Like most parents who enjoy hunting or shooting I started my kids off with a simple .22 rifle for their first shooting experience. The next step is to step your kid up to something a little bigger and see how they handle it. There is two primary schools of thought on getting your kids graduated into higher calibers; One school uses the baby step method and the other employs the sink or swim method. You must decide which school your kids will attend when the time comes.
On a recent “Ballistic bonding” (thanks Drew) outing my youngest son decided to enroll himself into the Sink or Swim Academy. On the way to the range I told him to let me know if he wanted to shoot any other guns besides the .22’s. It didn’t take long before he asked to go a few rounds with my Sig P226 9mm. After just a couple of magazines he asked, “Can I shoot that one?” pointing at the .357 magnum lying on the bench. I started him off with a single round in the cylinder and let him have a go at it. Within a short time he had worked his way through the hundred rounds we had on the bench. These are the times that really puts a smile on a dad’s face.
After burning through the .357 ammo, I put the Para LDA .45 in his hands and loaded another single round for him to try. He aimed at the target and squeezed the trigger. As soon as he fired he turned his head towards me and calmly told me, “That’s not bad.” That big proud smile returned to my face because I knew him and his old man are alike, we love some good recoil.
After spending a few hours putting lead down range at the pistol and rifle range we headed over to the skeet fields to let him try his luck and skills with the clays. We loaded him up with his great-granddad’s old 20 gauge Winchester Model 1200 and let him work his way around the field. He followed our instructions well and even hit a couple in the first round. Not bad for a kid that hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet and using an adult size gun. With the second round he decided he wanted to try the 12 gauge. Still having to wrestle with a full size shotgun he went a full round with it and was wearing a big smile the whole time.
Choose whichever school fits your child best and let them work towards those big calibers. Beware though, that big smile on their face will undoubtedly spread to your face as well.
Happy Shooting, God Bless America and God bless you and yours