You are your child’s first teacher in life.From their first steps to learning about the tools available to us in the world, education starts with parents. Firearm safety should be no different.
You don’t need experts to teach your children about everything. Parents teach safety when it comes to everyday situations, like the swimming pool or crossing the street. Parents start their children down the correct path in life in these areas and many others.
A great example of something parents teaching everyday safety is the role they play when their children learn to drive a car. The driver’s ed teacher gets the ball rolling, but most kids must first drive with their parents and log enough hours before they can complete their behind the wheel driving with a teacher.
Why should guns be any different from tools like cars? In fact, driver’s ed is a great example of the progression of safety with a powerful tool. A progression that can be a great lens for considering firearms safety... Cars can both help and hurt us, but when handled properly, they are a tool that makes life easier and safer. One of the key points to instilling good driving habits is for children to see safe driving patterned by their parents: Mom and dad buckle them in when they are young, they stop for school busses and crosswalks, they obey the speed limit, etc. Kids see good behavior, safe driving, etc., until they are old enough to drive themselves. It’s part of life.
Firearms safety should be modelled as part of life in the same fashion. Kids should go to the range, go hunting, take hunter’s safety, and have their daily life influenced by their parents responsibly using firearms. By the time your average 16 year-old gets their learner’s permit, they’ve seen many hours of driving demonstrated. According to studies, the average American spends 101 minutes a day driving. Obviously your children will have a different figure for time in a car, but they do observe you driving. So consider the thousands of hours most people will have inside a car by the time they drive a vehicle themselves the first time. How many children have safe firearms handling demonstrated for thousands, or even hundreds of hours? The answer is very, very few. To me, the best way to get kids immersed in gun safety is to go shoot guns. And the best way to do that in an enjoyable setting is competition.
Competitions offer exposure to handling firearms under close supervision to the point where a child can handle and manipulate a firearm safely in the course of a match. The licensed, certified, experienced instructors and range officers - from NRA to USCCA to USPSA to Boy Scouts to Scholastic Steel Challenge to Trap and Skeet events - they all offer a different perspective, a different lens or focus on firearms.
Without a doubt, the biggest universal principle found in competitions with firearms is a focus on safety. I encourage you to not only model safe firearms handling with your children at home, but out on the range. The opportunities are there, you just have to get in your car and go!
For more ideas on ways to involve your whole family in activities with firearms, make sure you check out Winchester’s social media channels for more hunting and shooting tips and updates on Winchester supported events and promotions on Facebook, You Tube, Instagram and Twitter.