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This post made me think of my days of summer camp, where a van would come to my house to pick me up WITH EVERY KID IN THE VAN ARMED.

It was a SPORTS CAMP, and Riflery and Archery were among two of the "sports"...

Archery was Monday / Wednesday / Friday and Riflery was Tuesday / Thursday. We wished riflery was everyday!

You could use the camp provided weapons, or bring your own. Nearly all chose to bring their own (.22 rifles of course) - and I think the fact that nearly all HAD their own, speaks of the time - and how things used to be (at least in the mid '70s).

The standard protocol was that before you could get in the van, you had to show the driver (a camp counselor) your empty chamber. Once verified "safe" - you were allowed to enter the van, where you rode with your rifle muzzle up - and there was no BS, no monkey business and zero tolerance for mischief.

When you arrived at camp, you placed your rifle in the designated rack, where it remained untouched until it was time to head to the rifle range.

All aspects of weapon safety were adhered to, and we never had any "incidents".

I spent a lot of my free time as a kid, out with my friends and our .22 rifles - and thank my parents for enabling this life long pleasure. I was fortunate to also live in an area where access to seemingly endless fields and deep woods was taken for granted.

When my children (both son AND daughter) were each old enough (between 7 and 8) - I took them to the range to acclimate them with guns and proper handling. My 'ex' screamed bloody murder, but my point was that they needed to know what it was all about, so that curiosity with guns wouldn't be an issue. MORE IMPORTANTLY - I wanted to emphasize to them GUN SAFETY, which was more for protecting them from other idiot children (and adults!). I wasn't worried about them in MY HOUSE, but my fear was that they might be at a friends house, where some un-educated kid would pick up an unsafe weapon/gun - and then tragedy would strike. I can speak to this personally - having been shot myself by a stupid kid.

Having a child understand that when someone is being unsafe with a weapon, the best thing to do is get the hell out of that situation - quickly.

My parental "training" paid off when my son attended the mandatory hunter safety course. The room was full of teenage boys, and the instructor started out the class by passing a rifle around the room for the boys to look at. It was a nice rifle, and each boy took his turn looking at it - some pointing the muzzle up to look through the scope.

When it was passed to my son - the instructor yelled STOP!

Everyone thought he had done something wrong, but the fact of the matter was that he was the ONLY ONE who bothered to pull back the bolt and check the chamber.

The instructor commended him for his proper safe handling of the weapon, and my son beamed with pride. It was a vivid lesson for the other boys, and one I hope stuck with them.

In fact - I am off work today, and my son is home on leave before he heads back to Iraq - and my daughter is off work as well. As such, my DAUGHTER called and wanted to know if the three of us could get some range time in...

Of course the answer is HELL YES - and I am proud that both my children have grown to enjoy the sport, and hope that when they have children of their own someday, that the tradition will continue.
 
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