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  #1  
Old 08-13-2019, 11:32 AM
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Default Introducing kids to shooting

Hi all,

I have two small kids (5 and almost 3 years old). I want to introduce them to shooting and guns in a safe and fun way. At this point the kids have no experience with guns, other than my oldest asking what one was when I was moving things around (and that was just curiosity about an unknown object, not interest in guns in particular) and seeing the Coyote attempt (and fail) to use them to catch the Roadrunner.

If I lived in a rural area, this would probably start with BB guns and tin cans, but alas, I'm in the East Bay suburbs and plinking cans in the backyard is verboten.

The local range here allows kids as young as 6, but only for BB rifle and airsoft. Starting at 8 they can shoot rimfire and at 11 they can shoot rifles. 13 and up can shoot handguns. All while accompanied by adults, of course.

Those age limits aren't unreasonable, but I was hoping to introduce them to shooting without having them get scared off by loud rifles nearby on the line. When teaching new adults, they tend to adapt pretty quickly and have an expectation that guns are loud and are somewhat mentally prepared. With kids, they might understand that guns are loud but the sound can still be quite jarring and off-putting.

I'm curious what other people in similar situations have done, at what ages, and if the kids have maintained that interest over time.

Last edited by heypete; 08-13-2019 at 11:37 AM..
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:25 PM
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Start with airsoft, move up from there.
Red Ryder’s make zero noise, make a cardboard BB trap.
Once they’re acclimated, take a day trip and let them shoot a .22 and have a picnic somewhere. Make good memories.
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Old 08-13-2019, 1:01 PM
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When you do eventually bring them to the range use double ear protection - foamies as well as headphones. Research ahead of time when the slowest times on the range are (so not on the weekends), see if you can get a stall away from other shooters, maybe at the end of a lane, so they also don't get pelted by flying brass.

I've had adults get scared off because they didn't have sufficient hearing protection and were getting pelted by neighbors' brass.

BTW: those really cheap Crossman 1911 wannabe clone bb guns are pretty quiet, and aren't that powerful. I started my kids off with one of those in the backyard shooting at pumpkins around Halloween time. Pick a place in the yard you're not overlooked.
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Old 08-13-2019, 1:36 PM
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Go to an outdoor range - I have two daughters, 13 and 11, and the younger one got intimidated by the noise. The older one had no problem and started with rimfire rifle before shooting handguns. She was around nine or ten, I believe.

Make sure you teach them the "non-shooter safety" way before you get to teaching them how to shoot. The four rules when they see a gun are: (1) Stop what you're doing, (2) Don't touch, (3) Leave the area, and (4) Tell an adult.

These are very important rules, particularly since it's always other kids who get injured or killed when one of them finds a gun and starts playing with it.
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Old 08-13-2019, 1:40 PM
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My kids got started on BB and pellet guns...went to the woods, out camping in the wilderness, etc. Airsoft in the back yard.

Coyote sporting allows kids to shoot, so both got to shoot there about 9 or 10...both loved the shotguns...still do. They have a huge yearly kids shoot and BBQ...great family event. The used to give all the kids BB guns for gifts...

Indoor range in their teens...Boy Scouts had ranges too...
Handguns followed...both still love to shoot everything up to full auto and .50BMG...
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Old 08-13-2019, 1:41 PM
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Take the oldest to the range with you. Just to visit. Double hearing protection.
I have seen little kids terrified at the range.
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Old 08-13-2019, 2:06 PM
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Is your local range an outdoor range? Outdoor ranges are much more comfortable than indoor ranges as far as noise goes IMO. My young ones actually don't mind the noise and complain about hearing protection!

You can start by making a BB trap and learning handling and safety indoors with airsoft or BB guns. That will keep them entertained for quite a long time and they can learn the basics. Once they are ready, just head to the outdoor range and hope for the best. If you are lucky they won't mind the noise. You can double up on hearing protection if they need it. If you find it is still no good, see if you can take a weekend trip out to a rural area that allows shooting. I believe if they enjoy the indoor BB guns enough then one bad experience at the range won't be enough to shy them away.
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Old 08-13-2019, 2:41 PM
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How far are you from Sac Valley? We take our 6 year old there to shoot his
Cricket, single shot .22, and dadís Ruger American .22.

