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Education / Training Gun safety?

Gun safety?

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:

• 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.


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.


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

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 Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

109 thoughts on “Gun safety?”

  1. BB,

    That’s a very fine line to tread. Difficult to make a kid understand it is not right to point a gun at anybody in jest especially when current culture is sending mixed signals. Nerf guns are safe and you can shoot each other with them. Guns are not safe and you are not allowed to own them. Talk about schizophrenic messages. I would talk to the kid and probably begin the next gun safety course with a destructive demonstration of the differences between a Nerf gun, an airsoft and a real firearm.


  2. B.B.,

    My wife is a recently retired Special Education Teacher K-12. She believes that most 11 year olds are able to differentiate between a Nerf Gun’s risk level and the risk level of airsoft, paint ball, bb gun, pellet gun, and a firearm. They do however have limited ability to control impulsive behavior especially when in attention seeking mode. She recommends sitting down with the young man and pointing out the Hasbro legal placard. Have him read it to you out loud. Ask if he understands all the words used. Clear up any questions he may have about it.
    Then ask him if what he did with the Nerf gun was good Nerf gun safety.
    If he says no; ask him to think about what an appropriate consequence for his Nerf gun safety infraction should be. Tell him you need to leave the room for 5 or so minutes and he that needs to have decided what his consequence should be by the time you return. Tell him that If he can’t come up with an appropriate consequence you will need to suspend his Merit Badge until he writes a paragraph on Nerf gun safety based on the Hasbro placard. That he then read It to his fellow Royal Rangers and apologizes to them for flagging their faces and heads.
    Those minutes will probably be the hardest he has ever experienced thus far.
    Live with his consequence plan if he doesn’t adopt your alternate consequence for his own.


    • Well thought out. Even at a young age kids need to know there are consequences. Your process encourages that.
      Unfortunately, children’s brains are not fully developed, if ever, until people are about 23-24. Maybe they should be considered minors until then. Teen agers have NO impulse control which is why they get in so much trouble.


      • Tom,

        She says, “de nada.”
        I will add that she is The Consummate Professional as; Mom, NAVY Wife, and Educator. I would never have gotten over my interpersonal ineptitude without her loving help.
        I am forever grateful to her.


  3. BB: if I came dashing into your classroom pointing a ripe, yellow banana at you, you would all laugh at the crazy person pointing a piece of fruit. You might even take a bite of the banana, but most likely no one would feel threatened. Next however, should I enter your classroom pointing a gun of ANY kind at you, the first reaction is one of fear, or of protection. The gun in hand might just be a plastic water pistol, but the reaction will still be one of fear, or of protection, perhaps with a drawn weapon. My purpose in carrying a loaded weapon is to protect. My attitude is one of serving others. Inside, I am still that eighteen year old kid running towards the battle in Vietnam. That heart, that training, has and never will change. If you run into my classroom pointing a banana, I will stand down. If you run into my classroom pointing ANY sort of gun, I will most likely be able to ascertain your INTENT quickly. Note: I said MOST LIKELY. Others may well act differently. It is NEVER safe to point any kind of gun at anyone. The implied intent of carrying and pointing a gun is to shoot. I carry to protect; I don’t know what your intent is. NEVER point a gun unless you intend to shoot it. Pointing a gun is absolutely never a joke. Orv.

  4. You have a difficult chore ahead of you. My grandson is twelve now. Fortunately, he listens very closely to what I have to say concerning firearms and air arms. I have worked hard to instill in him rule #1.

    I am afraid of the outside influences though. One of the boys he hangs with is a little older and has a Gamo break barrel and a full auto M9 bb gun. He also will play various shoot ’em up, blow ’em up games. I am concerned with what he may be learning when not with me.

    I do not envy your task.

      • GF1,

        I did get your email. The problem is their prices are so high they have to unbutton their collars. They will give you almost nothing for your used gun and then sell it at a price close to what a new one would cost. I would never buy a used airgun from AOA.

        • RR
          Your making me think thoughts. Gunfun1 thinking. Scary.

          But I know there is alot of different things involved. But what does age have to do with something that matters?

          • I have far more knowledge than I used to, but the body would not hold up to what is needed.

            This is why the military wants young people. Their bodies are still strong, and their minds are still malleable.

        • I object to the idea of fighting Russians in Ukraine and removing the Russian president (I much prefer ceding to Putin’s demands…).

          Anyway, I apologise for my political comment, which I only make to remind that there are people with other points of view.

          For those who may wish to understand me better, I offer the writings of Caitlin Johnstone with whom I completely agree.

          I won’t bother offering a link as dissident views are being increasingly censored (for example, I use a VPN [virtual private network] all the time to see viewpoints that differ from the official propaganda).

      • Tom,
        As a child of the Cold War, huddling under my desk-chair, as a voting adult from the days of Perestroika to today, please ask Val what we, as “old fellers”, can do?
        I realize this is off the “pew-pew” res., but at least…
        … dang-it, I really want a Drozd and it looks like it’ll only happen if Russia tosses that tosser and joins the EU!

        • Mike,

          The thing everyone can do is pray for the Ukraine. Despite what you see in the news, it seems to be working.

