Basic skill at arms form the foundation of training with whatever the current weapons and tactics of the day entail. Too often we forget the lessons history teach. Soldiers and Marines typically enter service as adults having never handled a firearm. A brief glimpse into the past shows the folly of this.

The Spartans began military training at age seven. Young men destined to become Knights began serving as pages at a similar age and would become squires at fourteen years. These two famous warrior classes separated by a millennium started their young people at nearly the same age.

A number of kings placed bans on ball sports to ensure that the people practiced archery. One web site discussing training from the Middle Ages explains this:

The importance of the archers and their Medieval bows and arrows grew in importance. In 1252 the ‘Assize of Arms’ was passed which decreed that every man between the age of 15 to 60 years old were ordered to equip themselves with a bow and arrows. The Plantagenet King Edward III took this further and decreed the Archery Law in 1363 which commanded the obligatory practice of archery on Sundays and holidays! The Archery Law “forbade, on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training especially archery practise”. King Henry I later proclaimed that an archer would be absolved of murder, if he killed a man during archery practise!

Dutch farmers, known as Boers, began teaching young as well. According to Howard Hillegas in his book With the Boer Forces, Boer commandoes were as young as 13 years old. Shooting club info from the period shows how serious these shooters were.

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