It’s fall and for many of us that means the return of our children to school. This year, there was a new rule added to the dress code list in many schools – the banning of clothing featuring the Confederate flag – and an older, more familiar rule banning clothing featuring firearms. For many kids both rules are non-issues, but for others, it’s a matter of purposefully avoiding the clothes stocking their closets based not on a love of violent video games or the gang-banger lifestyle but a love of the outdoors. Some kids have closets stuffed with shirts from various gun manufacturers, shirts sitting seam-to-seam with hunting camo and range pants. Some kids have parents who teach them to embrace a firearms-involved lifestyle. Some kids love guns, as well they should. This is why.
“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” Denis Waitley
This is a rather obvious point in the pro-gun column. Learning to handle and use firearms safely teaches kids responsibility. Guns are, after all, weapons, and must be treated with the respect accorded any and all potentially deadly objects. Obviously, any child being instructed to use firearms should first be taught to respect them, and that means memorizing and proving the ability to act upon the four golden rules: 1) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target, 2) Treat all firearms as if they are loaded, 3) Do not aim your gun at anything you are not willing to destroy, and 4) Know your target and what is beyond it. Once a child can recite the rules verbatim and demonstrates the ability to follow them, it’s time to move on to the actual shooting. Each and every step of firearms use involves responsibility, from that first touch of the stock or grip to the first squeeze of the trigger to the importance of proper maintenance.
Of course, responsibility extends beyond the use of firearms. Although using a gun is a major responsibility in itself, there are uses for the gun that are themselves incredible responsibilities. Guns are important tools for self-defense and hunting, and anyone who believes kids are not capable of both those skills is sorely mistaken. Not only are kids capable of defending themselves and others with guns, they’ve done it on multiple occasions, taking down attackers and saving the lives of not only themselves but their loved ones – loved ones who are frequently, by the way, grown adults. When it comes to hunting, well, that’s a valuable skill for many things including putting healthy food on the table, but we’ll get to that later.
“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” Robert Kiyosaki
Confidence is something many kids lack, especially in this day and age of video games, bullying, and extreme conformity. This isn’t about gaining confidence by wielding a deadly weapon, either, it’s about confidence based on mastering a valuable skill. Learning to accurately shoot a gun isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes persistence, dedication, and focus – all things lacking in far too many of today’s youth.
There is something to be said for mastering any skill, but mastering firearms is something special in its own way. Not just anyone can or will do it, and it isn’t a skill without use. Being a proficient marksman brings us back to the ability to protect oneself and one’s family and friends as well as the ability to go out and get your own food; being a proficient marksman makes kids someone capable of standing tall and taking care of themselves in ways not many can. Even better, it’s a skill not all adults possess (and when you teach a child to handle a gun properly, you’re laying the groundwork for a passion stretching into adulthood).
For those thinking the confidence aspect is just for girls, this is an excellent time to call you out on gender bias. Boys and girls alike benefit from the confidence-boosting aspects of firearms training, although, guess what, studies have shown girls tend to catch on faster than boys for various reasons. Also, boys and girls alike are at risk for future assaults, meaning the self-defense aspect is valuable for everyone. And for those who think the hunting side is more of a boy thing? You could not possibly be more wrong.
“I do not hunt for the joy of killing but for the joy of living, and the inexpressible pleasure of mingling my life however briefly, with that of a wild creature that I respect, admire and value.” John Madson
The importance of teaching kids to hunt is its own article entirely, but in this case we’ll attempt to confine it to a few lone paragraphs. There are multiple parts of hunting to consider, each of which teaches kids different skills. The training and effort of preparation alone teaches organizational skills, planning ahead, and should include outdoor survival and first aid skills, among others. The hunt itself teaches things like recognizing signs of different kinds of game, following a blood trail, and, perhaps most importantly, patience. After game is down, kids learn how to properly dress whatever game animal it is, how to utilize as much of the animal as possible so nothing goes to waste, and appreciation for the animal’s sacrifice. Then there’s the cooking, which is yet another skill both boys and girls should master. The list goes on.