          As for the Drozd, it will cost, but I know a feller who has several of them new in the box. Maybe come to the Texas Airgun Show in September?


          • I do pray for the people of the Ukraine. They are paying with their lives for freedom and democracy. May the flag of the Ukraine fly high and long against the despot from Russia. He must go. Orv.

  5. Having been a martial arts trainer for kids some years ago, I was confronted with this kind of situation as well, fearing the kids using their knowledge outside the dojo in an inappropriate way (similar to RidgeRunner’s sorrows). My rule number one was that when I got to know about skirmishes outside the dojo, there would be a systematic suspension, a conversation with involved kids, witnesses if possible and parents. Final decision based to be taken on the conversation with only two options: reintegration or exclusion from the club. Defensive behaviour was allowed if done in an appropriate way, but the ones to judge about appropriate or not were the trainers and parents, not the kids.
    This rule was known to each kid and parent from the beginning and had to be approved by both before the first lesson.
    I had to live with the same rules given by my trainer even when I was no longer a kid, and still do. In the case of kids, their parents need to be involved when things happen, and they need to back you.
    This only works if the kid wants to do the sport and suspension is something and exclusion he/she wants to avoid at all means.

    I would have liked the counsel of shootski and his wife by the time, this systematic approach seems real interesting to me for this kind of situation. Having the kid go through a “hard moment” as Shootski states it (moment implying the feeling of shame – as opposed to humiliation, which should be avoided) linked to an educative lesson given by this same kid seems a great option. I completely subscribe to that. Kids can only become responsible persons if they learn that their behavior, whatever it might be, always has consequences, that they are the only one responsible for these consequences and have to live with them. If the kid has understood and integrated his/her lesson, he/she will most likely be the one watching out for this kind of behavior in the future and educate his/her mates without your interaction.

  6. I’d suggest you try some element of logical reasoning within your conversation, even for an adolescent. Things are so different in the 21st century. Personally, I think the replica guns we see are part of new hazard with “harmless” guns looking much like real weapons. The risk is that even a “toy” can be taken by observers as a killing device. No replica, novelty, or model is safe from getting a reaction of fear, rage, or even violence. What we commonly did as 12 year olds with our (somewhat dangerous) cap pistols and BB guns two generations ago is now grounds for punishment. Maybe that risk will be understood.

  7. I really like Shootski’s answer, and understand Hoppalong Doc’s perspective. But I would like to add some context as a shooter that raised twin boys through this whole phase – they did everything you discussed.

    I’ll start with airsoft. The rules with those were clear – unless they were “skirmishing” (our rules on that to follow) the rules for handling and use were the same as what you would expect from air guns or PBs. Target shooting only, with normal range safety even though it was most likely out in the open yard . . .

    Skirmishing was allowed with kids in the neighborhood, but all participants had to be dressed appropriately with facial and eye protection and play was limited to one or two adjacent yards of participants – never larger than that. If any kid had to remove their facial protection for any reason they had to call a time out, and all firing had to stop by all kids. They were also told that if they ever painted or removed the orange tip on their guns they would lose all of them – we explained that the orange was there to communicate the type of gun to law enforcement (I’ll leave the effectiveness/weakness of that orange tip alone – just sharing our rule on it). I also pointed out the reason for the orange to the other parents, so it basically applied to all the kids. We also required our boys to only have airsoft guns that had large portions of them in clear plastic to make it obvious to all but the dumbest people that these were “toys” and not actual guns, since they look like guns. Obviously not all of the kids in the neighborhood had to live by the “clear gun” rule, but ours did – my wife insisted on it, and I saw the wisdom of it. Personally, I wish more airsoft was offered this way (there were more in the past) as it makes it pretty clear that the kid running around the neighborhood with what looks like an AR has a “toy” and not the real thing in his hands. Violation of these rules meant loss of the guns for my boys, and since they knew I meant it we never had an issue – all of their airsoft experience was intentionally preceded by basic gun safety training with BB guns, and in that training (like yours) lack of following the rules meant the shooting session was done for a week or more to let them “mature” since they were “obviously nor ready for it yet.” I’ll be clear – I don’t think a child that can’t be trusted to be taught basic gun safety with a BB gun should be trusted with an airsoft gun. These really can “put an eye out” – especially when multiple kids are shooting at multiple angles, and with many of the guns being automatics shooting hundreds of rounds per minute.

    As a side note, all shooting and skirmishing in our yard required the use of biodegradable airsoft ammo by all kids, and most other parents did the same – I did not want tens of thousands of plastic pellets around forever – and they do eventually “disappear” (but it does take over a year).

    Paintball for us was simple – that was only done at paintball gaming sites following their rules using the facilities paintball guns. We did not own any and they were fine with that – although they did end up with a few paintball grenades of their own that were only used at the facilities as well.

    Nerf is the problem area in all this. Our boys were HUGE Nerf fans, and they never really outgrew it. The thing that makes it problematic is that Nerf guns are intended to be shot at each other, and as long as the eyes are protected they are really fully safe (setting aside Hoppalong’s comment for the moment). And the guns are designed to very clearly “toys” too. The thing that works to our collective advantage with Nerf is the the fact that the short range and HORRIBLE accuracy in any wind at all makes them pretty much an indoor event. In all the years of Nerf gunning, with many thousands of “rounds” shot, all of them have been done indoors for us and our kids friends.

