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kc17

Introducing a teenager to shooting sports

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I did not come up with exact answers from a search here, and Google initially brought up too many lefty anti-gun BS for me to sift through when I have a wealth of information right here.

My 14 year old (next month) nephew has expressed interest in doing some target shooting. His father (my brother) thinks he (the son) will be less stressed/pressured if I take him. My brother thinks my nephew would be too nervous about impressing him. I know there are some programs geared towards this, but like so many kids these days he has a busy schedule with many other activities. He was signed up for the Youth Day at CJR&PC this year, but the bat flu had other plans and it was cancelled. I'm looking at this as an introduction, if he likes it and wants to advance that will be a discussion with his parents on fitting it in or dropping something else.

My nephew is intelligent and a voracious reader (thankfully) so I was thinking about getting him a book geared towards his age that covered the basics and safety that I could send him ahead of time. That's my first question, any suggestions? No matter what we will be doing a safety briefing at home, then again at the range. I'm confident covering all of that, but I still figured a book wouldn't be a bad thing and he can reference it at anytime and share it with his younger sister; she hasn't yet decided if she wants to shoot a gun or not.

My next questions, thoughts on if I should start him on pistol or rifle? Of course it will be a .22 no matter what. I have a Marlin 60 rifle and Henry lever action rifle. In pistol I have a single action only revolver and a M&P. My thoughts were to start him on the revolver or lever action. If all goes well he can shoot all four. I figure it'd be good to get him exposure to the different platforms, but I also do not want to put too much there at once and overwhelm him. I can judge that on the day.

Last question, what am I not thinking of that I should be?

 

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7 minutes ago, kc17 said:

I did not come up with exact answers from a search here, and Google initially brought up too many lefty anti-gun BS for me to sift through when I have a wealth of information right here.

My 14 year old (next month) nephew has expressed interest in doing some target shooting. His father (my brother) thinks he (the son) will be less stressed/pressured if I take him. My brother thinks my nephew would be too nervous about impressing him. I know there are some programs geared towards this, but like so many kids these days he has a busy schedule with many other activities. He was signed up for the Youth Day at CJR&PC this year, but the bat flu had other plans and it was cancelled. I'm looking at this as an introduction, if he likes it and wants to advance that will be a discussion with his parents on fitting it in or dropping something else.

My nephew is intelligent and a voracious reader (thankfully) so I was thinking about getting him a book geared towards his age that covered the basics and safety that I could send him ahead of time. That's my first question, any suggestions? No matter what we will be doing a safety briefing at home, then again at the range. I'm confident covering all of that, but I still figured a book wouldn't be a bad thing and he can reference it at anytime and share it with his younger sister; she hasn't yet decided if she wants to shoot a gun or not.

My next questions, thoughts on if I should start him on pistol or rifle? Of course it will be a .22 no matter what. I have a Marlin 60 rifle and Henry lever action rifle. In pistol I have a single action only revolver and a M&P. My thoughts were to start him on the revolver or lever action. If all goes well he can shoot all four. I figure it'd be good to get him exposure to the different platforms, but I also do not want to put too much there at once and overwhelm him. I can judge that on the day.

Last question, what am I not thinking of that I should be?

 

I’d say rifle first. . Or all them. But make sure he finishes the day with a win. Even if it’s 10 yards with a rifle

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I favor standing, with a lightweight .22 and iron sights (so as not to magnify the muzzle movement).

Prone, using a sling, is even better, but hardly anyone seems to do that anymore.

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I've taken a lot of new shooters to the range.   I've taken a lot of teens who were new shooters to the range.  I got my NRA instructor's certification because my teen daughter liked to take friends shooting.  Moms were nervous when my daughter's friends asked if they could go shooting with me.  It was an easier sell when they could add "Mr. ZZZ is a certified firearms instructor and offered to teach me gun safety."

My advice is don't "introduce" him to shooting.  That's heavy and has baggage.  Just take him shooting.  No lessons.  Let him have fun instead of getting instruction and he'll come back.   I always go over three safety rules before we pick up a gun.  I show how we are going to walk behind the shooter and how we're going to keep the guns unloaded whenever anyone is at or in front of the firing line. 

Then we just shoot targets and have fun.  The occasional tip is fine but don't worry too much about technique on the first, or trip to the range.    Consider it a pickup game of basketball, not practice before the big game.  And be sure to say "good job" when he gets one in the middle.  And let him take his target home to show mom and dad.

And let him decide what you shoot.  90% will want to start with handguns.  Teens seem to always have fun shooting clays.  I agree that rifles are a good way to learn the fundamentals but the first step is to let shooting be fun.  Otherwise, the lessons are a drag and he'll never want to come back.

 

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Start them out on something they can handle - if they have the arm strength, a pistol may be good.  .22LR doesn't have much recoil so either is fine.  I started my niece out on a Beretta Neos, but she wasn't really strong enough to hold it by herself, so I had to assist.  She was much happier with the 10/22 on a bag.

