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When to start???

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Dairyland diver
Apr 7, 2001
I know that my daughter is only a year and a half, but as I was driving to the lake with Tedski last weekend we started talking about when to start a kid out spearfishing.

I know that Don has had his daughters out spearing but am not sure how old they were when he first took them.

I don't plan on letting her out of my site, or even going deep, but just want her to get in the water with me and shoot some dinner.:D

So, what age did you, would you, start???

Also, what do you think would be a good gun for a kid? I was thinking along the lines of a 50cm Euro that I could load for her. Any thoughts??

BTW: when did Julie Riffe get started?:confused:

I started my 2 older sons at 12 in NC on the wrecks. My 8-year-old would be fine at the DE breakwater now if I can just get a window of opportunity to take him. My daughter is expressing interest at 13. I'd say it depends on the kid and where you plan to take them, but 8 seems about right to me if you are loading a small gun for them. I'm sure yours will have the swimming skills...

PS For the kids: My Rob Allen single band 16/75cm for the breakwater; Biller 48 for the wrecks at 14. The oldest's Biller sits in the corner now in favor of 150 Rob Allen. The second son got an OMER 86 cm with 16 and 20 mm interchangable band setups at 14 which he still uses and a 100 cm RA more recently.
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My kids have this “I don’t want to kill a fish” thing going this year. I think they watched Finding Nemo too much! My youngest, age 8, really loves to hang with us when we are hunting though. She was in the water for about 5 hours the last time we went. I would shoot a fish and go back to the boat, so she would move over and stay with my dive partner until he would shoot a fish. We would get in out, but she stayed in almost all the time.

I think the thing to do is don’t push them. When they are old enough you feel confident with their safety, tell them they can if they want too. I remember Jay Riffe saying in an article that he gave Julie a speargun and she didn’t touch if for like 3 years. He never pushed, and one day she came to him saying she needed new bands, because the original ones were rotten and she wanted to use it.

If they get interested at an age less than what you would trust them to safely handle a gun, let them pull the trigger while you aim at a fish. This gives them a good thrill without endangering themselves and others. Of course this works much better if there are fish close enough you can shoot from the surface.

My oldest, now age 11, is becoming more interested in boys and being pretty than spearfishing. Hormones! :head
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I was thinking of dropping her in a spot where she could, basically, stand and shoot a fish. This way I could be right next to her to help load and aim the gun for her. I don't expect her to take off hunting right away, just to get the addiction going.;)

One of the instructors that I used to teach with started his, twin, boys off scuba diving at 5. They were in the pool and had on these micro Zeagle harnesses with 30's strapped onto their backs. It was pretty cool. 5 seemed like a good age to me considering the lack of sharks and rip tides in Wisconsin.

So what kind of gun did you daughter start with Don? I have a R.A. 75cm, but that seems too big for a little kid. That's why I was thinking of a 50cm OMER attached to a float- so she can tag a carp bigger than her and play it like some record tuna.:cool:

I guess if she goes all 'peta' on me I can just hand her the camera instead. Either way she's getting in the water with me.

An old guy that I used to ski patrol with told me about getting his kids interested in skiing. He bundled them up so that they were nice and warm and then started to play games with them on the easier runs. As soon as they were really starting to have fun he would pull them back inside and call it a day. It built up such a thirst for more 'ski time' that they all ended up skiing and working at the ski hill at one time or another. I imagine something similar might work for freediving.

My little guy is about 14 months. I know its a long ways off, but I am really looking foreward to introducing him to spearfishing when the time is right. I am concentrating on letting him get comfortable in the water right now. He seems to really enjoy splashing in his kiddie pool and any other body of water he encounters at this age. we took him down to the beach the other day, and he kept trying to crawl out to sea.
My father and I got scuba certified when I was twelve or so. It was one of the coolest father/son activieties we did. I was thinking that a little JBL carbine (with very close parental supervision)might be the ticket for a little guy to wreak havoc on the surf perch.
The little ones might limit our dive days a little initially, but I am really looking foreward to having two hunting partners in the house (#2 is set to arive in december :))
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Standing is a good idea! Never thought about it since there is no clear water here until you get about 100’ deep. They use my Riffe MT1, which I believe is bigger than a 50cm. The 50cm OMER with a float line sounds like a good choice. Does your state have Junior Fish Records? Texas does with a non-rod & reel category. Since there are not many spearfishing kids, especially with parents who will do the required documentation, just about anything they shoot is a state record.

If you start at age 5, you still have 3 ½ years to go! You will have it all figure out by then.

I think the most important thing in teaching kids to dive, and can be the most difficult, is ear equalization. It’s tough, because their Eustachian tubes are not fully developed and they don’t open as easy as an adult’s. But if they can learn it, I believe it’s not only good for their diving, but also for their dry land health. I have read some articles by ear specialists who preached about how the opening of a child’s Eustachian tubes will greatly lower their chances of getting ear infections.

My youngest daughter and I recently had a go around with ear equalization. I am always having my family see if they can equalize at the dinner table, driving, etc.. I try to make it into a game. Maranda used to be very good, but for about 2 months she couldn’t do it all. I kept trying to encourage her, but she was getting frustrated and even saying she didn’t want to freedive or take scuba rangers, which was something she had been begging for three years to do, ever since her older sister had done it.

