FRIENDSWOOD, Texas - Guns and kids generally are not a good mix, but a Friendswood gun range owner is trying to change that by educating kids and letting them have a little fun at the same time.
A couple times a year, Best Shot Range holds a gun camp for kids.
It is a basic introduction to guns and gun safety. The skills that are learned are ones that will hopefully stay with kids forever.
“We have seen more children just because parents realize we have more firearms in our society,” owner Matt Fleming said. “Parents want their kids to be introduced to guns in the right setting.”
Under Fleming's instruction, kids as young as 8 years old can learn everything there is to know about a rifle.
“Introduction, learn to shoot, give them a chance to go over gun safety,” Fleming said. “It’s one of those life skills I think everyone should do. Just like if you grow up and learn to ride a bike, shooting is just one of those things you try it and you may like it and you may not like it.”
Juliana Puffer, 14, likes it so much she’s hoping to join her high school's rifle team.
“I like to shoot and I want to get better at it and I also want to be on the rifle team next year and practice makes perfect,” Julianna said.
Her dad has been shooting for the past 16 years and wants his daughter to know how to handle a gun properly.
“Obviously I have some firearms of my own and I think it’s important for children at a young age, teen or pre-teen, to just get familiarized and learn to respect them,” Mark Puffer said.
Shooting is both a mental and physical exercise.
“I’m told the concentration and focus you learn are skills that can be used at school or at home,” Fleming said. “The kids that shoot well are kids that do well in school or they do well in other things.”
“It helps me in school because I have to learn how to concentrate and then I can concentrate on other things,” Julianna said.
“Shooting requires patience, disciple and focus,” Evan Macaluso said. “Those are the key things you need later on or in a career, those disciplines are important in life.”
Macaluso started shooting when he was just 8 years old. On Wednesday, his 8-year-old is shooting a rifle for the very first time.
“I have guns at the house and I want to make sure the kids know the safety issues,” he said. “Kids like bright shiny things, they’re curious, so we introduce the proper way and show safety, and it takes away the curiosity.”
While there are many out there who think under no circumstance should a child hold a gun, these parents say they want to take the mystery and curiosity out of guns at an early age.
“If kids are around guns, they understand how they work and how to be safe,” Fleming said. “They’re not as likely to go and explore and have an accident.”
“Better they learn it from you than from someone else because at least this way I know what he’s learning,” Evan said.
“I think you can learn at any point as long as you learn safety and you practice safety because that’s the main key to everything,” Julianna said.
Non-mobile users can read more about this program here: http://www.bestshotrange.com/