My nephew used my friend's suppressed .22LR SBR as his first gun and he loved it... 

 

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Respectfully I'd say to ditch the book idea.  Don't make more out of it than it is.  It's a great day at the range with a cool uncle.  If he's really excited and wants to continue shooting THEN send him a First Steps book and maybe get him involved in a Jr Rifle program.

I taught my (four) kids to shoot on a Marlin Model 60 and Henry lever rifle (.22lr), so I'm partial to that order, but it's up to you.  We would always start the day on the bench with sandbags and then move to offhand.

Pistol will be fun as well, but he'll probably be more success with the rifles.

I think regardless of what you decide the kid will have a good time.

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First step is to check which eye and hand is dominant. If they are cross dominant (right hand/left eye or left hand/right eye) they are almost certainly going to prefer handgun over rifle.

After that, just cover the essential safety points and get them shooting ASAP. Don't even go over all the controls on the gun at first. Load for them - 1 round for the first shot in a semi auto - and let them pick it up and fire it.

If you belabor all the fine details before they even fire a shot they will glaze over and you'll be wasting your time.

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On 7/28/2020 at 5:42 PM, kc17 said:

Of course it will be a .22 no matter what.

Not necessarily.  I started my teenager (15) on 9 mm, .45, and 5.56. :)

It depends on the new shooter.

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2 hours ago, Mr.Stu said:

First step is to check which eye and hand is dominant. If they are cross dominant (right hand/left eye or left hand/right eye) they are almost certainly going to prefer handgun over rifle.

After that, just cover the essential safety points and get them shooting ASAP. Don't even go over all the controls on the gun at first. Load for them - 1 round for the first shot in a semi auto - and let them pick it up and fire it.

If you belabor all the fine details before they even fire a shot they will glaze over and you'll be wasting your time.

See the hand/eye dominate thing was something I had not thought about. I'm aware of it, but I had not thought of it for this case.

I had thought of only loading one round in a semi-auto at first if that is what he picked.

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I've taken a number of women shooting, and something a lot of us forget about is "fit" - most guns are designed around guys.  NJ does not help things by limiting options for semi-autos, so what is comfortable for my 6'2" frame is probably less comfortable for a 5'6" teenager or woman.  If you have an adjustable stock rifle, that may be best - an improper fit can make shooting less pleasant for smaller statured people. Also remember to show them how to focus the scope (if using one) because their eyes are likely different than yours, and having blurry crosshairs or parallax set wrong would suck for them.

I personally always start everyone off with a .22 rifle loaded with a single round (typically on a bipod with a scope), after covering the basics of safety and operation of the rifle.  Once proficient with a single shot, I move to multiple rounds in a mag, then .17HMR, .223, etc.  Once I (and THEY) are confident in using the rifle, I will start them out on handgun, again single shot typically and usually a .22 - but fit does still come into play.  For example, I have a target S&W 22A with large target grips, even for my hands.  Most women will not be able to hold it very comfortably, so it is an option they can try, but not an ideal starting gun.  By the end of my first day with a former girlfriend, I had worked her up to trying a mosin, and she shot 2 or 3 rounds (with a limbsaver, making the damn thing even longer).  Had I started her out on the Mosin, it probably would have been a very short, one shot day.

Make sure ear pro is properly worn - if the foam ear plugs are barely in, having extremely loud, ear damaging noises constantly going off will be a turn off.  If possible, be off to a side where fewer people are.  Some people will be quite self conscious when starting, especially if they aren't hitting things at first.

If you have a place to shoot reactive targets, bring them.  Those tend to be more fun than simply shooting paper.

Something I made up for new shooters: http://malice4you.com/images/realsteel/gunsafety2.pdf

A one page (double sided) little handout to try and cover as much as possible while also trying to not be an overload.  If I can get people to read that before we even go, they seem to have a better grasp of things, and I'm less likely to forget to mention something important.

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As you can tell from the thoughtful level of detail above, @Malice4you is a born instructor... and I can say that having shot under his fine "light rifle" informal instruction.  :)

As a shorty myself (a squeak under 5'4"), I can attest that the fit issue is really critical - particularly with shotguns. (Ouch!) Literally, if the gun is too heavy and/or too long, the shorter-statured shooter will instinctively push their forward hand forward even more, and as they do so, they twist their body, and the butt is pushed forward even further (or worse yet, it's more prone to slipping out of the proper "pocket" and onto the upper arm... and that results into the recoil slamming the gun into the upper arm, giving that person a horrible experience and leaving them with a big, ugly, painful bruise for the next several days. Who would even want to shoot again after that?) 

There's a woman on YouTube who has a series of really great, very detailed videos on gun-fitting that I really like. (Sorry, guys, she's not a hottie, lol - but the videos are chockful of good info). Obviously, you might not be able to offer your young (and/or short) shooters the ideal gun fit, but at least this will give you a deeper understanding of the problems they might be experiencing if you drop your "tall guy gun" into their lap.  

