(CNN/KSPR) – At just 11 years old, Nicholas Goodman knows how to use a gun. “Once we’re ready to shoot, we put it on the rest and put the magazine in, turn off the safety and then you’re ready to fire.”
And he’s not alone. “I was nervous about the gun popping back on your shoulder and stuff, but it’s not bad at all.”
These kids are being trained to use guns at the state’s Department of Conservation gun range in Ash Grove. And these kids are just some of hundreds of kids being trained to shoot every year.
“We do programs, about 250 days of programming here a year, and through those about 150 of those are public school programs geared up and tailored to individual classes based on age.”
This group of 10 and 11 year olds are here from Springfield, Missouri schools, taking a class on hunting through the “Wonders of Wildlife” program. Teachers say lesson number one is gun safety. “We spend hours in the classroom practicing with disabled guns before these kids ever come out here.”
Educators say when it comes to handling a gun safely it’s all about the type of gun you’re using and your skill level. This gun, a .22 caliber rifle, is one educators say is safe enough for a ten or 11 year old.
And educators say some kids are learning to shoot even earlier. “The youngest we’ve had in a program was about 4 and a half years old and of course we didn’t start them on a .22 rifle, we started them with a pellet rifle or a BB gun.”
“The quicker we learn about things, the less curious we become about them.” That’s why he says there’s no age requirement for kids at this gun range, just as long as there’s a trained adult like the ones here, showing them how to aim and fire.