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need help from anybody who's taught a "special" child to shoot

657 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  No3buckshot
Hi all, i need some help and advice please, I have an 8 yo son who has a learning/neurological problem. his problems involve lack of coordination and difficulty in interpeting directions and communicating his thoughts. He's very close to being a normal kid, i just have to give him directions slowly to give his brain time to interpret things.

I have taken him hunting a few times, nothing too long or too much physical activity, he does ok, gets tired like any other kid. i have let him shoot my rifles and pistols occationally with me holding them in a safe direction. also, he has done archery. He shows some real promise for being a good shot and i would like to get him into shooting cause i think it would be good hand/eye/mind coordination training. we go over the gun safety info every chance we get so i am very aware of that part of the equation.

his arms are kinda short so i am thinking of getting him a cricket rifle because of its small size. plus i think Walmarts' got it for $99. also, the website for cricket says that it comes drilled & tapped for a scope.

Now, my questions for anyone who's worked with a "special" child:

- Should i start him out with the original peep sights and try endlessly to explain on how to line up the sights or should i just start him out on a good 3 X 32 scope and sight it in for him. frustration factor may be an issue if he cant hit what he's aiming at.

- i was thinking about getting one of those spinning targets so he can see & hear the results of a good hit, any other ideas on reactive targets?

- should i start him off on remington .22LR subsonics (already have a bunch of these) or should i start him off with the more expensive and less powerful .22 shorts?

-And last, can anyone please give me any tips & tricks that you've used for your kids, both "special" and special (cause after all, all kids are special).

Thank you in advance for anything you can give me! -Eric
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Open sights or scope? Our 5-year old son has had no problem learning open sights, both rifle and revolver. He is not a great shot (coke can at a few yards doesn't get hit 100% of the time), but probably pretty good for a kid so small he can't actually hold the gun up (I have him use a sawhorse with a towel on it as a benchrest). I think a scope would just make it harder (image wiggles, unless you hold it steady), and take the challenge out of it.

I have a Cz 452 Scout. A little more expensive than a cricket, but you can put 5 shots into a magazine, and it is a very well-built and accurate rifle (perfectly adequate for an adult, as a walk-about rifle). It is a little long for him, but he makes do. For the revolver, he shoots my Ruger Single Six.

For ammo, I use Aguila Super-Colibris. They have even less muzzle energy than a short. They are comparable to air rifles. If a terrible accident happens, and they hit a person, they would probably only cause a minor injury (except in the eye). If a small accident happens, and they hit the water tank or the pickup truck or the window of the house, they would at worst make a dent in the sheet metal. They are usually a bit expensive ($20 for a box of 500), but a year ago CheaperThanDirt had a great sale on them: $5 for 500, and I stocked up. Warning: read up on this forum; occasionally they have been known to get stuck in the barrel, in particular of rifles with tight barrels.

For target: CB caps (shorts) and Aguila colibris can't move a spinner. They whole feedback you get is a ping sound. So I use soda bottles or coke cans. What works really well is to drill a hole at the top of the soda bottle, and string them up on a "laundry line" (I use wire for the line, string gets shot up too easily). They develop nice holes, and swing back and forth very pretty.

As far as gun safety, aiming, patience, and such goes: If your 8-year old is at the developmental level of a 5-year old or better, you should have no problem whatsoever. Just keep the sessions short. Shooting is so exciting for our little kid, it uses his full concentration, and after 1/2 hour, he gets tired, and stops paying attention.

Speaking of little kids: Peltor ear muffs can be adjusted to the correct size for little kids. Problem is they insulate sound so well, they can't hear instructions. If I had too much cash, I would get electronic ear muffs just for the little guy. I found kids safety glasses at some woodworking supply mail-oder catalog.
 

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Special child

All children are special, and so are the adults who take the time to show them all attention and love. What you need, you already have, and already are doing! Patience is a virtue and it sounds like you both have a good snece of basics started, just needs some "tweaking" with the right equipment. Chipmunk with a scope is excellant choice, but stay away from the spinners, till a degree of accuracy is attained, don't want him to lose interest, look for larger targets, even archery targets to get his interest, and as long as you can find the hole, its a hit, and make a fuss at first, did the same with my wife and son.
A "special" child, though sometimes frustrating, shows appreciation more and the reward is a feeling that cannot be put into words. I have shared a bench at a public range a few times with some father and sons, that were challanged, and let me tell you, these parents show you how a child is supposed to be treated and loved, because most of them aren't exposed to the streets, and drugs, and are allowed to be kids, instead of little men.
Get him the rifle and scope, take the time, and I, for one would love to see the progression and result, so please email me or PM me anytime!!! :)
 

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I think the Cricket would be the ideal starter rifle. I would just teach him on the open sights. Then perhaps a red dot.

For ammo, get the cheap stuff, and let him shoot a lot. Start the distances at ten feet, and each time you go to the targets, set them back a little farther. You will be amazed how quickly he adapts!

For targets and kids, it's still hard to beat tin cans.

