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How to Teach Your Child Gun Safety

Father and Daughter

September is Baby Safety Month and we thought it fitting to share some ways to teach your children gun safety.

As an overprotective modern parent who gets nervous when my kids ride bicycles to a friend’s house, I would not teach my children to hunt if I thought it were dangerous. Better they have a gun in their hands, than, say, a skateboard. Hunting and shooting have low accident rates precisely because we place so much emphasis on gun safety. Although hunting should be fun, teaching kids to be safe shooters doesn’t call for much sense of humor. Treat the topic seriously, and children will respond to the gravity in your voice.


Young boys, especially, find guns fascinating. Keeping guns forbidden and mysterious only increases their allure. Let your kids handle your guns with your permission and under your supervision. Show them how to check whether the chamber and magazine are empty. Let them point the gun in a safe direction. Teach them now that the only time they are ever to touch a trigger is when they want the gun to go off.

Take them to the gun club, where they will see targets smashed to bits. Show them the bloody holes your guns put into the animals you bring home. A friend likes to impress new shooters with the power of firearms by shooting a cantaloupe at 10 paces with a 12-gauge. The distinction between real and toy guns will be as clear as the difference between real and toy cars.


Owning a BB gun can teach children good safety habits or bad ones. Kids of my generation roamed the woods with Red Ryders and no parental supervision. There’s a better way. Give a child a BB gun a year or so before he or she is ready to start shooting .22s and 20-gauges. Store it with your guns and make a point of treating it like a real gun—which it is. Let your young hunter bring it along, unloaded, on short hunts with you. Insist that he carry it with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Pack a few BBs along for some safe target shooting at the end of the day.


The more often you take your children shooting, the more practiced they’ll become in handling guns safely. At the range, insist that muzzles point up, down, or downrange—always. Keep control of the ammunition yourself, and dole out shells one at a time. Kids will be scrupulously careful about muzzle control until they fire a shot. In the excitement of hearing the gun go off, they will turn to you, swinging the gun, or drop it down so it points at their toes. If the gun is empty, it’s a teachable moment, not a potential tragedy. Insist on eye and ear protection, and emphasize its importance by always wearing it yourself.


Your first real hunts should be for squirrels, waterfowl, deer, turkeys, or doves, sedentary hunts where the game comes to you. Leave your own gun at home. Sit right with your hunter, whispering advice and giving the go-ahead to take the safety off and shoot. Save upland hunting for last. It requires walking with a loaded gun for long periods as well as split-second shoot-or-don’t-shoot decisions.


You’re trying to instill lifelong safety habits, and nothing you say speaks as loudly as your own actions when you and your child hunt together. Handle your own guns with extra emphasis on safety. While we’re at it, boats, ATVs, tree stands, and motor vehicles can be just as deadly as guns if used carelessly. Your young hunter will learn all about them by watching you.
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Autumn Hunting May Fight Summer Lyme Disease


(Inside Science) — Classic summertime scenes of little league games, family hikes and rough and tumble boys exploring the vast continent of their own backyards are all fun and games until someone comes in from their adventure with an unwanted stowaway: the dreaded deer tick. Most of the time, these ticks are a disgusting but minor annoyance. Other times, there is a more serious consequence: Lyme disease.

A little bit of background

About 24,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the U.S. each year, and 95 percent of Lyme disease cases in 2012 came from 13 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Why these states? Because lurking in the trees of the northeast and upper Midwest is a great abundance of deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis for the eastern black-legged tick, and Ixodes pacificus for the western black-legged tick), which can carry Borrelia burgdorferi – the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

By and large, the prevalence of Lyme disease in the U.S. has held steady across the last 10 years or so, but public health officials, especially in the Midwest and northeast, are constantly looking for strategies to lessen the public’s risk of contracting Lyme disease – especially among children.

One solution may lie in a popular pastime during the autumn months.

Johnny, get your gun

A study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that the number of reported cases of Lyme disease was strongly related to the white-tailed deer population in the immediate area. After hunting initiatives during the autumn deer hunting season thinned out the white-tailed deer population, the cases of Lyme disease in that area also decreased pretty dramatically.

The 13-year-long study looked specifically at the community of Mumford Cove in Connecticut – one of the states plagued with the most cases of Lyme disease in the country.

In 2000, the community voted to allow controlled deer hunts to trim the deer population in the area, after a ban that lasted many years.

With the introduction of hunting in the community, the deer population began to wane.

Between 1995 and 2008, the researchers asked 90 percent of all permanent residents in the community if they had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and the number of deer they had spotted in their neighborhood.

An 87 percent reduction in deer density in the area meant a nearly 50 percent reduction in tick infection rates and an 80 percent reduction in resident-reported cases of Lyme disease.

The equation was simple: fewer deer = fewer deer ticks = fewer cases of Lyme disease.

Of course, hunting is not the only way to curtail the deer and thus the deer tick population. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, is looking into a strategy called immunocontraception, which is a birth control method for animals that uses the animal’s immune response to control animal populations.

Why ticks?

