The First Shot

I remember it like it was yesterday. My dad woke me during Sunday naptime to take me shooting for the first time. He handed me an old, single-shot .410 that was to be my first gun. After the initial shot, I wanted nothing to do with the hard-kicking mule that rested on my shoulder.

It wasn’t until I had a son of my own that I understood the first shot is the most important for new shooters. And when it comes to an introduction into the shooting sports, it’s better to ease them in rather than throwing them onto the firing line.

The .410 has come a long way since it was introduced in the early 1900s. Companies produce loads today that youth shotgunshooters handle with confidence. Now, the .410 is enjoying a resurgence as an all-around shotshell that challenges shooters whether chasing upland fowl or big gobblers. But I don’t remember it being as pleasant when I stepped out that day. I do remember wondering if this was really what shooting was about because if it was I didn’t want any part of it.

I developed a few bad habits that could have been corrected early. You never want to disappoint dad, so I wasn’t about to tell him the new gun killed my shoulder. Instead, I flinched every time I pressed the trigger and took the pain.

New shooters should be part of the process, understanding what goes into the selection and purchase of a gun. They get a greater appreciation for the responsibility of gun ownership.
*Quick Tip – Recite the Four Rules of Firearm Safety before Bedtime every night.

When selecting a gun for new shooters, let them be involved, but steer them toward something lighter like a .22 or 17 HMR. These are great for plinking and getting the feel of a smooth trigger press.

Kids have the most vivid memories. They remember the smallest details that we may forget. My dad made the experience special. Yeah, the gun beat me up a bit, but this memory stuck with me forever because it was just us. I got to skip a nap to spend time outdoors shooting my very first gun. However, for my son…I think I’ll leave the .410 shelved for a later time. ~ KJ

Kevin Jarnagin
Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma, but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter, and knows his way around a bass boat. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, Jarnagin always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind.