Anyone who has children and has firearms in their home has thought about the possibility of those little hands getting to that weapon. Gun safes, trigger locks, secure storage and a host of other options exist to restrict access, but more important is instilling in your kids the proper respect for guns, a rifle scope, and how to safely handle them. While professional instructors offer one way, the basics are best handled by you:
Kids who grow up in a household with firearms should know, from the time they can walk, that they shouldn't ever handle a gun without you present to observe. Once you decide they're old enough to learn about them, start by working on the most essential level of safety such as ensuring that a weapon is made as safe as possible before being stored.
Any gun should be assumed to be loaded and ready to fire until confirmed otherwise. Teach your kids how to engage the safety, remove the magazine if any, how to eject rounds from the chamber and never touch the trigger until all of these steps have been completed. Too many accidents have happened because a child didn't know this basic level of gun safety.
This is an especially important step for families that hunt together. Far too many accidental shootings take place each hunting season because a hunter failed to confirm their target. Make certain that your kids get comfortable aiming, sighting and using long range scopes before they ever use live ammunition, and long before they go on their first hunting trip.
Make sure that once you've begun using live rounds you spend some time on a firing range. Not only is this important for making sure a rifle still fires true, but it will also help an unfamiliar shooter to get accustomed to the recoil and noise. Large caliber rifles can kick back suddenly, planting a scope directly into the shooter's head or face, so taking the time to get used to that reaction will help prevent an injury behind the gun.
As a parent, you should feel nervous about putting a gun of any kind into your child's hands. That twinge of fear will keep you alert and help you to prevent a mishap that could result in severe injury. The important thing to remember is that your goal is to instill respect, awareness and caution, not fear.