From the Editor — September/October 2012

A pair of books that could change the face of shooting

By Ralph P. Stuart

Everyone knows a kid who’s into guns. Whether it’s your son or grandson (or granddaughter), the child of a friend or coworker, or the kid next door or down the street, odds are you know a boy or girl who’s interested in firearms—and by extension shooting. It’s as innate as the urge to pick up a rock and throw it at something: the desire to use a tool or implement to hit a distant object. Couple that with all of the exposure, good and bad, that kids get to guns through television, movies, video games and so on, and it’s only natural for young people to be curious about their use.
How this interest is dealt with is where things differ greatly. I was lucky in that my father, grandfather and uncle were all shooters. My mother had no interest in guns, but she wasn’t against them either. So when I became fascinated with firearms, I had three mentors ready to answer questions and offer advice. A lot of kids aren’t so lucky, the result being that instead of their curiosity being nurtured and them receiving a proper education in firearms, they either lose interest entirely or, worse, are left to their own devices to learn on their own.
Enter The Gun Book for Boys. This is Shooting Sportsman Books’ latest project and one that I am very proud to have been involved with. The original concept came from one of those lightbulb moments when we wondered aloud why there are kid-friendly books on just about every subject except guns and shooting. We then commissioned the writing/research team of Silvio Calabi, Steve Helsley and Roger Sanger (of Hemingway’s Guns fame) to write the book they wished they’d had as kids—or that they could have given their kids when they became interested in guns. The result is nothing short of inspiring, and it is a book that, I feel, could have a serious impact on the recruitment of new shooters.
Filled with useful information on everything from the history of firearms to types of guns and how they work, firearms safety, hunting, reloading and gun cleaning, The Gun Book for Boys is destined to become the most dog-eared title on any young shooter’s shelf. After all, what kid wouldn’t want to learn about snipers, man-eating tigers, shooting competitions and famous duels? The writing style is age appropriate, and photos and drawings make difficult concepts easy to understand.
Later this fall we will release the second volume in the series: The Gun Book for Parents. By the same authors, this book will be smaller and geared toward adults whose children have expressed an interest in shooting. In the authors’ words: “This book is a straightforward treatment of your parental concerns about guns and shooting, from safety and legality to costs and benefits . . . . It is meant to reduce a parent’s anxiety by answering questions such as how to buy a gun and store it safely, where to shoot, and how to assess a child’s behavior with guns.”
In our minds, these two books have the potential to help a lot of new shooters join our ranks. Considering that two of the biggest barriers to gun ownership are fear and ignorance, the knowledge that these books provide will give youngsters the encouragement they crave and parents the support they need.
I already can think of a half-dozen people on my Christmas list who could benefit from one book or the other. It’s an easy first step for each of us to get involved in promoting shooting to the next generation.
For more information or to order a book, visit

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