Most adults remember their first experience shooting weapons: the shocking recoil reverberating through their small bodies, while their abilities to accurately aim were compromised. To help instill positive shooting memories in children, it’s important that parents select the appropriate gun based on children’s physical strengths and sizes. Petite shooters require appropriately sized weapons to decrease fatigue and increase accuracy.
Carrying on family traditions, some parents bestow their children with their first firearms on their birthdays or for holiday celebrations. When selecting the appropriate gun for first-time shooters, consider the following advice:
- Handguns – These are difficult to aim, as children can’t rely on shoulder grips to hold the weapon. If children are learning to use handguns, parents need to select models that are lightweight, feature low recoils and have light trigger pulls. The best handgun for children is the .22 Long Rifle semi-automatic pistol. Popular models include the Ruger Mark III, Beretta U22 Neo and the Browning Buck Mark.
- Rifles – Children enjoy shooting .22 rifles. Easy to aim and comfortable, this weapon offers affordable ammunition and is generally a safe choice for young shooters. Popular models include the Savage Rascal, which helps children focus on accurate shot placement. However, the Ruger 10/22 features advanced flexibility and is extremely durable, making it an excellent choice for long-term use. The lever-action Henry Repeating Arms H001 features a 15-round magazine that makes it easier for parents to focus on children’s shooting skills instead of constantly reloading their weapons.
- Shotguns – Shotguns focus on motion, which is why they’re commonly used in hunting. Shotguns require a clean swing or shooters will miss their moving targets. Petite shooters require a stock that features the appropriate length-of-pull and a short barrel, which helps reduce bulk and weight. Several companies offer shotguns that are youth-friendly, including Remington, Mossberg and Winchester. Shotguns come in a variety of gauges:
- 12-Gauge – This type features more recoil, which makes it less popular with children.
- .410 – This model has minimal recoil and has light shotgun shells. However, because the shot-pellet payload is minimal, it can easily prevent children from effectively hitting targets.
- 20-Gauge – In between the 12 and .410 gauges, this popular option is light, but also has a hefty kick. This gauge is excellent for children that have at least a year or two of shooting practice.
It’s important to use positive reinforcement when training children to shoot guns. Keep targets close so children can successfully hit them, which help build confidence instead of leaving them feeling disheartened.