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Parenting and the shooting sports

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start, I have some announcements.

I wanted to update you on my situation. My medical condition is good. A new internist has taken charge of my case and is getting things done at lightspeed compared to what’s happened in the previous 3 months. I may return home today.

I need some help from you guys. I’m writing a short story about the BB gun wars that were fought by kids from the 19th century until about the 1980s. I’ve researched the topic for a feature length article in Shotgun News that was published a few years ago, but I’d like some additional stories. If you have any stories, please send them to me.

Today I want to address the role of parents, in regard to the shooting sports. Actually, you’ll realize this relates to a lot more than just the shooting sports. I’ll use a lot of my own experiences because that’s safe ground for me.

My own parents protected and shielded me from firearms when I was very young. My father owned a Benjamin 107 air pistol, but he never allowed me to touch it. In fairness, I was only nine when he passed away, so perhaps things would have changed had he lived, but I’ll never know for sure.

My mother grew up with brothers who had firearms and BB guns as kids, but she had been terrorized by a neighbor boy who shot his BB gun at the windows in our house, so she developed an aversion to them by the time I came along. It was from her mouth that I first heard the phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

When I was a boy, the American wild west was very popular, and I was encouraged to play Cowboys and Native Americans…er Indians. Since I’m part Algonquin — the blond-haired, blue-eyed tribe from the French Canadian territory — I’m allowed to make a joke like that. I was given cap guns and cowboy gear and my heroes were Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

But guns that shot things were strictly off limits. In my case that turned guns into objects of desire. This doesn’t happen with all kids. It is driven by the personality of the kid and can take many directions. Some kids can develop a deadly fear of the forbidden objects. I’m sure the home environment has a lot to do with this, but the personality of each individual child is also a big factor.

When I turned eight in 1955, space became the big thing. I watched Captain Video on TV and was given lithographed ray guns to play with. So although firearms and airguns were forbidden, the subject of guns was not. That will be different in every home.

Let me speed forward and skip all the other fads like Davy Crockett and Gunsmoke and go right to the important turning point. My mother sent me to an NRA-sponsored firearm safety class. Having no father at home, I was impressed by any man who took the time to explain things — especially if they dealt with the shooting of firearms.

In that class, I was taught proper gun handling, a lesson that stuck with me all my life. We finally got to shoot some Winchester 52 rifles (a .22 rimfire target rifle) at targets, and I made scores that were impressive. They told my mother I had a gift for shooting, which was only natural, since she had been in a wild west carnival show as a young woman. She sold lariats in the show and was something of a trick rope dancer. She was also a shooter — a fact that had remained undisclosed until this point.

What I didn’t understand until decades later was that I was growing up. My mother was watching me and giving me what she thought I needed and could handle at the appropriate time. In retrospect, she was very supportive of my desires, but also cautious of my immaturity

Now I’d like to contrast my upbringing with what I observed in other kids at that time. I saw kids whose parents didn’t pay as much attention to what they did like my mother did. Many times, these were the boys with the BB guns. They were also the boys with the broken bones and stitches. They were always at risk because no limits were being set for them.

Let me give you one illustration of this. When I was a teenager, I had a school friend over to my house. We lived on a three-acre plot that abutted several large farms, so I could shoot .22 rimfires in our garden. My friend and I were doing just that, and I was downrange to change the target when BAM! The kid had fired at the target with me just four feet away. I said, “What the hell are you doing? I’m downrange!”

“I wasn’t shooting at you. I shot at the target.”

If I’d been hit, I’m sure his parents would have called it an accidental shooting. But it was no accident. This was an untrained kid who had grown up like a weed, without training or supervision. By this time in my life, I was subscribing to Guns & Ammo magazine and reading Elmer Keith. What this kid did was beyond my ken. Yet, it really happened just that way.

That gave me insight into the fact that all kids are not raised the same. We didn’t call it parenting back in my day, but that’s what it was. It was done to instill maturity, values and a sense of responsibility in the younger generation. But as I observed, it wasn’t done equally, and the kids didn’t all grow up with the same values. Later in college, I saw even more dramatic examples of the failure to raise kids.

But this report is really about teaching the shooting sports. As I said before, it’s up to the upbringing and to the personality of the kids involved. There are plenty of good parents out there doing right by their kids. They don’t all agree on values, so each kid receives a different value set for his or her life.

But there are also far too many weeds just growing up on their own. Wolves in the wild have better parenting skills than the parents of these children. And the worst thing is that you can’t tell by looking at them. However, their actions speak volumes, and you can tell pretty quick who hasn’t been raised right.

The trouble is, once raised, not a lot can be done to change things. So, proper parenting is extremely important.

Incidentally, when I was raising my two boys, I shot with them a lot. Today, neither one cares much about the shooting sports, but at least they know how to be safe. So the desire wasn’t passed on, but the training was.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airgunsβ„’ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

87 thoughts on “Parenting and the shooting sports”

  1. Tom,

    You really out did yourself today. You should write a book on that subject! I so agree with your explanation of what can happen to children. I’ve always thought it funny that we teach kids how to drive, but not how to parent. Young adults should have to pass parenting class in high school… ah err make that junior high:-)

    Wacky Wayne

    Stories about “B.B. gun wars”… hhmmm if I tell you, will you tell my mom?

