Author Topic: What is the right age to start children?  (Read 558 times)


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What is the right age to start children?
« on: September 12, 2019, 11:50:48 AM »
This is a section of the forum I glossed over in the past, as my daughters were ~5-7 yrs old when I was an active instructor.

Appleseed, is where my daughter Shannon (she is an IIT and is X ALL OUT on this forum) got her start.

When the opportunity presented itself, and it was at the first signal from her that she was interested in marksmanship, I seized it immediately.

She had expressed interest and I was struggling with the "How" on getting her started.

BeSwift (Brian) in here, was the first person I contacted, as he has been around Appleseed a long time.  I asked him "What rifle would be appropriate for someone small in stature".

I believe I got the best advice ever from him that day.  He advised me to check out a Blackhawk Axiom 10/22 stock.  That stock is length of pull adjustable to about what the cricket is all the way out to what an AR15 A2 would be.

So I ordered one off Amazon, and we proceeded to build Shannon's rifle.  We opted for a scope, as I did not want to over saturate her with information regarding the fundamentals.  The scope choice allowed me to not have to worry much about sight alignment or front sight focus for a long period of time.

Hindsight being 20/20 and contrary to what I hear many adult shooters say I do NOT recommend starting a youth out on iron sights at all.  It is easy enough to teach sight alignment and front sight focus (the only 2 things that are different) after they have a solid grasp of the rest of the fundamentals.

We also went with a standard GI web sling.

In my experience, finding a rifle that FITS is imperative.  Too short or too long both bring their own sets of undesirable effects.

The adjustable buttstock on the Axiom, allowed for a real good length of pull.

We were able to also add on to that buttstock clip on cheek risers, those helped a lot as well.

So rifle built, now we were off to position work.

This is where I "almost" lost her, and likely where I did lose her twin sister.  For those of us that shoot, do you recall the first time you were "slung up" prone?  I do, it was very uncomfortable for me. 

My 10 yr old daughter was in tears the first few times, as soon as the tears and complaints started....we stopped.  Then came back to it a few days later.  We repeated this a few times, until she was able to deal with the uncomfortability.

But, her twin witnessed the above and it has turned her off, "for now".

Sure...I've instructed and attended a lot of events, and have done alternative things to keep the children interested.  Had them shoot off a bipod or rest, I've seen baloons placed at the target line....All GOOD stuff, as the kids had a pleasurable experience.

For anyone considering getting a young youth involved, do not let their age deter you.  But approach it with lots and lots of patience and take it slowly.

They can and will surpise and impress you!

I know Shannon has impressed me. 

I would recommend that you as the parent/guardian not shoot at the event, and supervise/work with the child.  I screwed that one up, and missed some training opportunities.

There may be tears at the event.  Shannon cried a LOT when she did not qualify her first event.  And, at other events since, if she had a bad stage, she would cry a lot.

THAT is an AWESOME time for a training pause.  I think the most value she has learned in her marksmanship journey to date, is "how to deal with failure".  Kids show their emotions, they wear it on their sleeves and you can see it in their facial expressions, and just about every parent knows when the lower lip/chin starts to quiver, the waterworks are not far behind.

I don't think I have seen her wimper once in the past few months after a poorly executed shot.  THAT is the immense value she has attained and a gift that the skillsets of marksmanship will endow in time.  The counseling/training that was given after a tear session was "Never quit....never give up, the only shot that counts is the one in the chamber, not the previous miss or perfect shot, and not the last stage of the match when we are on the 2nd stage of the match". 

Consider the Blackhawk Axiom stock for the 10/22, it can also make the rifle a bit more accurate as the barrel does not touch the stock at all past the action screw.

She is not much taller than she was after her first Appleseed in August of 2018, and since then she has also earned the Rifleman patch on a 25M AQT with a centerfire AR15.  Her centerfire AR15 has an adjustable buttstock very similar to her Blackhawk Axiom's stock, so it was a fairly easy transition.

I'm not sure what the answer is to "What is the right age to start children"?  But, I can share our experience on this, and in our case it was the moment she expressed interest.

My advice, do not miss that moment.


Offline Captain

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Re: What is the right age to start children?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2019, 01:22:53 PM »
That looks like a good stock for a loaner with so much adjustability. What scope did you end up pairing with it?

Offline HapHapablap

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Re: What is the right age to start children?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2019, 01:41:20 PM »
That looks like a good stock for a loaner with so much adjustability. What scope did you end up pairing with it?

FYI, if you sign up for ExpertVoice and do the BLACKHAWK training the Axiom stock can be had for $46.03.  It's listed as "Axiom R/F Stock Ruger 10/22"
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Re: What is the right age to start children?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2019, 02:58:54 PM »
That looks like a good stock for a loaner with so much adjustability. What scope did you end up pairing with it?

It is a great loaner stock because of the awesome flexibility with length of pull.  I donated one to the local instructor cadre here to use at local events.

The scope we started her with was a Leupold VX Rimfire 1-7 (something like that).

Then we changed that recently to match my Nikon Prostaff EFR 3x9x40MM AO.  That switch was primarily for use at 200 yards, the Adjustable Objective works well for that.


Offline Leadlined

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Re: What is the right age to start children?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2019, 03:28:27 PM »
I started my oldest daughter at 8, but not with sling-supported positional shooting, but off a sandbag with a Compact model of 10/22.  It has a smaller stock and shorter barrel, and so it still has good balance.

I wanted to keep it simple, make success likely, and keep it fun but safe.  So the first focus was on safety, aiming through a scope, and trigger squeeze.  It wasn't long before she was dissecting clays at 50 yards and we stayed until we needed headlights to finish.

I've built in a bit more since, but we're still mostly having fun and working stability, breathing, squeeze and safety.  She's 10 now, and learning peep sights is next, I think.
In teaching a number of Appleseeds with youth, I've found that kids younger than high school tend not to have the mental and physical stamina for a full day of what we do.  So I'm trying to keep the goal in mind of having my daughters ready to learn sling and position when they're about 13 or 14. Each kid is different, and my oldest may come a bit before that because that's who she is, but it's been a pretty reliable rule for me when judging who I need to keep an eye on as I look folks over on day 1.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 03:30:51 PM by Leadlined »
If I knew the world was ending today, I would still plant another Appleseedling. 
-Martin Luther

7/5/2014, First appleseed
9/20/2014, Rifleman
4/19/2015, Orange hat
10/15/2016, Red hat
....and still working on it

Offline Orion59

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Re: What is the right age to start children?
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2019, 12:06:34 PM »
I recently had a 10 year old show up at my shoot and she began the day by clearing the Redcoat target with an AR-15. She put the AR away and shot her 10/22 for the remainder of the day, achieving several Rifleman's scores, topping out with a 238. She was as focused as any accomplished shooter I have ever seen. She now wears an Orange hat. I would agree that this is more the exception, however, there are quite a few 10 year olds that shoot very well if given the opportunity.
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