Teaching Nine-year-old to Shoot (air pistol)

#1
A request for advice:

I have the enviable (or otherwise!) task of teaching my 9 y.o. son to shoot (air pistol). With no background in instructing on the pistol (and pretty limited pistol shooting experience) I would appreciate any advice. The shoot (part of Pony Club Triathlon) consists of 10 x 4 sec exposures at 7m, one round at each. He is currently (with very little experience) scoring around 400 to 500 (HPS 1000 - i.e 100 pts per shot if you hit a 10) but needs to be at 600 to 700 to be "up there" with most of them, and a few more to be competitive. First shoot was 320 so we are improving...

Any top tips on what he should be doing, how I can help him improve, pistol marksmanship, posture, technique etc would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

FWIW, the weapon he is using is a Weihrauch PW 40 HCA.
 
#4
Best way is to join a club...

Teaching someone to shoot over the internet is never really going to work. You can of course do the basic safety training, but coaching is a real time process...

Does the Pony Club not run classes in your area? They are probably the best bet. My next suggestion is to Email the NSRA for details of a small bore club near you who may be able to help.
 
#5
There are all kinds of technics that go into good pistol shooting, but like HE says, it's hard to give a tutorial over the internet.

One of the first and most important pieces of advice my father gave me when he taught me when I was about 8 years old was that when you're pistol shooting, don't lift the pistol up to the target, as the hand gets tired trying to hold it in the right place. Instead, aim high, above the target, and bring your arms (and you aim) down onto the target.

Breathe in deeply- raise pistol- lower until target is within sights- hold position (and hold breath) and shoot- bring the pistol down again, whilst exhaling.

One fluid motion. Worth practising so he's used to it. Also get him used to holding and supporting the weight of the gun.

YD
 
#6
First question is
2 hand hold or 1?

Looking at pic of the weapon it doesn't seem to lend itself to serious competition shooting and at 9 it must be quite a handfull.

I started my 2 children on a Webley pistol, 2 hand hold and at 6 feet (I built sand butt in the garden so no safety issues).

As their confidence and skills grew they moved back until they reaches 6m.
 
#7
archer said:
First question is
2 hand hold or 1?

Looking at pic of the weapon it doesn't seem to lend itself to serious competition shooting and at 9 it must be quite a handfull.

I started my 2 children on a Webley pistol, 2 hand hold and at 6 feet (I built sand butt in the garden so no safety issues).

As their confidence and skills grew they moved back until they reaches 6m.
That's what i was started off on- good old .177 Webley Junior! Awful weapon.

YD
 
#8
These are the best tips I can offer - they have served me well in competition pistol shooting:

- Grip firm but not too tight - like picking up a hammer.
- First pad of the finger on the trigger, pressing straight back. No other part of the trigger finger touching the pistol.
- Focus on the 'epsilon' of the sights (see my sig block). Whilst it is true that you should focus on the front sight, the key thing is actually the 'notches' of light either side of the front sight. These must be exactly equal for the shot to be good; the actual position of the sight picture on the target is of rather secondary importance.
- Adjust sights for a 6 o'clock hold. It is far easier to aim at a gap between the sights and the bull than at the centre of the target.
- Yorkie D's advice on the aiming sequence is sound, but don't overdo it, or he will look like a TV cop and commit a safety violation.
- However I can't agree with the advice to hold your breath as this can induce stress in the torso. IMHO it's far better to take a couple of normal breaths and then let your lungs go slack to take the shot.
- The trigger must be pressed straight back, not 'pulled' or 'squeezed'. He should be aiming for a 'surprise break' where the actual trigger pressure is smoothly increased until the actual shot breaks without being anticipated.
- A follow through is vital to avoid flinch, especially with an airgun which has a long bore time. An olympic shooter once told me that he echoed the shot in his head 'baaang' whilst maintaining the sight picture.

There's loads more, but the best advice has already been given - find a good coach. Best of luck!
 