  2. Tom,
    You have written the basics of a great story, add a little more detail and your all set. My older brother nearly lost his eye shooting at squirrels up in the tree (mid 70’s) not wearing eye protection a BB ricocheted back and hit him right in the tear duct. We both went on to learn about safety and became marksman with .22lr. Well, that is my childhood shooting part, not going into the military part.

    Like I said you’ve got the basics of a good story. Why not go for a novel! No joke intended you have some good stuff there.


  3. Edith,
    The spell checker works great, except for words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. All-in-all you and the team have done a great job. Thanks!


  4. B.B.,

    I agree with Wayne – you MUST write a book! I am writing a bit myself and I came to a conclusion that any real story of an interesting man is much better and more interesting than any fiction.

    Well, in my own life things were a bit different. Mom was always strongly against any guns and anything that she calls “violence” and “stupid men toys”, and she still is. Well, she’s a woman with the only kid and a doctor. Dad considers guns a tool – a tool for getting food or fun when hunting, hunting is his favorite pastime. I told you, he was the one who taught me how to shoot, to handle a gun, to respect it and to be safe. But I am another story – I consider guns as sport. To outdo myself, to out-shoot the others πŸ™‚ and, of course, to achieve result your gun must be the best available, so an airgun is a machine to improve, to experiment, to study and so on.

    I don’t know if any of you know that fact, but in pre-1991 era to own an airgun was nearly impossible – they were rare and they were expensive. If one wanted to shoot he/she could go to sport school of shoot Izh-22/38 in numerous galleries. Of course, hunters and military had better and wider access to “bang-bang thingies”. Funny – in Stalin’s time .22 guns in USSR were not considered more than a toy, but when times became softer, law became stricter and stricter, forbidding more and more.

    Well, that gave a push to our own “BB wars”. Boys = guns, so kids were constructing their own airguns, Xbows, slingshots and so on, even compact rocket-launchers and primitive firearms.
    I made and owned for a long time my own airgun: it was made out of bike tyre pump, bolt-loading an cocking by a lever, very much like Xbows. It was powered by rubber cord – 15mm thick bunch of thin white rubbers. Smooth barrel was made out of copper tube 4mm caliber. It was powerful and precise enough to send lead bullet (I guess it was about 1 g weight, it took 3 #5 pellets to make it) to shatter bottle @ 20-25 m using post-notch sights.
    However it wasn’t something unusual πŸ™‚ I’ve seen home-made slingshots with sights and counterbalances, able to cleanly kill a crow @ 30 or so meters, Xbows able to pierce a 200-liter iron barrel and so on, but slingshots and Xbows weren’t my style, I preferred “rifles”.
    “Lethal” weapons were outlawed from use against humans. Crows, rats, glass (any), tin (any) – but no humans. Anyone who broke this street law risked a good and prolonged beating.
    Real wars were waged in the “ashberry season”. Ashberry is good, because it’s hard enough, uniform, grows is “bandoleers” πŸ™‚ and there’s a lot of it. We used “fingerstallers” – plastic tube with a rubber fingerstall on one end, handle and crude sights. Put an ashberry inside, pull the rubber then release. Dang, that was great πŸ™‚ Mellow ashberry makes tremendous “bloody” spots when hits the wall, with a meaty popping sound, it also stings like a wasp and leaves a good bruise if you’re not quick of agile enough. And God help us all when mothers discovered “bloodied” clothes, bruises and so on πŸ™‚


      • C-S,

        Yes, I am, comrade πŸ™‚ I’ve got T-80 tank in my timber cottage’s garage, wear fur hat, address everyone as “comrade”, my home bear Mishka drank some vodka from samovar, now it is cleaning my AK despite very hot weather – it’s -15 centigrade now – and in the evening me and my supermodel girlfriend from KGB go to Bolshoi to see some ballet πŸ™‚ Next spring we two plan to marry and to invade Europe riding our tank with Mishka on a leash – they ran too deep into debt for our gas, comrade :):):)

        I’m surprised that you’re surprised, I thought my country of origin was quite clear. No offence taken.


    • Duskwight, a documentary I saw (in part) on YouTube claimed that Stalinist Russia made a very big deal out of the shooting sports for the youth Communist clubs and that was why the Soviet Union had so many effective snipers when Germany invaded. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that or if shooting has been pursued avidly until today. I know that in international competition the Russians do very well.


      • Matt61

        You’re right. Marksmanship was widely promoted among youth. Marksmen were the pride of pre-war USSR and made a good addition to Soviet military power during WWII. You know their scores πŸ˜‰
        I guess that only the strong state trusts its citizens with guns. Weak and corrupted one is always afraid of people. The weaker and more corrupted rulers become – the more they fear armed nation.


  5. I remember my first bb gun as though it was yesterday….My parents were REALLY safety conscious, but I fought and scrabbled and argued and even displayed velocity and trajectory charts and anything else my weasily mind could think of until they gave in.

    • Malcolm,
      I did basically the same thing trying to get a motorcycle, but alas it didn’t work. The first thing I did when I joined the military was buy a motorcycle. Love them still πŸ˜‰


  6. B.B.
    I remember those days well. We are about the same age so it is easy to relate to.
    The TV shows, the lack of gun phobias, the lack of insane gun laws, and growing up in a rural area. All of the farm boys had a BB gun, at least. Most of us were hunters as well.

