by B.B. Pelletier
In the case of one mom and two kids, it might be best if only one child shot at a time. Let the other child watch, but don’t let him touch his gun. That way, mom can concentrate on just one person. Younger kids are full of false moves, and you’ve got to know when it’s time to call an end to a session because of horsing around. It’s best to have this talk before shooting begins. Explain to the kids that safety is so important that if they violate a rule in any serious way they’ll end that day’s session. I said in part 1 that you want to use a long gun for training. Handguns are too short and their muzzles move too quickly to be good training tools for shooter education.
Since you’ll be using long guns, let them be on rests so the child doesn’t have to support the weight of the gun. These rests don’t have to be fancy. They can be rolled up towels or blankets…whatever you have that allows the rifle to rest without falling over.
There are two schools of thought on what comes next. Do you first teach the child how to use the sights in a separate lesson, or do you teach them how to sight while they’re shooting? Certainly, you point out all the parts of the sights to all your shooters so they understand the difference between the front and rear sights. When you talk about the rear sight notch, they’ll know what it looks like. I like training on the gun itself because I think the training sticks a little better.
If the sights are adjustable, then mom has to watch where the majority of the shots are falling. It may be necessary to make adjustments to the sights to bring the shots closer to center of the target.
Which gun to use?
Unless you plan on sending your kids to the Daisy International BB Gun Championship, I recommend starting with a pellet gun, not a BB gun. The 499 Champion is the only BB gun accurate enough for training. On the other hand, you have quite a choice of pellet rifles.
No doubt this will stimulate many comments among our readers. Certainly, the Daisy 953 is one of the best training guns. But it’s a little large for a 7-year-old. Don’t overlook some of the sporting youth guns being sold by some other companies, like the Gamo Lady Recon, Ruger Explorer, Hammerli 490 Express and Crosman Raven. While these are not target rifles, they have everything necessary to train young shooters. And, their sizes are ideal.
If you want to spend a little more money and get something that’s quite a bit nicer, you might also consider the Bronco. It would be a little heavy for a 7-year-old, but they’re resting the rifles. The stock probably won’t be too long, and the sights and trigger are ideal for training.
There’s no caliber decision to consider. Buy .177 only. Unless you already own an airgun of another caliber, the .177 eclipses all the other calibers in the role of training and education.
Timing of the session
Your training sessions should not run for a long time. Perhaps, half an hour per student is maximum. So, with two students, the session runs an hour, with each getting half the training time. As time goes on and the kids mature, you can expand this, but you need to watch the kids in a training situation to see when they’re ready for it.
In part 1, I talked about the rules of safe gun handling. I mentioned that the instructor can also make a “mistake” that the students should catch and provide correction. I’ve seen classes of young shooters become so focused on safety infractions that it was difficult for the instruction to proceed with the class because the students were waiting for the next violation. They LOVE correcting adults. So, use this. It’s a powerful training tool.