    That “indoor” nature leads to some easy rules. All participants must agree to play, no “ambushing” anyone that is not actively playing in the game (and thus knows what is going on), and we also insisted that eye protection by worn once the count of players went over two (but was always encouraged, although with just two kids the odds of getting hit in the eye is so low as you hear the shot and know it is coming).

    While I don’t like the idea of “guns that are intended to shoot people for fun” that is a battle that I can’t win. That’s why I thought through all the rules above and put them into place – they address general safety in terms of the guns themselves, as well as what I will call the “situational safety” that Hoppalong Doc talked about. If followed, the rules my boys learned protect kids from both risks. Unfortunately there is no way to require other kids to be taught these by there parents . . .

    With all that in mind, I think the real discussion with your “offender” needs to be one around context: does he think that his actions were appropriate, with all he has learned from you about “gun safety”. In addition to what Shootski’s wife proposes, you can explain that his actions reflect ignorance rather somebody that has “real gun safety experience.” It is about getting him to think more broadly.

    It can be difficult to talk about Hoppalong Doc’s concerns directly with kids, but it can be done from the perspective of having the kids treat the other people with the appropriate concern. I think we have to approach it by teaching kids that “toy guns” can’t be assumed to be known to be toys by others people unless they are told/shown this directly, and that surprising them with the appearance of the gun – either toy or “real” – is not a good idea. So you could ask this boy if he thinks that with everything he has learned if walking into the room with the Nerf gun the WAY he did was a good thing to do – I expect he will agree it wasn’t, but I can understand why he acted the way he did: nobody really helped him connect the dots before. And maybe that connection is something to build into your training too . . .

    Sorry this ended up so long, but I too agree it is of great importance . . .


  8. I don’t allow to “shoot on someone” even with some small plastic pistol-like toy. My boys are just not allowed to do that. There is no playing “shooting people” and thats it.
    My 8yo older son now recieved my final tuning level HW30 as his primary training equipment. He can shoot only with me and only when wearing safety glases. Actually now he is shouting at me like “heey stay behind me!” if I do something not right. 🙂 After the training the “airgun compartment” (wardrobe) is closed and only I know the code to open.

    When the real problems starts? With the statement: “this gun is unloaded”.
    Kids should not play with fire, explosives and weapons any kind.
    It is important to teach this good habits at the very beginning.

    • Tomek,

      I have the same opinion about shooting at people as you do. I don’t think shooting at people is right under and circumstance other than self defense.


      • Y’all didn’t run around as kids goi g bang-bang with sticks and such? I know the world has changed significantly, but we still need to account for and redirect in a safe way the needs of youngsters. Lots of wisdom in the thread and I don’t have any other wisdom to add 🙂

      • BB,

        Have you forgotten the giggle factor of ambushing a younger, or better yet, older sibling with a squirt gun as a child? If you think about it, you could have made your brother jump or fall off the porch in shock or just to avoid the cold blast on the back of the neck and that fall could have resulted in a serious injury. In spite of that sort of risk, I’ve lived 66 years and don’t know anyone that has been hurt by a squirt gun.

        If we don’t have data on how many kids are injured with Nerf guns, how can we access whether it should even be a concern.

        If we want our kids to still have a chance at having the fun we had at their age we just need to make them more aware of the real dangers from some of the stuff that is available to play with today that wasn’t available to us back then.

        I think educating kids on the physical damage that toy guns, air guns of each type and, certainly, firearms can cause on human tissue is the key. I know it sounds extreme, but if I were tasked with teaching gun safety to a group of 11 year olds, I would find a way to get them outdoors at a gun range and set up a pork shoulder and have then watch as I fired various projectiles from various platforms into that chunk of meat. I think at that age they could put two and two together and figure out that some things require more caution than others and only then can you start talking about the subtle differences in a meaningful way. TV and movies have lead them to believe they can hide behind a cardboard box and they can’t be shot. Furthermore, the bullet will throw of really cool sparks when it ricochets off the box.

        First time I saw my cousin’s arm in a cast, and I know this is sacrilegious where you live, I knew I didn’t want to play football.

        Maybe I’m being stupid, but I’m serious about the pork shoulder thing. It would be the first thing that I got a permission slip signed for from each parent.


        • Half
          I agree with the pork shoulder. Also try a whole skinned chicken to shoot at and see what happens. I have done the chicken with my daughters when they was learning.

  9. What a complex subject. One role of the adult is to demystify the subject, and reinforce acceptable norms, set boundries. The emotional component is harder to get. I think studying old westerns with the kids is one way to reach them. Old black and white Akira Kuwasawa, Toshiro Mifune films would work too. Whether its a sword or a pistol, etc. young boys must learn how to deal with aggresion from others, as well as there own. Understanding the ‘why’ of things is harder for youngsters who just ‘do’ . To be healthy, and emotionaly mature first, so the weapon is not your master, you must master it, but its not just technical proficiency, there is psychological component.
    The commander used to talk about outward signs of inward change, to get more stripes. The days of playing ‘army’ or skirmishing are over for kids any where but on the property, its a good way to git shot, orange muzzle tip or not. You gotta watch those little boogers close, man. Keep up the good work! My dog just got skunked, it’s 5 am. Thank goodness I have the ‘Miracle’ cure around the house.

