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How old is old enough?

This is a discussion on How old is old enough? within the Firearms & Ammunition forums, part of the HUNTING EQUIPMENT, FIREARMS & AMMUNITION category; Greetings all, I have a problem I need some help with please. My oldest son is nine years old, weighs ...

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    dadams is offline New Member
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    Greetings all,

    I have a problem I need some help with please.
    My oldest son is nine years old, weighs 33kg (73lbs) and stands 142cm (4'6")
    I've promised him his first buck (Impala and possibly Warthog) this hunting season in August.
    I went down to our firearms dealer and had a long discussion with the owner who eventually persuaded me to buy a heavy stocked .308 for my son to hunt with.
    The reasons for the relatively large caliber boiled down to novice hunter, likely to get it wrong, put a big hole in the buck and won't have to chase a wounded buck for days. My worries about making my son "Gun shy" by letting him shoot too big a calibre too early were allayed by the gun shop owner when he explained that he taught all his children and grand children with the same weapon. It was chosen because of it's weight in order to calm the re-coil. So, all good right? No, I get home and my old man hit's the roof saying I'm going to make my son gun shy for sure. The recoil is too heavy, etc etc

    I'm now in a quandry and don't know what to do. Can anyone with experience please advise me if I'm going too quick too fast? A smaller caliber? Some of the smaller calibers recoil just as much as a .308 The last thing I want to do is make my son flinch every time he squeezes the trigger, however, I also don't want to chase wounded buck all over the African veld. He'll be nine and a half by August when we go hunting. I don't think that's too young. He's a big lad for his age and quite confident.

    Ideas please gents.

    Regards

    Dave

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    Dave
    I've got three daughters and they all started out the same way. 22 cal learner, followed by a break action 20 or 410 shotgun for recoil. Their first "hunting" rifle was a .243 followed by a 30-06 with light loads. I guess it worked, they are accomplished shots and hunters now.

    If you already bought the .308 find some lighter loads and teach him to handle it properly. the recoil shouldn't be that bad.
    Macs Burke
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    Hi Dave
    I also started my girls shooting at a young age. They began with .22's and moved on to higher calibers rather quickly. As you know, caliber has little to do with felt recoil. I have a classic stocked model 70 Win. in 7mm mag that both of my girls could shoot well while about the same size as your son. Shoot the rifle your-self and if you find the recoil sharp or mildly excessive, try something else.
    Congratulations on including your family in your passion. Your concerns show how important this is to you. Good luck and please post pics and write a report on your experience.
    Cheers, Mike

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    Hi, Dave,
    I would agree with Mike, shoot the rifle yourself. Also- why not let your son shoot that one and a few others? You seem to be an avid hunter, so you hopefully will have access to different calibers. Even if he likes the .308, though, some practice with a .22 will help him to ease into shooting the big bore.
    Cheers, Tim

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    Why not have a mercury tube recoil arrestor put in it for the lad? - Assuming it's fitted properly, he should be able to then handle it without any problems at all.

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    My now 13 year old started shooting a .308 last year. He was only 85-90lbs then. I put a Limbsaver recoil pad on and had him start with light loaded 150gr bullets. No issue, he handled it fine. He did start out shooting my .223 to get used to not so much recoil but the report. It's also a dead accurate gun and also served to build his confidence and attitude. I think if you put a good pad on the rifle and make sure he's got some padding on his shoulder he should be good.

    If you do have access to a .243, that would be another good stepping stone to shoot with before you go to the .308.

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    +1 for Phoenix Phil. With reduced loads and a good recoil pad, he will be alright. I learned to shoot with a 22 and 20 gauge shotgun. I sometimes think th noise scares people more than anything.

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    Can I suggest you also buy him a set of Walker's Game Ears to protect his hearing...... I'm as deaf as a post now and suffer no end of tinnitus and I'm sure he'll thank you for it when he's older.

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    I have a girl who will be 9 in May that I am starting with air rifle and .22 Long Rifle. She'll graduate to a .223 for her first centerfire experience and then will shoot either a .243 Win., .257 Roberts or .260 Rem on her first safari, which will be a present for her 12th birthday in 2014. She'll have impala and perhaps springbok, blesbok and blue wildebeest on her menu.

    I think a .243 Win is really the perfect rifle, but if she shows an ability to handle it, I will for sure move up to the .260 Rem, as 6.5mm bullets are lethal and will kill every bit as well as the .308 with less recoil. In fact, a .260 Rem is an outstanding adult gun, as well, and one she can keep her entire life and use for everything up to and including kudu and elk.

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    Dave, you are getting a lot of good advice here.
    He is big enough to play for sure.

    The advice from the shop seems to be more worried about the wounded animal than teaching your son.
    If you are worried about wounding animals, you have a gun, back him up!

    To create a successful shooter every Hunter Education Course or any type of training situation you get a tool to fit the competitor/student.
    Definitely start out shooting a .22 and get your son to LIKE shooting. Create success.
    Then move up as the child is able.
    Get the fundamentals of good shooting down before he has to deal with the power of a larger gun.
    Ear protection is a must! No pain in the ear, less chance of a flinch.

