LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) - In a state where hunting tradition is still strong, and where some game populations are as high as they have been in years, any form of hunting gear is often a welcomed gift.
One tradition that still holds true for many children in Arkansas is that of receiving a firearm for Christmas. For a youngster who has waited patiently to reach hunting age, nothing is more exciting than that first rifle or shotgun, proof positive that the recipient is coming of age and that the parent or giver believes he or she is ready to accept the responsibility of gun ownership.
Parents of a child who receives that first firearm will want to take some simple steps to ensure themselves that the firearm is used safely and responsibly. Joe Huggins, hunter education coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, suggested these key points:
Make sure you and your child reads and completely understands the manual supplied by the firearm's manufacturer. The manual explains everything he or she needs to know about the safe use, care and storage of the gun.
A responsible adult needs to be present anytime the gun is used.
Enroll your child in a hunter education course as soon as possible. Contact your local wildlife officer, a Game and Fish Commission office, or go to www.agfc.com to learn the date of the next available class.
Consider letting your child enroll in Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program, a 4-H Shooting Sports program or a BB gun program sponsored by some area service organizations. These programs emphasize safety and responsibility as well as teaching marksmanship.