When it comes to shooting, safety is number one. Simple and easy is key when selecting a gun for a first time shooter, and I would recommend starting with a single shot. There are many choices out there in single shots. I went with the Savage Rascal for a few reasons. One this single shot rifle the safety automatically engages every time my son works the bolt. He then has to release the safety before shooting. The single shot also saves ammo once they figure out how to operate the rifle because they really focus on making that one shot count. One other reason for choosing this gun, was the peep sight. Simple and easy to use, and it helps get him ready to use a scope.
The gun is only one factor in safety though. You as a parent have to keep a constant eye on them. If they make even the slightest mistake, make it known to them. I am extra hard on my son when he makes a mistake as far as safely handling the firearm. One mistake can be fatal, make sure they understand that. You yourself have to make sure you always treat the guns the way you are asking your youngster to handle them. Set a good example because kids are always watching.
Next, make sure to work on good shooting habits, don’t just let them shoot to shoot. Work on trigger control, squeezing every shot off. I have my son put his safety on every time he loads it, find his target thru his sights or scope. Then, when he is ready, release the safety, and last putting his finger on the trigger.
Before we get into calibers and sizes of guns, I did start my son with the old Daisy Red Rider BB gun at a very young age. Using this gun we got him used to using sights and the use of the safety. The caliber of gun your child uses will depend on the fit and how used to shooting your child is. Do not over-gun them, if the stock is too long of pull, don’t let them shoot it. You will do more harm and scare them from shooting later. Not to mention they can get hurt or hurt someone else. My son at 7 years old, is shooting my AR, because the recoil isn’t too bad, the stock fits him, and he has proven that he can handle the gun responsibly.
Finally keep it fun, make sure they can hit the targets and see their hits. Shoot N C targets are great for this if you are setting up paper targets. The self healing bouncing targets are great, they last forever and can be used just about anywhere. Varmint hunting is my favorite target practice for kids. It shows they can do everything you have taught them and at the same time that the gun can be fatal. Teaching a healthy respect of firearms at an early age is critical to their experience with firearms down the road.