Young guys have a reputation for care-free spending and a relaxed attitude towards their future responsibilities, but once they meet that special lady and enter the cult of fatherhood, those days of professional day-dreaming and spree-level toy gun buying abruptly come to an end. Get used to spending your paychecks on formula, diapers and toys (these will be educational, noisy and they won’t be yours).
Still, shooting needs to be a part of you and your children’s life if they going to be able to survive in this scary, hostile world and even on a strict budget there are a few guns that a father should know how to use whether it is to teach their children how to shoot game or to be able to protect them from threats that walk on two legs. Accordingly, let’s look at four guns every dad needs to know how to shoot:
1. .22 Rifle
If you are any sort of a responsible father, this gun should already be in your gun safe right now. If not then I recommend that you get one posthaste.
Shooters know that a good .22 is invaluable for several reasons, but chief among them is the cost and, in your role as provider, the money you save on ammo can go towards diapers, a future college fund or a thousand other things your kids won’t thank you for someday. This will also encourage you to shoot and practice and, in my and many shooting instructors humble opinion, .22 shooting is the gateway to becoming a crack shot, a skill you will very likely want to pass down to your progeny. If you (or your son or daughter) get good enough, you could very well keep the whole clan fed with small game you and your kids took yourselves with a simple .22 rifle, demonstrating better than any textbook the principles of self-reliance.
I picked out a nice single shot .22 Savage copy of the old Stevens Favorite before my son had even been born and have shot it a few times to see what it could do (that way when my son comes of age he can’t claim when he misses it is the gun because I will know better).
2. 12-gauge shotgun
When the west was still wild, the shotgun was just as prevalent on the homestead as the Colt SAA and Winchester 1873 though without all of the fanfare. Why? Because when it comes to an all-in-one hunting/self-defense/SHTF gun, people in the know accept no substitutes and really if you could only have one long gun in your home, make it a shotgun.
A good pump action 12 gauge shotgun can be your small game, big game and home defense gun all in one package with everything from birdshot, slugs and buckshot available and easily “swappable”. When you boil it down though, every father should know how to use a shotgun for one very pragmatic reason: they make a great personal defense weapon (possibly the best readily available civilian option out there) and, as the king, you have no excuse to leave your castle unguarded.
Aside from that, shotgunning, be it clay pigeons or real pigeons, is perhaps one of the best ways to get your rapidly maturing brood excited about shooting sports when they hit that special age. Kids today are pretty overly-stimulated (especially as they move into adolescents with things like video games and the Internet assaulting their senses and vying for their time). You may find that despite your best efforts, your kids do not have the patience for static, bench-shooting while the fast pace action and intuitive point shooting of sporting clays seems to speak their language.
3. .22 Handgun
While a shotgun is great for home defense and a .22 rifle makes a great game getter/economical training weapon, chances are you won’t be able (or want) to pack them with you when you take the kids out on the town. Therefore, every father should own a handgun, but more importantly, every father needs to know how to shoot a handgun and for that, I say turn once again to the people’s round and pick up a handgun in .22.
Handguns are not difficult to become proficient with, but they do take serious practice and an understanding of simple though perhaps alien techniques, (something a lot of new shooters or long gun shooters don’t realize when they start getting into pistols). If you are going to start shooting a handgun, I can’t think of any better weapon to get you into the game than a .22 either in pistol or revolver form because this eliminates much of what confounds new handgun shooters, like recoil and muzzle flip, allowing them to concentrate on grip and trigger pull (just remember to pick the type of gun you plan on shooting in a larger, defense caliber).
In a pinch you can use this gun for personal defense and, for a real challenge, you can hunt small game with them, but the real reason to own this caliber handgun is to help you master a larger caliber handgun.
4. Personal defense handgun
Every father no matter their preference for pistol or revolver, 9mm, .357 Magnum or .45 ACP, should have a handgun designed for personal defense, period. I know giving such a broad description for a handgun doesn’t say a lot but bear with me here, dads.
The day you became a father, you took on the duty to protect your children no matter what and you owe it to your family to make darn sure that you have a handgun that can do the job and that you are as proficient with it as possible. To me, that means picking the handgun that you can use the best and shoot the best and because of this, ultimately, when it comes to caliber selection, father knows best.
For me, it has been either a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver for some time now, so long in fact that I feel confident that I know almost all of the little idiosyncrasies of the round and gun, in and out. I, for one, would not venture out anywhere with my son in tow without some way to protect him whether it’s in the city or on a little hiking trail and I truly believe that every father needs to have something similar in place when traveling with their children (so perhaps what I’m saying is that you should get a CCW to go along with that personal defense gun). In my mind, there should be no excuse why you can’t carry a handgun to protect your children.
Being a father is a not just a biological term. The role is one of the most influential in a human’s life and accordingly, father’s owe it to their children to teach them how to protect, feed and enjoy themselves. If you don’t have a firearm you should be learning how to use one as your children grow as well. The guns listed above will give you the skills to feed your family and protect them, but also to pass those skills along to your children so that they can do the same with their kids.