After safety, the main thing is to keep it simple, make it fun, and give lots of positive reinforcement. The magic is not a kids gun, or the targets they shoot. The magic is shooting with Dad. Don't forget that, and don't get so wrapped up in the trappings that you forget what really makes it magical for the kid. :)
 

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Backwoods said:
All children are special, and so are the adults who take the time to show them all attention and love. What you need, you already have, and already are doing! Patience is a virtue and it sounds like you both have a good snece of basics started, just needs some "tweaking" with the right equipment. Chipmunk with a scope is excellant choice, but stay away from the spinners, till a degree of accuracy is attained, don't want him to lose interest, look for larger targets, even archery targets to get his interest, and as long as you can find the hole, its a hit, and make a fuss at first, did the same with my wife and son.
A "special" child, though sometimes frustrating, shows appreciation more and the reward is a feeling that cannot be put into words. I have shared a bench at a public range a few times with some father and sons, that were challanged, and let me tell you, these parents show you how a child is supposed to be treated and loved, because most of them aren't exposed to the streets, and drugs, and are allowed to be kids, instead of little men.
Get him the rifle and scope, take the time, and I, for one would love to see the progression and result, so please email me or PM me anytime!!! :)
Great post to a great parent asking for advice!!! :t
Don
 

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:t Good responses so far so I'll make mine short. I've always recommended parents start to teach a child with a bb gun of some sort. It's small enough for a small child to handle by himself and you can teach him all of the safety precautions to take when handling the bb gun as you would a high power rifle. You can also plink cans and small targets with it to keeps the youngster's interest. You can use the bb in conjunction with the larger rifles to teach them safe handling and usage. All children at this age have a shorter attention/interest span and can get distracted. (I know this from experience teaching my own children and nephews.)
 

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The large Shoot-N-See targets might work for you along with a low power scope. These targets make it quite easy to see where the bullet impacted after the shot but if you keep aiming and watching you can easily see the actual impact of the bullet as it strikes the target. Pretty neat and once he sees this happen he will be looking for it on the next shot and learning to follow through all on his own.

Good luck

sawdust
 

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My "special" boy is now 9 years old. He wants to hunt and shoot with dad whenever he is able. I started him out last summer with a BB gun and a large coffee can. At about 10 feet the ping from the BB hitting the can was very pleasing to him. I also suggest reactive targets. Kids, boys in particular, like to see stuff explode/fall over/go flying when they pull the trigger. I'm hoping to move up to CB shorts this summer. He just doesn't like the bang sometimes associated with shooting. I have ear muff for him but he's still worried about it.

Mike
 

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Good post mtnman. I have always wondered about this, but was hesitant to bring it up. I don't feel so all alone now, Thanks. I have an 11 year old daughter with learning/neuro problems similar to yours. She really wants to come out to the range with me, but I am very concerned with safety issues. What I started her on was an old Daisy Model 25 cork gun. I set up empty soda cans in the back yard and let her shoot them from about 6 feet away. Of course, I really need to stand over her and make sure that she keeps the Daisy pointed in a safe direction. Ultimate goal for me is to be able to bring her to the range to shoot off the bags at the smallbore silhouette swingers . Just go slow and be patient. It will all work out.

One thing to keep in mind about you son, all children are gifted, some just open their gifts later.
 

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My 9-year-old son has Asperger's Syndrome (kind of like very mild autism) and hypotonia (low muscle tone - the benefit is he's incredibly flexible and he loves to put on "Mr. Flexibility" shows for people who don't believe somebody can bend his thumb in half - backwards.).

We've been learning shooting over the last couple of months. He loves it. He has a CZ Scout with a 2.5-7x28 Weaver scope (nice and light). His eyes are also cross-dominant, so I taped over the left lens of his shooting glasses to give his right eye the advantage.

He has shot BB guns at Cub Scout camp with decent results, but his lower-than-average muscle strength made it very difficult for him to cock them. He LOVES his .22 because it's so much easier to work the action.

Also because of his lower strength, we use an inexpensive front rest for the CZ while he builds up his stamina. He loves to shoot at Shoot 'n' C targets because of the splat of color. He prefers the 50 foot indoor range at our club right now, but we're planning on shooting at reactive targets on the outdoor range next time we can (and the police aren't using the outdoor range for AR-15 training like last time!!!).

We started our learning by drilling on the safety rules and the parts of the rifle. During the initial time, we didn't touch the rifle. Once he had the rules down, he was allowed to pick up the rifle to demonstrate his knowledge of its parts. After that he graduated to shooting. We're still using the single shot adapter, though he'll be graduating to the magazine soon, I think.

His groups are shrinking each time we go. I'm very proud of him, and his skill (much better than I anticipated) is really giving him a confidence boost. This has been a great experience for both of us!

