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Black Hills during fall

Our Top 9 Tips for Teaching Kids Gun Safety

Now that everyone has recovered from being sick, we’re finding that we have more free time. It’s been nice the past couple of days! So nice!

Since Mark was off of work the other day, we decided to fire a few rounds at the gun range.

The Gun Range

Gun range is a pretty lofty title for the place where we go shoot.  How to describe the “Gun Range??”

It’s an unmanaged unofficial range up on Beretta Drive in the hills.  I don’t know who owns it, but Mark’s co-worker told him about it shortly after we moved to the area.

It’s pretty laid back at the range.

So laid back, in fact, the day we went to the range, the cows were loose!  A picture would be perfect right here.

Now all you gun haters out there…don’t be hatin’ on guns. We are not a gun-loving family by any means! But we think the right to bear arms is pretty rad and we choose to exercise that right.

Back to the pasture range…we brought our .22 survival rifle (which is compact and really a cool little gun). And our little itty bitty .380 with a laser that is not sighted in yet.

Survival .22 & .380
Survival .22 & .380

We have started teaching the kids about gun safety and drilling them on how to handle guns. They can answer basic safety questions pretty well and we run a TIGHT ship out at the range.

So here are our top tips for teaching kids about gun safety. And no, we are not trained professionals, just concerned parents.

Gun safety tips for kids
Mark helping L get set up

Our TOP 9 Tips for Teaching Young Children Gun Safety

  1. Never, EVER point a gun at ANYTHING unless you intend to shoot it.
  2. Treat every gun as if it’s loaded.
  3. Do not put your finger near the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always point a gun toward the ground. And not at your shoe because your foot is in there ~ that is E’s contribution.
  5. If you don’t know what to do, stop.
  6. Slow and calm movements are controlled and safe movements.
  7. The parent assisting must tell the child they are free to fire.  Without our go ahead, they are NOT allowed to pull the trigger.
  8. They (the shooter) yells “Fire” when they are ready to shoot.
  9. Hearing and eye protection are to be worn at all times while at the range, (unless they are in a vehicle).
L show-casing the earplugs

Mark is always helping them, and right beside them.  One child is shooting, everyone else is in the van.  We go for 1/2 hour or less, short for the kids.  That’s it.

Me & Mr. Z, cozy in the van.

My Initial Reservations

In the beginning, I didn’t go with two older kids and I didn’t want Mark taking them to the range. But because our kids are fairly well behaved I wasn’t concerned with them not listening to us.  I think it was more the stigma associated with firearms and just fear of something going wrong.  Let me tell you…

Stigmas are stupid.

AND something can go wrong anywhere.

The benefits – which I’ll cover – outweigh any negatives.  Truly, it’s been a positive experience.

Kid's Gun Safety Gear
Here is E with his hearing and eye protection

Why This is Beneficial for Children.

  1. We get to demystify guns and take Hollywood out of guns.  Remove the mystery.
  2. This allows us to squelch the desire to “play” with guns because they can appropriately use them under our direct supervision.
  3. They get to learn how to safely shoot them (at an age-appropriate level).
  4. They understand guns are dangerous and we are instilling respect for firearms.

So there you have it.  Any tips or benefits you’d like to add?

59 thoughts on “Our Top 9 Tips for Teaching Kids Gun Safety”

  1. Thanks for posting this! There is definitely a stigma that goes with this topic… my husband and I also take our kids to the range and are teaching them firearms safety. If more people (adults included) had firearms safety training earlier on this stigma could be squashed. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment Sarah! I think it’s wonderful that parents see the value and importance of teaching their kids about firearms! There is so much fear associated with guns that many avoid the topic all together, but that won’t solve anything.

  2. While I agree with most of your post, I feel I must tell you that the range command “clear” usually means it is safe to move down range or walk in front of the firing line or that no weapons on the line are loaded or ready to fire. As a former riflery instructor at a summer camp, I can see where this could possibly cause a dangerous situation.

    1. Thank you Charlie! I’ve updated the post accordingly. I can see how my poor wording could cause confusion for a child. I sincerely appreciate your feedback!

  3. Many of your tips are the basic rules of hunter safety. I’m glad that you’re teaching your children to respect firearms and how to appropriately use them. I’m planning on doing the same with mine just as my parents did with me. Keep up the good work!