    • Rob
      Poor dog. I remember that when I was a kid on the farm. Even if you wanted to help the poor dog you couldn’t get near enough for the first few days. Bad situation.

      • I let her out at 5am, thinking skunks dont climb fences or fruit trees, and I chose to ignore the other dog bark alarms that happened before 12am, and the GSD wanted out real bad. She tore off after something, I followed, and then she came back hauling as fast as she’d taken off. Sudden change of plans I’d say, ha ha. She hardly got hit at all. Skunks climb. Maybe it will try another short cut to the alley, we’ll see. My brother has my nite light too, so Mister Prod cant see very good at the moment.

  10. If the essay doesn’t work, there are always push-ups. Lots and lots of push-ups.
    “if you can’t be smart, at least you’ll be strong.” – Coach Floyd

    • Berserkeley Mike
      I can respect that. And again reminding me of my high school days. My gym teacher was tuff but respected by certian kids. Others didn’t like him. He got the point across. He would let things slide. But you definitely knew when he wasn’t happy with a situation. Nothing wrong with that in my eye’s.

  11. BB
    I just wrote a big spill about this and it evaporated.

    Don’t feel like writing it all again.

    Plain and simple you are running the class. They need taught right. If they do something that don’t comply you need to correct them and it’s said and done and over with. Then you go about the day and carry on.

    Doesn’t this happen in other aspects of life? We all know that answer. Teach them right. That is what has to happen regardless of what anybody else thinks.

      • B.B.,
        You are most welcome; I had no idea either; I saw that article a few hours after I read today’s report; I hope it’s of use to you for some teachable moments.
        Blessings to you,

  12. Like Siraniko’s idea of “destructive demonstration” to show the effect of a firearm round, airgun pellet, even an arrow or bolt on soft targets. Alternatively one could show videos illustrating aforesaid effects of projectiles. They’re out there.

    At the age of 17, clueless/distracted FM had a minor fender-bender and was given the option of attending Traffic School in lieu of paying a fine and being assesed “points” or “demerits” on his driver’s license. Off went FM to school. The first day a film titled “Mechanized Death” was shown, documenting the gruesome aftermath of fatal crashes for the purpose of scaring the heck out of the viewer and ensuring one understood the awesome responsibility and privilege of being allowed to drive a powerful machine in a safe and competent manner. The film definitely made an impression on young FM which perhaps has allowed him to become Old FM, though not yet old or inept enough to give up driving and/or shooting.

    “Mechanized Death,” released in 1961, is available online. It is not entertaining.

    • FM
      Yes. I remember my high school machine shop movies (no videos yet back then) of people being stupid using machines and horse play. Pretty gruesome.

      Thats why I say for a person to take a role of teaching you just inherited a very big responsibility. A hard job to do right. Definitely a job that you need to go beyond and above your duty.

      I can remember one of my shop teachers that would always stop me if he seen me and give me little pointers. I had a gym teacher and a algebra teacher that was the same. Not that Gunfun1 was necessarily messing up but maybe they seen something that I had no clue about seeing back then. Got to teach them kids right.

    • FawltyManuel and Tom,

      As a demonstration of horror in error Tom could use a 1911 in airsoft, CO2 and firearm form to illustrate on a head of cabbage what happens when they shoot the wrong weapon. Force on force practice may have its place among adults but not among kids. Just my 0.02 cents


      • Siraniko
        It might helps some adults to with the demonstration.

        The whole thing is what if that kid or adult sitting there being shown that demonstration was the one being the target instead of the cabbage head. That’s when it gets real.

      • Siraniko,

        Your 0.02 cents are worth exploring on Force on Force training! My concern and my question to you (as well as the other readers) is about the “realistic” portrayals of that type of training being played out in so many homes and gaming lounges and apparently around much of the World; not just in the USA.
        Isn’t that near total distortion of reality a far bigger problem?


        • Shootski,

          Admittedly I am not a fan of Force on Force in uncontrolled situations. I would rather have them “play” in a defined and controlled environment where there is minimum risk of a real firearm being introduced, much like your house rules. There is a definite time, a definite place, definite equipment and definite rules.

          Why did they start blaming the equipment and not the person?


          • Siraniko,

            Blaming the equipment, The Thing, is something Gunfun1 and I discuss in an exchange below. I am of the opinion that with the guidance of the Gun Ban Coalitions that in the USA our elected and appointed officials have found it to their political benefit to blame the gun (Gun Violence) instead of the individual. For many years the actual percentage of homes with handguns was surprisingly low of course there were many homes with hunting rifles, shotguns and mostly rusted war souvenirs. But in the past decade or so the average number of people buying handguns each month has surpassed the earlier yearly records! The Concealed Carry Classes at the indoor shooting range i belong to are sold out each month as far into the future as they are willing to schedule. The larger percentage of first time new handgun owners are women.
            It is frightening how many are untrained in basic gun handling because there are not enough qualified instructors.
            We avoid the 25 ranges and only use the Shoot House, 50, and 100 range for personal safety.