But, why are only deer ticks to blame for the spread of Lyme disease? Why don’t mosquitoes that also feast on human blood spread Lyme disease?

It is not so much the blood sucking that causes the disease as it is the bacteria carried by the insect. Deer ticks are known to carry Borrelia burgdorferi in the U.S., so they are the ones that can transmit Lyme disease to humans. It’s important to note, however, that not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria, so not all tick bites will result in infection.

Lyme disease can be difficult to spot right away, especially if the person does not develop a rash at the tick bite site or does not present with symptoms. But when symptoms do occur, they usually present as flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue and body aches. If the disease disease progresses untreated it can cause joint pain and neurological problems like Bell’s palsy.

In most cases, an infected tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease-causing bacteria is transmitted.

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Hunting Wild Hogs

wild boar in the hunting ground

If you think there is nothing to hunt during the summer months that can possible hold your interest until deer season, think again. In the next couple of weeks, Live Outdoorswill be featuring five prolific animals that you can hunt during the summer. Even if you live in a state that offers access to some of these animals, the chances are good that a short drive will take care of that small detail. Today, wild hogs are on the menu.

Did you know that most states have viable wild hog populations to hunt? It’s true. And most of those states consider feral pigs a nuisance quadruped and allow hunters to shoot them year round. A lot of states also allow night hunting for hogs, and that fact alone can add some diversity to your hunting portfolio that you might not otherwise get to experience on other game animals.

Traditionally, the South has been the gateway to hunting wild hogs, but they have existed in other places for decades, if not centuries. Hawaii and California are often overlooked and under-mentioned when it comes to wild hogs but they have large populations just waiting to be hunted. Would it surprise you to know that wild hogs are also located throughout the Midwest, and can even be hunted in states like Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Oregon? Michigan does not allow hunting of wild hogs, but their numbers are spreading and several counties have agreed not to prosecute people who kill them. The one constant when it comes to feral pigs is; they need to be hunted and controlled.

Hunting them is not that difficult either. Most state wildlife management agencies boldly provide information on feral pig’s exact population locations. This is also one of the few big game animals where hunters and landowners are glad to give strangers access and intel so that they can help whittle down their numbers.

Methods for hunting them are not difficult. You can spot and stalk low-lying swampy areas with heavy cover and occasional openings and meadows. You can set up tree stands or blinds at water holes and hunt them in the heat of the day, or you can bait them (where legal) and enjoy hunting in the cool of the morning or evening. There are also people who like to night hunt with night vision or infrared scopes, or by the old fashioned method of spotlighting.

There are tons of opportunities for hunting wild hogs, so don’t stop hunting just because it is summer.

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Summer Hunting: Coyotes

young coyote looking at his future prey

Every hunter knows that coyotes are just about everywhere, and most hunters agree that they need to be controlled. Due to the decline of modern fur prices, trapping has become a rare practice, and as a result, coyote numbers are rising.

But what about the quality of the fur, you ask? During my almost 35 years of hunting and witnessing around a hundred coyotes being shot by me, my friends or my clients, very few of them actually took their coyotes to their taxidermists, and even fewer sold their pelts for money. You can still display a summer coyote as a wall hanger even if it does not have ‘prime’ fur. It is still covered in hair and it is technically still your trophy. Don’t let the traditional idea of fur quality limit your time afield hunting coyotes.

The only ethical issue involving summer coyote hunting is that some people are bothered by the fact that some coyotes are raising pups during the summer. Coyotes are hearty animals, but if you are bothered by the thought of killing a coyote with a litter of pups, check state wildlife management department and find out specifically what time of the summer pups can fend for themselves. Coyotes live an average of five years and pups are eating solid foods at around eight weeks.

Calling coyotes in winter months might seem like an easier task than hunting them in the summer, but all predators need to eat and drink every day so there is really no calling advantage during the winter months over the summer months. In fact, coyotes that live in cold climates often need to rebuild muscle mass and regenerate their endurance after expending their winter energy reserves, giving a slight advantage to spring and summer hunters.

Calling at night or in the morning and evenings is usually more productive than midday, for obvious reasons, but coyotes can be called in shaded areas not far from water. Hunters that call coyotes in the summer need to remember that ‘yotes have heavier cover to hide themselves in and having good situational awareness is required to stay as safe as possible.

Don’t let summer stop you from honing your predator hunting skills.

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NRA Gun Safety Rules

NRA Gun Safety RulesWhen using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA gun safety rules:

  • ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
    This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
  • ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
    When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
  • ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
    Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.
  • Know your target and what is beyond.
    Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
  • Know how to use the gun safely.
    Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
  • Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
    Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
  • Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
    Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
  • Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
    Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
  • Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
    Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
  • Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
    Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.
  • Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
  • Cleaning
    Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.

A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.

Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.

Information from


Shooters Gun Shop Inc.
335 Christine St. Suite 101
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703


Monday - Friday: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Closed Sundays and Major Holidays

Special Orders

Call Shooters if you’d like us to hold or ship a gun for you. We will only ship to other gun dealers.
Phone: (573) 651-9091