Here's a general one on long guns...

 

Here's one that focuses on trap shooting... and how she temporarily adapts an ill-fitting gun to better fit kids.

There are some others she has, too. I just think she's quite good at explaining the ergonomics of fit and why it matters. Echoing what Malice said, it's up to you to make sure your shooter is physically comfortable.

Also, are they struggling to rack the slide on your semi-auto handgun? If so, they might feel embarrassed and stupid...worse yet, they could hurt their wrist... and not want to shoot again. So, please consider not only the size of the grips, but the hand strength required - something a lot of grown men just take for granted.

 

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4 hours ago, Mrs. Peel said:

Also, are they struggling to rack the slide on your semi-auto handgun? If so, they might feel embarrassed and stupid...worse yet, they could hurt their wrist... and not want to shoot again. So, please consider not only the size of the grips, but the hand strength required - something a lot of grown men just take for granted.

That's one reason my wife loves her revolver and shoots it well; no slide to rack.

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I would say skip the book.  Shooting is a hands on physical activity like basketball or soccer.  Just like kids want to get into those sports by seeing others do it, whether its friends at school, from the neighborhood, or the pros on TV, shooting is a "oh cool, let me try" kind of thing.  Also, all branches of the military teach thousands of people who never held a gun before to shoot without reading a book first.  

I would start from the bench with a low recoil long gun and progress to kneeling, standing, etc. once the shooter masters the ability to safely load, unload and operate the firearm, keeping in mind that this may not occur on the first outing.    

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We went today, he's a very mellow & shy kid, so I can only go by him saying he had a good time and wants to go again.

His father went over basic safety with him at home, then I did a quick safety briefing at my house. I covered basic rules of every gun is loaded until you personally clear it, trigger discipline & muzzle control with him. Then I showed him the four firearms were we taking and how to clear each one. I also stressed there were two rules for the day #1 stay safe, #2 have fun. I know the first rule wasn't broken, and he said the second wasn't either.

On the way to the range we talked a little bit about recoil and some other misc items.

Once setup I let him chose what he shot, he picked the M&P .22 pistol first. I had him take it out of the case and clear it (did that with each firearm the first time). I went over grip, sight picture and squeezing the trigger. I dry fired a few times and had him dry fire about half a dozen.  Then I showed him how to load it (one round only) and fired a couple of shots. Then I loaded it for him (one round) and he took his first shot from about 8 yards out. His first three shots were high right around 12 o'clock but still on the cardboard. Then he got dialed in and (I think) did great for his first time out. After a few single shots I did a couple of two rounds in the mag, then had him load the magazine and gun himself.

We repeated the process with the other firearms (all .22 cal) I showed him how to load and shoot, then had him do one round at a time then multiple rounds. He went from the M&P to a SAO revolver, then the two rifles: a Henry Lever Action & Marlin 60 Semi-auto. Once he went through all four the first time I gave him free reign to shoot whichever he wanted as much as he wanted. I brought bags thinking I'd have him do bench shooting with the rifles but completely forgot about them when we got to the rifles. That's on me and I feel bad, his father asked if he did bench or standing with the rifle when he picked him up too. He did great with the rifles as well, but took the fewest shots by far with them. He liked the M&P the best. I was very pleased it ran well for him, I've had some failures to chamber a round on it the last few times out.

All in all it I think it was a great day, although a bit hotter than I'd hoped for. I told him to text me when he wants to go again; I'll follow up with my brother if I don't hear from him in a few weeks to a month or so, once the weather is more friendly.

 

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Glad you two had a great time together!  Kids can get busy & distracted.  If he doesn't text you in 2 weeks or less, YOU text him!  Give him a BS story if you have to:  "I need some help"... trying out new ammo-target-scope-sand bag-ANYTHING!  Get him out there AGAIN and really SET THE HOOK!  Use shoot-N-C or dirty bird type reactionary targets.  Work on bench rest for trip #2.  Start with good feet position & work skyward.  Teach breathin' & squeezin'.  Give praise when 2-3 shots touch & make one ragged hole.  It means he's listening & gets repeatable results.  Pack a cooler with cold drinks & a snack.  Bring D-Lead wipes & use prior to eating & drinking.

Bring some steel or a spotting scope & teach him how to use it.  Always lots of fun things to learn!

"EACH ONE, REACH ONE" spoken here fluently :)   Putting smiles on kissers is rewarding! :) 

And congrats once more Uncle Kevin!

Rosey

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Thanks Rosey. I did have the drinks, snacks & D-Wipes this past trip. I need to double check on the rules for what types of reactionary targets are allowed at my range. I also plan to ask about an exemption to the limit of times per year we're permitted to bring the same guest, which is three. I'm hoping since he's a blood relative and a minor, they'll allow it.

 

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3 hours ago, kc17 said:

I also plan to ask about an exemption to the limit of times per year we're permitted to bring the same guest, which is three.

How would they know unless you told them?

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