5 ISSUES FOR JUST £5 Subscribe to one of our Airgun Magazines today CLICK HERE

Teach the children…

13:59 12 January 2012

Once Sapphire understood the basics, I let her do as much herself as possible, with constant close supervision.

Once Sapphire understood the basics, I let her do as much herself as possible, with constant close supervision.


With all the bad press about kids with guns I thought I’d write something to show just how easy it is to teach children how to enjoy airguns and stay perfectly safe while they’re doing so.

I think that more of this sort of education is needed and from an early age. Once the vital facts of airgun safety life are taught, learned and understood, they tend to stay in the minds of those who benefit most from them. My children have always been around airguns and they know how to be safe, because they have learned these simple rules.

*Dont point an airgun toward anyone, ever!

* Always treat an airgun as loaded.

* Keep your trigger finger away from the trigger on the outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

* Dont rely on a safety catch. The real safety catch is your safe gun handling, so never do anything with an airgun with the safety catch on, that you wouldnt do with it off.

* When an airgun is in your possession always point it in a safe direction, preferably pointing to the floor but away from your feet.

* Always know what is behind your target and where it is safe to shoot.

* Check the condition of your backstop, ensuring that it can stop every pellet, replacing it if youre unsure, and make sure no pellets hit outside its boundaries.

* Make absolutely certain that the range is clear of people, pets, and anything else that isnt safe and legal to shoot at. Secure gates and access points and make sure everyone knows youre shooting.

These few rules must be in addition to adult supervision as children still must not be left alone with airguns at any time.

Making it fun

My seven-year-old daughter, Sapphire, wanted to try out the U.B.C. Battleships Target, and as I have an Air Arms S200 hybrid with a bipod, I knew it would be easy for her to manage, rather than having to support the full weight of the airgun. Proper shooting training can come when Sapphire is older, but for now I just wanted to teach her that shooting safely and having fun were one and the same.

I sat down with her first of all and showed her all the components of the rifle, how to load it, point it down range, the safe trigger finger placement, and how easy it was to put her mind into safety-first mode, ready for the shoot.

We set up the range together, which is a good idea because they can see the reasoning behind why everything is done a particular way - safety considerations, backstop and the like - and to feel that they are a part of the whole set-up. This is far better than the do it because I tell you approach, where obedience is the driver. Understanding why something needs to be done definitely implants the lesson far more reliably.

Once the safety preparations were taken care of and the targets set out, we then got to the firing line ready for the shoot.

Sapphire struggled at first to get comfortable, so I let her find her own style as she was getting frustrated. Kids can lose interest very quickly, so sometimes a compromise is needed between proper technique and just getting on with having fun shooting. In this case, as you can see, the stock is too long for Sapphire, but I plan to fit an adjustable one for her. Its important that junior shooters have enough control over the airgun to shoot it safely and with a fair chance of hitting a few targets.

Using pre-charged pneumatics or CO2-powered guns makes initial success far easier, because theres no need to worry about controlling the recoil. While spring-piston airguns are usually cheaper and often more simple to use, managing that recoil is a major obstacle and it can really put off very young shooters. Im all for using springers to teach proper technique and nothing does that better than a recoiling gun but at the very early stages when the fun aspect has yet to be established, Id recommend recoilless all the way.

Making it easy

At first I was loading the rifle for her, and then, when she knew what to do, I let her load it herself. Once loaded, she naturally placed her trigger finger along the trigger guard, so the prep talk and guidance had paid off and not once did I have to correct her. All the while, though, I was right next to her, within taking control of the rifle range, but not being overbearing.

After shooting the Battleships target we had fun shooting tin cans, which she really enjoyed; sending cans flying all over the place. Truth to tell, I loved it too, and theres definitely something wonderful about reactive targets, especially when compared to paper. A reactive target gives the junior shooter an instant reward for putting the pellet in the right place, and that helps them to repeat the action. Its the old action and reward system, which works for training dogs and people alike.

Making it a regular treat

Sapphire and I had a safe and enjoyable time together, because we both knew how to be safe and we incorporated proper safety considerations into our shooting. The more we do this, the more automatic it will become, and thats how safe shooting needs to be. To keep the lessons and the learning flowing, Ive promised Sapphire that well have regular shooting sessions together, and these have become rewards in themselves. Were at the point now, where Sapphire will remind me of my promise to do some shooting, so I know shes really enjoying it.

What Im teaching my daughter, and all the fun she gets from it, comes courtesy of a set of simple, common sense, unbreakable rules. She knows that and she knows better than to try to separate the fun from the safety. The fact is, though, fun and safety go hand-in-hand in shooting, and one neednt ever reduce the other. Finally, shooting can be such a family thing, and whats better than doing something you love with the people you love? Teach a kid to shoot safely, and youll both get a fantastic reward from it, I promise. n


More from Expert Advice

Monday, January 25, 2016
Good news. These excellent products are now available everywhere

The best way to clean your airgun barrel has just become more available, the editor tells us

Read more
Thursday, January 14, 2016
As you sweep the blade forward the 'stone' follows your movement

The editor tests a new sharpening system from the USA

Read more
Thursday, January 14, 2016
The Walther LGU underlever has proven sucessful in competition

Is it true that springers with fixed barrels are more accurate than break-barrels?

Read more
Thursday, January 7, 2016
rsh jan prods

Can you use gun oil on a cut hand? The Editor finds out

Read more
Friday, December 18, 2015
The weight and compact size balanced well on my beloved Hunstman

The editor looks at an interesting scope from America

Read more
Monday, December 14, 2015
What is the most powerful pellet?

A reader asks Airgun Guru a question about pellet power

Read more
Monday, November 30, 2015
A world of technology lives inside our scopes but do we understand it?

Optical technology is hard to grasp, so the editor seeks clarity

Read more
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
This system effectively captures and decelerates the high-pressure air

“This system effectively captures and decelerates the high-pressure air”

Read more
Monday, November 23, 2015
This is the first multi-tool I have used that has really strong cutters

“The MP1 stands out in this field because the pliers are forged from high-carbon steel”

Read more
Friday, November 20, 2015
Lubricating pellets can help to improve accuracy

A reader asks Airgun Guru a question about pellet preparation from the October issue

Read more

Follow Our Titles

Airgun World
Air Gunner

Most Read

Latest news