After the tragic incident where a 9-year-old girl accidentally killed her range instructor with an Uzi in Arizona, there were a series of stories debating the presence of kids at gun ranges. As an avid shooter, I see young kids at my range all the time, spending quality time with Dad (sometimes Mom too) learning basic gun safety and how to shoot properly. Kids learning how to shoot is quite common in America–and they don’t always end in tragedy.
Case in point: meet 10-year-old Shyanne Roberts from New Jersey, who is a competitive shooter that practices 15 hours a week. By the way, that’s the minimum amount of time she spends at the range (via CNN):
Shyanne competes alongside junior shooters, who are participants younger than 18, and even adults. Last year, she beat out adult women to place second in the Women's Division of the New Jersey Ruger Rimfire Challenge.
On October 31, she will square off against 200 of the top women shooters at the Brownell's Lady 3-Gun Pro-Am Challenge in Covington, Georgia. Shyanne is the youngest competitive shooter registered at the female-only event, according to the match director. The top shooter has a chance to win $5,000, as well as items from a prize table of guns, ammo and more.
The Franklinville, New Jersey, girl, who now has more than 20 sponsors, started learning gun safety when she was 5. After she could recite the rules and had grasped what guns can do, around age 6, her father started taking her to a gun range. Dan Roberts is a certified firearms instructor and a single dad. He has custody of Shyanne and her younger brother.
When asked how he feels about his daughter using a gun, her father said, "I feel very comfortable because I know she's been extraordinarily well-trained at how to be safe. I could have a fully loaded machine gun, and she would not dream of touching it because the curiosity factor has been eliminated."
Roberts believes early firearm education and training are the keys to reducing gun accidents. He argues that if kids knew about guns at a young age, their curiosity wouldn't get the best of them, leaving tragedy in their trail.
When looking at target shooting across all the styles, there's been a 67% increase in the number of women participating in the past decade. More than 6.4 million women competed in 2012, compared with 3.8 million women in 2003, according to the National Sporting Goods Association's annual sports participation reports.
Roberts says that this isn’t just a hobby for her; she wants to make a career out of it. Best of luck!