    There were a few of the kids who liked to do BB gun fights. They were smart enough to keep the shots aimed below the waist where they hit the denim blue jeans. Most of the time anyway.
    They were smart enough to stay with BB guns, and did not allow pellet guns.


  7. Wow BB! Nice you taught your kids to shoot safely. Too bad they just are not interested.

    My own father taught me nothing about gun safety or anything remotely similar to it!

    When I was 16 it was deemed “ok” for me to use his guns. He taught me how to operate each one and gave me a box of shells for each one at Christmas the year I turned 16. Then it was go do what ever you want!

    First shot with his 12 gauge semi auto shot gun at a rabbit I took off the top 2 ” of a fence post 20 feet from the rabbit! That first day I managed to kill 2 unlucky rabbits of about 10 I jumped.

    Over the period of about 8 years from then I learned to shoot accurately with his 2 guns and put many a squirrel, rabbit, and quail in the pot. They were welcome as we were a family of 8 with limited resources. Also during that period there were about 5 instances of unexpected firing of a gun or pointing the gun in an unsafe direction where death or property damage could occur.

    It was not until I joined a gun club at about age 24 that I learned gun safety. The club taught it and enforced it! At first I got several warnings about unsafe practices, but I learned quick and appreciate to this day those lessons!

    Parents, teach all your children about gun safety and how to safely shoot one! Believe me they ARE going to get hold of one if they want! Once they are of a proper age (depends on child) teach them gun safety and shooting mechanics and let THEM decide interest. They will anyway once away from you and far better to have a safe enthusiast than a nut like I was running around doing unsafe things with my fathers “sanctioned” guns! Btw, I was doing unsafe things with my father’s guns LONG before he sanctioned my using them!

    If you have guns in your home, children MUST be taught safe gun practices LONG before they are actually allowed to use a gun! I started playing with my father’s guns at about 9 and started shooting them at about age 11! They were in a locked cabinet. At age 9 I figured out how to pick that lock. I also figured out how to load them at that age but did not want to use his shells as he would know I shot them. It wasn’t till age 11 when my cousin supplied me with shells that I could shoot them!

    Oh and by the way his shotgun was a “widow maker”, as they were called. A 12 gauge Winchester you pushed the barrel all the way down to chamber a shell!

    I simply thank God I survived those early years till I was 24 and got in a club!!!

    • pcp4me,

      It seems that back in the day, it was assumed that kids would just sorta’ absorb what they needed to know, just from being around guns all their lives. I guess that didn’t hold true with you :).

      These days, though, the opposite is true. Kids are taught from an early age that guns=evil.

      P.S. On the news the other day, I heard paintball guns referred to as ‘gas-or-air-powered firearms’. (Sigh…) Ignorance…

      • Malcolm (and all of you) In elementary school i had alternative subject -shooting in targets and this was my first airgun experience and i have learned all that kid needs to know there in fact first airgun i had was the one that school gave me Crvena Zastava airgun πŸ™‚

  8. I grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s. Some say I never grew up. My father left when I was 2 or 3 years old. Never saw him again. Lived with my mother in the city at times but mostly with my mothers parents. My grandparents lived in a rural setting.

    My grandfather was the ultimate outdoorsman. He kept most of his guns in a locked gun case with glass doors. I was fascinated with these tools and would at times stare at his collection to determine the differences in his guns. I was given my first gun (remington .22 cal model 550) when I was 9 or 10 years old. I started hunting (I was the bird dog) upland game when I was 7 or 8. Gun safety was strongly emphasized and continuously reinforced. Even back then a Hunter Safety course was mandatory before you could buy a hunting license. I was probably in 5th or 6th grade when I completed the hunter safety course, purchased my first small game hunting license and was allowed to carry a shotgun in the field.

    Guns have always been a big part of my life and have always been around. I can still recite the fanatical teachings of my grandfathers gun safety and hunting etiquette.

    The article today reminds me of some of my school chums that were not taught safety. No one shot at a target when I was downrange (lucky for them) but basic infractions like not treating every gun as loaded was common. These same kids had never seen what a firearm could do to flesh either.

    It seems to me that society in general has become afraid of too many things and guns are among the many things that parents want to shield their darlings from. I’m in the opposite camp. No matter your stance on firearm ownership or use, everyone should learn gun safety and become proficient at shooting a gun. It’s up to parents to know when they feel their child is mature enough to learn.

    Teaching gun safety and shooting technique to kids minimize the chance of accidents. In my opinion it also minimizes a kids natural and powerful curiosity when they first see a gun in person and wonder how to use it and what it will do. Another way to say minimize the chance of accidents.

    Apologies if this comes across as “preachy” but I’m passionate about this subject.


    • Kevin,

      Exactly right, all children need to understand firearms and what to do when they see them in an unsafe situation. Even if they don’t learn how to use them, which should be a choice for the parents.

      This needs to happen at school, since a lot of parents don’t have a clue or would fear the process.
      Some states, it does happen at school, and that’s a good thing, I bet those states have less gun accidents and violence…. but I don’t know.

      Wacky Wayne

      • Great little guns that are under appreciated. The ability to shoot shorts, longs or long rifles was a big selling factor to me when I was a kid. Paid for mine with lawn mowing and snow shoveling money. Paper route came later. My grandfather made me pay for the gun but years later I learned that my father left the gun behind when he took off with instructions to give it to me when I was old enough.