    My friend started his daughter at three years old shooting a BB gun at balloons. He held the butt stock and she aimed (with his aid) at the balloons that were 3 feet away. She hits them and is reinforced positively/immediately.
    She woke up at 03:30 the other night, during one of my visits, and asked her mom when she could shoot her first deer. She is 4 and a half. I think they might have been too successful.

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    Dave, I did the gradual thing others here suggest and both my daughter and son were solid shots with .22's. When my son turned ten, I bought him a Ruger International in .308. It was a real mistake. I don't believe there was anything wrong with the caliber, but everything was wrong with the rifle. With it's short barrel and relatively light weight, it was a perfect little bitch from the bench. It was a rifle he could carry easily in the field, but it was simply a hateful thing to shoot. After one season, the one lasting thing my gift was likely to leave him with was a flinch. So we traded it in for a Steyr in .243. We couldn't afford Africa in those days, but he killed every deer he ever pointed it at. He is twenty-seven now and brought it and his 30-06 to Africa with us three years ago. With modern bullets, it is a remarkably effective rifle and his springbok and impala couldn't have been killed any deader with a .375.

    I am sure you can put all of the stuff suggested on a .308 to make it shootable for a youngster, but I am just afraid you will turn it into the weight equivilent of a crew-served weapon.
    "We sleep peaceably in our beds because rough men stand ready in the
    night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" Winston Churchill

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    Quote Originally Posted by seattlesetters View Post
    I have a girl who will be 9 in May that I am starting with air rifle and .22 Long Rifle. She'll graduate to a .223 for her first centerfire experience and then will shoot either a .243 Win., .257 Roberts or .260 Rem on her first safari, which will be a present for her 12th birthday in 2014. She'll have impala and perhaps springbok, blesbok and blue wildebeest on her menu.

    I think a .243 Win is really the perfect rifle, but if she shows an ability to handle it, I will for sure move up to the .260 Rem, as 6.5mm bullets are lethal and will kill every bit as well as the .308 with less recoil. In fact, a .260 Rem is an outstanding adult gun, as well, and one she can keep her entire life and use for everything up to and including kudu and elk.
    +1, I really like the 243 Win, a really underestimated gun. Wish the 260 Rem was more popular...but the 270 Win. is good round too and more than adequate for kudu and elk.

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    gillettehunter is online now AH Enthusiast
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    Some very good advice on ear protection and starting him off with a .22. I would suggest to try shooting the .308. Recoil is generally fairly mild. If that gun has too much recoil then I would look closely at the 7mm-08. Much like the .260 it has a mild recoil and is a deadly calibre. Wide range of bullets available. 2 friends have used it with their youngsters and really like it. Its a great choice for a beginner. I've shot one and the recoil was very mild. If you can get one then that would be a great choice. Recoil will be very similar to a .243 but will work well with heavier bullets than what is available with the .243. Wider range of available bullets than for the .260. Its a great round. Bruce

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    +1 I agree with you Bruce the 7mm-08 is very good rifle to start off with...good bullet range too.

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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks so much for all the good advice. My son has been shooting my .22 long for about two years now. He's become very proficient with it and I'm glad I'm not a coke can at 100 yards ;-) It was this proficiency that led me to take him to the next step and actually start putting all that practice to some use.
    The advice on the ear protection has already been taken, we have some amazing Beretta ear muffs which are always worn at the range.
    As we live in Africa, we're spoiled for choice as far as hunting opportunities go but choice can be somewhat lacking in the firearms department.
    Zimbabwe has had an arms embargo on it for about eight years now (Thanks to our illustrious leaders....NOT!) so choice of clibres other than the common ones can be very limited. Hence the leap from .22 to .308
    I do have access to some very good reloading. I think what we'll do is, get some light rounds reloaded to various speeds and hit the range. I'll keep an eye on him and take the loads up as far as necessary. Once I've reached a happy medium between comfort and performance, I'll stop there.
    Don't worry folks, I will be backing him up with my 30-06 when he's shooting something with a pair of horns for the first time :-)
    I picked up my new .375 yesterday :-) I'll be taking my first Eland on the same hunt in August.
    I'm off to the range tomorrow to go and fire the .375 for the first time. Can't wait!

    This forum is one of the best I've ever been on. Thanks again for all the great advice.

    I'll keep you all up to date with developments.

    Have a great weekend.

    Dave
    Harare
    Zimbabwe

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    I hear you. I looked at something similar in the gun shop. Beautifully made, very light and would have been a bitch for him to fire. That's why we went for the heaviest .308 in the shop. He'll have to have a gun bearer if we're walking any great distance which should be good for the photo album ;-)

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    dadams, good luck. If that is the only list of choices for firearms and you can load then light and all advice is already in practice I wish your son the best of luck. He should have a great hunt.
    Tell us the story with pictures added.
    I look forward to it.

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    Hi Dave.

    My son is currently 11. I started him with a .243 when he was 5. Moved him to the .308 when he was 9. He has done well with it. I did/do spend quite a bit of time with him at the range getting used to the rifle. I require him to put 10 out of 10 shots inside a pie plate at the range before he gets to hunt. It's worked out well with him.

    .308 is a good all around choice.

    CK

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