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May 12, 2008

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Bourjaily on Starter Guns

I found this clip under “Hilarious Turkey Hunt” on YouTube. Maybe I’m stuffy, but I’d have called it: “How Not to Start Kids Shooting.”

Fortunately this kid kills the turkey with the shot that rolls him over backward, so he has a positive, if painful, hunting experience. Never mind that he’s wearing pants the color of a turkey’s head, or that he picks up the flopping bird while pointing his gun at his Dad, who wisely runs out of the frame.

Obviously, the boy has been given way  too much gun and he may be on his way to developing a lifelong flinch. Other kids get .410s, which very frustrating guns to hit anything with. My own first gun was a 12 gauge A-5, but then I didn’t hunt until I was 21 years old, so I was too big for it to knock me over..

I started my own kids with 20 gauge 1100 Youth Models when they were 11 or 12.  The 20 gauge 1100s are very soft shooters and great guns for kids to learn with. When target shooting and hunting we used only light loads and were very careful always to wear hearing protection. Even so my older son started closing both eyes when he pulled the trigger in anticipation of the muzzle blast and recoil after a while.

We had to take a break from shooting, then start back up with air rifles and .22s before he could keep his eyes open. He and his brother are both happy shooters today. If I had it to do again, though, I might go with cheaper, lighter youth pump guns and shoot slow, 3/ 4 ounce reloads to keep recoil down.

I’m curious to know how all of you started. Since you grew up to read a blog called “the Gun Nut” it’s fair to assume that your fathers did something right when they taught you to shoot.


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Alex Williams

First shotgun i ever shot was my dad's model twelve full choke twelve guage when i was 6... not very fun but i hit the dove. when i was old enough to go and be more than the bird dog, i used an old, cracked bolt action .410 i got my limit of doves with it on my first real hunt. the next year i bout a Benelli Super Nova 20ga. i now want to move up to a twelve gauge but i cant bear to part with my beloved 20.

Dan D.

I started with my fathers Sears .22LR, bolt action. I'm not sure of the model but I think it was actually made by Marlin. Put a lot of rounds through that. 1st shotgun was a 20 ga. Mossberg Model 500 which I got when I was 12. 1st centerfire was a M94 .30-30 which I got when I was 13. Been shooting all of them ever since, and of course have added several more along the way.



Gee...ive been shooting ever since i can remember. My first gun was when i was about 7. A Pellet gun that could kill squirrlie and chippie. trouble was i couldn't hit them.. .i take back..i did once get a chipmunk with it when i was about eight...i nailed him in his rear which immobalized him until I could run down and beat him to death with the butt of the gun.
It was a big deal...someone even came over and took a picture of me( I is still got the pic).that worthless gun..and the chipmunk...my first shot chipmunk.. my first chipmunk i actually killed was also beat to death...with a shovel(it got in our dog-food barrel where we stored our dog food). I was pretty proud of that one too and stashed it in the woods to show it to dad when I got home..trouble was the crows(or something) flew off with it so their went my trophy.


To dad when he got home...not I got home..sorry. Ya...walmart is evil... It would really actually help this country if they went bank rupt or something. Although China would probably just buy walmart since they do so much business with them!


I started shooting my Dad's Remingthon 513T .22 when I was 10. We shot thousands of ground squirrels and birds with that fine target gun. My first gun was a Winchester 9422. My first shotgun was a Winchester M12 16 gauge. I probably started pheasant hunting 1 year too early. Never hit anything and the the gun and recoil was too big for me. A year later, I grew to love the gun and started pheasant season with 3 shots and a limit of 3 birds. I still have this M12 and it is my favorite gun ever. My first centerfire rifle was a Model 70 Winchester in .243. While I really liked that gun, I could not resist a straight trade for a Browning Citori 12 gauge. These three guns my dad gave me covered the big three categories of long guns: Rimfire, Shotgun, and Centerfire.


