Today’s life lesson was taught by three 12 year old boys whose father brought them to the range to meet me for some shooting. It was the birthday of one and this was what he wanted most (since his mom doesn’t want to let him have the .22 rifle he so desperately wants.)
I started them out with a couple of magazine fed bolt-action rifles, one scoped ( a CZ-452 Scout) and one with open sights (a CZ-452 Full Stock). They were in a hurry. The bolt actions and the 5 round magazines served to slow things down and force them to think about the instruction on sight alignment and trigger control.
Then we went to the pistol—a 9mm. The recoil of the Beretta 92FS was easily managed, but the muzzle direction and ‘finger off the trigger’ skills were easily forgotten and thus closely monitored. This was the reason for one pistol shooter at a time.
Then, the wow factor—we let them shoot an AR. It’s loud, but low recoiling. It’s quite accurate, and quite devastating on the 2x4x4 blocks of wood we were shooting at 35-40 yards. They each got 60 rounds and were not satisfied. As they say in the theater, always leave them wanting more.
They were good kids. Dad was there and none of them wanted to get on his wrong side. They listened to my commands (there were no requests or 'how do you feel about thats'). Even if they were not 100% on arrival (one threw up before we started –I don’t know why) all paid attention, did what was asked, operated safely with minimal reminders, and had a BLAST (no pun intended.)
A couple of universal lessons: Freedom comes only to those who can control themselves. These boys were under control, but clearly not in control of themselves yet. But they learned that they can be and they will be in time.
Shooting with pre-teens is high risk, but well worth it. These are the boys who will be the men who will secure our freedoms in the future, order the society of the future, and by the way, will figure out how to pay for our social security. They are worth the investment. I wonder if they realize what just happened in their lives. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but I think they will let these lessons in. Over time they will contemplate them. And they will become a part of who they are as adults.
How much better to have spent a morning like this than with cartoons or video games so mom and dad can sleep in.
"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites... It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. " -- Edmund Burke (Thanks to Ares for reminding me of this.)