        There’s some insight into what kind of man my grandfather was.


  9. Guys here is what i think -try to understand my bad grammar but you guys should teach kids in school how to use properly airguns you know if they want something like a alternative subject they would like it

    • C-S,

      You make a good point about teaching kids gun safety in school. Common sense. Logical. Unfortunately, political correctness and too many spineless people in positions of authority are prevalent in the good ole USA. This and the multiple, highly publicized shootings at public schools are the primary reasons in my mind that embracing guns in any way, shape or fashion in the public schools won’t happen anytime soon.

      The NRA created and refined the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program. This program has been very successful in teaching kids gun safety and proper handling of airguns and firearms. Perfect, pre-packaged program with built in instructors already in place. Just give them a room in the school and viola. Unfortunately, the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program has failed at being an acceptable program in public schools.

      Shame that our gene pool has become so diluted. I predict that in one or two more generations in the USA that all humans will be asexual, must be named Pat and will be perfectly happy abiding by the new law that requires everyone to ask permission of the government to leave their house.


  10. I don’t remember anyone teaching me gun safety, until I had a Hunter Safety Course. Then I was getting my first firearm, a H&R Topper Jr single shot 20 ga with a hammer, when I was 12, 1972. I still have it. Before that I would carry my Daisy everywhere I went in my small Illinois town. I would carry it into the Dime Store where I spent my candy money on more BBs. For some reason they finally asked me to leave the gun out side, so it and my dog, Ole Girl, would wait outside until I got more ammo.

    We had one cop in town, and when I would see his car I would freeze, and try to hide the Daisy behind my leg. Looking back I am sure he knew I was “carrying”. lol

    I would wait till dove season was in, and I would start hunting. I killed 15 dove one fall, I would clean them and Mom would freeze the breasts until we had enough to make, “dove pie”. Man o man, still the best meal I have ever eaten. I was soo proud, as I was then the man of the family. My Daddy too died when I was 9.

    Brother had a Crosman 760, when we graduated to air rifles. He was a little more wild with guns than me, I think the ole kitchen window has a BB hole in it. He also was mad at out neighbor, who was also our 5 grade teacher. Bro saw his gas can in his yard one day. He shot it about 1/2 way down. Of course it drained gas into his lawn down to the BB hole. Then all the grass was killed in a big circle when the gas can was. It was busted big time for that, it was so obvious he did not even try to lie his was out of it. Neighbor man was so mad, but, better my bro than me.

    One big regret was when I “killed” my GI Joe. He probably would be worth a nice air rifle now.

    Thanks for the memories, I think. sniff sniff.

  11. Who says the B.B. gun wars ended in the 1980’s? Based on the kids in my neighborhood they are still going strong (or maybe I’ve mis-understood what you’re asking?) Airsoft B.B.’s litter the streets. My problem with them is that it’s really teaching the kids the opposite of gun safety – let’s point these at each other and really shoot! It’s fun! I’ve also seen them with their real B.B. gun pointing it at each other and joking around, so I’m sure that the line has been crossed in their little minds. Parenting skills, or lack there of, are alive and strong.

  12. BB, I’m putting myself up for adoption….the lawyers will stopping by shortly.

    I really don’t remember any good stories that start out: “we were drinking vodka one night…..” actually, I don’t remember anything.

    What a wonderful world we live in. It’s nice that we can all enjoy the diversity of interests and conversations of one another…..of course talking about airguns probably helps a lot.

  13. In the UK most adults probably don’t know gun safety let alone the kids.
    A lot of households will have an air gun of some description but ranges and teachers are few and far between.
    I was lucky that back in the early 70s my dad was one of the few coppers in the country qualified to carry a gun,so was able to teach me properly gun and range etiquette from an early age.
    The back garden was the range,the seat of a dining chair was the bench and the BSA Meteor was always laid in the ‘Broke’ position till ready to shoot.
    Even as a naughty lad,shooting at things I shouldn’t when dad was out.
    I did it safely πŸ™‚

  14. Malcolom’s comment above touches on why kids today have little to go on. He said it was assumed that kids would absorb some common sense gun safety and use from adults around them. Some fortunately did, some didn’t, it wasn’t a perfect world either, but society was more tolerent” back in the day”. Also , in general , parents were more responsible. To use BB’s description from the blog today, there are a lot more “weeds” out there, and I don’t mean just the kids.
    Most kids today have no adults to learn gun responsibility from, unless mom or dad steps up to the plate. I have some perspective in regards to this . I had my own kids late in life, I was 42 when my oldest was born, and I grew up in the 1960’s, amid all the social problems of that time. It was a different time, and we were different kids. Kids today are just a couple clicks away from anything , good or bad , that they want. Same goes for their parents.
    Today, too many parents let their school system and day care raise their kids. They are too absorbed in their own lives. Morality ,common sense and especially gun safety are not on the agenda of the liberal minded folks who control those insitutions. Parenting cannot be farmed out, and you learn all of it from your parents, and by doing it. As BB has mentioned here many times, you can’t get the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program into schools. In fact, many shooters can’t get over their own political adversions to the NRA’s support of pro-gun education and politics that don’t coincide with their own liberal leanings, and join and support it. We as shooters would be a stronger lobby if they would. You cannot have it both ways. The result will be a less liberal society and no guns. Robert

  15. I’m truly amazed what passes for parenting these days!
    Parents both working long hours, too often not to make ends meet but to afford that second SUV!
    Electronic babysitters (video games)!
    The attitude that teaching morals/ethics/responsibility is somehow up to the state!
    And the list goes on and on.
    I’ve asked young parents whose children spend much of their time in daycare/grandparents if they don’t think that’s unfair to the children. There response most often is that it is their right to have kids and to bring them up how they want.
    I’m with those who think the last year of high school should have a mandatory parenting course that if you don’t pass your sterilized…okay, even I’ll admit that’s too drastic πŸ˜‰
    Thing is it’s completely unfair to the children they are bringing into the world.