  4. I am so thankful to see another mother allows her children to shoot a rifle. My husband bought our then 3 and 5 year old their own rifles, (my daughter got a pink one) for Christmas last year. Boy did I get criticized from my mom and MIL!! “I can’t believe you’d allow that!!!” Like we were going to keep it in their toy box and give them a box of bullet to shoot whenever they felt like it. Kyle’s step-dad and my dad were more relaxed about it. My husband allows the kids to look at his guns whenever they want as long as they ask. I mean—whenever. Getting ready for bed—sure. Late for dinner–we have a few minutes. Everything you said is spot on!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Megan! I love that you are so willing to let them see the rifles! Most children hear no and that opens the door for them to sneak off and “play” with them unsupervised. By educating them, you’re teaching them to be safe around firearms and respect them. Great job!

  5. I am so thankful to see another mother allows her children to shoot a rifle. My husband bought our then 3 and 5 year old their own rifles, (my daughter got a pink one) for Christmas last year. Boy did I get criticized from my mom and MIL!! “I can’t believe you’d allow that!!!” Like we were going to keep it in their toy box and give them a box of bullet to shoot whenever they felt like it. Kyle’s step-dad and my dad were more relaxed about it. My husband allows the kids to look at his guns whenever they want as long as they ask. I mean—whenever. Getting ready for bed—sure. Late for dinner–we have a few minutes. Everything you said is spot on!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Megan! I love that you are so willing to let them see the rifles! Most children hear no and that opens the door for them to sneak off and “play” with them unsupervised. By educating them, you’re teaching them to be safe around firearms and respect them. Great job!

  6. I love this and am forwarding it to my husband. He grew up hunting and I grew up around guns (but not using them past the point of a few times at the range). We both want our children to grow up with the respect and knowledge of what guns are and what they can do. I personally am nervous around them and need a refresher every time we go and shoot. The slow and calm movements statement was so true. Thank you for this. It makes me feel less alone. If I may ask, how old were your children when first started actively teaching them about gun safety?

    1. Thank you Kristina, my husband started taking our oldest when she was 5. Our 3rd child went when she was 2 but she didn’t really do much just watch. For our kids, 4 years old is a good age. That is when our son went for the first time, he loved it and did well listening to instructions.

  7. Thank you for this post. My husband is just getting into hunting, and there have been reservations on my end about getting into guns when we just had a baby. My husband expressed the desire for both of us to learn how to use the gun safely, and when the time comes, to teach our daughter as well. We still have years to go before that day, but this article offers some great advice. Thank you!

    1. Hey Leeann, it took some convincing for me to see not only the value, but also the importance of teaching our kids about firearms. Looking back over the past few years, I’m grateful that Mark persisted and they have a respect for guns. It’s also been great to be on board with him in this area rather than letting my fears divide us. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

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  9. Thank you so much for posting this! I feel like everyone is tip-toeing around guns lately, and it’s frustrating for me. I grew up with guns in the family. My Dad bought me a .38 when I moved out of the house. I strongly believe that educating your children about gun safety, is the best way to prevent accidents. Just like you said, it removes the curiosity!! I wish more people would understand this.

  10. As a competitive collegiate shooter, I think that this is a fantastic post. I am glad to see that there are people who are not “gun-loving” families teaching their children the safety and value of a firearm. I have been shooting competitively since I was 9, and with my dad since I was 6. The most important thing that shooting has taught me is having the confidence and feeling safe in just knowing that I can protect myself and others if the need arises, plus being a better shot than most guys =). There is so much that this sport has taught me and I will gladly pass on those lessons to my children, when I get to that stage of life!

    1. Thank you Kate, I appreciate your comment! Mark and I were just discussing how we want to get our children into the sport, in fact we were trying to figure out what age would be appropriate. Our oldest is 8 and you’re comment in itself is helpful.

      1. Glad to help!!! the competitive shooting “world” is a very friendly and fun atmosphere for Children to further their skill and learn some very important life skills! If they stick with it and become really good they can possibly get scholarship (partial, but any money helps) and be a student-athlete! I have enjoyed it so much and have made so many life-long friends. The sport is great within itself, but it is so much more than a sport it really is a world. Let me know if you want any more information about how to start or anything else. I’ve coached children as old as your oldest, and girls tend to be easier to train early and better at the sport in general! Glad to be a source of information and resources!

  11. As a competitive collegiate shooter, I think that this is a fantastic post. I am glad to see that there are people who are not “gun-loving” families teaching their children the safety and value of a firearm. I have been shooting competitively since I was 9, and with my dad since I was 6. The most important thing that shooting has taught me is having the confidence and feeling safe in just knowing that I can protect myself and others if the need arises, plus being a better shot than most guys =). There is so much that this sport has taught me and I will gladly pass on those lessons to my children, when I get to that stage of life!