    • FM,

      My 8th grade Social Studies teacher showed us two of those “Drivers Training” films in 1969 and the images from them still influence my driving 53 years later.


  13. Agree with all the great observations on this topic and a great topic for further thought this weekend. Further to Siraniko’s, FM’s, and Gunfun1’s points, I recall our hunter safety course back when I was 12. So you know over 35 years later, it made an impression on me. The instructors had a watermelon, a head of lettuce and a solid block of ice. The watermelon was gut-shot with a 12 gauge loaded with No. 6 shot. The lettuce was vaporized by a high velocity round from a deer rifle (can’t remember the caliber), and the ice was turned to snow by a Hawken muzzleloader. Then we were told: imagine if that was your hunting partner…. I hunted with my Dad…my hero…that sunk in!

    A shout out to Tomek: Growing up, we played cops and robbers and Lone Ranger and such with our cap guns with the little paper rolls of caps hidden inside, but we’d get a stern talking to if Dad saw us actually pointing the toy guns at each other. So after a while of shooting NEAR but not AT each other, we got bored of the ridiculousness of intentionally missing and the cap guns were forgotten.

    Nowadays, the only time I have allowed my kids to point a gun at each other is with a lazer tag set. No projectile other than invisible infrared light photons. I never let them shoot nerf or point anything more potent than a finger at each other. If my son wants to shoot his nerf rifle, he sets up a bunch of plastic animals and goes “hunting,” or tries for the paper plate bullseye hanging from the playroom ceiling.

    But I have to applaude all the well thought out responses above. Kudos!

    In other news, I bought some peeps at the grocery store and I’m thinking of devious ways to exterminate them. [Evil sounding laugh].

    • RG
      In my original reply that vanished I mentioned the hunter course.

      That wasn’t even thought about when I was a kid. I totally agree that class should be taught. Not only to kids but probably even to some adults now days. So what to do. Make it available all across the board. Not mandatory in all instances but available.

      And I done the Easter peeps before. The .22 and .25 caliber guns tend to make some interesting results. The .177 guns tend to just poke right through like a needle. But they all prove a point. They will do what is needed in thier own way.

    • Roamin Greco,

      The first time I bought Peeps for my 4 year old grandson, they were of the Purple persuasion. He happened to pull the package out with the heads facing down and was elated to have gotten “Candy Rhinoceroses” in his Easter basket. Let me know if you get what I mean. It changed my world.


    • Roamin Greco,

      I played the same. We sometimes made our “guns” out of wood just to have something similar in the hand to play. What I mean is not just playing cops and robbers but intentional mechanism of willing to kill someone. It is not very good to make a program like this installed in the childs mind. This may have bad consequences later. I think for a young boy it is good to get a hard statement like this from your own father: “we don’t shoot at people and we don’t point any gun at anyone”. Just same as my second “holy” rule: “there is no unloaded gun”.
      I stay by my statement, that the kids can only shoot airgun with some aware adult person. Not by themselfs, even if they know the safety mantra. I was a kid myself, with airgun on the grandpa’s ranch. Who let me just have it then? 🙂 Luckily none of my stupid ideas made any big damage…

  14. B.B. and Readership,

    Mrs. Shootski and I are very proud of all of you and your response to B.B.s concerns over a gun safety issue!
    Mrs Shootski wanted to add one final observation: it is crucial in her mind for Tom to limit himself to resolving this one matter with this young man. Her reasoning is based on dealing/resolving one thing at a time with youngsters being what she found the most effective. Secondarily the very real consideration on the limits of loco parentis that B.B. has assumed while instructing the Royal Rangers.
    Both my wife and I are CC qualified and both of our children as well. Our daughter is a Solo Patrol Officer and our son is a retired Biathlete and a current Biathlon Official and trainer…shooters all.
    To come to the point, FINALLY!!!, we all four owned NERF Ballzookas® and had regular Total Combat (with a fixed time limit based on how well we all did at controlling our aggressive tendencies while still having fun) with appropriate eye protection when they were young. Both of our young’n have told us that those raucous minutes-hours of PLAY taught them how to control the Adrenaline driven moments in their lives. Our daughter just recently had to draw her service weapon on two noncompliant citizens and commented to us about the effectiveness of our “training” in remaining calm and in control of herself in difficult senarios.
    In short don’t ignore the value of training with nonlethal/less lethal arms.


    • Shootski
      I agree with how you trained with your kids and wife. Totally respect your comment.

      What sticks with me is the kid went into the place and got others involved. Probably no big deal. But he didn’t absorb the teaching. Again he’s a kid. But being a mentor BB has to do some correcting.

      We all have been corrected at some point in our life. If it’s for the right reason I would expect it. My thinking always is we should try to better ourselves. We don’t have much time on this Earth. We have to think. That’s the problem nowdays. And yes throughout time. But it needs to start with people that have the knowledge and make it happen. And I stress the right people. Like BB and us all that know the right thing we should do.