    I have a story that I like to tell that says alot about todays society on the whole.
    I was in a grocery store not long back with my two young sons. The 9 year old came around the corner munching on some lunchmeat on a toothpick…you know…someone handing out samples.
    A few minutes later we were in the aisle with the ‘giver of snacks’. My 9 year old asked if he could have another, and since there was about $150 worth of groceries in our cart I said ‘okay’.
    The woman handed him the treat and he started to walk away. I looked at him and gave him ‘the eye’. He promptly turned to the woman and said ‘thank you’.
    She looked at me with surprise and said the majority of times children, even with the parents close by never say those two words.

    As many of you are aware I spend a lot of time with my boys. Camping, fishing, shooting, model building etc. I’m frequently asked why I spend so much time with them…why don’t I spend more time socializing and doing things for me.
    I always respond…”why wouldn’t I want to spend time with the two human beings I brought into this world?”
    My view is that you should spend all the time you can whilst they are in the pre-teen years…it gives them a foundation to build the rest of their lives on.

      • CSD

        When my father’s blood was not boiling from work, he liked nothing more than horsing around with his boys. Among my friends, my family was poorest as far as finances. But my ‘richer’ friends were usually a little jealous that my Dad was such a good friend compared to theirs.

        Good fathers are under appreciated and seemingly getting more rare. Three cheers to you CSD.

    • CSD,
      You sound like a great Dad, much like mine. I may be a little across the 50 year marker, but every conversation with Dad still ends with “I love you Dad”, “I love you Son”. I see my parents mainly when they come down to South Georgia during the winter as they live on the Canadian border and spend the winter down here. Point being that even at my age when my Dad and I meet or depart we give each other a quick hug and say I love you, because you never now what tomorrow brings. If only families could be more loving of each other, rather than trying to “keep up with the Jones”. Is there anyway of ever getting back to that?


  16. I mentioned this once a few months ago but it bears repeating in the context of this day’s blog.

    I read an article in the local newspaper about someone calling the police because they saw a girl enter the high school carrying a gun (rifle) into the school. The school went into lockdown, and the police cordoned off the place

  17. All great posts and stories today.

    As a kid in the late 50’s and early 60’s, we had “BB Gun Wars” down at the local junkyard (before they were called Ecological Recycling Centers).

    My Dad had 3 or 4 helmet liners (fiberglass) from WWII and several sets of goggles from the factory he worked at. We would put on those helmets and goggles and climb up on the roof of the junkyard office on Sundays when they were closed and shoot at all the junk cars. My memory is of the Daisy slide/pump action rifle and the Crosman, multi-pump rifles. Not sure which models they were.

    I was a shooter from age 6 and up so, a gun in hand was pretty natural for me. We understood the effect of BB ricochets and the like and Dad made sure we had our gear on. We had to check-out our guns from Dad and check-in with him when we were done.

    I can also remember my Grandpa giving me a quarter after school, which I would promptly take to the bar next to his barbershop to buy a 15 cent soda and play a 10 cent game of “bowling” with a little ball and the plastic pins.

    Can’t say as I would let any kids do any junkyard shooting today (even if they could without being arrested by a SWAT team) but when my kids were younger we did shoot together at the range and in the backyard.

    As the recently popular western song goes…”it wasn’t just a different time… it was a different world” (back then).

  18. Oops, I hit the submit button by mistake instead of the spell checker button. I wish the spell checker button was to the far right under the comment box.

    The following addresses my opinion that it is not the lack of proper training that is causing fathers and mothers to fear guns and try to keep them out of the hands of their children. (This fear is also taking away our ability to protect ourselves so don’t interpret this as an anti-gun rant).

    This story I mentioned a few months ago but it bears repeating in the context of this day’s blog.

    I read an article in the local newspaper about someone calling the police because they saw a girl enter the high school carrying a rifle. The school went into lock down, and the police cordoned off the place.

    It turned out that the ROTC class was practicing marksmanship with air rifles in the school gym and this girl had taken her own air rifle to shoot because either there weren’t enough to go around or hers was more accurate. The author of the article wasn’t sure. Even though they came to this conclusion they still kept the school in lock down for a couple more hours.

    As a society we are in a state of terror. There is a reason for this since there have been so many senseless shootings at schools and elsewhere. In my town, Peoria Illinois, population 120,000, we have had about 20 firearm killings so far this year, a record for us. That’s more than we had for all of last year. 95% are in the impoverished sections of the city, and 90% of those involve drugs and gangs.

    It reminds me of the gangster days. Only now, they are the gangsta days. Organized crime was allowed to run rampant and shoot each other and was even romanticized until innocent citizens were starting to get shot and blown up. Only then was something done about it.