  12. Your post has a lot of meaningful info! Thank you for sharing! As for demystifying guns, I couldn’t agree more. Kids need to respect them & know their power. My husband suggested letting your kids see you shoot a melon so that they could see that the exploding damage is REAL and to be RESPECTED.

  13. So great to see someone teaching their kids how to handle firearms! My dad didn’t “get into” guns until I was a bit older, and my fiance wasn’t exposed to guns till he was an adult. We definitely plan to teach our future children how to properly handle guns, as we own (and plan to raise our kids on) a somewhat rural property and it is our main form of protection. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Morgan! So glad to see there are others who are like-minded. I grew up with a hunting family so firearms were always just something that was a part of life and I never wanted to play with them. I really wonder if fear has crept in and most Americans are scared now. Education is key I believe.

  14. We take ours to a very similar gun range, there is never anyone else there but us, and its basically a field out in the middle of nowhere. But really a great place to be able to teach our kids. It is nice to know there are others out there doing the same thing. We have a smaller rifle for the kids to shoot with. We go over all the rules everytime, and they know them well. I grew up in a house where we were taught to be terrified of guns, honestly I think teaching our kids to use them, and use them safely is so much more effective then teaching children to be afraid, or just allowing them to come across them at a friends house and want to play. Our kids know how dangerous they are if used improperly,but also know that they shouldn’t be afraid of them, as they can be very useful if used the right way, not to mention as you said it is a very important right we have.

    1. It’s great to hear your perspective on growing about being afraid of firearms, Sarah! And also wonderful that you’ve turned it around into something positive.

  15. Just stumbled on this post from Pinterest! So well written and exactly how guns should be approached with kids. Thank you for spreading gun education when so many are spreading unnecessary fear.

  16. Just stumbled on this post from Pinterest! So well written and exactly how guns should be approached with kids. Thank you for spreading gun education when so many are spreading unnecessary fear.

  17. Another thing I taught my daughter while getting her familiar with gun safety is what to do if guns are pulled out in an emergency situation I think it’s very important they have that knowledge too.

    1. Good point Melissa. We have not addressed this with our children yet, but they do need to be aware and prepared in case something goes awry.

    1. I think it is also important to teach kids what to do if they find a gun unattended or unsecured. Children need to know that they should tell an adult and leave it alone.

  18. Great post. I’m hoping to get my children into competitive shooting. But I’m genuinely curious as to what you define as “gun-loving”?

    1. Hi Cyrena, we also would love to get our kids into competitive shooting when they get a little older. I’m hoping there are more opportunities to do so once we move to Florida. I see such a practical reason for them to learn firearm skills and I see true value in the sport.

      The view of “gun-loving” that I was speaking against is the one that is as portrayed in the media and comes with a VERY negative impression. Basically media portrays that those who are for gun-rights and ownership are angry, religious, and obsessive about firearms. That type of family is “gun-loving” according to media. It’s clearly a negative image.

      As a family, we don’t own many firearms and aren’t out shooting frequently. Firearms simply aren’t a major hobby of ours. For those that it is, I think it’s great and shouldn’t be seen as negative at all.

  19. I love this post. My in-laws are anti-gun, though I grew up in a hunting family. .22 rifle was my first gun. I still have it. And I love it. When I was first introduced to the range my two favorite phrases were ‘Range Cold’ (everyone put your guns down, so we can go look at our targets – you were immediately thrown out if you even looked like you were going to pick up the gun) and ‘Range Hot’ (the range is clear and guns may be handled once again. Little things like the phrases were such a fun part of the experience of learning how to handle guns.

