunteers willing to help out with teaching shooting and other life skills. Go to the Scouts website (http://www.scouting.org/Parent/Volunteer.aspx) to find a local group you can assist.
If your local council needs assistance in starting or updating their shooting program, the National Shooting Sports Foundation can assist with grants. The NSSF is offering up to a total of $100,000 in grants to the Boy Scouts of America for the purchase of ammunition, eye and hearing protection, firearms, targets and more. Go to the NSSF website for more information (http://nssf.org/bsagrant/).
There are a variety of other organizations promoting gun safety and the shooting sports for kids of all ages.
Another youth shooting program is operated by 4-H. There are a wide range of shooting sports taught by 4-H instructors.
The 4-H organizations hosts a national invitational every year with competitions in air rifle, archery, trap, sporting clays, skeet, rifle, pistol, hunting skills and more. The 2011 event was held in San Antonio. The 2012 and 2013 invitationals will be in Grand Island, Nebraska.
To volunteer, contact your local extension office or go to the National 4-H Shooting Sports website (http://www.4-hshootingsports.org/).
The Scholastic Clay Target Program (http://www.shootsctp.org/) is designed “…to introduce school-age youths in grades 12 and under to the clay target sports and to facilitate their continued involvement in the shooting sports.”
The SCTP teaches skeet, trap and sporting clays. SCTP programs can be integrated with other organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs and Police Athletic League.
AIM is the youth trapshooting program of the Amateur Trapshooting Association (http://www.shootata.com/aim/aim4ata.html). AIM, which stands for “Academice, Integrity, Marksmanship,” provides training and competition opportunities to youth from elementary school through college.
Scholastic Steel Challenge (http://www.scholasticsteelchallenge.com/) offers youth from 12-20 an opportunity to learn and compete in matches based on the famous Steel Challenge. The organization is sponsored by the Steel Challenge Shooting Association.
The Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program (http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/) is a gun safety program sponsored by the National Rifle Association. The object is to teach kids from pre-K through the third grade what to do if they find a gun. The object is not to teach kids how to handle guns, but how to stay safe if a gun was found while playing in their own home or at a friend’s.
Eddie Eagle is not “branded” by the NRA, meaning that non-political groups like schools and police departments can use the course material. The course can be a lot of fun to teach young children and can help prevent an accidental death.
While all of the organizations I have mentioned are great resources for children to learn about firearms, they should merely be supplemental to what goes on in your own home. As parents we are the best teachers and our backyards the best classroom for the lessons of firearms safety and sports.
Not everyone has the space for a firearms range, but I expect that most people have room to set up some targets for a low-power BB gun. The fundamentals of safe handling and accurate shooting are the same whether the gun is a spring powered BB gun, rimfire rifle or centerfire hunting gun.
For her sixth birthday, my daughter got a pink Daisy BB gun. She had spotted a pink rifle in Gander Mountain some months before and wanted one. I promised her that I would buy her one if she learned the four rules of firearms safety:
1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger.
3. Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
4. Always know what your target is, what is in front of the target and what lies beyond.
She learned the rules, and I happily bought her the gun.
I wanted to give my daughter positive feedback while shooting, so we have used the Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets that splash a neon color where the bullet (or BB) strikes. This allows her to immediately see that she is hitting the target.
My daughter also has her own child-sized safety glasses and bright pink earmuffs. The earmuffs aren’t necessary with the BB gun, but will be when she moves up to a .22 LR.
The great thing about the backyard shooting is it has not been limited to my daughter and me. For example, on Independence Day, one of my daughter’s friends and mother visited us for a cook out. After eating burgers, I took both kids into the backyard and had the pleasure of teaching my daughter’s friend how to safely handle the gun.
After putting an untold number of BB’s downrange, she got to take a spotted Shoot-N-C target home to hang on her wall. One more child inoculated against the poison of gun control.
That’s what it is all about: inoculation. People who fear guns exhibit irrational behavior. Arguing or reasoning with them is largely an exercise in futility.
Irrational fear can be prevented, however, with positive experiences at an early age. If children are taught gun safety and experience the fun of shooting, they are not likely to ever support any government dictate that restricts their right to keep and bear arms.