A friend of mine, a single mother, and I were corresponding via emails, and the topic of shooting and her 12 year old son came up. Initially she made it sound like he was enthused. TOO enthused, though.
I told her that my advice isn't ideal. I'm too new at this. I don't even think I would be a good one to teach her son.
I related how he's at the age or just past where you want to introduce a boy to shooting. It's a part of being a man. And if she thinks she is falling down on the job, she should not be too hard on herself about missing this important part of his development because she is a single mom. Single momhood has got NOTHING to do with it, as way too many intact families have FATHERS in them that overlook this for various reasons, all of them bad. Boo, wimpy fathers. Naw, and its not too late to get the boy going on the right path.
She made it sound like the boy was over eager. That raises red flags. It's good to have enthusiasm, just not TOO much enthusiasm for it. And it sounds like he has an overabundance of enthusiasm. No. He needs to wait and mature and demonstrate self-discipline. And he must not be told she is waiting for signs of maturity, less he put up a facade to short circuit the process. And when he DOES get to shoot you still watch for cracks in the maturity facade before proceeding to the next level. But that's the Shooting Mentor's job. At his age... a few trips to a rifle range to shoot a .22 bolt action rifle to learn how it all works and to practice a bit. Borrowed weapons from the instructor, of course. Plus I'd train him on Windex, first. And she'd like that. She'd get her windowns clean, and he learns about guns like Mr Miaggi taught the Karate Kid to do wax-on/wax-off. (Learned this trick from Tammy.) If he can treat the Windex spray bottle like a real gun, keeping his finger off the trigger untile ready to shoot...er squirt, and not pointing it at anything he doesn't want to get blue death on.
Apparently I totally misread her Liberal Mom lamentations. She was WAY ahead of me. The boy wasn't begging for a real gun to be irresponsible with, he was begging for an airsoft gun to be irresponsible with. Mom said no to Airsoft, but yes if he wanted to shoot a real gun. She knows well-trained Mentor types that are experienced riding herd on pre-pubescent boys and could teach him properly. But no BB gun.
To the boy, this makes no sense! Single Mom went on about the boy's confusion -- "that I would allow him to fire a real weapon but not possess a 'fake' one. I've tried explaining my position and I think it's a reasonable one -- that firing a real gun with real bullets is a much different experience than the 'toys' and hence gives one a better appreciation of the inherent dangers of them (i.e. he knows that they can indeed kill a person with little effort). Oh well perhaps at some point he'll take me up on the offer and maybe not. "
This friend of mine has a good head on her shoulders. And my feeble attempts at counsel were unnecessary.
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