May112010

26 Comments

The Surprising Lessons of a Family Firearm Hobby

My husband and I are shockingly bad parents.  A year ago we made the choice to teach our children about the world of firearms, and, in the eyes of some, that qualifies us as candidates for a visit from Child Protective Services.  Of course, when we first took our kids to the range, we had no idea we were embarking on an activity that would be controversial and, at times, criticized.  We also had no idea it would become such an enriching experience.

My husband is highly trained in shooting skills, so he took both kids under his wing, and in no time at all, they became proficient in the sport and respectful of the gun.  As we’ve guided our children into the world of firearms, there have been a few surprises.

The NRA Eddie Eagle program teaches a few basic safety rules, but our kids have learned far more.  They have learned to respect the rules, procedures and authority found on a shooting range.  No kid wants to be on the receiving end of the range officer’s whistle more than once!  Actions always have consequences, safety isn’t an option, and they’re all the wiser for these experiences.

image by schmuck-by-nature

They’ve learned that it takes patience to line up an accurate shot.  If a skill is to be mastered, it must be practiced carefully over and over again, and they have both shot hundreds of rounds with their .22 rifles.  Once the fun of shooting is over, our kids have learned the importance of keeping their firearm clean and getting it ready for the next outing.  This requires responsibility, attention to detail, and planning ahead.

Real life, practical skills are rarely taught in public schools anymore, and it’s up to parents to fill the gap with lessons in fishing, cooking, carpentry and dozens of other important, lifelong skills.  Using a firearm for hunting or target shooting falls into this category, and we’ve seen our kids’ self-confidence blossom as they’ve mastered a skill they know is valuable and meaningful.  Achieving a high score on a video game may bring a momentary thrill but never that deep satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something that matters.

Our firearm family hobby is just one more reason for us to spend time together doing something we all enjoy.  We’ve had lots of laughs, a few tears of frustration, and brought home numerous targets to proudly display on bedroom walls.  At a time when too many families find themselves drifting apart, separated by the pursuit of individual interests, a family hobby is key to bringing everyone together.  Firearms can provide that shared focus as well as a way to develop important character traits and lifelong skills.

In retrospect, the only shocking result from our family’s venture into the world of firearms has been watching our children develop confidence, patience, responsibility and attention to detail.  They’re well on their way toward mastering a useful skill that will serve them well in the future.  Are we bad parents for leading them down this path?  Hardly!  There are few activities that yield such a rich assortment of life lessons as the world of firearms.

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

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I'm the original Survival Mom, and have been helping moms worry less and enjoy their homes and families more for 5 years. Come join me on my journey to becoming more prepared to handle everyday emergencies and worst case scenarios.

(26) Readers Comments

  1. Totally agree!

  2. Great!

    I think firearm handing, safety, and shooting should be taught in school right along things like drivers ed.

    It is great that you are making it a family thing. Have you and your family considered attending an Appleseed Project event?

    If you haven't heard of them, it the Appleseed Project is a Non-Profit organization that teaches the basics of marksmanship coupled with the American history of the "Rifleman"

    Best of all Women and Children shoot free at every event. Definitely worth checking out. I am going to one soon myself.
    http://appleseedinfo.org/

    • I would love to improve my rifle skills. I'll check into the Appleseed Project. It sounds like something we'd love to be involved with.

    • Lucas,
      Thanks for posting this site. I'm linking it to Rightwingdad! There are 3 gatherings w/in 2 hours of our house. This sounds perfect for us and our two (patriotic) sons!

  3. Lisa, you've written some excellent blog posts, but this one in my opinion is your best. Well said, I have nothing to add other than to say…GREAT JOB!

    Bob Mayne

    • Thanks, Bob! That means a lot coming from a fellow gun nut! :o)

  4. Regretfully, I must take my beloved SurvivalMom to task. It is YOUR job to teach your children life skills. It is the public school's job to teach them reading, writing and arithmetic. Moms and Dads, teach your children ethics, honor, WHY they shouldn't steal, carpentry, marksmanship, and and the morality of sex and relationships. The school should teach them the biological science of reproduction of oat grass, frogs, and people along with calculus, verb conjugations and all the things we forgot from school.
    I'm sorry for everyone who disagrees with me, but these are MY children. I teach them all I have, then I hire someone for the rest of what they'll need.
    Oh, now I've ranted! Sorry.
    Congratulations on your responsible and happy teaching your children about such a useful tool and skillful sport.

