Teach Your Kids to Shoot

August 19, 2010

This is a secessionist website. Secession will not happen without a “well-regulated militia.” A militia is comprised of able-bodied adults, usually over age 18. But why wait until your kids are 18? Teach them NOW to be riflemen. Make Washington scared of your children because your family knows how to use firearms.

Here’s a tip for divorced dads without custody. Aren’t you always looking for something to do with your kids when it’s your day or weekend for visitation? Teach them shooting. Shooting gobbles up lots of hours, will draw you closer as child and parent, and will create wonderful memories. Girls are many times better shots than boys, so don’t leave out your daughters.

One of the best things you can do for your children is to teach them to shoot. Shooting accurately will give any child confidence. Since shooting is an individual skill, a child does not have to compete with anyone but himself. If you have children that are small of stature, and are not going to be jocks or cheerleaders, shooting can provide them with a sport that does not require size or strength. Even children with learning disabilities can learn to shoot. Shooting teaches kids early on how to do things safely while having a great time. Just like in the martial arts, kids learn the responsible use of deadly weapons. And, shooting BBs can be done in your backyard, at the range or even inside your home.

Start with an air rifle, or as we called them…”BB guns.” You can buy a Daisy BB rifle for less than $50 at Walmart. Make targets on plain paper with your kids as an art project. The targets can be bullseyes, or zombies, or cartoon characters. Then take an old cardboard box, stuff it with crumpled newspaper, and tape the targets to the box. Presto! Cheap, homemade entertainment. And, the box target will capture the BBs, so you can use them over again.

And don’t forget that kids can compete with others if they want. There are lots of organizations that promote youth air rifle competitions. They can win certificates, medals and trophies as they grow in skill levels. Learn more about competition at: Three Position Competition

Let me tell you about how I learned to shoot.

On Christmas Day 1963, I got a Daisy Air Rifle. I was ten years old. Life now had meaning.

I had been pining after a “BB gun” for a couple years since getting to shoot one in Boy Scouts. But Dad said I had to be 10 before I got a rifle. I was devastated on my tenth birthday…August 31st, when I got some other gift…a new Murray bike from the local hardware store. What an ingrate I was! But if you are a boy, focused like a green laser on a certain icon of masculinity that possesses mystical properties, all else fades away.

My Dad won marksmanship trophies in rifle competitions in Italy when he was in the Army in 1945. So he was a good teacher of a very willing son. He taught me the basics of marksmanship and safety, and then turned me loose on a world filled with potential targets.

My friends and I all had BB guns. Back then, all birds save the Robin (the state bird) were fair game, and we were hell on birds. When I think back about it now, we were just killing for fun, and I have pangs of regret. But all the other shooting we did was terrific fun and created lasting memories.

Back in the mid-60s, you could buy BBs in a tube of 250 or 500. I’ll bet that I ran 100,000 BBs through that rifle over a 4-6 year period, and I think that estimate is conservative. I can remember days when we’d shoot 3 or 4 tubes a day. Combine the desire to shoot well with that much shooting, and good things happen.

My Daisy rifle had only fixed sights. There was no such thing as adjustable sights or a scope on a BB gun. But I consider that one of the reasons that I am such a good rifleman today. If you shoot a lot of BBs with an air rifle, you can see where the BB goes. Most of the time your eye can follow the BB from the end of the gun to its target. So, you observe the effect that gravity has on a BB. You also observe the effect of wind that will push a BB one way or the other. Shooting year-round shows you that BBs travel better in crisp cold air than in muggy summer air.

My point is that a slow BB rifle, shot a jillion times, will train your son or daughter how to be a great shooter. You learn to adjust for gravity, windage and elevation instinctively over time.

By age 14, Dad trusted me to shoot his Winchester bolt action .22 rifle. And shoot it I did. I could walk or ride my bike to the hardware store a couple blocks away and buy .22 long rifle cartridges with my lawn mowing money. Then I could go out into the woods and fields around Kent City and shoot stuff. We never had to ask permission or have adult supervision.

That .22 rifle was my next teacher. It had an adjustable peep sight at the back end, but I never adjusted it. I just kept shooting like I did with my BB gun. I automatically adjusted shots for distance and windage. It was a gut feeling, not a math formula. And I got very good with a .22 rifle, even at long distances.

Back in June 2010, I was at a rifle range and made an iron sights headshot on a target at 250 yards with that same .22 rifle I used as a kid. I made center-of-mass shots on human silhouette targets at 400 yards. That old Winchester rifle still shoots great, and it’s mine now.

I have now moved on to using scopes on certain of my “big boy” rifles. But I’m still a purist when it comes to optics. I still like iron sights best. And my fancy optical scopes don’t have illuminated reticles or red laser dots. My philosophy about optics is that simple is best. Hi-tech optics rely on batteries, batteries fail, and Murphy’s law will always change circumstances for the hunter or shooter. Best to learn the hard way and use simple scopes or iron sights.

Riflemen of old were taught to shoot the “rifleman’s quarter mile.” You were considered a true rifleman if you could shoot a tight pattern at 500 yards with iron sights. You can still learn to shoot that way through The Appleseed Project.

So, in conclusion, I highly recommend adding the shooting sports to your family’s list of activities. You will NEVER regret the time you spend shooting.

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© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.