June 9, 2012, marked the first National Take Your Daughters to the Range Day. Founded by Lynne Finch and Evan Carson, the event is meant to “promote firearms safety and education, as well as family bonding through participation in an exciting and fun sport.” Traditionally, girls often grow up with little or no knowledge of firearms and firearm safety. The result can be group of people who are terrified of guns. This is an event I whole heartedly believe in. I firmly believe that exposure to shooting and shooting sports accompanied by solid firearms safety education not only demystifies guns but can alieviate unfounded fears about their use not only for young girls but for everyone.
I was lucky. My father began teaching me about guns, shooting and gun safety from an early age. Some of my happiest childhood memories are tinged with the smell of gunpowder. As a young girl, I was the proud owner of a .410 shotgun, a 22 caliber rifle and a pump 12 gauge, all gifts from my father. These were gifts given with gravity and forethought. I well remember the attendant discussions that came with each gift- discussions about the gravity of gun ownership, the importance of gun safety and properly using a deadly weapon. At an age when young girls can often be battered with insecurity and uncertainty, the knowledge that my parents trusted me and my ability to safely and proficiently use a gun instilled in me a confidence of immeasurable value.
I became an adult, married and had a daughter of my own. It was important to my husband and myself that she not grow up afraid of firearms. We weren’t concerned that she love shooting sports, although that would have been wonderful. We primarily wanted her to be capable of confidently and safely firing a weapon without fear. To do this, we exposed her to firearms and their use from an early age. As a young girl, we frequently took her with us when we went to shoot. She would often fire a few rounds but preferred to play with the Barbies she’d brought along. Back home, she would help clean guns, handing her dad parts and rags. She’d rearrange bullet casings making neat rows of spent and unspent bullets. In addition to what she learned at home she took a hunter’s safety course in the fifth grade as part of her PE curriculum. By doing these things, I think we succeeded in instilling healthy respect for guns and gun safety without creating an unfounded fear of guns. I was thrilled when a few weeks ago, she came to me and asked to learn more about guns and expressed an interest in “really” learning to shoot.
It was because of this request that we’ve spent the last two Saturdays shooting with my daughter. This Saturday we were joined by my 5 year old niece and her parents at my brother-in-law’s backyard range. I hope that National Take Our Daughters to the Range Day will become a family tradition in my family and families across the nation. I also hope that it inspires more parents to get their kids (girls AND boys) to the range year round because spending time with your family sharing a tradition of shooting is ALWAYS a good thing. See you at the range.
About Kim Ganey, Field Editor
I'm a relative newcomer to the hunting world. I picked up a bow in 2009 and I've been in the woods every season since. I'm loving this new path I'm on and am looking forward to sharing my and my fellow Louisiana hunters experiences here.