Many of us first learned to shoot on the tried and true airguns we were given as children. The feel of the gun, the jump of the recoil, and the satisfaction of plinking cans had many of us hooked with our first trigger pull. Using airguns to learn to shoot makes as much sense then as it does now; they handle, resemble, and shoot in a similar way, making them the perfect fit as teaching tools for beginners. If your child shows interest in shooting, use airguns to teach them respect for the power of any gun, and a lifelong love of shooting.
Generally around age 10 is a great time to start introducing children to airguns, but that's not always the case. Ultimately, your child's maturity is more important than their age, and it's your role as a parent to decide if they are ready. Airguns, after all, are not toys, and serious injury or death can result from improper use. However, if you train your child to shoot safely, airguns don't have to be scary! They're some of the best teaching tools for firearm responsibility and learning the techniques needed for placing accurate shots.
Before shooting with your child, explain the parts and functions of the airgun. Generally, a rifle will be the easiest gun to learn with; it’s easy to hold, sight, and fire accurately. Many lever-action spring rifles, like the Red Ryder or the Lil’ Duke, are easy for a child to operate. Educate them on loading, using the sights, and the safety function, before they pull a trigger.
Next, children need to understand how to shoot safely. Remember eye protection—a set of safety glasses can easily prevent injuries that last a lifetime. Additionally, many overlook the risk of lead contamination from handling pellets. Make sure your child knows to wash their hands thoroughly after handling BBs or pellets, and make sure not to touch their face or eat or drink anything while handling ammo. Pay special attention to showing them the proper way to carry an airgun, and to never touch a trigger until ready to shoot!
Now that safety is out of the way, it's time to hit the range and have fun! Fun is what airguns are really about right? The first target a child shoots should be easy to hit so they aren't discouraged from repeated misses. Reactive targets like AV's Spin-O-Matic targets or splatter targets that burst florescent paint when shot, can make shooting exciting. As your child's shooting improves you can teach them more advanced techniques, such as controlling their breath and different shooting stances.
By teaching your child to shoot and maintain airguns, you can make sure they know the proper methods of handling and maintain their airguns for a lifetime. Shooting airguns is a rewarding and exciting pastime that's been enjoyed by millions worldwide, and if you've done your part, you child will handle any airgun with the respect they deserve.