The .22 silhouette side is separated from the center fire rifle side by the pistol benches. Itís pretty quiet on the .22 side.
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Old 08-13-2019, 5:36 PM
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Grew up on military bases, so . . . Then we had Boy Scouts (the real ones), which required a merit badge for "Marksmanship".
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Old 08-13-2019, 6:29 PM
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Started all my boys at 3 with trigger discipline with super soakers and nerd guns then at 4 we started with red Ryder BB guns. Then started taking them to the range and just hanging out in the parking lot ( outdoor range). Then started taking them in and letting them shoot their BB guns there. Then rim fire. I only put one round in the magazine to start. Then 2. Then 3 then eventually a full magazine. Once they were comfortable with that I would have them stand behind me with a hand in my back so they could feel the difference in power to acclimate before they shot it themselves. Again. 1 round then 2 then 3 etc. I did this with each caliber of larger size. We practice safety and trigger discipline at home during this process as well.
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Old 08-13-2019, 8:19 PM
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I have 2 daughters 9 and 6. Started the older one on a red Ryder at 6, treating it exactly like a real gun. Moved to a rimfire rifle at 8. With the second one skipped the BB gun and started with the rimfire at 5. I realized that at the end of the day you can never be more than 1/2 second away from the rifle at any time and there was no real benefit to starting with a "fake" gun besides shooting in your yard. We did start talking about trigger discipline and the rules of shooting a good 6 months before actually shooting. Just my opinion.
For a rifle the only way to go is a Savage rascal unless you step up to the single shot Henry that can be upgraded to a magazine. Forget the cricket or anything that needs to be manually cocked before each shot.
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Old 08-13-2019, 9:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVC View Post
Go to an outdoor range - I have two daughters, 13 and 11, and the younger one got intimidated by the noise. The older one had no problem and started with rimfire rifle before shooting handguns. She was around nine or ten, I believe.

Make sure you teach them the "non-shooter safety" way before you get to teaching them how to shoot. The four rules when they see a gun are: (1) Stop what you're doing, (2) Don't touch, (3) Leave the area, and (4) Tell an adult.

These are very important rules, particularly since it's always other kids who get injured or killed when one of them finds a gun and starts playing with it.
Amen IVC. Another very important set of rules to ingrain into your little ones besides the 4 common rules (assume every gun is loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, always point your firearm in a safe direction and know your targets and it’s surroundings). I have 3 boys, ages 4, 3, and 1. I’ve been teaching the 2 older ones at 1-1/2 - 2yrs old. Before they bed down I would tell them the guns rules and have them recite them to me. We do this no less than 5 days a week if not every night. After reciting the 4 guns rules I would ask them scenario questions (ex: when you go to your friends house to play and their mom/dad accidentally left their gun out, what do you do? What if your friend says, want to see my daddy’s/mommy’s gun? Or their older brother/sister says want to see something “cool” and shows you a gun, what do you? They will give me the rules that IVC mentioned above. My boys know not to touch my guns unless they ask me and I’m the one showing it to them. Can’t wait to get them into shooting, might have to consider the BB guns/rifles.

Sorry for the rant, just a proud father. Start them young and be consistent and a others mentioned, check range schedule if it’s indoors to keep the booms to a minimal or outdoor range.
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:43 AM
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What I've learned is every child is different and may need different approaches to introduce them to guns. I bought my oldest daughter a red Ryder for christmas about 4 or 5 years ago. Then found a old 22 on consignment about 2 years ago. She felt comfortable enough to shoot it just a few weeks ago. Of course during the time with the Ryder I taught and showed her how to shoot safely.
My youngest may need a different approach as she tends to get ahead of things as she gets excited. So I might wait until shes older for her to start.
What I'm trying to say is you know your kids better than anyone and you may have to use different techniques for each one. But it's always good to ask for ideas from those with experience.
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Old 08-14-2019, 5:58 AM
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I started my kid on archery at age 6, when he could handle that with no safety issues we moved to BB guns, then he started shooting .22 rifles about 6 months ago.
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Old 08-14-2019, 7:12 AM
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My seven year old son has been with me on range trips since he was about 4 1/2 or so. Mainly to get him used to the noise and to empahasize safety around firearms. Rifle shots as loud as .416 Barrett don’t bother him, and he’s a good helper, lugging around stands and picking up.

He’s had his own Buck (smaller Red Ryder) since that time as well, and again the primary focus is safety and handling over marksmanship. He even practices trigger and muzzle discipline with his Nerf guns now. Now he’s graduated to shooting my .22 PCP air rifles from bags, again with safety at the forefront of all things. At 30yds he’s becoming a good shot, consistently bullseyeing small apples and clays. Next up is a Savage Rascal that’s been in the safe since he was born.
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Old 08-14-2019, 7:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVC View Post
Make sure you teach them the "non-shooter safety" way before you get to teaching them how to shoot. The four rules when they see a gun are: (1) Stop what you're doing, (2) Don't touch, (3) Leave the area, and (4) Tell an adult.
Excellent advice, IVC. I’ve taught my son these basics as well.
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Old 08-14-2019, 7:14 AM
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HA! BB guns and we build a 'range' in the upstairs hallway.

