Parenting

A Boy and His Gun

What do you do with a whip-smart ten-year-old who just won’t concentrate on his homework, to the point where a 15-minute math assignment turns into a two-hour exercise in aggravation for Mom and Dad?

What I did was worry. A lot. And get frustrated. A lot. And sometimes get angry when the worry and the frustration just got to be too much. There has been progress, working with our son and his teacher, trying to teach him concentration techniques, and working with him on his homework every night. But progress has also been slow enough to keep my wife and I worried.

Then over Christmas break I took Number One Son shooting and learned something wonderful about him.

He had no idea the real reason for the trip up to the Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek — that one of our closest friends was planning on getting him his first .22 rifle for Christmas, but first we wanted to make sure he was ready for it. All my son knew was that this was his first trip to a real shooting range, and he was thrilled.

ASIDE: Dad was thrilled, too. I hadn’t been shooting in far too long, and was mostly hoping my rusty skills wouldn’t be too embarrassing. Dad was also thrilled to make a stop at Cabela’s along the way to pick up a new pistol to help un-rust my skills.

But now back to Cherry Creek…

Number One Son had been drilled & grilled on his range safety for years, and was ready to shoot after nothing more than a quick refresher. My dear friend Ed had brought along his Marlin .22 rifle, just the right size and weight for a young boy.

And my son, my boy who has so much trouble concentrating on simple homework assignment, amazed me that day.

He took to the rifle’s action immediately. He never had to be reminded about the safety, or which direction to keep the barrel pointed. He didn’t squirm, he didn’t daydream, he never took a shot before he was ready to take a shot.

And on his first time with a rifle, he hit the black every time from 50 yards. He even scored a couple of bull’s eyes. Number One was just as comfortable with the Walther pistol, although he didn’t believe our warnings that a pistol is more difficult to learn how to shoot until after he missed the target a few times. Watching him handle that rifle though eased my fears about his schoolwork.

School of course is back in session now, and on Wednesday we had another one of those frustrating evenings spending far too long trying to get him to settle down and concentrate on his math homework. But we’re going back to the range soon, and we’re going to make it a regular trip. I’m hoping he’ll take the concentration and discipline he’s taken to so naturally while shooting, and with regular practice learn to apply it to his schoolwork.

And if that doesn’t work? A Saturday morning at the range might be a better education than a Wednesday night doing math.