Good question, I would teach my kids about proper handling, etc. from the time at which they were old enough to understand, like 5 or something, different for every kid, but very young for sure. As soon as I felt they had a handle on things, I would let them begin shooting under supervision.
I think that a lot of people today don't put enough responsibility on their kids, not hat they can't still be kids and have fun, they just need to learn about responsibility and independence at an early age. Firearms have always tradirionally ben used by youth barely school age, for hunting to provide for the family....this is no longer necessary, bu it demonstrates that kids are more than capable of safely handling firearms.
I have been teaching my two children shooting skills since they were three years old.
My daughter, now ten years old, can shoot better than many grown men. She is now even proficient at the running deer target.
I don't think you can be too young to teach children about guns and respect for guns. I think a child can shoot a rifle when the parent thinks they are ready. Some kids will be ready before others and I think that all depends on how much you have taught them and how often they are around them.
I've been around "weapons" all my life, starting at age 5 when "Santa" left a Daisy Red Ryder B-B- Gun under the Christmas tree. Along with that came a great deal of supervision, training, and fun in the basement of our house with Dad and a lot of targets. A couple of years later it was a Remington 510, single shot 22-LR. If kids are old enough to ask questions about firearms, they are old enough to get the right answers along with the right training and supervision. As an NRA certified Instructor, I've trained many hundreds of men, women, and children as young as 4 years old.
The bottom line? Get them while they're young and supervise every step of the way. Get involved with them - have fun with them - lead by example!!!!!
HEY! My first post! Anyways, My little girl is 4 and I started teaching her about never touching a gun without dad or grampa there and all that. She is now slowly starting with my pellet gun in my woodshop. One or two shots at a time so she does not get frustrated. Safety paramount. "Range Safe", "Range Hot" stuff, safety glasses and all. My wife grew up with guns all over the house with absolutely no issues. They were taught that if they wanted to check something out, just ask. She shoots pistols very well when she does it some (that whole practice thing). Start them very early with the dialogue, then move them to BB/Pellet when you think they listen good enough, then the next step is real guns when they really listen good. Teach them that pellet guns are dangerous and can kill too, but firearms are even more dangerous if you are not safe. Around 5yrs I think is about average, but it VERY much depends on the listening skills. I am not ready for my girl to go firearm yet. She listens pretty darn well, but I think end of this summer is going to be right.