BB gun triggers are terrible but there's a thread somewhere...

https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/...d.php?t=862649
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Old 08-14-2019, 12:50 PM
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a little too early

My friend waited until his son reached 8.

He went straight to USPSA, has done many stages properly with his father supervising. Production division with CZ SP-01.
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Old 08-14-2019, 1:06 PM
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Start them with a 50 cal and work their way down
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Old 08-14-2019, 4:31 PM
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Some ranges, Livermore as an example, have NRA youth shooting programs. They do it twice a month in the evening and encourage parents to be active but they can just sit and watch if they want. They supply a single shot bolt action rifle or you can bring your own 22. Ages are 6 to 21. The first part they shoot targets and get scores, the second part they have funs stuff to shoot, water jugs, flour filled boxes etc.
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Old 08-14-2019, 4:42 PM
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I'll contribute this;

As others have said, be sure to double them up on ear protection - help them really get the earplugs in there snug & properly - and ensure they have quality, comfortable eye protection.

Do not let your kids touch even BB guns alone until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are more than responsible enough.

I have a former employee who lost a son to a BB gun; he was handling it unsupervised, shot himself in the eye. BB passed all the way through to his brain stem, he was in the hospital for a week or two until they finally had to admit he was gone.

Absolutely heart wrenching. Just tragic.
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Old 08-14-2019, 5:10 PM
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Went shooting with a friend. His friend and kids showed up. I had my 10/22 with adjustable stock and Simmons 3x9 scope. Put the rifle on sandbags, adjusted stock and told him to gently squeeze the trigger. His Dad was behind him. Kid was hitting the steel targets at Sac Valley within a mag or two. His Dad loaded mags during cease fire (take mags and ammo behind the line) while we set up the steel targets. Boy was 7-8?
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Old 08-14-2019, 5:56 PM
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During our youth shooting the range is closed to the public and they are only allowed to shoot 22's. The RSO's for the youth program keep a good watch on the kids (and their parents) and several have their kids in the program too. The range is relatively quiet which I think helps the kids especially the very young out for their first time.
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Old 08-14-2019, 6:16 PM
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a good gun safety course for children should have the child commit to memory the safety guidelines for guns. children are like sponges but you need lessons taught repeatedly as they have short attentions spans. the safety rules should be turned into a mantra, check that they know them word for word by memory. and those safety rules should be gone over every time that they are exposed to a gun, until you know with certainty that they know them and are obeying them! I go to the shooting range and I've seen kids rebuke adults for not following the safety rules, and I always congratulate them for making that stand, even adults sometimes need to be reminded..
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Old 08-14-2019, 9:40 PM
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long hallway inside your house or garage + bb gun/airsoft + empty soda cans/bottles + sturdy backdrop. For realism, make them wear eye and electronic ear protection.

And as others have said, treat the fake guns like real guns, complete with "no touchy unless adult is with you".

P.S. Have you considered paintball? 3 and 5 is too young for the fields I used to go to, age limit usually starts around the "tweens". Definitely get some respect for how much getting shot can hurt, and learning trigger discipline with little fear when the ND happens.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:28 PM
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Have the kids get their hunting licenses.

The course is free at most places and as gun laws continue to erode the 2nd amendment hunting will still be a valid reason for them to own guns and to inherit your guns.
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heypete View Post
Hi all,

I have two small kids (5 and almost 3 years old). I want to introduce them to shooting and guns in a safe and fun way. At this point the kids have no experience with guns, other than my oldest asking what one was when I was moving things around (and that was just curiosity about an unknown object, not interest in guns in particular) and seeing the Coyote attempt (and fail) to use them to catch the Roadrunner.

If I lived in a rural area, this would probably start with BB guns and tin cans, but alas, I'm in the East Bay suburbs and plinking cans in the backyard is verboten.

The local range here allows kids as young as 6, but only for BB rifle and airsoft. Starting at 8 they can shoot rimfire and at 11 they can shoot rifles. 13 and up can shoot handguns. All while accompanied by adults, of course.

Those age limits aren't unreasonable, but I was hoping to introduce them to shooting without having them get scared off by loud rifles nearby on the line. When teaching new adults, they tend to adapt pretty quickly and have an expectation that guns are loud and are somewhat mentally prepared. With kids, they might understand that guns are loud but the sound can still be quite jarring and off-putting.

I'm curious what other people in similar situations have done, at what ages, and if the kids have maintained that interest over time.

