As a safety organization, there is so much that goes into what we do. The majority of which is the Accident Prevention part of our program. Another really important component to what we do is our range program. It can be very challenging and scary at times to teach kids safe gun handling with “real” rimfire rifles. I sometimes think of it as a finely choreographed ballet. Up to 10 kids firing rifles at the same exact time, doing it safely is a thing of beauty. It is a challenge and has taken a process to perfect. Approximately 90% of what we do is in the classroom. The last 10% is special and really important to the safety of families. Our kids learn best through hands on training at times. There are multiple ways children learn but, using a rimfire rifle remains one of the most beneficial ways for the kids to learn safety. It is our goal to teach safety, discipline, and respect for firearms. One of the best ways is to send lead down range.
We normally start children off in our Kids Firearm Safety 2 Class around the age 7 on up depending on their maturity. We hope to be able to shoot 50-70 rounds per kid per class. This develops a solid foundation of safety that can be replicated into the future. This is an important bonding experience between the parents and their children. Mostly because there is some apprehension by the parents when they initially join us. Parents and the kids might be nervous at first, that all goes away once that gun fires for the first time. Then we repeat the process over and over again until it becomes second nature. As the class proceeds the children become more efficient and fluid with their movements, this helps them feel comfortable and instills self confidence. It is truly special to watch. The nerves start to unwind and the families begin to have fun, together.
We always start every class with an important safety brief. This helps assign tasks in case of an emergency and sets expectations. We cover the 4 Basic Safety Rules:
1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
2. Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
3. Finger straight and off of the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Make sure of your backstop and what is beyond.
We then assign lanes, rifles, magazines, and lastly the ammunition. We break everything down into small manageable steps. It creates order and gives the kids direction. Once the rifles are assigned to the kids, that rifle is their responsibility for the 2 hours of the class. This gives them something to be responsible for while they learn. Their responsibilities include knowing the condition of their rifle at all times, whether it is loaded or unloaded. Taking care of the rifle and making sure it doesn’t get damaged is also very important. They will load all ammunition into the magazine and will eventually load their rifle in anticipation of us us going “HOT.” That is definitely the high point of the class. When the gun goes “BANG” is alway the fun part. There is so much that goes into the process. What we do on the range is special and differentiates us form other organizations.
Once the kids get the process down we start focusing on marksmanship. We start them relatively close to their targets. This allows them to see their hits on the sweet Birchwood Casey Shoot N See targets. They have been a tremendous sponsor and partner over the years. Their targets are definitely the best on the market. Once they understand how the sight alignment process works, it makes it easier to put the round where they intend them. Then we repeat the process over and over. The kids learn best through, doing everything themselves and through repetition. It’s these repetitions that create very important habits. The habits will help save lives. It is our hope that the families will continue shooting together. It is a great bonding experience for all, if done safely. It is a very common and natural pastime. It is also part of our culture. This will never change and we must never allow it to change. Liberty takes vigilance and maintenance. Getting the next generation involved is key.
Our Kids Firearm Safety 2 Class ends with every kid returning the rifle that was “theirs” for that 2 hour class. The smiles and the positive words of encouragement from all involved. It’s that positive experience that creates a memory for the families and makes sure the kids don’t forget the important life skills that they learned. We hope that they all have fun and they are always welcome to come back the following month. We end with handshakes and a final photo. The photos tell a story about the important work that we do to protect children. What can be considered a controversial topic doesn’t need to be. Education needs to be a priority, it is something that we are working very hard to bring to the forefront. We will keep moving forward with the support of parents from all over the country. We are thankful for their continued support and we are thankful for all of your support. Until next time. Be Safe!