How old do kids have to be to be able to shoot at a gun range? It’s a fair question, as we always want to be passing the torch of passion for building and shooting guns onto the next generation to keep our 2nd Amendment traditions alive. Our answer to this question is actually multi-layered and not as simple as you might expect.
The first thing you might want to consider in whether a child is ready to shoot at a gun range is what their maturity level is. Are they stir crazy? Are they calm? Do they follow instructions?
If you’re asking how old a kid must be to shoot at a gun range for your own child you’re going to have to make the judgement call because only you know them best. Their maturity level may also depend on personality type.
You’ll want to make sure that your child can take instruction and won’t freak out when being exposed to firearms, strangers or gunfire. So perhaps a gun range might not be the best option for your child because we also don’t want to start kids off with firearms too young and scare or traumatize them early on. Maybe it’s better to go to public land on BLM property (Bureau of Land Management) where you won’t be disturbed or distracted by others.
Age set by range businesses
This is the easy answer and it comes from simply whatever minimum age limit shooting range businesses set and that’s typically 12, 14, or 16 years old. In general, this goes for every state in the US — for any minor in possession or use of a firearm they need direct supervision or guidance from their parent or legal guardian. However, we have seen some ranges that give large age windows from 8 all the way up to 18 years old which require parental supervision. So check your local range’s website before you make that trip out there or call ahead.
Children are typically much more sensitive than adults so despite irresponsible gun culture in certain parts of the country, it’s of the utmost importance that you have your kids use full seal eye protection with sufficient ear protection as well. You might even have to double up on the hearing protection if necessary. Teach the basics and always follow the 4 essential rules of firearm safety.
Size of Child
Before you decide whether your child is ready to get into firearms you also might want to consider the child’s size as a factor. Don’t give them 9mm right away from the get-go. A child’s readiness and comfortability around guns could also be caliber dependent. Start them off with .22LR before you go ham on any other calibers. .22LR is great as it can be shot out of basically anything; revolvers, bolt action rifles, Glocks and even AR-15s.
Lastly, be honest; how did you raise the child? Did they grow up around guns, playing with nerf guns, bb guns, airsoft guns or paintball with friends? Or are you dropping them in head first into the deep end here? When it comes to teaching kids about guns you can start them as young as 3 - 7 years old. Start with a toy gun. It doesn’t even have to be a Nerf gun. As they get older they’ll gradually progress and understand that with anything involving projectiles good reasoning and self control is needed to avoid hurting oneself or others.
How old to rent a gun at a shooting range?
It’s going to vary per state but most of the time you simply have to be 18 years old to be able to rent a gun on your own. If you live in a more restrictive state like California you might find some weird or additional restrictions that ranges create to shield themselves from liability.