Thanks for the response! I like the idea of the family coarse, but my only concern is my 5 year old son. He loves guns (obviously, he's 5 ) and I'm debating whether or not I should keep these completely hidden from him (not even let him know I have them) or if I should get him involved and teach him all the dos and don'ts. He is a good kid, but I'm not sure how to handle that.
What have you guys in similar situations done? Forge ahead and teach him every aspect of how dangerous a gun can be as well as the positive aspects of guns; or hide them from him until I think he's at an age where he might be able to handle the info better?
I also have an 8 year old daughter, but she probably couldn't care less about guns. I would definitely take my 2 older kids as well as my wife (14 year old son and 12 year old daughter, I have 4 kids) to a safety coarse.
Knowledge about firearms takes the awe away from the young ones, I've done it with my nephew and I will do the same with his siblings. Once they understand that they are tools that could harm if used wrong and you reinforce the punishment (whatever you like to use) they will not even think about touching them. But still keep them locked up tight. Knowledge is more powerful than deceit
I still haven't gone to a gun safety coarse, the guns have just been locked up in my closet. I did go shoot them for the first time yesterday. My 22 needs some work, but the 45 is amazing. Now that I'm more familiar w/ them, I'll sign the wife and I up for the safety class, then the kids.
Here is good intro to shooting for kids and adults http://appleseedinfo.org/. They use 22 lr bolt action rifles. The instructors do lend rifles. You can find out for certain if a loaner is available before you register for the event. The goal is to get the shooters, including your 12 yr old able to hit a 3" block at 300 yards. No one will take a 300 shot. If you can hit the targets used by appleseed instructors at close range, you can hit the 3" block at 300 yards. Most of the little ones walk away with a patch.
I got my son interested by taking him with me when he was a toddler.
He has been around guns now for probably 10 years or more now(be 17 next month) and I let him see what I was doing and handle some guns plus I let him help me with some reloading.
I took him out with me a few times whistling foxes probably a bit to early in hindsight as he was fidgety and couldn't sit still so I abandoned that idea for a while longer.
It starts out as curiosity and kids being kids want to touch and play with things and because dad or mum is doing something interesting kids want to see what the fuss is all about as well.
As he got older and became more interested in guns and hunting I was showing him how a gun works and all the time pushing the safety thing with him especially where the barrel was pointing in relation to people and to keep the barrel pointed down at all times and treat every gun as loaded until the bolt was out and put away although semi auto,pump and lever actions are always treated as loaded till cleared and put away.
Also identification of what he was shooting at is another big consideration as shooting a person or $100,000 stud bull or stud ram is not a great way to keep your guns or house.
The next thing was in a hunting situation especially on pigs was watching where people were in relation to where the mob was running especially as he has a 30/30 lever action now with a 10 shot mag so lead in the air is now more dangerous to where people are and also what's in the background behind the pigs or whatever else he's shooting at.
Start your kids out with a .22 and a couple of bricks of .22 ammo and a few of those spinner targets and let them loose under supervision and teach them safety, breathing and trigger control and make them clear the gun with each other every time so that it becomes 2nd nature and it makes them feel good that they're doing what dad and mum does safely.
The ability to think and speak doesn't necessarily guarantee intelligence