    • It's true that schools need to teach reading, writing, biology, etc, but they can do some of these in a more useful way. When elementary school kids are learning arithmetic, why not have a unit on balancing a checkbook? It's really nothing more than basic addition and subtraction, but it is A LOT of it and could be a good challenge for 5th / 6th graders who are sick of the same old same old. I know my 6th grade math class had a unit on that and I still remember it because it was interesting and useful and different. There are a lot of places like that where schools can cover practical life skills while covering their basic core areas.

      By the time kids finish school, homework, bus rides, and maybe some sports or community activities, there aren't that many hours left in the week and even kids need some time to relax. Parents are, of course, parents and ultimately responsible, but there is less than no reason for schools to fail to teach practical skills in all the hours and years they have kids, although I don't expect black smithing to make it to any school near me. Why not teach basics of gardening to kids during biology? What's wrong with learning how to make a sling or splint during classes on human anatomy? Frankly, I think if teachers didn't have their hands tied by overly stringent rules about what they can teach and how, they probably would include more practical things for the simple reason that it would be more fun for the kids and get them more genuinely interested, but that's a different matter entirely.

      Virginia has actually decided that children need to learn basic firearm safety and are working on a program for elementary schools. It's coming to a school near you, if the school board so chooses. http://www.whsv.com/home/headlines/91760899.html

      • LOL Have I started something here? I hope so. Liz, don't hope for the school board to do something, tell them what you want, or run for a position on that board yourself. Again, they are YOUR children, not theirs. They are in no more of a position of authority than you allow them to be.
        I agree whole heartedly, an applicable education is needed. By the time they graduate they should be able to know if their paycheck is correct, how to pay their taxes, how much fertilizer is needed for their acreage, and how to verbally, or in writing sound like an intelligent human.
        But as SurvivalMom pointed out, the fun and family bonding she's found in the activity of marksmanship training, some things are for the individual family for many reasons. The schools are stretched too thin already. Too many people think it's someone else's job to raise their children. We hear too many "Why doesn't the school do something about that". I say, quit waiting for the "government". Do something about that yourself. I guess it's like my disaster prepping. It's my job.

        • We're joining the Izaak Walton League. We specifically picked one with an air rifle range for the kids so the whole family will be involved. I'm cooking with the kids especially the gradeschooler. DH has them help with car repairs. As I figure out what I'm doing in the garden, I work with them on it. We're trying to exercise together. We're definitely working with them on how to argue well and map reading (including topographical maps) will probably be part of this summer. I can't homeschool. It just isn't in me. Yes, if everything falls apart I'll have to, but then all my other responsibilities will be "adjusted" as well.

          I've been on the PTO to affect what is going on at my school, and I'm working on making sure our local libraries get better funding and getting improved facilities. The libraries will require my attention for the next couple years. By then, the things I'm working on should be established and easier for others to continue. I can't do the school board too, and NO ONE else is doing anything about the libraries without me.

          • Bless your heart. Nobody can do everything. You're doing your share. Be sure to keep telling others, though, that there's room for them to do something.

          • I've also asked to start a club based on Red Cross Masters of Disaster for grades 3-5. If it's approved, I plan on bringing the program to the attention of the Superintendent for schools. Hopefully, they will implement it in more schools across the county. They have programs for grades k-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Fingers crossed! The principal is looking at it over summer vacation so I haven't heard if it's approved yet, but I'm hopeful. Hopefully they have a teacher who will get on board with the club and we'll be off and running with it. :-) http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.5http://www.redcross.org/preparedness/familymodule

    • As a home school mom (and former public school teacher) I have to disagree. I did NOT bring my sons into the world to pay the government to raise and educate them according to THEIR standards. The concept of a "free public eduction" is a very recent, and often failed, experiment. The liberal indoctrination in most public schools would make your patriotic blood boil. Home schooling is not for everyone, but please be careful not to assume that the public schools have your children's best interest at heart.

      Lisa, Excellent article.
      Your one "mistake" (according to CPS) is creating a strong family unit that they cannot manipulate.
      Keep up the good work! :)

  5. We are doing the same thing!

  6. Bravo! My father was hunting when he was nine, and a cousin killed his first deer (with a bow and arrow) at ten. When I was in high school, there was a Rifle Club; it was supervised by a faculty member and the boys (alas, there were no girls) learned a valuable skill.