      Oh and darn BB. A tuff one for this Friday’s blog.

  15. The times, they were definitely different; growing up in the ’50s-early ’60s, we played war, instinctively or subsconsciously we knew it was not real war or fighting and for the most part so did our parents. Also we could pretend to “shoot” the enemy but never allowed to do so with toy guns which actually discharged projectiles – cap and other noisemaker type play guns were ok. So we engaged in fantasy battles between Cowboys and Indians, Marines and Japs – as they were referred to in those days – and, even once, recall one of the guys saying “let’s do Germans against Russians today.” That sounded odd to little FM – then he found out the Germans and the Russians had in fact fought each other in WWII. It was all in fun, no one got hurt, we let off steam and energy and, by God, seems we all turned up pretty normal and grew up to be cautious and sober citizens.

    By the way, at that time became a big John Wayne fan and still remember being traumatized when FM’s hero, playing Sgt. Stryker in “Sands of Iwo Jima” gets killed at the very end…the Good Guys are ALWAYS supposed to get through everything! That was a lesson in “that’s not the way real life works” – even in the movies.

    • FM
      I grew up basically the same. We had to use sticks as our riffles and pistols. Not a actual gun.

      Yes I know we pointed at each other with the stick guns. And my dad made it known that we needed to pay attention to how we used that fake gun. And as it was a real gun in our mind. I was taught that it was a life and it could be ended in whatever way the gun could happen to be used or went off in a wrong way. He always told me and my brother what would I think if that someone ended my life today for whatever reason if with the gun or something else happened. You have to be responsible and respect life. If you use that in your teaching now and throughout time. At least you know in your mind you tried to help things go the right way.

      I hate but also love these kind of blogs at the same time. It’s life.

  16. BB,

    Sorry, I’m with Denny today.

    “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?”

    Since we’ve been asked to weigh in on this, I’m with Denny–probably even less.

    First, some random thoughts in no particular order: The blog today makes some big leaps. Nerf guns are not paintball guns which aren’t airsoft guns, but they are sort of somehow now related because you tried to make them relate. Nerf guns are made specifically to use to shoot your big sister or little brother. This is a fact. The kid is 11. He’s ELEVEN–he’s literally the walking embodiment of Nerf’s demographic. You’re teaching a gun safety class to church kids–while other church kids are shooting each other with Nerf guns outside the class. Perfect. Who could’ve seen that coming? Other thoughts that are a bit more vague but also seem related: You’re not his parent. He’s coming to church of his (or his parents) free will. This happened four weeks ago–you’re kinda late to the party to impose some kind of sanction on him. What are you going to do to the teens leaving nerf guns lying about?

    If this really a serious problem that needed to be addressed –like he pointed a Lookalike gun at someone–that should’ve happened immediately after the incident. Preferably with mom or dad.

    “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”?

    Yes. Yes he can. Lord knows, you and I both knew the difference at his age.

    “What happens when he turns 15 and gets angry with someone and decides to use a pellet gun to get even?”

    That’s a huge jump in the concern as to him potentially having impulse control issues with BB guns four years into the future because he pointed a Nerf gun at someone a month ago.. Unless he’s exhibited other behaviors toward harming others or you get some bad vibes about his personality, this seems like a non-starter.

    *Full disclosure: I have actually shot and been shot by friends, neighbors and neighbor’s kids, co-workers, sisters, aunts, uncles, fathers and even my wife with various Nerf products.

    • Derrick,

      I think B.B. knows that the train has left the station with the kid that flagged the group with the Nerf Gun and here is why we think that:
      B.B. wrote toward the end of his Blog, “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.”
      It appeared to my wife and I that he was asking for a “whaddaya do” as he clearly says earlier in his writings: “Before you start answering this question (remember, it is whaddaya do?)”
      My wife and I are part of the population that don’t subscribe to the NOT EVEN NERF GUNS SHALL BE POINTED AT SOMETHING WE DON’T INTEND/ARE PREPARED TO DESTROY concept but we understand where that comes from and respect the folks who hold to that.
      At least we all agree that it is okay to shoot airguns; there are all to many who would like to eliminate our wonderful shooting culture entirely.


  17. Since you touch on it, but I can’t help thinking that paintball in the UK is at best in something of an anomalous position, and at worst operating outside the law relying on little more than an attitude of ‘that’s not a gun, it’s a marker – so there.’

    The definition of a firearm in UK law is a lethal barrelled weapon capable of discharging a missile. Now lethality has nothing to do with bowling someone over with one shot, or killing cattle under test conditions, but has come to mean the ability to break the skin and cause an injury, which needs a hard projectile and some – but not much – energy, around 1 joule or so. A typical airgun firing lead pellets meets both of those criteria and so is a firearm, but a class of firearm for which no licence is required (we’ll ignore Scotland, and the 6 or 12 ft.lb upper limit).

    Airsoft may well fire a hard projectile, but usually with insufficient energy to break the skin; a paintball gun (‘marker’) may well fire something with airgun levels of energy, but it breaks up rather than penetrate (although firing rubber balls must surely muddy that argument?). The result is that neither of these are firearms.

