Juvenile Shooters – When Are They Too Young?

When is a shooter too young to handle a firearm?

First-time shooter, a 9 year old girl with Uzi
First-time shooter, a 9 year old girl with Uzi

Talk around the country asks this question, citing the incident where a 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her shooting range instructor with an Uzi in Arizona.

The man who died was Charles Vacca, an instructor at the Last Stop shooting range about an hour outside of Las Vegas.

He was an “instructor”.


Excerpt from the Washington Post http://ow.ly/DlwTE

“Vacca had shown the girl how to fire the weapon, the range instructor told police, and she had gotten a couple of rounds off with Vacca’s help before he let her hold the weapon on her own. At that point, the girl began shooting the gun, but “due to the recoil, the weapon went straight up in the air” and Vacca was struck in the left side of the head. Video footage, shot by the girl’s mother and sent to police, captured Vacca SETTING THE GUN TO “AUTOMATIC” BEFORE HE WAS KILLED. [emphasis mine]

The girl’s father, who said he and his wife had brought their two daughters and son to the range from Las Vegas, said he had fired the gun before his daughter. He told police that after his daughter shot the Uzi, he thought she was injured because she was holding her shoulder. He said the family initially gathered around her, unaware that Vacca had been shot.”

Personal Experience

I began shooting .22 rifles at age 5. When I turned 7, Mom bought me my own .22 rifle, a J.C. Higgins bolt-action with 8-shot magazine. It was my mom who taught me gun safety: “Always consider a gun loaded. Never point a gun at a person. Don’t let the muzzle touch the ground.” I was set for a lifetime of hunting and shooting pleasure, never once endangering another person.

What Went Wrong in Arizona?

That was an unqualified instructor problem. Even if the man has been an instructor for many years, wise instructors don’t hand fully-automatic firearms to a first-time shooter, most definitely not to a child.

When is a child too young? That’s a judgement call. When is a child too young to drive a car, hammer a nail, swim in deep water without a life preserver? The answer is within the question.

Contrast the above story with a 10 year old girl shooter

10 year old shooter Shyanne Roberts
10 year old shooter Shyanne Roberts

“Shyanne [Roberts] competes alongside junior shooters, who are participants younger than 18, and even adults. Last year, she beat out adult women to place second in the Women’s Division of the New Jersey Ruger Rimfire Challenge.

“On October 31, she will square off against 200 of the top women shooters at the Brownell’s Lady 3-Gun Pro-Am Challenge in Covington, Georgia. Shyanne is the youngest competitive shooter registered at the female-only event, according to the match director. The top shooter has a chance to win $5,000, as well as items from a prize table of guns, ammo and more.

The Franklinville, New Jersey, girl, who now has more than 20 sponsors, started learning gun safety when she was 5. After she could recite the rules and had grasped what guns can do, around age 6, her father started taking her to a gun range. Dan Roberts is a certified firearms instructor and a single dad. He has custody of Shyanne and her younger brother.”

[Source: Townhall Magazine http://ow.ly/DlBwu ]

Shyanne’s dad, also an instructor, started her at age 6.

My Recommendation?

Start at an indoor range where there is a safety officer. Start with a .22 rifle or pistol, preferably a rifle, because the rifle will actually be easier for the child to handle.

How do you know your child is ready to handle firearms? Does your child obey you? If you hesitate or answer “no”, then it wouldn’t matter if your child was 18 to 20 years of age. Shooters who will not obey authority are NEVER ready for firearms training.

CARGO Rockwall Gun Club

Join us every second Thursday at Soulman’s Bar-B-Que in Rockwall. This restaurant is located on the eastbound service road of I-30 next to Applebee’s and Lake Pointe Church. Facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/CARGORockwall

CARGO stands for “Citizens Association for Responsible Gun Ownership”

Our certified CHL instructors, law enforcement officers and federally-licensed firearms dealers can answer your questions, help you select weapons and guide you on the way to enjoying your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

John White

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