At the age of 11 my Dad discovered he'd waited way too long to teach me about guns when I accidentally blew a hole in his bed. I'd been sneaking his gun off the shelf and "checking it out" off and on for weeks... Forunately, the only thing with a hole in it was the mattress! It was then that he began teaching me firearm mechanics and safety.

For my kids, guns have been a part of our family culture, so from their earliest days they were introduced to the reality of guns and the pertinent rules. Out of my six kids, all can shoot, 1 is a marksman, 2 are aspiring hunters, the 5 still at home are each expecting Concealed Carry Permits for their 21st birthdays -- and not a single accident or incident of gun stupidity!


Concerning a kid's first deer rifle, read my rule and repeat it to yourself over and over until you are thoroughly nauseated: Don't EVER start a kid off with a "light" rifle! A .243 is a deer killer with the right bullet weight (usually 100 grains) and construction, but it belongs in the hands of an EXPERIENCED rifle shot who can hit where he desires; a 30-30 with 170 grain bullets or a 7mm-08 throwing 140 grains are much better choices for the youngster. Considering that shot placement is the top priority (noooo, reeaaallly?) regardless of caliber/cartridge, shooting a deer with a .243 requires exact placement just behind the shoulder crease or right in the base of the neck and one shouldn't dare consider a sqare shoulder shot with a stupid little 100-grain pill. Woods being woods, deer being deer, and kids being kids all favor the bigger bore throwing more weight, for if one hits a couple of inches off point of aim and strikes a heavy bone, the deer is still going down whereas a light bullet may utterly fail. Good hunting to you all, and may your undetachable guns be well used during the upcoming hot chick season (summer) and where sea meets sand is a most prime place to stand....thoroughly and proudly erect.


My dad started my hunting career when I was 8 years old. For 4 years I carried his old Sears and Roebuck 12 ga single shot unloaded and broke open for him.
I would carry, and he would shoot rabbits and squirrels. While my father was not much of a hunter, he was a gun safety nut to the highest degree. He probably didn't know any better, but he bought me a 12 ga H&R single shot when I was 12. I'll tell ya, that gun kicked! I was so afraid of the recoil that I was hesitant to shoot anything besides deer with it. It took nearly 8 years for me to be able to shoot any rifle of shotgun with out a bad flinch. Today, I only own 12 ga guns as I only duck hunt with them. My father may have started me out wrong in his ignorance, but I thank him for igniting the fire to be a sportman so many years ago

Jim in Mo.

Don't feel bad, if you'll scroll up to 5/12 you'll see my same experience with a 12ga from Sears(I think, who cares not me).

Del in KS


Not on subject but a friend from work just got back from Fairbanks. His nephew graduated HS there last week. He brought me a copy of the Newspaper and there was an article that said last year they shot 12 Grizzly Bears in Fairbanks in defense of life and property. They have already killed 2 this spring on the Kenai Peninsula.


My mother and Father are very anti firearms always have been always will be.
I bought a Shooting Magazine before getting on a plane to fly interstate and haven't looked back since. It has taken me 16 years to convince my father to come on a shooting trip with me and as much as he enjoyed it his marriage is more important to him.

Jim in Mo.

Hey you broke the ice and at least got your father to go. Next trip planned see if you can arrange a photo trip for your mom while you guys hunt. Just take it step by step.


I was started on a Remington Targetmaster .22, a single shot bolt action that just may have been the most accurate open sight gun I've ever owned. The I go an FIE .410 double barrel, that actually was pretty good for squirrels, rabbits and could get a 50% on clays.

since then I've had marlin 336, hatfield .36, a CVS .45, A .50 moutain rifle, etc.

But my very favorite remains that old Remington.

Nick Kussoff

My grandfather taught me how to shoot when I was around ten years old. We went to his back yard with his winchester 190 22lr that had a miserable 4x scope, and he would hang soda cans from the big pine tree at the edge of the woods and we went about 50 yards away. I would hit it about every third time, and when I did it was spectacular.

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