One of the toughest and most rewarding jobs you can have is raising a child from infancy to adulthood, and finding out that you “Did it right”. When my children were born, the biggest thing I remember thinking was how much greater a sense of love and protectiveness I felt for them than I had ever imagined I could. While raising them, there have been many lessons I’ve learned, but I think the greatest one was that of teaching them how to think, not what to think, and how to figure things out for themselves.
As much as we’d like to indoctrinate our children, giving them the freedom to come to their own conclusions about different topics is prerequisite to setting them up for success. The biggest hurdle is being a good example and living “what you preach”. You can say whatever you like, but if your actions don’t reflect what you’ve said, it will eventually fall on deaf ears (especially with teenagers), and maybe even push them in the opposite direction.
My children started shooting at the age of 3. Initially, they started out with a Bryco “Jennings Jr.” .22LR (I used a .22, because they could cock the action themselves, Red Ryders were too difficult) shooting Aguila Colibri rounds at cans 15 feet away (kids love and I believe need the immediate feedback of reactive targets, especially at that age). Around 6, they received “Red Ryders”, and were able to go on their own mini safaris while camping or in the back yard. At the age of 10, they both started with an M4 (low recoil, adjustable stock and I have the .22 kit for it) and a Springfield xd 9mm (high capacity, smallish grip, and I like the grip safety for kids). By the time they reached the age of 12, they could put an adult to shame with their shooting ability.
Safety started with Cabelas toy side by side cap shotguns at 4 years old (they didn’t walk around the house with any “gun” ,toy or otherwise, before that. These toy guns had a working safety and cartridges that could be loaded and unloaded, and if they were playing with them, a surprise inspection better show they were in a safe condition.
By the time they received their M4’s and Springfield xd 9mm’s, they were about as safe as one can be in handling a firearm (Muzzle, Trigger, Safety). They have continued to practice and get better over the years, and I have never had to worry about whether they were safe (the most important aspect of firearms training) when given a loaded firearm. From 10 to 12 years of age, they never did any rapid fire shooting with any semi automatic (but they sure wanted to!). Slow aimed fire was the rule (only hits count, right?), so when they finally got to the point of being able to rapid fire, they always hit the target they shot at.
When it comes to survival firearms training, it is important to give them experience on all types of weapons. My children have learned to use most military and civilian type (actions) firearms, simply because you never know what you might pick up and have to use in an emergency.
I have given my children training in basic Small Unit Tactics (they have gone through the same stuff I teach in the Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course [RBTEC].) They have learned the basics of wilderness survival, simply because it is the most basic individual survival skill a person should know. Even if you are anti-violence, ant-gun, an ExCon or whatever, you should know how to survive in the woods.
Although teaching good habits and solid techniques with firearms and other survival skills is important, we have to know how to keep it in perspective, or you will make them sick of it and probably grow to hate it. I am not really a “sports guy”, but I understand it is important to give kids a sense of camaraderie and “team”. Being involved in sports is a good way for them to do that. Another thing about the sports stuff that is important is requiring that they keep it in perspective in regards to what’s really important in life.
I always encourage my kids to find out why something is the way it is. Don’t take anything earthly on blind faith. Question what is the truth, and toss out things that don’t stand up to realistic scrutiny. Do they sometimes question things that I tell them? Sure, what kids don’t? Do I give them places to go to find the same truths I did? Most definitely. That’s my job. Another thing I have stressed is learning the history of where we’ve been as a nation specifically, and the world in general.
If you give your kids a solid foundation that includes personal survival skills, understanding how the real world works, and to always be prepared for the worst outcome happening, while hoping for the best. You will have given your children something upon which to build a lifestyle that exudes confidence, and is free of a lot of the fears the average person has about their future.
A Survivalist should be someone people look to in a time of trouble. They are people who can be decisive because they have the confidence that only being prepared gives them. They have prepared and thought through the possibilities and the probabilities of future bad situations, and they have a plan for the continuity of their lives during those situations. Don’t we owe our children that?
Don’t be a talker, be a DOER! Back up what you say with an example that endorses your words. Although I plan on having more children (with WMD), these are just some thoughts I have based on how things have gone with the first few. By the way, no blue guns were used in the training mentioned above, and although the term “genetic waste” has been directed towards me and mine, the WORDS of an imbecilic, childless, ne’er do well, who is ignorant of, or ignores, facts, doesn’t stand up to the deeds of someone who has actually DONE the right thing and passed that on to his progeny.