First time learning to target shoot on the farm. A way to show trust, and let him learn about discipline, safety and correct use of a gun.

A first time target shooting – tin can fun

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.

First time learning to target shoot on the farm. A way to show trust, and let him learn about discipline, safety and correct use of a gun.

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.

concentrating on learning about a gun
learning about the gun

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.

setting up tin can targets on the fence
tins all set up - running back

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.

learning to fire a gun
lining up the target

I’m all for teaching N discipline and listening skills, and this exercise certainly meant that he had to do as he was told.

wrapped up warm in his Frugi coat

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?

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  1. Lovely blog. I love you first-time target shooting article. Thank you very much for sharing this article.

  2. Sounds like your family had a great time! It’s probably good that he showed some interest but wasn’t too obsessed with shooting again. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Learn to play gun is really very important for everyone in his life. So best of luck. And thanks a lot for sharing this.

  4. Great post! You can never be too cautious when shooting with guns, and this is a great opportunity for him to learn more about gun safety!

  5. You have a nice way of looking at the maturity aspect. If he’s shown you that he understands, respects, and gets the danger involved with weapons, those are likely signs that he’s ready for this step, as you shared.

  6. Playing gun is a really big and important part of life. I am totally agree with your thoughts because we have a need to teach with safety. Thanks for sharing this awesome blog.

  7. Awww look at those pictures. They are precious. It looks like a great bonding time to be had with his uncle. I think it’s important to teach them the correct attitude and respect towards guns. It looks like you are doing just that x

  8. i think you have to trusts your child to listen and learn.. and nurture their talents.. its our job to guide them,,

  9. I’m a Combined Cadet Force instructor so part of my job is teaching teenagers to shoot assault rifles. It’s not something I would personally want for my kids but it’s part of my contract as a teacher at a big private school. I used to be in the territorial army and am well aware of the damage a gun can do. With that in mind, given that I ‘have’ to teach it – safety is my number one priority – sometimes my only priority. I think you’re taking a great approach – so much better to know that they are dangerous and that you have to be safe rather than leave it to curiosity having been kept entirely away.

    1. I never had to do CCF at my school – I had to use the time to study my music instead. It’s definitely a useful discipline to learn if just for the additional skills around the learning, listening, safety etc as you say

  10. Oh wow. I think this is something I’d love to do. I did shooting once about 20 years ago but would certainly enjoy doing it again when i one day get well. great photos and it sounds like such fun!

  11. My sons are obsessed with guns they are 3 and 6 and it drives me mad lol Dad is in the army so that’s wear it comes from, as long as you in still the responsibility involved and the dangers then I can .live with it lol x

    1. I guess lots of children (in particular boys) do go through that stage, even when it’s a mystery how they find out about them. N’s not been too bad, although there was a short phase at nursery, when there was one child who seemed to be egging on all the others. As you say, it’s teaching them the right attitude towards them.

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