Jon
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
W O W !!!

thanks to all of you for all the great ideas! i knew i could get some special help here! after reading some of the posts, im starting to wonder if maybe i shouldnt start him off on a BB/Pellet rifle, but i would definitly make it a .22 pellet rifle to keep close to the RFC tradition! also i guess one with actual rifling in the pellet rifle would be good, any suggestions?

bbycrts & EddieM, im really apprecitive of your posts regarding your kids. its hard for us (me & the Mrs.) to find people to share this subject with. My son has Dyspraxia, which is a lesser form of Apraxia, hope this help you kinda see what im dealing with... maybe, he also has issues with his heart,diabeties, & thyroid. anyway, you all are a huge help to a dad who's trying to do things right and give my son the most enjoyable experiance possible. we also have a 4 yo who is normal in every way who i am looking forward to training in the outdoors. i just dont want the younger one to overtake & pass our older one on everything in life. its just so cool when my older son asks when we are going hunting again and going out to buy kids hunting/outdoor gear for him. some of its civilian hunting gear and some is army surplus, i call him my little "Specail" forces guy. its so rewarding to watch him stalk through the woods trying to be quiet and his eyes looking every which way at once for game with his little 6 shooter cap gun hangin low on his hip. every once in a while we will "see" a deer 50 yards off and he'll put a "shot" right in the kill zone every time with that gun. I like it when he gets his "limit" cause i dont have any game proccessing LOL !!!

Thanks for letting me gush about my kid here, and keep the advice coming, RFC has the best people! Thank you all!!!!!!!! -Eric
 

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Eric,

Know exactly what you mean about being able to share what you go through with others who don't quite understand the ups and downs of raising a child with special needs. My daughter had a bad reaction to her 6 month vaccination. and has suffered with seizure activity ever since. Thankfully it's under control now with medication, however the side effects of the medication has been brutal on her cognitive skills. Lots of therapies, battles over IEP's, etc. Sound familiar? Anyway, you are doing the right thing in making your sons quality of life the best it can be. Drop me an email anytime you want chat.
 

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Exceptional Children

need exceptional parents and teachers. Love and acceptance will help both you and your child reach the goals that you both are capable of. Helping your child be the best he/she can be at any and all disciplines reflects on you as a parent, and you sound like the kind of parent that makes the effort to help make their child the best person they can be by including them in your daily life. Be patient and your rewards will be numerous.
 

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bbycrts,

Sorry I forgot to extend the invite to you also to chat anytime regarding your son. In fact, any RFC'er with a special needs child that wants to chat and compare notes, feel free to email or PM. I'll listen. I'm always interested in knowing what its like to raise a special needs child in other states with regards to schooling and services, etc. I'm out in Kalif right now. Hate the gun laws, but the schools and services for my daughter are decent.

For anyone that does PM or email, I'll be out of town on vacation until July 12, so I won't be able to respond till after that date.

Happy Birthday America and Happy 4th to all at RCF...
 

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I own and operate a daycare center for medically fragile and developmentally disabled children. Your child will require special and unique methods, so use the techniques that have worked in the past for other issues. I have only 2 suggestions. 1) Start with a bb/pellet gun. 2) (This is good advice for anyone teaching a child how to shoot.) Tape a fishing pole to the barrel. Since the pole extends well beyond the end of the barrel, it forces the child to realize a gun is different than a knife. A gun can still hurt someone even if it can't actually touch them.
 

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Tape a fishing pole to the barrel. Since the pole extends well beyond the end of the barrel, it forces the child to realize a gun is different than a knife. A gun can still hurt someone even if it can't actually touch them.
WOW! that is one of the best suggestions I've heard. I'll be using that!
 

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Eric, I can't answer your question because I don't have the proper background and experience. But as the honorary uncle of a boy with Asperger's, I want to thank you and honor you for your efforts. Anyone with a special needs child must have enormous patience to work with them in a healthy, loving and nuturing way. People who are lucky enough to have only healthy children also don't know what they are missing! The rewards can be absolutely magical as I'm sure you well know.

The fact that you want to expose your child to the shooting sports and go into it with open eyes and still want to do it is very admirable. I am sure you don't get thanked very often for taking care of your own child, but I want to at least achknowledge and honor you for it.

May God bless you and keep you
Mark
 

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Mtnman,

I would try the small rifle with standard .22 lr ammo (remember, your son has to handle and load it, make it large enough for him to do so!) keep it cheap so that he can shoot A LOT! Go for the iron sights. The scope is always a fall-back if you have to, but with the method below I doubt that he will have any trouble with iron sights.

Don't try to explain the sights! Make up a target, front and rear sight to match the rifle's sights and the first target you will use AND make a "bullet hole". Then make a game of it, like working a puzzle. When the sights are alligned this way, where will the bullet hit? If I want a hit here, how do I allign the sights?

Years ago the NRA did the same thing with a real rifle and a device called the Paige Sighting Device. It fell out of favor because it required someone up by the muzzle of the rifle and the use of the rifle, but it was the best way to teach sight alignment and sight picutre I have ever seen.

Start close with big targets and work your way out with the targets. 2 liter pop bottles on a rod or stif wire through the necks makes for a cheap entertaining target that is not too expensive to replace completely if you have to.

ONE THING I WOULD REALLY SUGGEST is a rifle without a seperate cocking piece! I know that they are traditional on beginner single shot bolt rifles, but they STINK! They will cause a new shooter more trouble than anything else they might encounter. I greatly prefer a rifle that cocks itself when the bolt is cycled than having to mess with a seperate cocking piece.

Buckshot
 
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