  7. http://toyadz.com/toyadz/daisy/daisylist.html

    look at how it used to be… guns were family entertainment, family fun and a means to teach responsibility and life long skills.

    students used to be able to keep their hunting guns at school if needed (some in their lockers), guns were left in gun racks in trucks and often with the vehicles unlocked around town and school parking lots.

    so if people are more advanced and intelligent today then during these era's what happened? how can an inanimate object be the cause of such fear and distrust? rhetorical questions obviously…

    i miss these days.

  8. Thank you for your post. As many have noted guns have only in recent years been given such a bad name. I think that the Columbine Shooting and the ones that quickly followed helped this to happen. It is not guns that injure or kill people it is the lack of understanding guns by people. I hope that more people will take the steps that you and your husband have taken with your children. I know that I feel safer that my children all know how to handle firearms. They understand and respect firearms.
    I hope that we can return to a day when firearms can be a part of life much like archery equipment is.

    • Karen, I think it's crazy for parents to think that if they ignore something potentially dangerous it will actually keep their kids SAFER! Gun-safety is crucial. I'm glad my kids know how to be safe around guns AND know how to shoot.

  9. I grew up taking hunter's safety courses which my Dad taught. The courses were sponsored by that hotbed of government sponsored, nanny-state socialism, the Pennsylvania game commission. :)

    I believe that I and all of my classmates survived the experience quite well, although a few rabbits and squirrels we encountered can't make the same claim.

    • Considering how dangerous guns are, it's amazing that more of us weren't killed way back when, when kids and guns just sort of went together! I'm convinced that the most dangerous combination of all is a loaded gun and a kid who has never received any type of training in gun safety.

      • You are SO RIGHT Lisa
        Joe R

  10. Kee up the good work. I am a NRA member, and have 5 children who have been astutely trained in the proper respect and use of firearms. We've watched the Eddie Eagle Video so much, we can chant the "Stop, don't touch, leave the area, tell an adult!!" tune with ease.
    I am a home school mom. I have to say that I too, pulled my children out of public school after seeing the failed attempt of the school system OVER AND OVER again! I will not sit back and tolerate the indoctrination of the teachers adgenda for a socialist nation!
    Thanks for the site and what you do!

    • I should probably join the NRA but never have since my husband is some sort of grand poo-bah member. We get the magazine and all sorts of NRA logo gifts. I have a whole collection of NRA pocket knives! Thanks for your encouragement, and good luck with your next year of homeschooling.

      • I'm going to admit I'm a paranoid. Not radical and wild eyed, but still, paranoid. I don't "join" things. I don't want my name on someone's list. If I approve, I may support them, but I don't want my info in their data base. I'm pretty sure the NRA is going to be the last organization on Earth that lets the secret government agencies into their files, and they'll fight to the death over it. But it's also THE organization the Men In Black want into the most. I support the NRA in many ways, but not with my name, address and credit card number.

        • I'm paranoid enough that I have what I consider my "internet birthday" and other internet information. My internet birthday is 10/19/69. That is the date I have entered for every website I have ever used. It's close to my real birthday, but the date month and year are all different. I use very little real information online. I refer to my husband as "dh" (dear husband), not by his name. But I'll be damned if I'm going to let those parasites in Washington make me too afraid to join one of the few organizations that really stands up to them and their liberal agenda.

  11. First I agree with your post and think it is great that you are shooting with your kids, this is good for so many reasons. And the comments it has generated is wonderful. I just wanted to add a couple. I live in Alaska and many schools do teach the hunter saftey course which covers, ethical hunting and safe firearm handling. Second, quality time with your kids is always good. I remember my dad taking a picture of my then seven year old son shooting an AR-15 down with a bunch of other photos to show his family. The comments were that it was not an acceptable activity, whoa, he had three adults full attention and I don't know who was prouder he or us when he hit his pop can target. There are somethings too important in a childs education to leave it to the schools. I happily pull my kids out of public schools for two weeks every full for hunting, where they learn a lot more then they would at the desk. Our last long family hunt was a bear hunt which we took our 10 and 5 year old on. We did not do this carelessly and it was a great success, with a caribout and two bears to show for it, stories and lessons that will last a life time.

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