Continued from yesterday. Our guns for this day were: two 9mm semi-automatics, a .22 semi, a .22 revolver, a .357 revolver, a .38 revolver, and a 7.62mm SKS rifle. Since we couldn’t set up a proper target for tracking our shooting, there was no competition for this outing. We were just shooting for the fun of it.
We used proper safety — we all wore earplugs, the only loaded weapon was the one on the line, and those not shooting were behind the shooter. Since my 7-year old son was with us this time, I made sure he knew and understood all the rules we were following.
I grew up with guns around me. My dad owned a few guns, but they were usually just for owning and/or target shooting. They were always unloaded and put away up in a closet. My step-dad owned several guns mostly for hunting. Although they were usually stored in various closets, sometimes one was loaded (especially the one he took hunting daily).
My exposure to guns at an early age — being used to having them around, and occasionally actually shooting them on a range — gave me a healthy respect for the things. I didn’t have the urge to show them off to a friend or to sneak peeks at them when my parents weren’t around. All the kids in my family understood guns — their use and their danger. I believe this respect kept me and my siblings safe from accidental death that too many kids were and are vulnerable to.
I want to instill this understanding and respect in my boys. I don’t want them afraid of guns; I want them to respect them. I want my sons to understand what they are, know how they work, and understand that they are very dangerous. I don’t want them to be a forbidden secret that becomes a siren’s call to experiment with them without adult supervision.
If either of my boys are at a friend’s house and the friend says, “Want to see my dad’s gun?” At best, I want them to say, “No,” and then tell me. At worst, if they do look at the gun, I want them to know better than to play with it — to know it’s not a toy.
So I exposed Calfgrit7 to guns for the first time during this outing. He was interested and willing to learn. He watched the adults shoot some first, and then I took him to the firing line and helped him shoot for the first time.
I instructed him on how a gun works, how to hold it, and how to aim (and when, where, and why to point a gun). I stood behind him, with my arms around him helping him hold the gun. He shot several rounds from the .22 revolver. He handled the gun calmly and comfortably, describing the gun as “bouncy” (referring to the kick/recoil).
A few minutes later I let him take a shot with the .357. That sucker has a kick, and it’s really loud compared to a .22. He handled the gun and himself well enough, but he didn’t want to shoot it anymore.
During everyone else’s turn on the shooting line, Calfgrit7 spent more time playing and drawing in the dirt behind us, than watching our sport. I take that as a good thing — it shows that he’s not afraid of guns, and he doesn’t have a potentially dangerous fascination with them. Even though I don’t have any firearms out in our home (there’re stored away in the attic, without any ammunition) I want him aware and smart about guns.
It’s just like he can play in the kitchen while we cut with sharp knives, and cook with a hot stove. And like he can play in the front yard while cars may pass on the street. He’s not afraid of knives, stoves, or cars, but he understands their danger, and so he’s less likely to be harmed by them — because of someone else or through a dangerous curiosity about the “forbidden fruit.”