A Necessary Education in Gun Competence…

I remember my dad teaching me to shoot a 22 rifle when I was younger than Karyn.  He would set up a target of aluminum cans and my brother and I would compete to see who was the best shot…

A few years later, my brother "guided" me as I shot my first wild hog with a 12 gauge...

A few years later, my brother “guided” me as I shot my first wild hog with a 12 gauge…

My brother has gone on to become an excellent shot, while I likely remain in the competent category.  Regardless, I was raised to respect guns and I want my girls to grow up with the same education and skills.

Learning how to handle and load the gun is an important step...

Learning how to handle and load the gun is an important educational step…

In continuing with the family tradition, Matt and I are working with the girls and teaching them to shoot a 22 rifle.  We set up pizza hut cardboard boxes on the edge of a dirt berm that boarders one of our farms for targets.DSC06834

My favorite cowgirl/chef hit her first bulls-eye last weekend.   To say that she was excited would be an understatement 🙂

Karyn and Ashley Grace have not yet achieved those bragging rights, but they are slowly gaining confidence.  I have no idea if shooting a gun will be a necessary skill for any of them in their chosen life path, but I do know that the confidence and focus that they gain while learning to properly handle a fire arm will help them no matter where their lives take them.

She's only 8, but will careful instruction she learns to focus and develop good skills...

She’s only 8, but with careful instruction she learns to focus and develop good skills…

On a personal note, I am working on my shooting skills for a very practical reason.  There are times that we have a bovine at the feed yard get very sick or become crippled.  I cannot stand watching an animal suffer, so in those instances we humanely euthanize it.  While it happens only a few times a year, it is important to me that we are both competent and dedicated to using this practice to end suffering.DSC06851

My cowboy has always been in charge of euthanizing at the feed yard, but I am working on honing my shooting skills so that I can also perform this task.  Matt recently purchased me a 9mm pistol for this purpose.  It has been more than twenty years since I fired a pistol, but I am determined to achieve accurateness.  I fired it for the first time this last weekend, and plan to add shooting practice into my routine until I am accurate enough to complete the task with competency.

We do everything that we can to keep our animals healthy like this one pictured above, but sometimes things go wrong...

We do everything that we can to keep our animals healthy like this one pictured above, but sometimes things go wrong…

Ending an animal’s suffering is a gift that I can give.  It is part of my job as a humane caregiver.  While it is always difficult to loose an animal, in some instances it is just plain the right thing to do.


Filed under Animal Welfare, Family, General

18 responses to “A Necessary Education in Gun Competence…

  1. Dawn

    Good for you! My boys were also taught how to safely handle and shoot firearms when young. At Karyn’s age they were competing in 4H shooting sports, and cowboy shooting events and hunting. One never knows what life will bring.

    • Thank you, Dawn. We have not gotten our girls into any competitions, but are enjoying it on a “family” level. I agree that you never know what life might bring, and I think that the focus, precision, and respect that you learn handling guns make for great life skills.

      Great to hear from you!

  2. Bobbi

    I truly believe that the only way a person learns to respect guns is to properly learn how to operate them. I was taught to shoot as soon as I was old enough to complete the states hunter safety class. We are avid hunters and use hunting to add another lean delicious protein to our freezer. Though it is a very rare occurance that we have to end the suffering of 1 of our cows or calves I leave that job to the hubby. I could perform the act if I had to but he does a better job of hiding the emotional heart break than I do.

    • I agree, Bobbi. My older two girls are old enough for the hunter safety class and will be taking it this spring. Neither Matt nor I are big hunters, but we both enjoy wild game from time to time. Regardless of how much one might hunt, learning how to respect and handle a gun is an important skill.

      I am sure that you all will do a great job with Isaak when he gets older!

  3. Robert L. Gwilt

    I too taught my 2 daughters and son how to safely handle and shoot
    both rifles and handguns and all three are very good shoots as well as
    being safe gun handlers. Good for you and Matt /Ann.
    Love your blog.
    Bob Gwilt

    • Hello Bob,

      It is great to hear from you again. I am so glad that you continue to read and enjoy my posts! I am also happy to hear that you gave the gift of gun handling/shooting education to your children. I agree that learning to use the weapons go a long way to learning to be a safe gun handler.

      I hope that all is well in Indiana. Fall has started to spring here in Nebraska with daily temperatures cooling off considerably relative to early in the month. My cattle are enjoying the weather shift—as I watch them run and play in the home pens I am reminded that fall brings “spunky” weather and inspires more play behavior. It’s fun to watch.

      All the best to you,

  4. Kathy Bottrell

    Glad to hear that you are teaching your girls how to handle firearms. Good for them to know for so many reasons.

    • I agree, Kathy. And, I appreciate your support. This is a difficult topic because so many folks feel a myriad of emotions relative to guns. I think that the key to ensuring the responsible use of guns lies not in regulations, but rather in education. Matt and I are doing our best to live out that belief with our girls.

      It’s great to hear from you,

  5. My four grand children have learned gun safety as soon as they were old enough. Two are sons of a career military father and two are farmers kids. The oldest just enlisted in college ROTC and plans a military career. My grand daughter likes bow shooting more then guns. I think children that are taught about fire arms the correct way do not have the curiosity other children have. They know the danger a gun poses.

    • Many thanks to those in your family that serve our country, Ellie. That is a tremendous gift and I am thankful for the sacrifices that they make so that I can remain free.

      Megan, like your granddaughter, is really interested in learning to bow hunt. Matt and I told her that she needed to master a rifle first and then she could start to learn to shot a bow.

      I agree that good education is the answer.

      All the best to you,

      • Rex

        Last year we had two bow hunters and they are coming back with their wives. To my surprise, the had very good success walking up and down the rows of standing corn until they saw deer several rows away from them. It does not take a long shot.

  6. Jeff

    Well…duh. Wish there was a lot more of this common sense that you write of in the world. Seems to me it is uncommon, though the responses give me hope. And, no one should confuse ‘common sense’ to mean any type of common sense restriction/regulation, or a discussion of whether something is ‘needed’ or not, and the government gets to determine what is and is not needed. It’s simply not a matter of ‘need’. It is a matter of CAN and responsibility that comes with it. Really, proposing restrictions of rights based on the concept of ‘need’? Where’s it end? I really don’t need to go to the church of my choice, nor do I really need to be able to read the ‘free’ press, nor do I really need to live in the house I do, or drive the vehicles I do, or…

    Political tangent over…both Gus and Si have been exposed to weapons (firearms and archery) from a young age. Both have shot their .22 (Si at 5, Gus at 7) under our supervision. Both have a healthy respect for those weapons and the others in our house. Both have been hinting with me. Tis amazing the appreciation that kids can have, as well as respect for things, when they are actually educated about them, rather than de-educated about things, and made to fear the unknown.

    Oh, as to the bow hunting, and all things archery, you got my number. Gus is really taking off with the concepts and shooting his bow (at least when he wants). Si is still a work in progress. But…Megan must be warned…the Burkholder/Zook GEEK factor will be in play.

    • I have come to both love and appreciate the Burkholder/Zook GEEK factor, Jeff. You each seem to each have your own personal spin on it 🙂


  7. My father taught me to shoot his guns and respect them at a young age… a goods skill incase I ever need it as it is for your girls 🙂

  8. I loved this post. I’m from a family that hunts and shoots for sport. My dad taught me how to shoot a gun at a young age as well. I appreciate his lessons because they taught me to practice safety, responsibility and respect. I also love that his lessons helped me beat my husband when we shoot sporting clays.

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