This report covers:

  • Royal Rangers
  • Get control
  • Here we go!
  • Denny says
  • There’s more
  • Stop
  • Even more
  • Summary

Better put a whole pot of coffee on, folks. This one will take some time to resolve.

Royal Rangers

As you readers know, in June of last year I taught gun safety and marksmanship to a class of Royal Rangers at my church.

Royale Rangers class
The first three weeks were on gun safety. Here I point straight up, which is The Sign. Everyone has to be quiet when the sign is up!

Get control

I watched the kids I was about to train for several weeks before my classes started. That was easy since they are mostly in our kid’s church. They ran around and got into everything! The kids’ pastor had a treasure chest of candy that he used to reward them when they sat still for five minutes to listen to a lesson. He got them to behave for a few minutes and then sent them home with their folks supercharged with energy and poised to explode.

That wasn’t going to work for me. Fortunately I knew another way. Having taught junior marksmen before I knew that the kids really wanted to get to shoot. If they misbehaved, an adult would warn them and if it happened again they couldn’t participate that day’s session. They had to sit it out. We also required that the parents be at the first three sessions to observe. When the shooting started that really got the kids’ attention and the silliness stopped.

From my time in the Boy Scouts I also knew how the scoutmaster controlled our troop. If he raised The Sign we scouts had to be quiet and listen. It worked very well. The sign was three fingers held together (the Boy Scout salute) and pointed straight up. The Royal Rangers didn’t have a sign until I started my class so I introduced one. It was one finger pointing straight up. Given the nature of the organization, it seemed appropriate. Today, almost a year later, I’m pleased to announce they are still using The Sign.

Here we go!

My first rule of gun safety is: “Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot.” That is my paraphrase of the rule: “Always point a gun in a safe direction.” I say it my way because who knows what is safe? If a gun fired and shoots through a closed door, what is on the other side? People don’t think that way, and kids are people.

About a month ago one of the graduates of my safety course found a Nerf gun that the teenagers had been playing with and he ran into a room with all the younger kids and pointed it at their heads. Whaddaya do?

Denny says

My neighbor, Denny, says that kids will be kids and that Nerf guns aren’t dangerous. I agree with both statements. But when it comes to pointing one at somebody I default to my first rule of gun safety. Denny says that is too much to expect of a kid.

Here is what Hasbro, the owner of the Nerf brand, says:

TO AVOID EYE INJURY:
• WARNING: Do not aim at eyes or face. Use of eyewear recommended for players and people within range.

Build a Custom Airgun

There’s more

Before you start answering this question (remember, it is whaddaya do?), consider this. Airsoft was created in the Orient where firearm ownership is restricted by the governments. People wanted to own guns just to hold them and admire them. So laws were enacted to restrict the power level of these guns that Daisy called airsoft guns to a very low level — as low as below one foot-pound. They shot 6mm plastic balls the makers called BB bullets (boy — did THAT mess things up!) at velocities so low that they remained under the maximum energy level. Remember, these were airSOFT.

So a 0.12-gram (1.852 grain) ball can move at up to 493 f.p.s. A 0.20-gram (3.086-grain) ball can move up to 382 f.p.s. Fine and dandy. But then (about 5 years after airsoft started) people started using airsoft guns in Capture the Flag-type force-against-force skirmishes. And the race was on.

Shooters wanted to be accurate at 50 yards, so they could snipe at their “enemies.” The lightweight plastic balls were pretty accurate at close distances of up to around 20 yards, but they fell apart at longer distances. So shooters started demanding heavier plastic balls, and the weights and velocities increased. Eventually airsoft gamers wanted so much weight that plastic couldn’t do it, so the balls became metal with weights of .30-gram and more.

Stop

Right now if you search online for the definition of airsoft (type in What is airsoft?) you will discover that airsoft is a “…team game in which participants eliminate opposing players by tagging them out of play with spherical plastic projectiles shot with mock air weapons called airsoft guns.”

That definition came straight from Wikipedia, and, regardless of your regard for that site as a reliable source of information, this is how the world thinks of airsoft today.

There are even 8mm airsoft BBs. When 6mm just isn’t enough, you go up to 8.

The airsoft “BBs” (I hate that term, but I am outvoted by the world) are getting heavier and the guns that shoot them are getting more powerful. Air SOFT isn’t so soft today. But wait — yes, there is more.

Even more

Part of what drove the development of airsoft from a collectors’ viewpoint the direction it has taken is the parallel field of paintball. There is no pretense with paintball. Paintball markers were never intended to be replica firearms. Ever since Nel-Spot 007 tree “marker” was adapted to playing tactical games in June of 1981 the purpose of the sport has been to outmaneuver an opposing team and do something, like capture their flag. Since the .68-caliber paintballs hold paint, it’s difficult to conceal when you’ve been hit.

There is just one problem with paintballs, they are large, they travel fast and they really hurt when you are hit. They leave welts under layers of protective clothing! Vindictive paintballers have been known to freeze the paintballs before shooting them — just so the other guy or gal knows for certain they have been hit!

But 6mm airsoft doesn’t hurt that much — or at least it didn’t in the beginning.

I will stop right there. You guys can see where this is going, and I am only reporting the facts. However, what do you think I should do about the 11-year-old boy who now has his merit badge for gun safety and also pointed the Nerf gun at the other kids about a month ago?

Denny says talk to the kid and forget it. I think more is needed. Can an 11-year-old differentiate between a firearm (or airgun) and a “toy”? What happens when he turns 15 and gets angry with someone and decides to use a pellet gun to get even?

I know we will never come to complete agreement on this topic, but I would like the wisdom of your combined counsel. You see, my next gun safety class kicks off in a few months, and, also because I serve as a Watchman at my church, I need to know what to do about it.

Summary

The most critical part of gun safety is between the ears of all those involved.