JOHN Bidwell says:
This is a tricky one to answer – but a fair guide to go by is the level of a youngster’s keenness and his actual physical strength.

Naturally, most dads who shoot want to see a son follow in their footsteps, but pushing one into it too soon nearly always backfires badly.

Similarly a child’s enjoyment of the sport will be blunted if he tires easily when carrying and mounting a gun.

I would say that by the age of 12 years a lad should be big enough to cope with a 20-bore and light cartridge, he might even be able to manage a little 28-bore at the age of ten if he has the strength.

The important thing is that before he gets his own gun he’s keen to be out with you shooting and learning all about safety, fieldcraft and gun handling.

Don’t forget, either, that the gun he starts with should be as good a fit as you can manage – and this usually entails shortening the stock.

Make sure you keep the off cut bit of walnut in a safe place because it will have to be re-fitted as the boy grows, or you decide to sell the gun for something bigger