by B.B. Pelletier

Update on Tom/B.B.: The doctor in charge of Tom’s case says he’s healthy enough to go home shortly. They’ll be tying up some loose ends over the next few days.

B.B. wrote today’s blog.

Today’s blog was inspired by a reader named Cathy, who asked for help in the comment section of video No. 4. She has twin 7-year-old boys who want to learn how to shoot. I wanted to answer her and all the other single moms who are in the same situation. However, the info I’m providing is applicable to anyone who wants to teach kids to shoot. There’s a lot to this, so this is going to be a multi-part series.

Before we launch into how to do this, let’s take a moment. You need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. And, your kids do, too. What is there about shooting that interests you? Do you want your family to have a complete gun safety education? Are one or more of your children actually interested in shooting? Maybe another reason?

Shooting training cannot be over-estimated in value. The more education people have about guns in general, the safer they will be when handling them. Airguns make a wonderful entree into the world of shooting education. If one or more of your children are actually interested in learning to shoot, then you need to establish what kind of shooting they’re interested in because there are so many types. Target shooting is the most common and probably the one that brought them to this, but some kids want to learn to hunt. Each type of shooting requires a different type of education. And, in some cases, airguns may be entirely unsuited to training. For example, if your child wants to shoot international sporting clays, there’s no airgun that he can use for that endeavor. But, if you just want to put a hole in a piece of paper as close to the center as possible, then nothing is better than a pellet gun.

In many parts of the U.S., hunting is considered a really big deal. Some states make the opening day of the season an unofficial state holiday for schools. This has a tremendous attraction for teenage boys. And, if it’s the reason your child wants to shoot, then, once again, an airgun might be good to teach him safety and the basics, but you need to find a firearm instructor and get him enrolled in a hunter safety education course run by the NRA.

Once you establish why you want to shoot, you need to talk to your kids about the shooting sports. We talk so much about a driver’s license and the responsibility that it conveys upon a young person that gets one, but a firearm or airgun conveys similar responsibility with no age restrictions, and this is something that needs to be considered. Mistakes with firearms and airguns are simply not tolerable. There’s no going back when a mistake is made. Therefore, you, as the parent, will have to stay one step ahead of your kids during this education program.

There are so many kinds of safety to consider when shooting. But the main types with airguns are eye safety, range safety and gun-handling safety. For eye safety, everyone must wear approved safety glasses. The ones on Pyramyd Air’s website will do the job.

As far as range safety goes, I’ll describe in its entirety. And the same with gun-handling safety.

Range safety
A range is a place where you shoot. It can be formal or informal. It can have as few as one shooter or as many as several hundred. There’s no time to learn about range safety when you’re at the range. You have to know this before arrival.

Guns are always pointed down range, unless they’re unloaded and standing in approved gun racks at the rear of the range. Each firing point may have one gun that’s currently in use, and that gun has to be unloaded and pointed down range at all times until you start shooting. If the range has several people (and a parent with 2 kids would be 3 people), then there has to be someone in charge of the range. Everyone else using the range must follow the orders and instructions of the person running the range. However, every person on the range should be considered a deputy safety officer. Each of them being vigilant to keep the range safe at all times. Here are things to look for:

  1. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. This applies whether the gun is loaded or unloaded.
  2. Airguns unloaded and pointed down range.
  3. No handling of guns on the range while other people are forward of the firing line.
  4. Absolutely no clowning around.
  5. All ranges should follow the NRA’s basic 10 rules of gun-handling safety.

One final word on range safety. Long guns are much easier to control and monitor than handguns. So, if you have a handgun on the range, you need to be doubly aware of where it is at all times.

Something I like to do while training new shooters is to make them aware of the safety rules, deputize them as safety officers, and then violate a rule and see what they say. Most kids will figure out that this is a game and will really enjoy telling an adult what to do. If you can get them behind you like this, you’re going a long way toward safe gun handling.

Safe gun handling
This is the etiquette side of gun safety. The responsible shooter never picks up a gun without first asking permission of the owner. If they say NO for any reason, just back off and go somewhere else.

The first thing you do when picking up a gun is to unload it. If you don’t know how the gun works, ask the owner to unload it for you or to check that it’s unloaded. Next, be conscious of where the muzzle points at all times. Do not swing a gun or pass a gun in such a way that the muzzle would point at any person at any time.

What caliber is it?
This blog posting is getting very long yet it’s only part 1, and I’ve only skimmed the surface to get you started. But, this one last subject I have to get out. It probably doesn’t fit here, but I don’t know where else to put it.

When Edith worked at a large online sporting goods retailer, a common question for the tech dept. was, “I just bought this gun. What caliber is it and what ammunition do I need for it?”

For gosh sakes, if you’re going to shoot a pellet gun, find out what caliber it is, find out what gets shot in it and what kind of power source it uses. Don’t order airguns without knowing exactly what they need in terms of ammunition and power source. It takes a little research, but the info is on the website. In fact, you’ll find more than a little info to answer all your questions. And, when you can’t find what you need, you have this blog.