    What does this have to do with today’s blog? Maybe nothing, because no amount of gun safety training is going to change the above incidents. These shootings are not caused by lack of training. They are caused by a flaw in human nature and a failure of society. People today fear guns because of the rash of shootings and killings in our neighborhoods and streets and not because some untrained idiot accidentally fired his pellet gun into the ceiling or into his buddy’s rear end.

    Many of these shootings are directly related to the public’s encouragement, tolerance and romanticism of the drug scene. Others are because we can’t keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, even known criminals.

    Sorry, I’ve ranted too long.


    • CJr,
      I had written a long response but it revealed to much. Basically I would just say look at TV shows! Seems that most are crime dramas or fake reality shows. What are our children really being exposed to?


  19. I know this will not go over well with most of you, but it has always bothered me. “PaintBall”, teaching kids to shoot each other as a game! I know there are numerous video games with the same theme, I once worked part-time as an arcade manager. I don’t like the video games either, but paintball takes it to another level as far as I’m concerned. I MUST be wrong because I see this as nothing more than training kids to kill. Sorry but I cannot see this as a game. Shout at me if you want but you will not change my mind.


    • rikib…I don’t think you’ll ruffle a lot of feathers. My two boys both have airsoft M-4’s…but they are not allowed to shoot each other, however they love making a pop can dance around the back yard with them.
      But I, and many here I’ll bet don’t think airsoft/paintball and kids mix. If you’re an adult and want to play that’s fine, but giving a gun to a child and saying…’here go shoot your brother’…but a week later coming down on him hard because he points his pellet gun at the same brother…it’s just not going to work.
      I’ve noticed on thing…I used to check out an airsoft forum…I noticed that very few of them shoot pellet or powder…for them it really does seem to be about shooting other people.

    • You could add airsoft to the list also.

      I tried paintball once, but found that I’m too old for that stuff.

      I also do not care for the video game training…..attack, fight, kill.


    • I believe that learning to shoot people is dangerous (wrong) IF the person has never been taught formal gun safety. The formal training (hopefully) makes us conscious of what we are doing (e.g., safety, hazards, and consequences).

      I wonder how many of these people, especially kids, have any training? My guess, based on experience with others that I’ve known, very few of these people who like to shoot others, have much training in gun safety. My guess is that your concern is valid, and that they really are just learning how to shoot people.


    • I’m very happy πŸ™‚ this landed on many like minded ears! It may be Nation-wide or World-wide but I feel that it is getting out of control. This is not GOOD parenting, here in SW GA they even have paintball birthday parties!
      Thank you for those supporting my opinion! πŸ™‚


    • Paintball strikes me as similar to those great Darwin Award & YouTube videos; you know the ones, the guy with the .44 magnum shooting at a steel plate about 25 yards away and the ricochet knocks his hat off and he falls (all 300 lbs of him) off the chair in disbelief that he is not dead. Darn, Darwin’s theory didn’t work that day!

      Or the dumb-a$$ skateboarder on the hand rails that knocks his “nads” off sliding down the rails?

      At least the video games do not have real firearms… yet? (maybe Wi version 9.0 will have Marlin .22 semi-autos wireless connected to the game?)

  20. B.B.,

    Excellent story and topic! When I first started posting here, less than a year ago, I talked about a similar thing, namely, that I only shot with people who were properly trained.

    Fortunately, I had great parents, and what you get from great parents is what amounts to being as close to “common sense” as you can get. We are all born with strong elements of what others would describe as our personality. My children were about as opposite as they could be, right from the start. So I know that two people of opposite extremes can also be taught to have good sense.

    I was introduced to shooting at the age of 13, but fortunately that introduction was formal. It was a requirement to join a junior marksmanship program, and I think one of the best lessons that I’ve learned in my life. Specifically, the most important thing that we learned was SAFETY. We weren’t taught to fear guns, but rather to respect them. It was also an introduction to becoming a more sophisticated individual, where attention to detail REALLY mattered. After all, none of us wanted to be like the “Primitive Pete” of some of the gun safety videos that we saw.

    For me, this attention to detail regarding how a gun should be carried, stored, cleaned, and generally managed around others, or any environment, continued on to my experiences as a marksman. We knew that you never hand a gun over to someone else without demonstrating that it’s not loaded. Similar, we never accepted a gun without it being shown that it was not loaded. In competition, or practice, EVERYONE knew that anytime you stepped away from your rifle that the bolt MUST BE OPEN, so that it was clearly visible that there wasn’t a bullet in the chamber. The ranges that I shot at were so strict about this that your first infraction meant that you couldn’t shoot at that range for a YEAR.

    I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my brother is one of the few people that I will shoot with. He went through the same training as I did, and has the same values as me. Your point about not being able to tell about a person based on looks is a very good one. Well, as it turns out, and you hinted at this when describing people you knew in college, just because someone is college educated doesn’t mean that they have common sense regarding firearms.

    Twice I’ve been invited to shooting outings with people from work (all highly educated). In each case, I’ve asked if the guys have had proper training with firearms, and in each case they hadn’t. Well, while these were “smart” guys, they weren’t interested in being lectured – they just wanted to have fun shooting things. I declined each invite, and eventually someone from separate groups got shot. Fortunately, in each case they were only shot in the foot, which is fitting, when you consider that guns and alcohol don’t mix.

