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When do you start your kids?

1969 Views 17 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  SeeMorClays
I've seen several post on this and other boards about what shotgun to buy because you son/daughter is interested in shooting (be it trap, skeet, s-clays, hunting or other).

I've seen posters refer to their 10 year olds, 11 year olds, 12 year olds and so on. Remember, a 10 year old is in the 4-5 grade.

At what age did you start you your young one?

Other than age, what else did you consider?

What were they shooting/doing? Trap, skeet, s-clays, hunting, etc (other)

What restrictions did you put one them? One shell at a time, shoot only, when I am directly behind you (most likely trap, skeet etc).

What did you make your young one go through before they handled a shotgun? ie: safty class, 'go with me for 6 mos and watch before you pick up a gun????etc.

How old were they before you considered it a non-event (treated them like you expected to be treated)

How long ago was that? Are they still shooting? What do they shoot?

Have you ever walked off a trap, skeet line because of a young shooter not being properly supervised?

Some one will think of something else. Share it with us.
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JMCCOYB--great thread about a crucial topic. Thanks for starting it.

For your stats, I'm 50 years old, no kids, so I work with my 12 year old niece, Kiley, quite alot. So far we've done lots of plinking and informal clay shooting and one hunting trip--it was to a private preserve where the guide and I could keep an eye on her as she killed her first pheasant. Much to Kiley's delight and our amusement, the dogs, a pair of German shorthair pointers, insisted on bringing her every bird, no matter who shot it! Connecticut has a "Junior Hunting Day" too,which we plan to do this year, and I have had her take a safety course (I went to the course with her and was dragooned into being a group leader--not all the youngsters were as well-disciplined as Kiley, making for some interesting moments).

I started her on a .22, then a single-shot .410, despite all the rhetoric on our boards about it being "an expert's gun" and so forth. I used the .410 for two main reasons: 1) it's the same gun my dad started me on, so I'm used to it and 2) it makes picking one's shots important early on. She knows her shotgun's limitations, because we have shot some patterns together with it to see what it can and can't do. Safety first, then clean humane kills, then hunting skills. By "hunting skills," I mean the how-to's of setting up a blind, walking quietly in the woods, listening, looking for animal sign, cleaning the game, and etiquette towards others in the party or people who happen to be nearby, and so on. I've tried to teach Kiley that you don't hunt so much with a firearm as you do with your mind and heart. Time enough for her to become a gun enthusiast when she's older. I have stressed gun care though, and we clean the guns after every trip, even though I'm well aware that you don't have to do so. It's a ritual, and ritual has long been part iof the hunting culture.

We do a great deal of talking about hunting as a tradition. She particulary likes native American history right now, since they've been doing it at school. She's not quite Frederick Remington, but she did draw a pretty cool pic of a Comanche killing a buffalo. It's out in my garage / hideout, hanging in a place of pride next to one of my pop's old antique creels. This summer we took almost weekly salt water angling trips and she spenty lots of time learning to tie on her own rigs, picking backlash tangles out of the reels, and cutting the bait. I stressed the theme of "catch enough for dinner," and we threw the rest back. Her first experience with a bluefish made all the work so far worthwhile. We also spent some time on a local farmer's place killing woodchucks for him. We did not shoot them from afar with a varmint rifle. I had a .22 with open sights, and Kiley had her trusty .410. It was great practice in stalking for the both of us!

Kiley's an athlete--basketball, soccer, and gymnastics, so she has tons of physical self-confidence for a 12-year old--much more so than even I ever did. This year I may try to pick up a decent used 20 or 28 gauge for her. She's doing extra chores for her mom and dad to earn it.

Teaching is probably not for everyone, so take all this with the proverbial gran of salt. Personally, if a pupil of mine started screwing around and making immature jokes about serious matters, I'd decline to work with him or her until some maturity took over.

There's more, but you get the idea. Good luck to all; these kids are our most valuable resource!


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