Get them started with air rifle or pistol and in a setting that will help them not scare them - https://www.usashooting.org/7-events/locateaclub
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Old 08-15-2019, 4:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Widdle View Post
How far are you from Sac Valley? We take our 6 year old there to shoot his
Cricket, single shot .22, and dadís Ruger American .22.

The .22 silhouette side is separated from the center fire rifle side by the pistol benches. Itís pretty quiet on the .22 side.
Heís a better shot and safer than many of the adults that shoot there.

Before the Ďthatís too young!í crowd chimes in, I sit right next to him the entire time (just watching him) to control the rifle if required.
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Old 08-15-2019, 5:16 PM
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Lots of good idea's have been proposed on this thread.

I would also talk with them about how a firearm is a valuable tool and how still today some people rely on them to provide food.

Also old Rifleman TV series and other shows or movies that mix good use of guns with morality.

I believe part of my love for guns came from movie westerns and books.
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Old 08-15-2019, 5:16 PM
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There is a similar discussion in the Rimfire Section. http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/s....php?t=1552719 This is what I posted.

Quote:
OP, I was in the same situation as you. I wanted to introduce my daughter to firearms as soon as possible. I did not go the route of a bb gun. My thoughts on that were, it is like a toy, and I did not foresee her using it frequently like a boy would, and it avoided the signal that a bb gun is a toy and a firearm is not a toy.

I first bought her a Crickett .22. The stock on the Crickett was short, and the grip was close to the trigger and it is light in weight. A young child cannot hold a 10-22, the stock is too long and the hand grip is too far from the trigger for a young child and it is too heavy. The Crickett was a good rifle for my daughter from age 5 to 12.

Once I got the Crickett, I also bought some snap caps, and once or twice a week, I would take the rifle out of the safe and we would go over muzzle and trigger discipline. We would go over loading, aiming, dry firing and unloading. I would limit these sessions to about 15 minutes. I would also take it out anytime she requested me to. I started my daughter doing this when she was five years old. After I was satisfied that she was able to safely and competently use the rifle, I took her to the range. After a few sessions, I just sat in a chair behind her watching her shoot without me doing or saying anything to her.

After my daughter grew up, I bought her a Ruger 10-22 with a compact stock, which fits her, she is now 16 years old. Today, my daughter can competently and safely operate all of my handguns, rifles and shotguns. I now leave a Sig Sauer P239 9 mm, in a place where she can access it if an emergency arises when I am away from home.

OP, if you are interested, I am willing to sell the Crickett .22. It is the stainless steel version and it has a pink plastic stock. I did not like the iron sights on the rifle, so I bought the scope rings and installed a 2X Leupold scope. The rings would come with the rifle, and I have the original box. Installing a scope really brings out the accuracy of the Crickett. It will group nicely at 25 and 50 yards.
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Old 08-16-2019, 1:45 PM
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Just took my 9 year old shooting for the first time. Henry youth lever 22. Proud Dad moment seeing her following the 4 rules of firearm safety and the joy on her face after hitting her first targets.
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Old 08-16-2019, 2:13 PM
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This concept is something I plan to work on as one the areas of involvement for my foundation ... as soon as I get my life back. Probably focusing on hunting.
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Old 08-16-2019, 2:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heypete View Post
Hi all,

I have two small kids (5 and almost 3 years old). I want to introduce them to shooting and guns in a safe and fun way. At this point the kids have no experience with guns, other than my oldest asking what one was when I was moving things around (and that was just curiosity about an unknown object, not interest in guns in particular) and seeing the Coyote attempt (and fail) to use them to catch the Roadrunner.

If I lived in a rural area, this would probably start with BB guns and tin cans, but alas, I'm in the East Bay suburbs and plinking cans in the backyard is verboten.

The local range here allows kids as young as 6, but only for BB rifle and airsoft. Starting at 8 they can shoot rimfire and at 11 they can shoot rifles. 13 and up can shoot handguns. All while accompanied by adults, of course.

Those age limits aren't unreasonable, but I was hoping to introduce them to shooting without having them get scared off by loud rifles nearby on the line. When teaching new adults, they tend to adapt pretty quickly and have an expectation that guns are loud and are somewhat mentally prepared. With kids, they might understand that guns are loud but the sound can still be quite jarring and off-putting.

I'm curious what other people in similar situations have done, at what ages, and if the kids have maintained that interest over time.
Honestly, BB guns in the backyard (or garage) is one of those "what? gee officer I didn't know that" tightropes I'd willingly walk. If you know your neighbors well, could literally never become a "thing" as long as no BBs or pellets end up in their yards.
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Old 08-16-2019, 2:28 PM
Black306 Black306 is offline
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This thread is pretty similar: https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/....php?t=1545982

My comment was basically to take your kids shooting if they are interested AND when you feel they are ready.
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