Teaching A Non-Shooter About Guns - What Is the Right Way To Do It?
People who are not familiar with firearms often fall into one of several categories:
- They are afraid to touch the gun or ammo or have the firearm around
- They are reckless and handle the firearm unsafely due to bravado or lack of knowledge
- They are children or teens and have not been taught about gun safety or what to do if they encounter a firearm
Any of these situations is dangerous not only for the person handling the weapon but for anyone around them. Education that includes safety, familiarity and eventually actual hands-on work provides not only the skills needed to be safely around a firearm but can prevent disastrous accidents as well. If you have a weapon in your home for self-defense, you hunt or you shoot at a range, then every non-shooting member of your family needs to at least know the basics of gun safety.
It’s tempting to relay everything you know and love about firearms and ammo in one lesson, but focusing on safety first is a must. You might love learning about the history of ammunition or the latest in ammo tech (both pieces on our blog), but the non-shooter you are working with will rapidly become overwhelmed unless you stay on topic.
Start with safety and cover how to handle the weapon, how to store firearms and what to do if a weapon is encountered unexpectedly (a big safety issue for kids and teens). These are the basics and will ensure that your non-shooter pupil is able to handle a weapon safely from the outset. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, you should cover the following points – they are basic and automatic to you but must be relayed to any new or non-shooter:
- The gun is always loaded: Even if you place it down for a second, even if you checked it when you stored it, even if you “know” it is empty, consider every gun a loaded gun and act accordingly.
- Don’t point at anything you do not wish to destroy: Never even jokingly point a weapon at a person, pet or item you do not wish to shoot.
- Consider objects behind your target: Bullets go through walls and other surfaces – so know what is behind the thing you are shooting at before you fire.
- Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire; if you are startled or slip you won’t have to worry about accidentally discharging the weapon.
- Use the right ammo for the job: The ammunition used should fit the gun and the purpose you are using it for.
- Protect your eyes and ears: Wear safety glasses and ear protection when shooting at the range or hunting.
Care and Handling
Once you’ve covered safety, you can move on to some basic handling and shooting; a visit to the range makes an ideal outing if your non-shooting companion is ready to learn more. Even a single visit to the range can boost familiarity for non-shooters; if you have a home defense weapon, then the other members of your family will be more adept at protecting themselves if they have actually fired the gun at least once.
According to Guns and Ammo magazine:
“For new shooters, young and old alike, having fun on the target range goes hand-in-hand with developing critical skills and generating successful target strikes down range.”
Kids and Guns
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hundreds of children aged 0-14 are non-fatally injured by guns every year. Older teens are at risk as well -- with thousands of teens and young adults aged 15-24 sustaining nonfatal firearm injuries. Giving kids and teens the information they need to stay safe is an important part of firearms education - -and the NRA offers a significant amount of free programming to help you get the job done.
According to the NRA:
“While there is no specific age to talk with your child about gun safety, a good time to introduce the subject is when he or she shows an interest in firearms. The interest can come from family members, friends, toy guns, video games or television shows and movies. Talking openly and honestly about gun safety with your child is usually more effective than just ordering him or her to “Stay out of the gun closet,” and leaving it at that. Such a statement may just stimulate a child’s natural curiosity to investigate further.”
4 Steps to Gun Safety for Kids and Teens
The NRA recommends a four-part approach to safety for non-shooters; kids need to be able to identify what to do when a gun is encountered to be able to react correctly and avoid injury. Even children raised with firearms or those who can shoot can still use some education on what to do if a gun is encountered at school, outdoors or in someone else’s home.
- Stop: Stop what you are doing
- Don’t touch: Do not touch or pick up the gun; a gun that is not handled can’t be accidentally discharged
- Run away: Leave the area immediately; this gets your child away from the weapon and any other person who might attempt to handle it
- Tell an adult: Let a parent, teacher or other grownup know about the gun so it can be safely removed
The Eddie the Eagle program outlines a clear course of action that is easy to remember and designed for kids of all ages. Resources are available on the NRA site and include free materials for schools, day-cares and other organizations.
For kids who will be allowed to handle guns, demystifying firearms by teaching safe handling and then providing age appropriate shooting opportunities is a must, according to experts at Field and Stream Magazine. By beginning with basic handling and safety and then providing a starter weapon like a BB gun you can help your child or teen develop their skills as they become familiar with firearms.For both kids and adults, learning more about how to handle a weapon safely can help non-shooters and beginners behave in a safe manner around firearms and may even spark an interest in learning how to shoot or hunt. Whether you are a long-time enthusiast or just starting out, we have the ammo you need to get the job done; contact us or stop by our site to find the items you need for yourself or for teaching others to use guns safely.