SUMMER BREAK – TIME FOR SOME SHOOTING WITH THE KIDS
It’s time to turn the kids loose and let the summer sunshine soak into them as their minds rest. But while your kids might not be in school, you can keep them learning!
Learning with play while engaged in an activity we are interested in is a strong way to learn. You can turn summer play time into a way to teach firearms safety. Let the kids practice with BB guns, squirt guns, rubber band guns, marshmallow guns… They will learn firearms safety with simple toys.
And to answer why kids SHOULD have those Nerf guns – they’re fun. Sure, every mother of boys vows to never let another one enter the house, but when Christmas comes and they are drooling over the “mega, super, gazillion-round foam blaster”, you know you’re gonna cave. So set some rules and make it a teaching tool.
1- Employ the 4 rules of gun safety: treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never point it at anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. Be sure of your target and beyond. Of course, we are breaking a couple with squirt guns and marshmallow blasters, but teaching kids the difference, and that eyeballs and windows are not safe targets are a real part of them internalizing safe firearms handling.
Knowing the difference between a real gun and a toy is also very important! That’s where childhood play becomes a valuable tool.
2 – Teach them to play nice with others. Nothing teaches you “do unto others” like a water balloon or squirt gun game. And learning that even water guns have ranges, capacity, and power factor helps kids remember that even toys are not all fun and games.
3 – Teach them hunting skills: how to walk with guns when hunting and being aware of one’s surroundings. In competition, we have to be aware of the 180 – we can’t bring our muzzle past set planes of safety. Usually from one side to another, always keeping muzzle forward – downrange. When hunting, you have to be aware of your target and beyond. Teaching youngsters who might go on a youth hunt this year with toy guns is an easy way to start them learning. It might make your friends who are Nerf Gun agnostics a little more inclined to see there is good in every toy if they see you using it as a way to make kids safer!
So send the kids outside, give them eye protection, teach them basic sight alignment and trigger control with BB guns at soda cans, and what is and isn’t a safe target for their Nerf guns and rubber bands. Science, physics, math, and basic human kindness – all to be found in your toy guns! Perhpas a reason grandpa and grandma were allowed to do these things as children – their parents saw that experience is the best teacher!
Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle & Smallbore, air pistol, and a little bit of long range rifle.