    Unfortunately, in the decades since I’ve had my own hunter safety training, I’ve met very few who have had any amount of safety training, and have heard many real-life horror stories about accidents that have happened to people that I know personally. In almost every “accident” the person that cause the “accident” said the infamous “I didn’t know it was loaded”.

    “I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS LOADED” – KNOW that your gun is loaded or not.

    I consider shooting to be my favorite activity, and I’ve had a blast with my wife and kids. Naturally, I’ve trained my family, and we all have the same values. To this day, if I’ve had even a sip of alcohol, I won’t touch a gun. If I’ve taken a sleeping pill (even a very weak one), I will NOT handle a gun.

    The thing is, I can honestly say that I am not paranoid about guns. I’m simply logical, responsible, and have respect for them. We should be the same about our automobiles, our jobs, our children, and our marriages. So in closing, shooting has taught me lifelong values that to this day, I cherish.


    • Victor -you are wright in everything, especially in the last part -when you say that ALCOHOL and PILLS are no no when handling the gun and that is most common thing in amateur shooting you know “couple” of beer barbecue and …disaster happens

      • In VA and TN you can legally carry a gun into a bar. That always seemed like a bad idea to me. Isn’t there a Johnny Cash song about that. ‘Don’t Take Your Guns to Town…’ The point of the song is made when you realize the subject of the song is dead.

        • If I remember correctly, just about a month or so ago it became legal in Georgia as well. Pretty much legal to carry anywhere. I think, SL straighten me out if I’m wrong, but knife laws are becoming stricter than gun laws in GA.


    • Victor,
      I agree about the Alcohol and/or medication. Unfortunately that is why I rarely shoot now (medication). On occasion I may go out back making sure none of my pets are around (don’t have any nearby neighbors) to shoot a few shots.


      • rikib,

        I understand the frustration that needing medication can bring. I’ve had a ruptured disk for going on 20 years. When I practice shooting my pistol, eventually I get a lot of pain. Over time, I eventually start to feel numbness. Not fun, and certainly not good to have when you’re really trying to shoot well.

        Many nights I have to make the decision; do I take a pill to help me sleep, or do I shoot first. I usually choose to shoot first. Unfortunately, I love to shoot so much, that I could shoot for MANY hours, if my body allowed it, but it doesn’t. That’s why I’m getting back into prone shooting.


        • Victor,
          Thanks for the understanding. Although I do take pain meds and muscle relaxers, increased due to rib fracture couple days ago I have other illness that requires medication. I do not feel comfortable shooting while on the meds so I rarely shoot now, I just enjoy reading about you guys on here.


  21. B.B., glad you are feeling better. What a great subject that is very relevant to the trip I just got back from. On the way back, I slid like an eel through airport security with no problems at all. Ton, in answer to your question of last month, it is okay to pack a spotting scope in your carryons. The TSA person said it is not considered a “Type 4” gun part like rifle or pistol scopes although I checked the TSA website and they say nothing about rifle or pistol scopes.

    It turned out that my resolution to make my Dad wear safety glasses at the range was up against much more than I had supposed. The safety goggles over glasses that I bought were rejected out of hand because they pressed on his glasses and he didn’t like their looks. He is almost obsessive about the fit and optical quality of his glasses. I told him I insisted that he wear regulation safety glasses based on the blog report of the inadequacy of any other kind. He grumbled threateningly about not wanting to shoot at all, but I told him that I was ordering amber shooting glasses from Pyrmidair which would give him approximately the same illumination as his regular glasses and he acquiesced. But at the range, he said that the glasses were too bright. Lo and behold, I turned around at the shooting line, and he had sneaked in the old pair of glasses! Unbelievable. I didn’t say anything then, but afterwards, we had the weirdest kind of role reversal. I said, “We have to be VERY clear….” Only the blog report sustained me. He squirmed some more but his desire to shoot won out. I ended up ordering mirrored safety glasses to cut glare but on our next outing, the light was low so the amber worked well. He ended up being impressed by the quality and price of the Remington glasses and plans to order the smoked version for fun; I would recommend them to anyone. I also had a confrontation with my Mom who wanted to help me clean up my shooting point without adequate hearing protection. I had to practically push her off the line which took a surprising amount of effort.

    In other news, I hit the gong at 270 yards for the first time with my Savage 10FP–three times in a row! But no luck with the gongs at 320 yards.

    My carefully memorized techniques of wind correction completely fell apart in the real thing. I didn’t even know where to start. However, I did gather my first data point in my book of the wind which is that it looks like a very brisk wind of 20+ mph pushed my .22LR bullet one inch laterally between 50 and 100 yards. Does that sound right?

    The scope worked on my Anschutz thanks to all of your ideas about switching the mounts! Thanks. One range officer, when he saw me changing out the aperture sights for the scope on that rifle said that it was “cheating.” I say, “There’s no such thing as a fair fight.” πŸ™‚ In a high wind, the Anschutz rifle with scope put three shots into a half inch at 50 yards.

    Shooting standing in high wind is very different from my box at home. The target stock caught the wind like a sail. I was shooting into 4 inches at 50 yards.

    The Single Six is terrific! Never have I felt so dialed in with any gun, and the .22 magnum conversion makes it like a new gun. That is an impressively powerful cartridge.

