I brought my son to my very first 3-gun match the other day. He’s five years old, still very much in that carefree stage of wiggles and boredom, outbursts and silliness. And while it might be more “normal” to bring a 5-year-old to a baseball game, an arcade, or a kid’s bounce-house party, my husband and I really wanted our little guy to experience the exciting world of 3-gun shooting and to watch his parents and other responsible gun owners participate in the fast-paced, action-packed, multi-gun competition.
While my husband and I were getting ready—loading guns, ammo, safety gear, holsters, snacks, and more—I noticed that my son had put on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles belt. He made sure to secure his blue and red toy revolver in its red plastic holster. And I made sure to get a pinky promise that he would be careful and safe and that he would listen carefully to all instructions.
As we pulled up to the parking area at the shooting range, I wondered if anyone would look at us funny. But most of the other competitors just stopped and smiled. Some introduced themselves to my son. And others commented about his “cool gun and holster.” I felt pretty good by the time we sat through the safety briefing. My one and only son was sitting next to me, supporting his mom and dad, about to enjoy a safe and fun shooting competition.
One of the spectators even stopped to tell my husband and me that she was glad our son came with us. “It’s so good to see children here!” she said. “The more they can watch and learn, the better. Way to bring him up right!” That made me feel pretty good.
Of course, the satisfaction soon turned to exasperation when my son started whining for snacks and drinks and paying more attention to drawing in a notebook than to the actual shooting. But later on, as I was thinking about this, I realized that my son doing his own little thing at the match was actually not such a bad thing. It just shows that he’s so accustomed to firearms and so used to safe and responsible gun handling that the numerous shotguns, modern sporting rifles, and pistols all around him didn’t enthrall him or entice him. He’s been brought up around guns and taught all the safety rules, and he sees firearms as normal, everyday tools in our home. They’re not taboo. They’re not evil. They’re not toys. And they’re not for him or for his siblings…just not yet, anyway.
Overall, the match was a lot of fun. (It was also quite a learning experience, getting accustomed to transitioning between three different guns.) And it was a great test to see how my son would act and react with all the firearms, all the noise, and all the activity. I think he had a great time, too. He helped tape the paper targets, set up steel plates, and move equipment from one stage to the next. And he even got to run one of the stages…with his cap gun…with no ammo. The safety officer walked him through all the rules and all the steps, while Dad and Mom proudly looked on (and took pictures and video, of course).
I am so happy that my son came with us to the 3-gun match and that he did so well. We’ll still take trips to the movies and to the amusement parks, but I really look forward to more opportunities to expose him to the shooting sports…and to bring his sisters along, as well! And while this safe firearms experience was only just the beginning, I think we’re off to a great start.
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