Firearms Training in NZ apparently starts in school at age eight

police had eight and nine-year-olds shoot a human-shaped target with a BB gun in their Nelson Park School classroom last week.

Children donned police protective gear and aimed a spring-operated BB gun - which fires plastic pellets but looks like a police handgun - at a cardboard target 3m away. . . .

Eastern Police district policing development manager Inspector Dean Clifford said shooting the BB gun was part of a session teaching students about firearm safety.

The pistol was a low powered and spring-operated BB type pistol, essentially a toy, he said.

Police were concerned about children using BB guns - which can be mistaken for real weapons, he said.

The exercise was done with the full consultation of the teacher and students and there had been no danger.

The exercise had been used before with no problems, but police would review parts of the programme, such as whether shooting at a human-shaped target was appropriate.

While the point of this story in the newspaper was largely the complaints of a parent who was freaked out that police would demonstrate anything to do with guns to their children and that the police were trying to show that guns are dangerous, the more novel part of the story was that children were being taught about guns at all and that they were firing anything, even if a spring-operated BB pistol.