Naturally, you want to share your love for hunting with your friends. But what if they’re inexperienced around guns, uninterested in sitting in the woods all day or hostile to the idea? Don’t give up. Try these six steps as you introduce your friends to hunting this year.

1. Teach them how to handle a gun properly and safely.

With incidents of gun violence all around, your friends might be afraid of all guns, including your beloved hunting rifle. Introducing them to guns and teaching safe handling, storage and transportation takes the mystery out of these tools of your trade. So, invite your friends over to watch you clean your rifle or handgun. Let them hold the parts and learn their names, see how the machine works and practice holding and carrying it. Then, he or she can learn how to look through the sights, load it properly and be comfortable handling it.

2. Practice target shooting at a range.

Once your friends learn how to handle a gun properly and safely, teach them how to shoot. Visit your local shooting range or set up a safe range on your land. With the gun they’ll eventually hunt with, patiently teach them how to shoot at stationary targets. Eventually, pull out the silhouettes and moving targets as you do what you can to improve their skills and chances for success in the field.

3. Let them tag along on a hunt.

Your friends may be hesitant to hunt because they’re not sure what happens in the woods. Invite them to tag along and see what you do. Show them what clothing and boots to wear, where the best spots are to sit and how to use the deer call. By watching you in action and sharing in the fun, your friends are more likely to catch the hunting bug.

4. Go small game hunting.

When your friends are ready to join in the hunt, take them small game hunting. Generations of boys and girls learned how to track animals, wait out the shot and skin a trophy by first hunting squirrels, rabbits and groundhogs, and your friends will learn best by this method, too.

5. Use the meat as an incentive.

No one can argue that deer meat is lean and tasty. Share your hunting bounty with your friends and encourage them to fill their own freezer, too. Additionally, remind them that they can always donate their kill to charity if they don’t want to keep the meat they shoot.

6. Focus on conservation.

Contrary to some animal rights activists, hunting is a way to conserve the environment. It prevents overpopulation that wreaks havoc on the ecosystem, and money from license, firearm and ammunition sales supports conservation. As you share these facts with your friends and show them that you leave the woods better than you found it, they may be more willing to join you.

Your passion for hunting is one your friends can share. Use these six steps to get them on board so that you can have fun together on your next hunt.

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