I’m not a fan of guns, I don’t have an urge to shoot them, but I appreciate that in the countryside they can be invaluable for pest control.
Having said that, I have tried shooting a couple of times. Once when I was a girl guide, I went to a big jamboree when I was about 12, and part of the team games included either archery or shooting. I didn’t get to try out archery, but I did get to have a go target shooting with a gun. I don’t remember much about it, but I enjoyed the fact that I managed to shoot the target each time. It was very different as an adult when I had a go at clay shooting. I couldn’t get the hang of that at all, I didn’t like the pushback on the shoulder as the rifle fired, and I missed every single clay. It’s really not my thing.
But most of the men we know shoot. Whether it’s pheasant shooting during the season, or pest control, they’re knowledgeable about guns and using them correctly. My brother also shoots – although an air rifle rather than shot gun, and will go out helping other farmers keep rabbits and pigeons under control on their land. The older nephews have also had lessons, with one of them turning out to be extremely good at clay shooting, better than his dad and uncle.
N is obviously too young to be out shooting with the others. He does have a toy crossbow which is pretty good and powerful enough to shoot the bullets at tin cans and knock them over, and a Nerf gun which he’s now lost most of the nerf bullets for. Grr.
But one Sunday my brother popped in, and was talking about taking the gun out in the fields. N was interested and wanted to see the gun, so they decided to set up the tin can targets on the fence (after checking there were no sheep in the field behind), set the gun up on the table and let N see what the gun was like when it was shot.
Given he’s only 5 I wasn’t too sure, but with the 2 of us there, N knowing already the dangers of guns, and listening and doing exactly what we say, I decided that it would be safe.
Everything was set up – N loved making sure the cans were in the right place – then he was allowed to look down the eyepiece and see the cans ahead. My brother lined everything up so it was impossible to miss, safety off and N was allowed to pull the trigger. So much excitement from hitting the tins. Once it was safe again, he was allowed to go and set up the cans again. I even had a go, lining up the sight and managing to hit all of the cans.
I’m all for teaching N discipline and listening skills, and this exercise certainly meant that he had to do as he was told.
I love watching how N interacts with the other members of his family. Despite him only being 3 when my mum died, he still remembers her and the things we did with her, and her house, and being close to his uncle is another way to keep in touch with my family. Luckily he’s only in the next village at the moment, so it’s easy to catch up – he’s always popping in because his flat is freezing and he knows our wood burner’s usually going.
My brother’s really good with him, and if N shows he can respect rules, and understand dangers, then he’ll be allowed to do more things outside with his uncle. While the target shooting was a one off until he’s older, it was probably a good experience for N, and a great lesson in trust. That we knew he would be sensible, listen to what he was being told as well as getting the result…although the tin cans aren’t good for much else now they’ve holes in them.
While he was proud to have done it and knocked the cans down, he’s not talked about it since. He doesn’t seem to be obsessed with guns, any more than an occasional mention. Which is likely to be similar to other children of his age. So I’m not concerned that he’s going round pretending to shoot people or animals.
Hopefully as he grows up and wants to have more freedom to do things with his cousins and friends, if he’s shown us how he understands trust, respect and dangers then I’m hoping it’ll stand him in good stead.
How do you teach your children about risks and danger? Do you trust them to listen and learn?
Why not take a look at these similar posts.