One of the things we do on holidays is shoot.We bring new guns, old guns and guns we love to our family gatherings. It’s always a way for younger kids to get outside and pull them away from screens they’re watching. For some of them, it’s a chance to shoot new guns. But in the summer, it usually involves a clay thrower and every shotgun we can find, a box or two of clays and a lot of laughs. It’s a low-key way to introduce safe firearms handling and a fun way to learn to swing a shotgun at a moving target. Most importantly, it’s a way for families to bond over stories shared and lessons learned, and is totally fun!
My family’s passion for shooting didn’t start in our own house, it started in the houses we grew up in. My husband had a kindly neighbor that he and his brothers hunted and trapped with in rural Illinois. My siblings and I began hunting and competition shooting as teens and pre-teens, and some of our earliest memories on the range involved our dad and hunting. So if you want your children to appreciate a pheasant hunt or see the beautiful sunrise from a deer stand, you need to get them outside with you!
One of the ways we introduce young people in our family to firearms is just by going out in the backyard at grandma and grandpa’s and shooting. A simple clay thrower brings hours of fun to grandkids who will line up and decide who is the primary shooter, who will pick up any missed birds! Everyone has fun for hours. Younger children can just watch. Often this has been the way they learn about guns they will shoot at a Hunter Safety class where they all learn safe firearms handling skills.
Our boys often have friends spend the night who want to shoot. That varies depending on the friends and what we know they can handle, but we’ve shot everything from .22s and clays from the clay thrower to the boys bringing out their prized Mosin Nagants or other historical guns and sharing their love for history too. My uncle stopped in one weekend we were shooting at my dad’s and we had an impromptu concealed carry comparison shoot that wasn’t just fun, it made me want to buy a new gun!
Another way my boys enjoy shooting is the steel plate rack they built with my dad. We use it to practice for Bianchi Cup, and just about every other type of shooting we do. The process was part Christmas present, part shop class and a lot of hours spent with those we care about. Every time we use it, we remember my dad’s contribution to what our family has accomplished with firearms, and it’s beautiful!
So, take your trusty 20 gauge, grab your grandkids, nieces, nephews, younger siblings...find eye and ear protection, some shade and a cool afternoon and spend time with your family out on the range, in the back field or wherever you can safely squeeze in some shooting time. Your children will remember it. You will build safe firearms owners and grow the appreciation for one of the most American of pastimes.