First off, I am new to this thing and have been doing a ton of reading. There is so much info here, and just want to say thanx to everyone. Now on subject, my step father first put a gun in my hands when I was 8 yrs old. 22 rifle, but the first time he let me start shooting his pistol was when I was 11. We didnt have a lot of money, so he never baught me a gun. In the same manner, I gave my son his first gun when he was 8, 22 cricket. When he turned 10 I let him shoot my 45 compact for his birthday. A little much, but he handled a couple rounds. I myself am interested in buying him a handgun of his own. He is now 13, extremely responsible with weapons, and has fired a few different types of guns quite a bit. I do a lot of shooting, and its only him and I, so he is always with me. Its all about knowing whether or not your child is mature enough to handle the responsability.