Teaching Proper Shooting Habits to Youngsters
Kids are impressionable. They’ll talk like you, act like you and even perceive your actions as righteous despite the greater world’s opinion. Kids are even impressionable in the physical aspects of life. They are capable of forming all kinds of bad habits. And good ones.
At Bergara, we are fortunate to spend a good deal of time with shooters of all levels and ages. The top-tier men and women have spent years honing their skills and just about every single one out there attributes their greatness to proper form. On the opposite end of that spectrum, shooters who are a bit more inconsistent tend to have some pretty bad habits that they were probably taught as a kid.
Don’t Force Them
The most important point of all. If a youngin’ doesn’t want to shoot a gun, so what. Don’t force them do it. Sure, make them to eat their vegetables and respect their elders, but never something that won’t necessarily make them a better or worse person. Resentment is the hardest block of all. Like a gun shy dog, that kid is likely to retreat every time a gun comes out of the case.
Starting With Too Big a Gun/Caliber
They’ve consented – ready for that first trip to the range. Let’s say your eight-year-old, 80-pound son is interested in deer hunting. It’s all he talks about, reads about, thinks about, probably dreams about. So naturally you need to get him started with your .30-06, right? Wrong.
A rimfire is about right for the youngster’s first trigger pull. If you don’t own one, surely you know someone that does. A light-kicking, relatively quiet rifle is the best way to ease him in. Also, he won’t develop the ultimate accuracy killer: flinching.
Waste Some Ammo
Don’t expect every bullet to find the center of the target right off the bat. After you’ve preached safety and discussed the workings of the rifle, let young Johnny fire off a few shots. He might close his eyes and grit his teeth the first time, but once he realizes that there’s no kick and he really likes the smell of gunpowder, he’ll slowly begin blossoming.
Get Over the Gun
Perhaps the second worst habit we see in an inconsistent shooter (after flinching) is how they set up behind the gun. Be sure that he’s sitting up straight, shoulders square, then getting over the gun, rather than slumping behind it. You’ll notice a similarity in poor shotgunners as well. They tend to let the weight of the gun dominate their posture. Even though a rifle is typically shot from a rest, it’s still important for a kid to practice getting solidly behind the gun and over it as he lines up the crosshairs.
Scope With Proper Eye Relief
“Oh, boy! This is about to be the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” thought your young self. You’ve moved up to a bigger caliber, even shot it a few times, and are beginning to consider yourself pretty handy with the long rifle. Then you pull the trigger, the firing pin hammers the primer and the next thing you know, there’s a mixture of blood and stars in your eyes. Touch the scar above your dominant eye if we’re talking to you.
Ensuring that this does not happen to a newbie can help keep him moving in the right direction. Some kids are less resilient than others and could potentially hang it up for good if that scope knocks them senseless.
Go for good glass when you’re out shopping riflescopes. Choosing about a four-inch constant eye relief will save you a great misfortune and a possible trip to the ER.
Our children are the next generation of hunters and shooters. There is a strong enough force against them in the anti-hunting and -gun community to keep them interested in video games, which, if that’s what naturally interests them, great. But, as parents, let’s not be the cause of any ill will toward burning some gunpowder.