#9
Gun_Nut said:
These are the best tips I can offer - they have served me well in competition pistol shooting:

- Grip firm but not too tight - like picking up a hammer.
- First pad of the finger on the trigger, pressing straight back. No other part of the trigger finger touching the pistol.
- Focus on the 'epsilon' of the sights (see my sig block). Whilst it is true that you should focus on the front sight, the key thing is actually the 'notches' of light either side of the front sight. These must be exactly equal for the shot to be good; the actual position of the sight picture on the target is of rather secondary importance.
- Adjust sights for a 6 o'clock hold. It is far easier to aim at a gap between the sights and the bull than at the centre of the target.
- Yorkie D's advice on the aiming sequence is sound, but don't overdo it, or he will look like a TV cop and commit a safety violation.
- However I can't agree with the advice to hold your breath as this can induce stress in the torso. IMHO it's far better to take a couple of normal breaths and then let your lungs go slack to take the shot.
- The trigger must be pressed straight back, not 'pulled' or 'squeezed'. He should be aiming for a 'surprise break' where the actual trigger pressure is smoothly increased until the actual shot breaks without being anticipated.
- A follow through is vital to avoid flinch, especially with an airgun which has a long bore time. An olympic shooter once told me that he echoed the shot in his head 'baaang' whilst maintaining the sight picture.

There's loads more, but the best advice has already been given - find a good coach. Best of luck!
What he said. Good advice.
I might add:
To avoid frustration.Adjust sight yourself to a 6 o'clock sight picture from a bench or table resting hands on the bench
Start the child shooting from a bench so he can see he can get bull from the 6 o'clock hold.

I did not have an air pistol so I started my son with a .22lr (S&W Mod. 41) and did not let him use amthing larger until he was about 12 when I started him on M1911A1 in .45ACP. The Smith is a fairly heavy target pistol and he did well with it.

I was lucky as my club requires a range safety officer be with you if the child is a beginner and the man who supervised us was a competitive shooter who loves to see kids learn to shoot and he gave good advice and encouragement.

Remember, kids don't appreciate advice from parents and they will often take advice better from a stranger.
 
#10
Grateful thanks to all for some very helpful advice; much food for thought here. DavidBOC you are SO right about kids not listening to their parents...I think you must have met my son...

He goes to the Pony Club shooting sessions each week which are helpful, but there a quite a lot of kids there and not a lot of time, so I need to help him out a bit. Not trying to make him into a serious shooter, just working on improving the scores a bit so that he can shoot well enought to enjoy it and not look like a dork on the day.

The Weihrauch is indeed a bit chunky for a 9 y.o., but not too heavy as it's made largely of plastic (?) rather than metal. The Pony Club are quite keen on it and a lot of the other kids use the same. The requirement is for a single-shot .177 pistol. Sadly I have had to remove the little fibre-optic thingies on the sights, as these are not allowed in the competition.

They have to fire two-handed until about age 12 I think.

Once again, many thanks to you all for the responses and suggestions.
 
#11
Hobo-Ken:

I did not mention stance as I assumed for no particular reason that they would be doing a single handed stance. Two handed you should look at Weaver Stance, Modified Weaver (a/k/a/ Chapman Stance) ad Isosceles. If you google "modified Weaver" you find tons of links.

Caveat: One of the better links af far as text shows piccy of a woman with a revolver shooting lefthanded without explaing she is a lefty so the pic is confusing. Modified Weaver is widely recommended for women due to hand size so it might be good for kids.

As to kids, I think they are all like that. When I taught mine sailing he would get hostile about all the safety rules, my insistence that he ALWAYS carry his knife when he went to the harbour in case he ended up sailing, etc. In his teens he was teaching sailing and at nineteen he wqs running the towns sailing program and teaching adults to sail. I got a kick out of the stern memos he would give to the instructors working for him which emphasised all the things he complained about when I told him.

God help you as you have the teen years ahead of you. Be assured that once they get into their twenties they become civilized and helpful. Mine is great other than the fact that he will occasionally mix some of my 12 year old single malt with Coke (an act of blasphemy).
 
#12
DavidBOC said:
Hobo-Ken:

I did not mention stance as I assumed for no particular reason that they would be doing a single handed stance. Two handed you should look at Weaver Stance, Modified Weaver (a/k/a/ Chapman Stance) ad Isosceles. If you google "modified Weaver" you find tons of links.

Caveat: One of the better links af far as text shows piccy of a woman with a revolver shooting lefthanded without explaing she is a lefty so the pic is confusing. Modified Weaver is widely recommended for women due to hand size so it might be good for kids.