She kept complaining that trying to equalize was hurting her ears. One day it occurred to me that about the only way she could be feeling pain from trying to equalize, was if the Eustachian tubes were open and she was bending the eardrum out. Maybe she had become so good at equalization that she was opening her Eustachian tubes with no pressure so she was not hearing the air blasting through? I took her to the pool and told her give it a try. She dove right to the bottom of deep end equalizing ever few feet. I don’t know who was more excited, her or me! I think she is going to be a hand free equalizer!
Don, do your little ones wear wetsuits? I guess they might not be necesary in the gulf? I have seen some small sized surf suits in surf shops out here...water temp in CA is quite chilly. I am guesing that keeping a junior spearo warm and comfortable would be a key point. Very cool thread, combines the two topics that most of my co workers are tired of hearing about!
Just my 2 cents worth. I was born in Louisiana and there was
never any water there that I would want to get into ,plenty of
canals and bayous. When me and my mother moved to Florida it
was a diffirent story,we lived a couple blocks from the beach so I
was exposed to it everyday . I took swimming lessons offered at the ymca and completed the entire program.To this day that has been one of the most rewarding things i've done.If I had not been exposed to the water at an early age I would not be able to enjoy the activitys I do now . So I would say get them to the water and let them get comfortable with it because that will be more important in making those first steps in spearing or any other water activity.Living in the south you don't know how many times i've heard someone say(I thought -----people couldn't swim)
or talked to an adult that didn't want to get in any water other than a bath tube.You didn't mention if your daughter is comfortable in the water so if she is disregaurd this. Good to hear from you by the way ,wondered where you been:)

Ps. Don't shoot all the crappie!save some for me.
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Yes my kids have wet suits. At 8 and 11 their sizes were easy to find. My oldest wears a XS women’s, same size as my wife, and my youngest a medium youth. I bought them from leisurepro.com. Wet suits are pretty important here because of jellyfish, sea lice, coral, etc..

Jon had his in a wetsuit last year when she wasn’t even a year old. One of those cute suits you were referring too.
I started my boys in the pool with snorkeling gear as soon as they could swim, 5-6, I don't remember. For them, snorkel gear was how you went swimmng. Real diving didn't start unitl they were old enough to handle a boat trip to the Bahamas, 9. Ops, thats not right, My yougest was diving in the keys at 7. This was plenty old enough for freediving in good water, but a little small if the weather was bad. My youngest claims he has serious post traumatic stress from a wild Gulf Stream passage on his first trip. He is BSing me, but nasty weather still makes him real uncomfortable.

I guess the best advise is don't push'em. I did not follow this advise too well, which may be why my oldest never really got into spearing. He is a great buddy and fish spotter, loves to dive, just doesn't like to shoot. Using a gun would make things easier (we are sling only).

I found a major difference in depth interest and capacity at puberty. My oldest went from a four year, 20 ft plateau to 45 ft in one step. I had started to get worried about him. Hormones must make a big difference.

Divng with your kids is fabulous. Have a great time with yours,

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When to start

I got all my mine started on scuba in a pool at 5. I just made it available...no pushing. The spearfishing interest developed naturally when they were physaically comfortable doing that. My second son thinks he wants to be a serious speafisherman and while I supoort that interest he seems to like fish from a different perspective. I see him more as a photographer. He really likes fish. He likes to see them, to watch them, to catch and play with them, etc. Maybe it's like a cat playing with a mouse, though....
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We just got back from a vacation on a lake in the northern part of the state.

Another friend of mine started his 4 year old out snorkeling. I think that we will try it again in about a week down here, where the waters about 10 degrees warmer. She was comfortable with the gear, but the shorty wetsuit made it tough to enjoy the 64 degree water.

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My daugther is on her second wetsuit right now and is almost ready for a third.

She loves to play with all the gear and it will only be a matter of time before she's in there with me on a regualr basis.

Still thinking about a 50cm, single band, Euro gun- unless someone can think of something better.

Inland lakes are calm, and controlled, enough to start her off in a fairly safe enviroment compered to boat rides over to the Bahamas. That will all come in due time. Right now I am just looking into having her do some surface shooting in less than 5' of water.

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Are you going to be holding her hand as she shoots?

I think a tiny pneumatic gun may be good since it'll eliminate the chance that she'll get her fingers mixed up in the bands?
Thats lovely pictures Jon.

Your doughter is well beyond all of us and its amazing that she can do that at this age. But in my opinion leave the gun idea at least when she is 8-10.Spear gun in the hands of little baby can be dangerous both for her and you no matter what size. She may not realize it as a dangerous wepon or she can pull the trigger accidentally while the tip of the gun shows wrong place:(
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Scott age 7

4.2 LB winter flounder


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as long as the first thing you teach her is safety in spearfishing that is the main thing. too many people are lost to the water even pros who are highly trained. there are so many dangers such as shallow water black out, and with a small child their judgement isn't to developed which could be an issue with safety. so be carefull and in my opinion i wouldn't even introduce the idea of a speargun till she is at least 12 because would you let her play with a 9mm hand gun?
Fantastic pics so far!!

I didnt grow up spearfishing but grew up shooting a bow; my father had one for me as long as I can remeber and if I wasnt able to preform with him at whatever he was doing with his, he always tried to make the opportunity where I could tag along too. The older I became the more he'd include me in the big stuff and by my fifth grade school year I had shoot my first mountian lion. Spearfishing is something Ive found myself and am having a hard time getting him involved, but as he did with me, Im going to try on him, and am considering buying him a nice speargun here soon so hopefully hell have no choice.

Id say the best bet is just getting your child exposed in the big picture, get her/him in the middle of it all, aim the gun at the fish and let them squeeze the trigger, and try not to be a stickler if nothing really goes as planned. If your child becomes more interested in swimming with the carp :D or what have you make that interesting for them. I think the biggest deal is to keep them interested in the big picture of the underwater world and the rest will fallow. My attention span still isnt that long, now when I was 5 or 8 yrs old, a totally different story!!

Well I hope I didnt get too off subject here and even wrote about the correct topic.

Have fun with it,
-And concerning her age and the gun I disagree with Murat; help her with it, be there when she uses it, and teach her how to use it safety. No age is too early.
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