Take the Kids to the Range: Ready for a shooting trip?

Why take your kids to the range?

No school. Working from home. Social distancing. General worry. These are uncertain times and a major adjustment for most Americans. It hardly seems like an “opportunity.” At least for now, our way of life has changed, and we need to change along with it. This may be the perfect time to do what you have been meaning to do for a long time. Take your kids to the range.

Every parent will need to decide for themselves when the right time is and the external circumstances may make this decision even more difficult than usual. I also think in some situations it might be just about the perfect time to take kids to the range.

I’m lucky.

The Browning Buckmark is a good choice for a youth gun.
The Browning Buckmark is a great handgun for children to shoot, especially if you have a lightweight aluminum barrel.

I’m blessed that I have a job that takes me to the range regularly and I enjoy sharing that with my children. I also am a member of a conservation club that has many outdoor ranges. That makes it easy to practice the social distancing that is expected today. You may not have this kind of a scenario and that might preclude you from taking the kids to the range. If that is the case, maybe now is the time to seek out this scenario for yourself.

Now might be a great time for a family trip to the range.

Taking your kids to the range could be just the right remedy for the current situation. The range is fun. Shooting provides an outstanding way to learn especially when we consider connecting the math and science that is inherent in shooting firearms. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss the political ties. Finally, getting out of the house and into the open air makes a ton of sense in our current situation.

I’m going to leave the Covid-19 considerations up to you. I’m going to look at some of the considerations you need to factor in to decide if you should take your kids to the range.

Are you and your kids ready to go to the shooting range?

Gun safety for kids
Responsible gun handling is key. Teach it to your children and help them to practice what you teach and demonstrate.

Notice I didn’t just ask if your kids are ready. The big letters above ask if you and your kids are ready to visit the range.

As a parent, you are a leader in your family. Leaders need to be prepared to lead and taking your kids to the range is most definitely a leadership exercise. If you are new to guns, or lack the patience to mentor your kids and other family members, heading to the range together might not be the best idea.

Do you have the patience to teach family members to shoot?

It always takes patience to work with those that are less experienced than ourselves. It’s easy to forget what it was like to be a beginner. If we make assumptions about what our kids know and then get frustrated when they don’t, the fault isn’t on them — it’s on us. It also makes sense to remember that teaching family members can be difficult. All the baggage that was weighing you down before you got to the range doesn’t just magically disappear. It stays with you when you hit the range and it takes work from both parent and child to set egos aside and focus on the task at hand — shooting!

Do you have the competence to take your kids shooting?

You need to have enough firearms experience to know that you are going to teach your children the right habits when it comes to guns, especially responsible gun handling. If you have never taught anyone about guns before, consider the fact that it is much more difficult than you might expect. If you are struggling with concepts on your own, the mental task of teaching makes it that much more difficult to manage those concepts. Make certain that you have the necessary competence to have a successful trip to the range.

What about your kids? Are they ready to go to the range?

You need to evaluate several areas to determine if your kids are ready. I’ll touch on them briefly and then leave you to decide what is best in your situation.


I think the first question should be, “Are they interested in going to the range?”

If your kids aren’t interested in firearms and learning how to shoot, what is the point? Instead, go to the range solo, bring your target home and share stories about how much fun you had. By doing this, you’ve planted the seed. Now, wait for it to germinate.

Mentally ready?

Kids 22 rifles are an excellent way to teach children to shoot.
Shooting range for kids: the .22 lr round is inexpensive and easy to handle. It’s an excellent choice for your trip to the range with children.

Are your kids mentally ready? Heading to the range takes attention and a level of maturity that some kids simply don’t possess at the moment. That is ok. We are all different and we all develop at different rates. There isn’t a magic age for when kids are ready to shoot. There is a seriousness to learning how to handle and shoot guns that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Know that your child will have to focus intently for short bursts and if that doesn’t seem likely, consider a hike instead.

Physically ready?

Are your kids physically ready? I have a couple of tiny kids. I’m talking about the 9th percentile in height and weight. Little. Mentally and emotionally, they are ready to rock. But when it comes to the physical strength it takes to heft certain guns, and even press some triggers, size and strength can be an issue.

Err on the side of caution. If you aren’t certain that you AND your kids are ready to go to the range, you might consider a different activity.

More considerations

Just like any decision in parenting, there are many factors that you need to consider before taking your kids to the range. I can’t possibly cover them all in an article and even if I could, I’d likely miss some unique consideration that applies to you.

Ultimately the decision is yours as a family.

Ready for a family trip to the range? What’s next?

.22 lr for kids
The Ruger 10/22 is a great .22 long rifle for kids to start with.

If you’ve decided to take that trip to the range I have a bunch of pointers that can help to make the trip more enjoyable and more successful. Simple things like loading your mags at home can make your trip much more pleasant for all involved.

I’ll be covering those tips in my next Take your Kids to the Range piece.

I will see you and yours out at the range!

Continued in Part 2: Take Your Kids to the Range: 6 Tips for a fun and successful trip.

Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, is a Professional Defensive Shooting Instructor.  He has spent the past decade and a half studying how humans can perform more efficiently in violent confrontations and honing his skills as an instructor both in the classroom and on the range. Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of Critical Defensive Skills courses in more than a dozen states annually.  Courses range from Concealed Carry Classes to Advanced Critical Defensive Handgun Courses and include instruction for the defensive use of handguns, rifles and shotguns.  Safety Solutions Academy regularly hosts other industry leading experts as guest instructors to make sure that SSA's students have the opportunity for quality instruction across a broad range of Critical Defensive disciplines.

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