We welcome Cheyenne Dalton, teenage competition shooter, to Women’s Outdoor News as a columnist, sponsored by Volquartsen Firearms. Cheyenne represents the rising group of new pro-shooters and is an inspiring role model for other young people. Be sure to check out her social media outlets, too. ~BB
People often ask me when they should get their children involved in shooting. That is a tough question to answer, because it all depends on their children’s maturity. I have met very mature 8-year-olds, but immature 13-year-olds. Here’s why and how I started shooting.
Guns have always been a part of our home and my siblings and I understand the consequences of not being responsible with guns. We have developed a love and respect for firearms through years of teaching and training. I can’t remember a time when guns weren’t in our home, because we use them to protect our farm against varmints such as possums and raccoons in the chicken house.
My dad took me spring turkey hunting when I was 6 and then we would go fishing in our ponds, and mushroom hunting in the woods. We’d have friends come over and enjoy a big meal of everything harvested from our farm. When I was young, our family had a hunting lodge on our farm and I remember packing lunches for the hunters that would come. For us, guns have always been a part of our lifestyle. They are a very important tool for our farm. If you want a child to be interested in firearms, then they need to be a part of your home, too.
One day my mom decided to go and get her concealed carry license. There was a man who didn’t live very far from us that taught the classes and his daughter was helping him teach the class. She and my mom started talking and the young woman asked my mom if she had any children who might be interested in competitive shooting. My mom didn’t know what I would think, so my parents and I went to a local match and I instantly fell in love with all of the action that happened there.
I decided I would take a lesson from my mom’s instructor and after she showed me the basics – such as stance and grip – she told me about a match that was 2 weeks away. I practiced a couple more times before the match and I went up to Iowa, shot the match, and won High Limited Lady with a stock Ruger 10/22 from Walmart. Yes, I was hooked! People always seem to think that you need the biggest baddest equipment out there, but this proves that this is untrue.
Before you jump right into shooting, make sure your child is even interested in it. Take them to a couple matches to let them see how they work. I have seen too many children get pushed into shooting all because their parents wanted them to, not because the kids wanted to. If you decide that competitive shooting is right for your family, then next you need to find a safe and permissible place to practice. I am very lucky that I live where I do. We can set up a range to practice in numerous places. Practicing is one of the most important things you can do. But a parent’s attitude toward practice is just as important as anything else. If you try to make the practices fun, then the child will want to continue.
If you can find a good trainer, get trained so that you all learn the proper procedures for gun handling. Stress safety on the range at all times.
Last, don’t take things too seriously; this should be a fun and family-friendly experience. In the end, it’s not all about winning or losing, but spending time with family and friends.
Shooting is a sport that can give you a lifetime of enjoyment. Remember that to continue to enjoy our Second Amendment rights, we must insure that the next generation understands how much fun safe shooting can be.
Cheyenne Dalton is an up-and-coming junior competition in 3-gun, USPSA, and Rimfire challenge. She writes a column about her shooting experiences, sponsored by Voquartsen Firearms. She's been competing for 4 years and has won state titles, along with the Limited Ladies Rimfire World championship 2 times (2014 & 2016). When she's not at the range, she is traveling with her Bluegrass band, "That Dalton Gang," where she plays mandolin and violin, along with singing lead vocals. Her future plans include lots of shooting and continuing her education with a focus on being a pharmacist. She lives on a family farm in Missouri. View all posts by Cheyenne Dalton