How often do you have in-depth, meaningful talks with your kid(s)? As LG and I travel to and from school each day, we have various conversations. We discuss school, teen life, friendships, sports, religion and many other topics. Today, we discussed a different kind of education — youth firearms training and education. Have you had that talk with your child?
LG: Tay’s dad bought a pistol and is teaching her how to shoot.
Mia (Interested about the chosen topic): How do you feel about that?
LG: I wish all parents would teach their kids about firearm safety. I also wish all parents knew about firearm safety.
Mia (Wanting to learn more about LG’s point of view): How do you feel about those kids who don’t know about safely using a firearm?
LG: I feel sorry for them because all they see is what the media portrays on TV. They probably think guns are bad. Guns don’t pull the trigger. People do. If everyone knew how to be responsible with a gun, there would be a lot less killing.
Mia: Why do you feel there would be less killing?
LG: When people are educated about firearm use, they become safer. They learn responsibility and right from wrong. If someone doesn’t know what the firearm is used for, it might seem dangerous.That is because they are not educated. They can think guns are just for fun and use them the wrong way. I don’t think it just pertains to kids. Adults can think the same way if they haven’t been taught. I think every person should be educated about firearms. If everyone has to be taught about sex education, why can’t there be education about firearm safety in school?
LG asked a great question, “Why can’t there be education about firearm safety in school?” Aside from the Eddie Eagle program, offered by the NRA for younger children in the schools, we know of no other programs.
I learned about gun safety protocol from my dad, and later in life I signed up for firearm courses, and eventually became an instructor. LG learned from me and then joined youth shooting clubs where she shoots firearms individually and on competitive teams.
There are schools that offer shooting-sports programs as electives or as extracurricular activities i.e., after-school sports. There are other programs that aren’t school related, yet involve youth. Most of these programs teach them much more than how to shoot. They are like a good sports team, emphasizing teamwork, individual challenges and sportsmanship.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), “Shooting sports serve as catalysts for teaching life lessons and skills that emphasize positive character traits and citizenship values.” That’s certainly a lot of good traits learned through firearm programs and education.
Where to Learn
If your school doesn’t offer shooting sports, you have other options. Visit your local gun store or contact local shooting ranges. Ask about kid-friendly shooting programs. You can also look into programs like the ones listed below, and don’t forget to use the Internet.
Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation (SSSF) – proudly introduces school-aged young people to the many advantages and opportunities offered through team-based shooting sports, encouraging, facilitating and fostering their participation. The positive and supportive Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Pistol Program (SPP) assist young people in their continued growth and development as they grow into productive and contributing members of society.
4-H Shooting Sports Program – The focus of all 4-H programs is two-fold: the development of youth as individuals and as responsible and productive citizens. The National 4-H Shooting Sports Program stands out as an example. Youth learn marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and much more. This program’s activities, combined with support of caring adult leaders provide young people with opportunities to develop life skills, self-worth and conservation ethics.
USA Shooting Program – USA Shooting is dedicated to the development of youth Olympic/international shooting sports. It is focused on the development of aspiring, dedicated junior athletes that will someday represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, World Shooting Championships and other international competitions.
Youth Hunter Education Challenge – Recognized as the most comprehensive youth hunting program anywhere in North America, the Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) is NRA’s “graduate studies” program in outdoor skills and safety training for young hunters. Open only to those who have completed hunter-safety training at the state or provincial level, the program is conducted under simulated hunting conditions to provide the best practical environment for reinforcing and testing a young hunter’s skills.
As you can see, there are many options for educating youth about firearms safety. How will you get your child involved?
*If you have questions for Mia regarding how to get your child involved in the shooting sports, please ask her here at The WON.