I can tell you from my own experience that parents and grandparents are in for a lot of enjoyment when their kids get old enough to begin learning to shoot. Of course, even before they fire their first gun, they should already have a solid understanding of gun safety. And this strong emphasis on safety should continue through their shooting training and throughout their lives. Having said that, parents or other adult teachers should make every effort to see that their range time is a fun and enjoyable experience.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to teach marksmanship we lose sight of the fact that we got into shooting because it was fun. You might consider that a teaching session could begin with emphasis on the principles of marksmanship—breath control, sight picture, and trigger squeeze—but be sure to allow equal, or more, time for some fun shooting.
Kids—actually kids of all ages—enjoy shooting at targets that do something when they are hit. Several companies make different kinds of metal spinner targets at very reasonable prices. The child can see an immediate reaction when he hits one of these targets and some friendly competition will just enhance the experience. However, when shooting at metal targets, always make sure that you are far enough away from the target that the occasional bullet splashback doesn't endanger anyone.
Another great idea is to take some impromptu targets to the shooting range with you. Of course, it is important to make sure that this is acceptable with whoever is managing the range. And it is best to avoid shooting at anything made of glass for what should be obvious reasons.
DuraSeal Interlocking Spinning Targets from Champion
Old vegetables make excellent targets for the young shooters and are biodegradable. A center hit on a tomato just gives very satisfying results. Equally fun targets are charcoal briquettes, scattered around at different ranges, that turn in to a gray, smoky-looking cloud when the bullet flies true. Again, these are biodegradable and won't create a mess on the range.
And don't forget about those plastic water bottles that are so popular. Filled with water, capped off and hit with a .22 hollowpoint, they virtually explode. For a real technicolor experience, fill them with water and food coloring—the kids will enjoy helping with that. Think about it and use your imagination in coming up with reactive targets for your little shooters.
Regardless of the fun that you are having, two things are extremely important. Never, ever, allow fun to get in the way of gun safety. No one expects, or requires, us to become great marksmen, but they do have a right to expect us to be safe in everything we do with guns.
The second important thing is to clean up any mess that has been made during our shooting range fun.The range area should be cleaned up just as well as your campsite when you are about to head for home. If you packed it in, pack it out.
You will find that when the kids are having fun, their marksmanship skills steadily increase, and increase at a surprising rate. When you are teaching kids to shoot, to respect guns, and to enjoy the shooting sports, not only are you teaching them important life lessons, you are doing much to preserve the 2nd Amendment.