Young hunters are quite literally the future of the sport. Then again, calling it a sport seems misleading, because hunting isn’t about who gets the biggest buck or the most unique banded bird. Although trophies are fantastic and we all love them, the goal of a good hunt should never be a trophy. The goal is two-fold: it’s about the journey, and the meat. When going hunting you have the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors, enjoying nature and all it has to offer, and the meat gained from a successful hunt is a gift not only because it’s food but because it’s food harvested with your own hands, healthy, organic, free-range meat. There’s nothing like it at your local grocery store, no matter what the media tries to claim. There’s nothing like preparing and eating meat from game you successfully harvested. If you’ve never experienced it, you are truly missing out, and if your kids have never experienced it, well, they’re being robbed of something that could give them an entirely new – and incredibly positive – outlook on the realities of life.
“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry
Yes, eyebrows are probably raising and a chorus of “What?” is echoing from in front of countless electronics’ screens at this one, but it is absolutely, unequivocally true. The right to bear arms is granted to us in the Second Amendment, and teaching kids about our nation’s history and Constitution are vitally important. Guns are part and parcel of our nation’s history, and teaching our kids to use them presents us with excellent opportunities for seemingly impromptu history lessons. Learning about all of our rights, not just the admittedly important Second Amendment, is a must, and kids should learn these things right along with their ABCs and 123s, but they don’t. It is up to you to make sure the coming generation knows what this nation was built on. Don’t fail them.
“Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” Joyce Meyer
Whether kids stick to target shooting or become seasoned hunters, patience is part of the deal. If they rush a shot, they’re going to miss, whether it’s on paper or four-hooved game. Learning to take their time, take a deep breath, and focus on the target in front of them is a normal part of shooting; what better way to learn patience than by doing something with visible, immediate results? If they hunt, kids learn patience in another way: the incredible patience required to sit in a blind or participate in a spot-and-stalk, both of which tend to take hours at a time and may or may not have the ultimate payoff.
There are some who think stocking kids with electronics to keep them occupied during a hunt is a logical way to keep them occupied in what can easily be a boring stretch of waiting time. However, plopping these would-be young hunters down in a blind or stand with handheld electronics does them a great disservice. Yes, there are empty and rather yawn-worthy stretches during any hunt, but there are great moments, too. Kids can use binoculars to scan for game just like you do, keeping themselves alert and occupied, and, bonus, they have the possibility of being the first to spot incoming game. It’s also a good time to have the heart-to-heart chats that so rarely seem to take place nowadays, provided those chats take place in soft tones so game isn’t alerted to your presence in the area. Taking kids out sans handheld games helps them learn to appreciate being outdoors and teaches them the value of quiet time spent in the company of nature – nature and you, although as your kids get older they’re going to start asking to hunt alone.
“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” Leonard Nimoy
Logic cannot be left out of a discussion about the value of firearms, especially when we’re talking about kids. There is so much misinformation and flat-out stupidity out there when it comes to firearms it’s become ludicrous, and the only way to counter such lunacy is through cold, hard facts and good, old-fashioned logic. Kids who are truly proficient with firearms will know what to say when faced with anti-Second Amendment arguments. Best of all, their answers won’t be restricted to such sparkling gems as “Oh yeah??” and “Prove it!” If kids are truly well-educated about guns they’ll be able to calmly, rationally refute whatever half-assed remarks are made in an attempt to discredit or insult gun owners and guns in general, and that is a gift in itself.
The ability to participate in a debate – and win it – cannot be discounted, either. It’s a valuable skill and not one many kids today possess. Teach your kids about guns and give them the ability to hold their own: it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
“Remember the first rule of gun-fighting: have a gun.” Col. Jeff Cooper
Here’s the bottom line: kids who shoot and hunt are more responsible and tend to be more respectful, too, not just of adults but of nature. This is a generation of kids used to being indoors playing video games, watching YouTube videos, and otherwise staring blankly at multi-colored, flickering screens, and we are doing them no favors by encouraging such behavior. This goes beyond the need for kids to get up and get outside, it has to do with their needing to learn things like patience, responsibility, and the joys of hunting. Decades ago there were shooting ranges at many public schools in America and, not many years ago while I myself was still in school, it wasn’t uncommon to see trucks with gun racks – full gun racks – on campus. Today the presence of guns is seen as something to fear, and that’s a mindset that must be changed before it pollutes the viewpoints of thousands upon thousands of growing kids.
Teach your kids to shoot. Teach your kids to stalk and take down game; teach them to appreciate the sacrifice made and to enjoy the resulting meat. Teach your kids responsibility, for heaven’s sake. Do you want your child to be the wolf or the sheep? You shouldn’t have to stop to think about it.
Guns and kids: they really do go together.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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