A 2009 Field & Stream survey found that 85 percent of hunters think it’s best for their children to learn to shoot before age 11. Furthermore, 79 percent said kids should go on their first hunt before age 11 as well.
The key to ensuring the kids enjoy hunting as much as you do is by tailoring their first experiences to their generation. Children of the 21st century are into technology and instant gratification.
Outdoor Life Magazine gave a handful of young hunters several youth-model rifles to test and evaluate. Their informal observations found that youth did not particularly care about accuracy and gentle recoil. They were most concerned with ergonomics and safety.
The CZ 452 Scout was the most popular choice among the testers. It was praised for the walnut stock and four pound trigger-pull weight.
The Browning T-Bolt was the most popular for those who coveted accuracy. The aesthetically-pleasing gold trigger was also a major attraction.
The Rossi Trifecta was one of the most expensive rifles tested. The .243 barrel was specifically mentioned as an attractive characteristic, along with the detachable combs that allows the use of modified 20-gauge barrels.
The Cricket 22 Long Rifle comes in pink, which may convince your young daughter to go hunting with you.
The Remington 870 Express and New England SS1-Y22 are also recommended weapons.
Eye & Ear Protection
The seventh of Remington’s 10 Commandments of firearm safety is to always wear eye and ear protection. It takes only one report from a rifle to cause permanent hearing damages, while proper eyewear can protect from flying metal fragments and other debris.
Smith & Wesson and Beretta know a thing or two about firearms, so their safety glasses should be placed near the top of the list for your kids. Of course young people are more interested in looking cool than protecting their eyesight. You can easily spruce up any pair of Oakley’s with replacement lenses that come in a variety of colors. Make certain the eyewear you choose has side shields and spring hinges which make the glasses more durable.
Traditional foam earplugs are the easiest and least expensive option for ear protection. RangeMaxx and Walker are two of the most popular brands for hunting ear muffs. It’s also much easier to put on and remove earmuffs, and they are more sanitary.
High Tech Hunts
Generation X and baby boomers played outside all day until their parents called them in for dinner. Smartphones, video games, and tablets have replaced the outdoors for youth today. A 2014 Mothercare survey found that 26 percent of kids spend less than 30 minutes per week outdoors. Another 80 percent of parents admitted to never taking their kids fishing or even star gazing. One way to get kids interested in hunting is incorporating technology into the adventure.
Remote-controlled quadcopters, equipped with cameras, help hunters locate game and capture footage. Some can fly as high as 500 feet (150 meters) above the surface. Keep in mind many hunters believe quadcopters take the sport out of hunting and balk at their use. But your son or daughter will enjoy controlling the copter and instantly uploading footage to their Facebook and Twitter profiles while on the hunt.
The Caldwell Wind Wizard II not only tells you the exact speed and direction of the wind, but can assist you when teaching your children about scent and how the wind can carry it.
Hunting is an excellent activity that allows parents to spend quality time with their kids. The more you tailor it to their specifications, the more they’ll enjoy it.