I spent my childhood with a gun. Before I really kissed a girl I was out hunting on my own. I take that back. When I was in 1st grade some girls held me down on the playground and kissed me repeatedly. It was a traumatic experience. In my defense, there were four of them and only one of me.
My early firearms education was reasonably archaic. It was mostly limited to the following which was preached by Mom, Dad and Grandpa:
- Be careful.
- Don’t point that thing at anyone.
- Hold a fine bead.
- Don’t jerk the trigger.
- Don’t waste ammo.
As it turns out, I’m the one who taught me how to shoot. I was very safe because I knew if I was not careful or if I “pointed that thing at anyone” I’d get my ass busted and not get to shoot again until I graduated high school.
Since then I’ve attended many shooting schools. Some were presented by the military, some by various law enforcement agencies. Many were taken at Gunsite Academy and many more by other purveyors of firearm knowledge. All this training has made me a decent shot with a handgun and a rifle. However, looking at my resume, I should be able to perform at John Wick or at least Julie Golob levels.
The point of all this is that, based on my firearms education, it would appear that learning to shot a gun well, is about as hard as learning to skin a cat in the dark with a candle and a butter knife.
I know this because I’m a father and I’ve taught my kids to shoot. Learning to shoot a rifle or a pistol is easy. Shotguns are another thing entirely. It takes a warped mind to learn that skill or to share it with others. With rifles and pistols there is a baseline rule of thumb, that if followed, always applies. Line the sights up on the target and pull the trigger without disturbing the sight picture.
That covers the hitting part but there are some other things my kids have taught me.
Recoil is scary. Kids are afraid to shoot guns because they are afraid it will hurt. Here is something else I’ve learned; when it comes to recoil we are all a little scared. Shooting is supposed to be fun. Getting your eyes crossed every time you pull a trigger is not. I’ll admit it is and always will be fun watching someone else get their eyes crossed. If a handgun or a rifle kicks so hard you do not like to shoot it, don’t. Your target is supposed to feel the pain, not you.
Loud noises are scarier than recoil. Kids deplore ear-splitting sounds because their ears have not been ruined; they can actually hear the things you and your wife whisper, while you’re in another room, with the TV blaring. Your ears may be bad but the reflex is still there. Always wear hearing protection. Use suppressors when possible and avoid a muzzle brake like an Ebola infected chef. If you need that muzzle brake because your gun kicks so hard, what you really need is a different gun.
The last thing I’ve learned is that if you start a kid out right, they will learn very fast because, like I said, shooting a gun is not that difficult. (Part of starting out right is choosing a gun that fits the shooter, be they young, old or a grouchy gun writer. Kids have an uncanny capacity for learning. Adults on the other hand think they are geniuses that can absorb quantum physics in an afternoon. They want to do things like go to a weeklong shooting school and leave with a ninja certificate.
That ninja thing, it takes years and years of relentless training. Trust me, I know. I’m closer to being a kissing ninja than a shooting ninja. I got an early start at that too. It wasn’t long until I didn’t mind being held down all that much. The trick – and the hard part – was acting like I hated it.