    Precisely because something is not a firearm in its own right though, leaves open the possibility of it being an imitation firearm or a realistic imitation firearm – the former having the appearance, size and shape of a firearm, the latter having the appearance, size shape and colour of a firearm. The airsoft industry was well aware of this legislation, with two-tone guns that are imitation firearms, and the realistic looking RIFs that are still available, but only for certain reasons (airsoft at airsoft sites has been recognised as a valid reason).

    Paintball guns, on the other hand, seem to have become increasingly realistic and while continuing to rely on not being a firearm, also seem not to be realistic imitation firearms. I was struck recently by a discussion on a UK forum of a very realistic automatic pistol paintball gun (no names or pack drill, not least because a retailer was also mentioned) which initially at least had questions of its legal status – at least until people started receiving them and finding out how much fun they were. As far as I could see, neither the airgun legislation (if the gun were a firearm) or the RIF legislation (if it wasn’t) was being applied.

    Funny thing is, a search to check how the paintball industry regards itself reveals plenty of ‘our guns/markers fire frangible ammunition’, but then a very recent post on a paintball forum of:

    “The big headline news is that following the commissioning of a barrister for a review of the law in relation to paintball the UKPSF guidance in regard to the VCRA is that we can no longer hope to rely on frangibility.
    Recommendations are that buyers are UKPSF members
    Retailers are implementation membership validation.
    To purchase a paintball gun/marker in the UK the buyer will need to be aged 18 and have current UKPSF membership”

    Although I’m afraid I don’t understand that either – on the one hand, losing the frangibility argument means their guns/markers are regarded as firearms, and fall under airgun legislation, but the requirement that buyers are members of an organisation and sellers check this is similar to the non-firearm RIF model of selling – look at airsoft. So it looks as though there may be some movement on this issue, and I wonder how messy it will be if the decision is that item X not only is, but was and should have been regarded as this or that under the law?


    • Just to add – VCRA is Violent Crime Reduction Act, 2006, which amended the Firearms Act 1968 in regard to airguns (raising age limits for ownership, stopping mail order sales) but introduced the distinction between imitation firearms and realistic imitation firearms, the latter of which can only be sold for limited reasons.


      • Iain,

        Reading all that makes for a near LETHAL headache!
        It is however instructive of what happens when the Law tries to regulate The THING rather than the ACTION or BEHAVIOR that is objectionable or worse. Law giving has changed over the centuries from proscription of actions toward prescription of things used in those actions. The reasoning is that it is easier to find support among those who don’t possess the THING.
        As an example: The Ten Commandments, as an early example of law giving, never regulate the THING(S) but always the behavior or action. You have provided ample examples of the “objectionable THING(S) being regulated versus the objectionable ACTION in more recent times.


  18. B.B.,

    I have had this Weekend’s Blog rolling around in my mind most of the time.
    It dawned on me that in all my classroom sessions on shooting – live ammunition was forbidden – and only dummy or disabled guns, magazines, clips and inert rounds were permitted in the space. We practiced the Range/Field Commands and the CEASE FIRE command was discussed in detail. We were taught that it didn’t JUST mean to stop firing but to render your weapon SAFE and pointed in a safe direction.

    Did you or anyone else in the classroom give the CEASE FIRE command?
    It is the quickest command and most effective one to render a weapon situation SAFE and can be given by anyone involved in the activity to stop an unsafe action now!

    Just another thought for the Royal Ranger as well as your next Watchman training sessions.


      • B.B.,

        Well that makes the whole situation much clearer.
        Still, the discussion and thinking on the topic of Safe Gun Handling is one we can never do enough of lest we slide into complacency.


        • Shootski
          What I would like to know is how the Nerf gun even got there.

          Didn’t the parents even know he had it going to place.

          Did he smuggle it in under his long black over coat? Bet not. Somebody had to know the kid brought it.

          • Gunfun1,

            B.B. wrote: “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.”

            So the kid apparently didn’t bring it…that is why my wife talked about limited impulse control at that age.


        • Shootski
          Ok now I remember.

          So now it makes me wonder if there is any kind of supervision going on there. And if so I guess does the supervision believe the Nerf guns were ok to play with?

          Sounds like more rules in general need to be applied by someone in charge.

          Yes it’s a toy but the younger kid got ahold of it and used it the wrong way. Sounds like to many of the same scenarios that happen with firearms and kids getting ahold of them. Then somebody gets shot.

          I think the establishment needs to tighten the reins a bit. That would not of progresed to the point of now one of BB’s students got in that predicament along with BB.

          There is no room for being clumsy in all aspects. If the teenagers would of been corrected this paticular situation would not of happened. Remember hall monitors in school. Yep something like that is needed.

          Hopefully more people beside the young kid have learned something by this.

