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Take a Kid Hunting

I have found a lot of joy in hunting over the years, but nothing compares to the pleasure of watching a young person learn his way around the woods, and around guns. My time in the woods with young hunters has been some of the most rewarding time I've ever spent.

Kids & Guns

With the news media leaning harder and harder on guns as the cause of many violent crimes, it's nice to be able to do what everyone should do: teach a kid gun safety. The huge amount of publicity given to perpetrators of violent acts, including shootings at schools, often acts not as a deterrent, but almost as a motivator. To be part of the process that properly educates and guides kids, the way that I was brought up, is both an honor and an obligation.

Remove the Mystery

Most young people consider guns mysterious. This in itself is the beginning of trouble; kids should be allowed to handle guns under direct responsible adult supervision. This is a fine guarantee that they won't be "playing with" guns. As long as they have some access to guns, and some sensible guidance & education, why in the world would they ever need to mess with the guns on their own?

In addition to this, the fear of a spanking helps deter their trying to access the guns in your absence. Trust me, that fear helped deter me! If you prefer not to spank, use another type of punishment... but you must be serious about carrying it out if the child violates your trust.

Put in Some Trigger Time

Once a kid has developed some safe habits, and has shown you that he or she can handle a gun safely, it's time to do some shooting. It doesn't have to be a lot, but the youngster needs to shoot the gun he'll be using; how else will he know what to expect when shooting in the woods? How else can he learn to shoot accurately? And, how else will you know that he can handle the gun & ammo he's using? Shooting a gun before taking it hunting is a must, and is a step that should never be skipped, whether by young or by old.

Lay Down the Law

Before heading into the woods, establish some ground rules. When I started carrying a double-barrelled 410 shotgun at the age of 10 or so, I had to tote it broken open, and carry the shells separately. Soon after, I was allowed to put the shells in it, but still keep it open. It sure makes for an awkward gun to carry in the woods, but you won't get much safer. Once a kid learns to safely handle an opened double- or single-barrelled shotgun in the woods, he can be trusted with just about any gun he may tote in the future.

Watch the Child

Keep an eye on the child while hunting. If he or she is paying attention to everything but the gun, tell him you'll take it away if he doesn't shape up. If sloppy handling continues, take the gun away immediately! It doesn't take much at an early age to impress upon them the importance of being safe while in the woods.

Don't push a young hunter; hunting for an hour or two is often all his attention span can handle. That's fine, but make sure a waning of interest in the hunting doesn't turn into carelessness with a gun! Forcing him to be safe at all times now will help ensure a safe & happy future for him, both in & out of the woods.

What Guns Do... and Don't

Another thing that hunting does quite graphically is demonstrate what guns can do. Believe me, killing is just a word until one does it or sees it done. How many times have we read that "the gun went off" and injured or killed someone? Let me tell you, this is baloney! Guns do not fire themselves. Guns are machines, and respond to input like any other machine. How many times has your car started itself? Same principle.

When a kid (or anyone) shoots an animal (usually a squirrel or rabbit at first), he can see the process in motion - a decision must be made before that gun will do its work. Once the decision is made, and the trigger is pulled, you've either missed, injured, or killed something. This is a strong lesson in safety. Seeing death result from your actions is something that one can't forget, and shouldn't. Knowing that a gun can kill is one thing, but seeing it happen is something else entirely.

(Continued)

Next Page> Take a Kid Hunting > Page 2: Kids in the Woods

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