It’s the smell of gunpowder and oil. The touch of cold metal to the skin. The power felt when a firearm is pressed against your chest.
There is a good chance your son will like this.
Every boy should know how to safely handle a firearm. Even more, he should experience a hunt.
- Why should my son know how to shoot a firearm?
- Isn’t that dangerous?
- Are you certain he needs to know this?
Yes. Here is why we feel that way.
- To remove the mystique about guns. When you do not understand how something works, you tend to over or under-estimate its purpose and use.
- Safety. There is a high chance he will handle a firearm in his life. What if this happens around friends without adult supervision? What if this happens when he is alone and no one is there?
- Appreciation. Your son should have a respectful fear of firearms. They are not toys and have the power to kill. He needs to be taught a great respect for their potential.
- Help Others. If your son finds himself in a situation with a person who is not handling a firearm safely, he may be the very person who saves someones life, if not his own.
- To prepare him for hunting sportsmanship.
Step 1: Determine his maturity.
In our home, we have boys that range from ages 5-11. Determine by using both his age and level of listening. Listening is key. If he has a very short attention span and does not listen well, then teaching him a serious topic may be ineffective.
Step 2: Set aside a time free from distractions.
Power down the smart phone. Close the door. Baton down the hatches. This is a serious topic that needs no potential for distraction. Make the time seem very serious, because it is. For my older sons (Age 7, 9, 11) they will listen well when in a one-on-one setting, free from distractions. I can teach so much more and make my points better than any case with distractions.
Step 3: Get your game plan.
This topic may take more than one session and should be refreshed every hunting season. Pick 3 of the most basic and critical safety skills from the list below or from another reputable source of firearm safety. If you do more than 3 points, there is the risk that he will forget them. The others could be discussed in your next one-on-one session.
- Treat every firearm with the same respect you would show a loaded gun. Always, always, always.
- Always point the muzzle/firearm in a safe direction.
- Explain where the safety is and that it is critical to keep the firearm on safety.
- When picking up or holding a firearm, never keep your finger on the trigger, even when on safety unless preparing to fire/discharge the weapon.
- Carry the firearm in a safe way when walking by observing where people in your group are or the direction of the closest house/barn/object where people could be.
Step 4: Do it and practice.
Teaching him the points are not enough. He needs to practice what you have taught him. Let him hold the firearm and walk him through what you are trying to explain. Make sure you do this with no ammunition in the weapon and visually check the barrel to make sure that no ammunition is in the barrel. You can never be too safe with a firearm!
- Worked. Getting alone in a room and letting them hold the rifle and practice walking with it and pointing it. Boys love to touch stuff and they learn better this way. Plus, it feels very soldier like.
- Worked. Having a Hunters Education guide on hand with pictures to help explain my points. This worked well in showing that this is not just dad saying these things, but that entire books and courses are devoted to firearm safety.
- Didn’t Work. Talking too much without showing pictures. When I lecture on and on, they get bored. In hindsight, sharing a story from my own experience or using the pictures in the book more would help keep the attention. Any more minutes than their age and mine start to get lost. For example, I have 7 minutes with my 7-year-old before he starts to wonder.
- Didn’t Work. Walking inside a bedroom to practice. They would much rather do this in a patch of woods or in the backyard. Just be mindful of your neighbors and local laws.
ManBuilders highly recommends reviewing the many resources available on this topic before starting with your son. Get started with the resources below.
So how do you teach firearm safety in your home? Would you teach your son(s) this topic even if you do not own or keep a firearm in the home?
Important Information: This article is not intended to give an exact prescription for firearm safety. Please follow all local laws and consult other reputable sources of information in addition to this article before teaching your son firearm safety. ManBuilders recognizes and respects the opinions of people and organizations who do not advocate hunting or the use of firearms. We further acknowledge the danger associated with this activity and believe safety related concerns to be valid. ManBuilders may not be held liable for actions taken as a result of this article.
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.