Would you let your child become a competitive shooter? Meet 10-year-old Shyanne Roberts, who is out to prove that kids and guns don't always mean disaster: http://cnn.it/1rIpaNE
Posted by CNN on Friday, October 17, 2014
She picks up the custom handgun painted in her favorite colors, purple and black.
Her long, black braid bounces slightly with each of the six shots she fires. Metal pings signify when she’s hit the mark. She runs to the next target. Nine more shots. Reload.
Meet Shyanne Roberts, a 10-year-old competitive shooter who is out to prove something: Children with guns don’t always mean disaster.
“I want to be an inspiration to other kids and be a leader,” said the girl. “Kids and guns don’t always mean bad things happen.”
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.
Shyanne’s natural talent turned into a passion and at 7, the young athlete started competing in local matches. Physically, a competitive shooter needs to have good hand and forearm strength, as well as the ability to handle the firearm’s sometimes-strong recoil. Good technique also helps.
Not every child is ready to wield a gun
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.
Even under direct supervision, giving kids access to guns can be deadly. A 9-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor with a submachine gun called an Uzi in August, causing anti-gun activists to reiterate their objections to allowing guns anywhere around children.
Roberts balks at the notion that training children to use guns poses an increased danger.
“We can teach fourth-graders safe-sex practices, but we can’t mention teaching firearm education in a public grade school without anti-gun groups having a complete meltdown. … It’s completely ludicrous,” he said.
Not everyone is convinced that teaching gun safety at a young age is the key to preventing accidents. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, says it’s not enough.
“It’s not to say that teaching your kids gun safety can’t help, but relying on that alone is an extremely dangerous mentality,” Gross said. “I see tragedies every day that wind up occurring because a parent thought that their child knew better.”
Roberts trusts his daughter, but that doesn’t mean he believes that every child, or even adult, is ready to wield a gun.
“As an instructor for over a decade, I’ve been around adults that shouldn’t be within 10 feet of a slingshot,” he said. “I have a 10-year-old daughter that’s a competitive athlete. It really depends on the kids involved.”
‘It’s not just a hobby’
The fifth-grader’s determination to win a national title before she’s an adult shows in how she talks about her career — “It’s not a hobby; it’s what I want to do!” she insists.
There aren’t many children beating adults at matches, at least not since KC Eusebio. The California native started shooting competitively at 8. By the time he was 10, he became the youngest Master shooter in the history of the United States Practical Shooting Association. Eusebio, who is in his mid-20s, is a professional shooter for Glock’s competitive shooting team.
Read more: CNN