    My Mom took little interest in shooting but much in organizing the equipment for our outings to the range. This has been her traditional role and she was impressed with the amount of stuff to be managed between my guns, ammunition, rests, target frames, carriage bolts, wingnuts, washers, Allen wrenches, sandbags, cheekrests, scopes, targets, cardboard backing, screwdrivers and on. I who was once implored to “live like a human being” showed a few chops in the organizational department I’d say. πŸ™‚

    I flew my rc helicopter furiously indoors. The corridors that you find in a house are good approximations of the Star Wars trench in the original movie. The relevance for airgunning? I was developing my mechanical maturity for future problem-solving. Also, the helicopter was sort of like the grandchildren I never provided in the way it blundered around the house, bumping into things but slowly getting more certain. I’m afraid that you can’t teach this grandchild to shoot but maybe if there’s a way of fitting guns to it….

    Also, I, who was a serious abomination at playing the piano in my younger days, noticed a new ability which I attribute to my new steel-trap concentration from shooting. So, B.B. nothing is ever lost and things taught to kids can resurface later in ways that one may not expect. One of the last things my Dad said before I left was that I “made him a shooter” which I guess I did after his wild behavior at the range. πŸ™‚


    • Matt

      When you get those guns mounted on your RC helicopter, please let me know. And email me the blueprints.

      Maybe the range officer meant shooting with an Anschutz period was cheating. Cheater. πŸ˜‰

    • Matt61,

      I’m sure enjoying your journey that you’ve been kind enough to share. I still remember some of your first pictures you posted showing you shooting the newly acquired garand.

      Shooting the Anschutz outdoors in the wind must have been a real eye opener. Add frozen fingers, snow blowing in your eyes and onto your scope lenses combined with buck fever and you start to get an idea of elk hunting in Colorado during the winter.

      Ruger single six is such a good gun. Great gun for rabbits. Never had a magnum cylinder for mine. I traded a couple guns for a new ruger MK III Hunter with the 6 7/8″ fluted barrel today. Can’t wait to take it up to the cabin tomorrow and do a little plinking with it.

      What ammo are you using in your anschutz and single six?


  22. rikib, I have a rebuttal,

    There are millions of children who are taught in our schools, as part of the curriculum, to effectively knock someone down or throw them to the ground, right in front of their parents and other onlookers. Yet, I’ve never seen one of these kids run down the city streets indiscriminately knocking people down because of their training. I’ve never heard a coach tell his students, “now I don’t want you doing this down on Main street but smash into this guy as hard as you can”, because he doesn’t have to.

    In the same regard, I don’t think killing things in a computer or arcade game is going to turn a person into a real life killer. I don’t think paintball or air soft competition is going to make that person do the same thing with a .22 rim fire.

    What we seem to be addressing here instead is carelessness and negligence, and that is the crux of safety training. If you want to stop the killing in the streets, address the drug and gang problem. If you want to stop someone from domestic violence…well, lots-o-luck there pardner. But don’t think these problems are going away because we teach safety, don’t play computer games, or refrain from paintball competition.


    • CJr,
      I just stated my opinion as you have stated yours. I’m no professional psychiatrist, but when I worked at a video arcade the kids playing the war games were much more aggressive. I know I’m just profiling, but they would slam and kick the heck out of the game when they lost as opposed to minor cussing from others playing less violent games.

      Like I said this is my opinion and you and others have your own. That’s what free speech is all about, right.


  23. CJr, I agree with you up to a point.
    Wrestling (what I assume you’re talking about) is not taught in any elementary school that I know of.
    But how often do you see parents who don’t enforce the ratings on the back of video games? I know of all too many 6,7 and 8 year olds playing M rated war games on the XBox…because mom and dad are in another room and too busy to see what is actually on the screen.
    Same with AirSoft and painball. I don’t have much issue with a 12 year old (especially if he has had some training) invovled in these sports. But, speaking for myself, when I hear reports of 6 and 8 year olds who have been caught playing airsoft in the local park (which is illegal)…I have to wonder where their parents brains are…and what it is teaching these childrens.
    The difference in cognitive ability between a grede 7+ (where wrestling is usually first taught) and grade 2 or 3 is huge.

      • BUT, and it’s only my opinion, it does promote aggressiveness. Some children (and even teens) are not capable of handling the graphic, real life visual details of some of these games. They use it as a relief rather than talking with family. I must be too old, I remember talking with my brother, and at times even my mum and dad. I remember when being grounded was a terrible punishment so I guess I am too old.


      • Actually Malcolm, according to easily googled AMA (American Medical Assoc) and APA (American Psycological Assoc) studies, violent video games have been proven to cause aggressive behavior in children.

        • Sorry Malcolm (this is meant as a general comment, not directed at you specifically), but the attitude that violence in video games/TV/media does not affect children is totally false. Though most areas of North America have seen decreasing crime rates overall, the rates of violent crimes by youth (considered to be anyone under 20) has risen dramatically over the last 15 years…and the biggest increase is in young females.
          This is what good parenting is all about…realizing that a child under 10 is not able to process this informantion effectively.

  24. bb

    would the shorter 15 inch barrel on the 350 feurkraft effect accuracy much, or could it actually increase it do to the pellet leaving the barrel quicker. therefore allowing less vibrations to affect it. Also would the GUN be able to shoot 1.5 inch groups at 60 yards. I know that the shooter and technique has the biggest effect but is the gun capable. Also do you have in pelet recomadations in .22 caliber. I want to get something with more power and range than my 392.



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