  19. Fellow airgunners,
    B.B. hit home on an important subject here: as airgunners, we need to teach the next generation proper respect for airguns.
    The author of this article is clearly missing the point; it sounds like she is more concerned with helping the Orbeez makers avoid lawsuits than she is addressing the seriousness of the actions being committed by young people with bead-shooting airguns:
    I couldn’t care less if it is an actual challenge on Tik Tok; the point is this: teens are doing dangerous things with airguns that can wind up getting them killed. In this incident, some teens were detained by a man with an actual handgun, and forced to give up their bead-blaster:
    You don’t have to look too hard to see that such incidents are widespread:
    My point is this: B.B. is doing a good thing in this report in that he is trying to prevent young people from doing stupid things with guns, things that might even get them killed.
    Additionally, stupid stunts like the ones outlined in these articles serve to drag down our really cool sport of airgunning, and will lead more people into the knee-jerk reaction of wanting to pass more laws to restrict all airguns (not just the bead-shooters).
    I think it would be good to follow B.B.’s example, and strive to pass on our knowledge of acceptable behavior with guns to our youth in order to ensure the continuation of airgunning (and all gun-related sports) for the future. Just my 2 cents.
    Peace, all,
    love this blog,

    • P.S. I am a “late-bloomer” (I didn’t get started with airguns till I was in my teens); hence, I’ve only been shooting airguns for…hmm, let’s see…about 47 years.
      In the past, I have lived in areas where I used to be able to shoot airguns (safely) in my own backyard; and then, a few years later, that was legislated out: one was not allowed to shoot any airgun, or even a slingshot, within the confines of the city limits.
      (That’s why I started my first “indoor 5-meter range”…it was all the room I had. =>)
      Thankfully, I live in a town where there are currently NO restrictions on shooting airguns on one’s own property (as long as you are doing so in a safe manner), and I would like to keep it that way. 🙂

      • Dave
        I know what you mean about all you just commented on.

        I remember growing up on the farm as a kid. Shooting was something I always looked forward to everyday. And it was my job also to eliminate pests on the farm. A very important job I’ll add.

        My dad burned gun safety into me and my brother and one of the most important rules is never point a gun loaded or unloaded at something you don’t intend to shoot. And definitely no horse play with a gun in your hand among many other rules. One of the things me and my brother new was we better follow the rules and do the things around the farm that had to be done. Once done then it was our fun time. So if we didn’t get something done or we did do something wrong our shooting privileges got taken away. It could be a day or it could be a week depending on what we did wrong. That taught us pretty quick what was going to happen if things didn’t go right.

        And also same with me about shooting in the city. We could shoot air guns but you had to contain the pellet on your own ground. If it went out of your yard you could get in trouble. But now where I’m at (finally) back in the country for about 5 years now we can shoot whatever we want. It’s unincorporated so the city rules don’t apply. Everybody shoots out where I’m at.

        Probably one of the biggest things we have going for us gunners of any kind is to try to bring the kids up right that are coming into the sport. You have to remember they will be the next ones raising kids and teaching them about shooting and life in general. They will be the next to stand up about gun laws. And it will be harder for them than us right now as time goes on. But at least that is something we all know we can make happen is train the kids right.

    • FM would love to see regulation of “social” media stupidity. But stupidity can’t be legislated away. Some are born stupid, some take stupidity up as a hobby. Also, maybe we need to think about making people get licensed to have kids before they do – there are too many missing-in-action-parents out there. And maybe bringing back the military draft would be a good way to teach gun safety and responsibility to the Clueless Generation.

      Just venting…ignore this…some things just push FM’s “buttons.” Maybe he’s just old and grumpy, as sez the wife sometimes.

  20. On another subject.

    I got a used Hw35e in .22 caliber the other day. Was wondering if anyone else has or had one.

    I finally got to shoot it yesterday with a little fixed 4 power UTG scope I put on it. It is a very nice shooting little gun. It’s got a quick shot cycle. Makes for easy shooting and the cocking force is pretty easy too. Probably about like my Tx 200. Oh and it actualy has a thumb barrel lock on the left side of the gun at the breech of the barrel. Which I like too. No slapping the barrel open.

    I had a wood stock Walther LGU in .22 caliber and it reminds me alot of it. Both the the LGU and Hw35e are accurate guns. And I’ll be darn if I was getting 3/4″ groups at 50 yards bench resting it with. 22 caliber Crosman Premiere hollow points. They actually beat out the JSB 15.89 and AirArms 16 grain pellets in the Hw35e yesterday. Getting ready to go shoot it some right now. Suppose to be real calm today. But I don’t see myself topping yesterday’s groups though. But we will see.

    Has anybody shot a Hw35e?

  21. Gunfun1,

    Never shot one but have been looking for a used one for a while now. If it shoots as well as the HW30 I have you will be a happy camper.

    If you happen to get bored with it let me know! We would probably be able to have some serious turkey talk about it.


    • Bob
      It does shoot nice. And I will keep that in mind if for some reason I decide to sell it. Or maybe some trading even. I have other gun’s to that I have been thinking about selling. Not really pushing it but you know how that goes.

  22. Also to note I ordered one of these today to go on my steel breech 362 since I took the scope off of it to put on the Hw35e. Yep going to shoot the 362 open sight with the factory front post. I really don’t need a scope on the 362. I just wanted to know what it would do with a scope.

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