Talking firearms with your little hunters

Harriet Bremner writes.

Everyday habits can have dangerous, even fatal consequences.

An inevitable part of New Zealand farming life is having access to the world’s best hunting spots where we can gather food, and spend time with friends, family and our children.

Ask many a rural child what they like spending time doing on their weekends and holidays and a lot of them will tell you they love to go hunting with dad, mum, uncle Dave etc.

So, this leaves a question for you…

  • Does your child or teenager that you take hunting with you regularly know how to be safe around firearms or are you guilty of just saying to them ‘just stand there’ or ‘don’t get in the way?’
  • Do they hunt themselves with age-appropriate rifles and guns?
  • Do you explain to them why you may choose to shoot in one spot and not another?
  • Do they know what ‘buck fever’ actually is?

Conversations you have with them while hunting will lead them to grow up and be good communicators when they reach the age and stage of going it alone or with their own mates and ultimately will keep them safe.

In February, I ran another Think Safe Brain Campaign day in Fairlie with 220 children from five schools in the district. I have been working with NZ Police and decided to incorporate a firearms module where the local constables would take charge.

In this module, they teach the children about the seven firearms safety rules in NZ and show them different types of ammunition and real firearms. They have conversations that help shape behaviours around how children should approach gun safety in a positive and practical manner. It is amazing the stories that come out from the children about what really happens on their hunting trips and it can be scary to hear some of the close calls a mere seven-year-old has already witnessed but also on the other hand the amazing safe practices that are out there.

It is important that children get these experiences first-hand so they grow up to be capable adults but it is also crucial that they learn in the right way from the right mentors.

Have a think, do you yourself know the seven firearms safety rules?

Have you actually had conversations over a cuppa and a campfire around the dangers of using rifles/guns and what happens if it were to go wrong?

Have you got a plan in place for what happens in an emergency and is your child up to speed on that plan too? I know many of you will be thinking, she’ll be right, nothing bad will happen to us but what if it can and what if it will… if you don’t have some of these conversations today?

Or… after having a chat with their children, do they know the rules better than you?