Live Fire Saves Lives
A follow up to our previous blog post about our Kids Firearm Safety Program is going to be focused around our Kids Firearm Safety 2 class. We are one of the few organizations that offer live fire training to children and families. What can be kind of a stressful situation because we have young kids and rimfire rifles. It is an important teaching moment. What we have to realize is that our children all learn differently. Some learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by reading, some by doing.
The Ruger American rimfire rifles that we use to educate children are important tools. Hands on learning reinforces important safety principles, instills discipline, safety, and respect in regards to firearms. The ability for us to reinforce safety in a hands on type class will do more to save young lives than any type of new legislation. It is important to know that there are an estimated 423 million firearms in the United States and an estimated 105 million gun owners. This data is from a most recent report published by the NSSF. The point is, guns are here, they aren’t going anywhere. So education is critical for our youth. Data proves where there are high rates of restriction, the access for children’s education is not readily available. The kids in those areas have a higher mortality rate.
About %90 of what we do is accident prevention, the other %10 is live fire training. This type of training is an important component to what we do. While personally, as the president of the Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation, I am a gun rights advocate. We strive to keep politics out of our program, which is apolitical in nature. The goal is to make our safety program available to ALL kids not just the ones with firearms in their homes. We teach every kid in the United States how to swim because we don’t want them to drown. This is the same principle for our safety program. Education for every kid. We are currently in the process of translating our curriculum into different languages ie, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and American Sign Language. There is no education for the kids in those demographics.
The rimfire rifle gives us the ability to teach life skills to young children. In our 2 hour class we start with a safety brief. In this brief we assign roles just in case of the event of an accident. We have medical kits and trained first responders in the ready for everyone’s safety. We plan for the worst and train for the best. This reinforces the importance of safety and develops order. This will set the tone for the days class. While many children and families may be nervous, this will help keep everyone calm. Once calm we can build the trust of everyone on the range. We then start the process of breaking down the rules and information into small pieces. There is a step for everything. Small steps are easier for everyone to understand, it also slows down the pace of the class. Some young boys that have previous experience can get excited and try to go fast. Our range, our rules, it works!!
We always start off with the 4 basic Safety rules, we have taught literally 15k kids these very rules. They go as follows:
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded!
- Keep your muzzle pointed in a SAFE direction! (We like UP or DOWN, NEVER at someone else!)
- Finger straight and off of the trigger until your sights are on the target. We will give you a command to FIRE!
- Make sure of your target, backstop and what is beyond!
Once we cover this we assign shooting lanes, assign rifles and teach the kids how to walk back to their lane with an unloaded rifle. When all rifles are assigned we cover our expectations. What is important about this process is that we are teaching responsibility about firearms. The rifle is now THEIR responsibility for the entire class. They will make sure their rifle is unloaded, loaded, when it is time and also protect the rifle, to keep it from falling over. We cover stance, sight picture, sight alignment, and loading procedures. We then show each kid how to properly load a rotary box magazine. The parents typically are involved with this process because it can be hard on young fingers.
Once everyone is on the same page we give a command to “LOAD and MAKE READY.” The kids under close supervision of our safety staff and parents are now ready to “FIRE.” We give the command and every child raises their rifles, aligns the front sight on the rear on the center of their Birchwood Casey Shoot N See target. They all push the safety forward in the the FIRE position. It goes click and then they all press the trigger. The rifle goes “BANG!” It is like a finely choreographed ballet. Once all rifles have fired the next command is given to “CYCLE and MAKE SAFE.” We continue this very process until that Magazine is empty. We make sure the guns are CLEAR, then reload. We repeat this process typically 60-70 times per class.
Our children learn best through hands on training with repetitions. We are able to watch closely, offer praise or correct if needed. This builds confidence in the young kids and trust with the parents. What was once a chaotic and stressful situation for us all because of the FEAR of the unknown. Is now a powerful bonding experience. As the kids develop their skills through repeated instructions. The parents step back just revile in their children’s accomplishments. They are actually doing it!! Many times the parents will start to video or take pics of their kids progress. It’s amazing to watch and we are blessed to be a part of it. You can see a sense of pride in the parents. What once was doubt is now replaced with a sense of accomplishment.
At the very end we reverse the process we have them check in their assigned rifles. Phew we are done. Every kid that joins us learns important skills that can be used in the future if they ever go shooting with their families without us around. It is our goal to build a solid foundation of safety that can be continued to built upon. Those that are fearful of our education program will never understand the importance of what we do. It’s that fear that can be harmful to their children, education DOES work. We are proving this. We will continue to be a voice of reason when it comes to the safety of our children. Until next time. ZERO firearm accidents is the only acceptable goal!!™