Jan 162015

head on back Here and read Part 1 of this story from yesterday if you haven’t already.

This weekend I taught my daughter 9 and my son who will be 7 in a week how to shoot.  They kind of knew about guns but had never handled one.  They mainly knew what they had seen on TV or in movies.  That of course is not necessarily  safe or correct.  **disclaimer here- Safety is my #1 priority when it comes to guns.  I once got knocked on my butt by my grandpa for turning around with my rifle (cradled and unloaded mind you, we just got out of the truck) and the muzzle passing within a foot of him.  Never forgot that.  Never lost track of a muzzle again either.**

Now, I needed to teach them safety but I didn’t want to be a Nazi about it.  Until I realized that I had to be a Nazi about it.  There was no getting around these rules.  There was no give to these rules.  That is why they were taught to me like that.  And you know, they seem to have taken just fine.  My son took them to heart and I only had to remind him a couple of times.  But I could not relax on the rules.

We went through the rest of the afternoon without a problem.  My son almost had it figured out.  He was almost hitting the targets at the end, but he was so tired he couldn’t hold the rifle anymore.  So of course I pulled out one of the big pistols and helped him shoot that.  I am not sure he could have smiled bigger without some sort of injury and the giggle that came from him was priceless.

I can only hope that I have done “it” right.  This is the first of many trips I am sure but I think this first one is one of the most important.  I’ll never forget the lessons I learned my first trip, and I hope he doesn’t forget his.

I also tried to teach my 9 year old daughter how to shoot.  She took a couple of shots and decided that it wasn’t for her.  I am fine with that.  Not because of some stupid notion that girls shouldn’t shoot, My aunt could shoot well, my Grandma was fantastic.  My sister could prune branches from a tree with a .357 Magnum when she was about 14.  My wife is pretty good as well, so that is not an issue.

My  daughter decided that it wasn’t something that she wanted to do.  She didn’t like the danger of it or what could happen.  Again, goal accomplished.  She may not be a shooter, but she knows how to handle a gun and she will be safe around them.  She told my wife and I later that she was afraid of the power that guns can have.

If you have read very many posts here you will remember that my wife is a trauma nurse in the ER.  She has all sorts of horror stories about people shooting each other.  Those have stuck with my daughter.  I respect that.  I won’t push her into something that she does not want a part of.  But, at any point, if she wants to learn more and shoot again, I am not going to be hesitant about it.

This was a great trip overall.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as sharing your passions with your kids.  Friends are one thing, but your kids are awesome.  I will never forget my son trying like hell to hit that bottle so it would explode.  I willnever forget his giggle at the boom and kick of the big gun.  I will never forget my daughter saying she was done and she was going to go hiking.

I will also never forget the nostalgia that I felt as I placed targets up on the trees.  There was a time I was walking back to our shooting “station” and I could almost feel my Dad and Grandpa there.  I would like to believe that my Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and my uncles who liked to shoot but have passed were there with us watching and smiling at me passing the traditions on to my son.

It was exciting but at the same time disheartening to take over my dad’s place as instructor.  Here I am, almost 36 years old and I am still growing up.  I am sure that there will be other episodes where I feel like that.  I just hope that I will do the right things when the time comes.

Until Next Time,


  9 Responses to “Lessons Learned in the Desert. Part 2.”

  1. My Dad is a Nam vet. After spending a few years in the jungle he prefered not to have a gun in the house. However, he knew that the lessons he learned on his highschool rifle team and in Boy Scouts saved his life time and time again. And his two sons were going to have that knowledge, too. I remember the first time I shot anything. It was a shto gun at a dude ranch camp with him looking on. I cannot remember the caliber but it was heavier than my 12 year old arm. Dad was looking on and he had just “helped” my younger brother take out all 5 targets. I wasn't going to let him down. He taught both my brother and I the respect and the unfortunate necessity of weapons of war. One day we will pass those lessons on to our children as well. Great post!

    • thanks for dropping by! My Dad went the other way, he was a Nam vet as well but he is a gun nut. I hope my kids never ever need them for anything but targets, but it was important for them to know about. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Awesome story, Justin. The end got to me…I know what its like to hope a departed loved one is looking on you with approval and love as you pass on their wisdom. Well written my friend, its not often than prose can move me to tears…but they are good tears.

    • Thanks Jen. this post got to me a bit at the end as well. I too never want to grow up until I hit 90 or so then I may think about it. Thanks for the comments!

  3. Hi Justin,

    I have never fired a gun let alone seen one up close and hope I never have to. I'm not sure about teaching kids so young how to use them though, there's good and there's bad points to it. I guess it comes down to how well they are taught and why. Only a few weeks back I had an intruder, all I had in my defence was screaming, it worked eventually but it left me shaken up really badly for another week.

    Anyway, hope you and the kids are well and not forgetting your heavily pregnant wife. Not long to go now. Hope your looking after her 🙂

    • Hey Maria, I know guns are not for everyone but over here in the states, especially in the west, they are prevalent. I know there are some harsh laws in the UK that limit firearms almost completely. In my family it seems that 7 is about the right age to start teaching safety and familiarity. The main idea is that if they know what the gun can do, and they know how to handle it safely, then it will not be thought of as a toy and hopefully there will not be any accidents. There is never a time that they are allowed near any of the guns or any of the locked up ammunition without me supervising. I am nervous about having anything available even for home defense without locks on them. That is a concern!
      As for my Pregnant wife, she is less than 6 weeks away now and is about ready to be done. She is doing fairly well and she was out shooting right there with us this weekend!
      Thanks for the concern! Glad you are ok with the intruder, that is scary no matter what.

  4. Justin, I loved both “Lessons Learned in the Desert” posts. It’s an amazing and fun thing to pass traditions on to our children. It’s our responsibility and privilege to do so. What a fun trip and it was cool to hear about this episode. Never a dull moment w/ family. Do you watch the show Parenthood? It’s a pretty true to life show about family. Good stuff. Hey, keep writing and doing what you’re doing. Talk to you again soon….drew 🙂

    • You know I started that show but couldn’t get into it. Moral issues were too much to think about with my daughter getting older. I do love to pass on traditions, especially around the holidays. Thanks for dropping by Drew! Have fun storming the castle!

  5. Justin, this is a great little two part series. 

    I like this design as well.

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