The first time I let my little cousins shoot a real firearm they were probably around 7 (the same time I introduced them to BB guns). Just a round or two while I taught an older sibling how to shoot. Age 12 seemed to be the average age when I could trust them to show the appropriate level of responsibility - while I stood behind them watching them like a hawk for every second. Age 16-18 was the appropriate age to get into some defensive type training with me right by their side. Seems pretty late in life, but you have to remember I was not raising them. Their parents simply did not demand they be responsible young men. The discipline they have came from sports, and from my small influence on them. So I had to be patient with them and wait until they were ready.
I think you will find that YOU will need to force yourself to be considerably more responsible than you are used to as well. You won't be able to turn your back on them for a second. No shifting attention to something that seems important at the time, but in hind sight doesn't mean a damn a thing compared to their safety and the safety of others. I am sure that sounds nuts to you. Of course you would be totally focused? Right? But you would not believe how often I have seen parents not pay close enough attention to their kids on the range and something scary (thankfully no injuries to date) happens. Most parents are less responsible than their kids these days and do not realize it. You can't loose focus or shift your attention away from the kid for even a second. No matter how good things are going.
Last edited by tacticalcity; 08-12-2011 at 2:18 PM..