As to kids, I think they are all like that. When I taught mine sailing he would get hostile about all the safety rules, my insistence that he ALWAYS carry his knife when he went to the harbour in case he ended up sailing, etc. In his teens he was teaching sailing and at nineteen he wqs running the towns sailing program and teaching adults to sail. I got a kick out of the stern memos he would give to the instructors working for him which emphasised all the things he complained about when I told him.

God help you as you have the teen years ahead of you. Be assured that once they get into their twenties they become civilized and helpful. Mine is great other than the fact that he will occasionally mix some of my 12 year old single malt with Coke (an act of blasphemy).
Thanks - will take a look. As a nine y.o his stance will be affected to an extent by the size of his hands - the pistol is really ideal for bigger people I think.

Good news is that he has hoisted the safety issue on board without argument, so he may not always hit the target but does seem to have an idea of the damage he can do if he mucks about with the wpn. Will keep watching him like a hawk though! Still, all good fun so far, proper father/son stuff. I've even managed to take him running as well..........
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#13
Try and get "Know the Game, Pistol Shooting by Laslo Anthal (SP)"
Helped me with rimfire target shooting all those years ago. I may have a copy still if I am sober enough to look when I get home!
 
#14
Make sure he doesn't spend too much time on aim so his arms don't get tired and shake. As long as his posture and breathing is consistent once he is in that position he shouldn't need to struggle to find the aim point. And if you work on his grouping first then his targetting rather than trying to do both at the same time... hope these help as tips - its how I learnt (all those moons ago)
 
#15
#16
Update - the Triathlon was today, and Master H-K scored 560/1000 - as compared to 320 the first time. Needs 700 to 800 really to be in the mix, but that is a way off yet. Still enjoying it which is all that really matters.

Thanks again to all for your advice!
 
#17
Hobo-Ken said:
Update - the Triathlon was today, and Master H-K scored 560/1000 - as compared to 320 the first time. Needs 700 to 800 really to be in the mix, but that is a way off yet. Still enjoying it which is all that really matters.

Thanks again to all for your advice!
Well done to the lad - and his instructor! :D
 
#18
Hobo-Ken said:
A request for advice:

I have the enviable (or otherwise!) task of teaching my 9 y.o. son to shoot (air pistol). With no background in instructing on the pistol (and pretty limited pistol shooting experience) I would appreciate any advice. The shoot (part of Pony Club Triathlon) consists of 10 x 4 sec exposures at 7m, one round at each. He is currently (with very little experience) scoring around 400 to 500 (HPS 1000 - i.e 100 pts per shot if you hit a 10) but needs to be at 600 to 700 to be "up there" with most of them, and a few more to be competitive. First shoot was 320 so we are improving...

Any top tips on what he should be doing, how I can help him improve, pistol marksmanship, posture, technique etc would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

FWIW, the weapon he is using is a Weihrauch PW 40 HCA.
It's good to hear that the Pony Club is still encouraging shooting. How many of the other children's organisations still do? I suppose ACF and CCF are a given, but what about ATC and Sea Cadets? I heard a rumour that the boy scouts no longer have it as one of their badges. Is this correct?
 
#19
Thought I would bump this up to the top by way of an update - and further thanks to all for their advice. We have worked a bit on this in recent months, and HK Jr is now able to score 700 to 750 on average. We had an 840 on Sunday which got him first place (to the surprise of us both) in his class in the Tri - but he goes up a class next year and the standards there will be higher. But hopefully we can get up towards the 900 mark in time.

Essentially we have concentrated on getting the posture right with an emphasis on stability, holding the pistol properly, and taking just enough time rather than firing the shot too quickly. They have four seconds though this is often interpreted quite liberally I suspect by the range staff. When they go on to turning targets, of course, there will be a bit more pressure.

Actually, the big leap forward has been convincing HK Jr that a firing point is a place for quiet focus and concentration, and thinking about the next shot rather than the last - and not a place for idle chitchat and pfaffing around worrying about how his mate in the next lane is doing etc etc. He is also beginning conceptually to think that 8s and 10s are good, and that 6s and below are not really worth having. So it's all about mindset really.

Thanks again
HK
 

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