  20. I research gun safety all the time. I am beyond lucky that my kids go to a small private school where my husband and I have been asked to teach the kids about gun awareness and gun safety. Our rules we teach are similar to your and I took away a few things from reading this and other comments. Here are a few extra rules we have if any of you are interested.
    A gun is not a toy.
    Always know what is behind your target.
    Be aware of other shooters (like at a range or shooting sporting clays, or dove and duck hunting) what we tell the kids is when our gun goes up you go down (staying low and or seated is always safe AND ALWAYS STAY BEHIND THE SHOOTER NEVER TO THE SIDE OR IN FRONT OF EVEN IF IT IS AT AN ANGLE)
    As parents and part of the class we teach for the older kids 4th and up we take a laser pointer with us and show how easy it is with just the slightest movement of the wrist can make a huge difference.
    Another rule is keep your safety on until you intend to shoot and the second you are done with that shot safety goes on…safety off-fire-safety on.
    Be aware of who’s house your kids are going to. My husband is a Marine and a good friend of his is a marine as well and a huge hunter. We quickly found out that his gun safety was seriously lacking… He came to our place and brought a camper to stay for a bit..He has three kids as well. Not only did he leave guns on tables out side and in the trucks he had loaded unsecure guns in his camper… This is WRONG and he should have know better not only as a Marine and adult but as a father. We had to have a long talk that ended in a very serious note of secure your guns or you can leave. People take for granted that other adults know or willingly let their kids sleep over at some ones house and guns are NEVER something they think about. YOU AS A PARENT NEED TO KNOW. Any responsible gun owner should have no trouble telling you if a gun is in their house and if it is secure. And make sure to know what their secure means. A closet is not secure or up high or a gun that doesn’t have a round in the chamber. Anyway just a FEW things to add 😉 so sorry this got away from me but as a mother and a lover of guns it is so important to teach our kids and be aware ourselves as parents and I think it is important to share with each other.

  21. I research gun safety all the time. I am beyond lucky that my kids go to a small private school where my husband and I have been asked to teach the kids about gun awareness and gun safety. Our rules we teach are similar to your and I took away a few things from reading this and other comments. Here are a few extra rules we have if any of you are interested.
    A gun is not a toy.
    Always know what is behind your target.
    Be aware of other shooters (like at a range or shooting sporting clays, or dove and duck hunting) what we tell the kids is when our gun goes up you go down (staying low and or seated is always safe AND ALWAYS STAY BEHIND THE SHOOTER NEVER TO THE SIDE OR IN FRONT OF EVEN IF IT IS AT AN ANGLE)
    As parents and part of the class we teach for the older kids 4th and up we take a laser pointer with us and show how easy it is with just the slightest movement of the wrist can make a huge difference.
    Another rule is keep your safety on until you intend to shoot and the second you are done with that shot safety goes on…safety off-fire-safety on.
    Be aware of who’s house your kids are going to. My husband is a Marine and a good friend of his is a marine as well and a huge hunter. We quickly found out that his gun safety was seriously lacking… He came to our place and brought a camper to stay for a bit..He has three kids as well. Not only did he leave guns on tables out side and in the trucks he had loaded unsecure guns in his camper… This is WRONG and he should have know better not only as a Marine and adult but as a father. We had to have a long talk that ended in a very serious note of secure your guns or you can leave. People take for granted that other adults know or willingly let their kids sleep over at some ones house and guns are NEVER something they think about. YOU AS A PARENT NEED TO KNOW. Any responsible gun owner should have no trouble telling you if a gun is in their house and if it is secure. And make sure to know what their secure means. A closet is not secure or up high or a gun that doesn’t have a round in the chamber. Anyway just a FEW things to add 😉 so sorry this got away from me but as a mother and a lover of guns it is so important to teach our kids and be aware ourselves as parents and I think it is important to share with each other.

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  24. This really made my day! I’m glad to see a family not only using guns in a safe and responsible way, but teaching their children to do the same. Your list of safety tips seems simple, but comprehensive, and I agree completely with every point. Thanks so much for writing!

  25. This really made my day! I’m glad to see a family not only using guns in a safe and responsible way, but teaching their children to do the same. Your list of safety tips seems simple, but comprehensive, and I agree completely with every point. Thanks so much for writing!

  26. anyone must clean up the idea out…overtime the idea will start to dreary along with you’ll need to get a brand-new one…but that may be immediately after Several assignments.

  27. Thanks for sharing your experience on children and guns. It’s incredibly important to talk to them about it so they are not scared around them. This is great advice for anyone with kids who is an avid gun user.

  28. Couldn’t have said it any better. Great post. I think moms in particular worry that their kids will learn about guns and then become reckless, wanting to shoot at everything or even playing and pretending to shoot at everything as you mentioned. My wife is the same with our kids. Being around guns does the opposite than most people think. If you teach kids at a young age what guns really are and what they are used for (hunting and protection or self defense) and teach them to respect the power that firearms have, they will learn to be responsible around them, especially with frequent contact. Learning how to assess risk and danger is something that should always be taught, no matter the age. Being around firearms is a great way for kids to not be afraid of them, but still understand the power that they can have if used in the wrong way.
    Gary Fretwell recently posted…Discount Rifle Scopes Deals 2017My Profile

  29. I’m glad to see good information on children and gun safety. More parents should teach their children about firearm safety instead of avoiding firearms. Education is the key to safety and being knowledgeable of what to do when confronted with a firearm.

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