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    Posted June 11, 2014 by
    Twentynine Palms, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Guns and children

    A father of three's training approach to guns


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Retired Marine Gunner Sergeant Patrick Crow grew up around guns and served 20 years in the Marines, but the father of three says how he teaches his boys about guns is based on more than just that. "I came up with the regimen based off of three things: life experience, Marine training, personal beliefs, and my wife’s aid and support," he said.

    The regimen starts with a safety test, which none of his sons passed on the first try. Once they understand the rules, he takes them to a shooting range for a handling test. The next tests include handling a weapon with ammunition, shooting and a multiple target engagement, he said.

    All of the family's weapons are locked in a safe in their home and none of his children are allowed to handle guns without their father being present.

    "I was nearly shot hunting with a friend my senior year and this taught me that not everyone was as familiar with weapons as I was," Crow said. "Failure to teach our children is first and foremost on a parent."
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    I keep both my wife’s and my own weapons at home within a locked vault. This is a personal decision based on my own history with weapons that spans 20 years of active duty as a United States Marine and as a child growing up. This personal decision coincides with the first rule of firearms safety that I learned as a child and was reiterated countless times as a Marine; treat every weapon as if it is loaded. This is true of every weapon that a person can come across. To be perfectly honest there are more potential weapons laying around a person’s home that can cause serious bodily damage that I have secured in my vault. That may be a broad scope to consider, but it is a great point to start when teaching any child about weapons safety and that is where I start with my children.
    My weapons are also locked up because of the second safety rule; never point a weapon at anything you do not intend to shoot. Not only is this rule that I teach my children about safety, it is also about continuation of force. In teaching my children this rule I stress to them the meaning of to taking the step of pointing weapon at a target. We discuss pointing a weapon as a deer and other such animals such a bears. This leads me to explain the difference between hunting and potentially acting in self defense. This discussion leads to the other two firearms safety steps which continue the escalation of force. They are keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot and keep your weapon on safe until you intend to shoot.
    At the conclusion of this discussion my children are required to recite the rules back by number. As they have passed this quiz I take them to the local range where we further their education. This is done by explaining loading and unloading of weapons. It also includes when to move between the different weapons conditions and how to apply these steps if and when a situation should present itself on the range as well as off the range.
    Each of my children utilizes bolt action .22 caliber rifles which have been handed down to my wife and me over the generations. We have also purchased additional semi-automatic .22’s for our youngest two to use. This has allowed the facilitation of understanding the differences between weapons. When my children have shown that they can follow the rules and demonstrate safe actions they are allowed to shoot their .22s. When they shoot, I do not. I still act in an observer role just to be sure.
    The act of shooting is also taught. We go over the prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions. We zero the weapon and then either use Kentucky windage or adjust sights. This is also only done after they apply the fundamentals of shooting resulting in a grouping of impacts on a target.
    The rules and lessons learned also apply to the handguns that my wife and I own. As my children learn the same rules for loading and unloading both our revolver and semi-automatics they are allowed to shoot them as well. This training, because of the different calibers is progressive. I do not let them shoot larger calibers before shooting a .22. The same is true of rifles. My children are not forced to shoot and as such only one of my children likes to shoot handguns.
    Three of my boys have demonstrated to some level of accuracy good shooting skills. My last son has not passed his safety rules quiz. I am not his custodian parent. I have purchased, as I have mentioned, a .22 rifle for his use. He is excited to see the rifle that has been purchased for his use. His mother and I talk about his progression and she believes that he will be able to pass his quiz when I come and get him later this week. This has lead to a new discussion with all of my children as they are use to transporting a weapon a short distance, shooting, returning home, cleaning them and storing them in the vault. The discussion immediately returned to the safety rules and as they understand the transporting plan they realize we have been doing it the same way every time we go shooting. The only exception is that we will not be carrying ammunition.
    This same discussion brought an intelligent question from my youngest son. Can’t we just use one of Grandpa’s rifles to teach his brother? This lead into the reason why they were provided a specific rifle to learn on; master one weapon before moving on so as not to confuse too many topics at once. It is quite possible that the .22 will be placed inside my father’s safe and not taken to a local range for shooting if my son does not pass his quiz. This same discussion showed that my children have grasped what I taught them and why I have taught them. They told me why we would not just do loading and unloading at Grandpa’s mountain home; because you cannot apply the rules without being unsafe there.
    Some might think that I am crazy for teaching my children as I do, but I would point out that it is my job as their father to do so. Where else are they supposed to learn? School? The days of having a rifle in the window of a parent’s truck while in school so someone can start the hunt for deer, elk and such right after school are long over. Was it wrong to do that when I attended high school? It sure was, that is why my father never let me do it. It breaks a safety rule; specifically number one. The same rings true of how mad my father was when my best friend almost shot me hunting; rules two and four. Failure to teach our children is first and foremost on a parent.

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