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Dad sparks controversy for teaching toddler to hunt

Dad sparks controversy for teaching toddler to hunt

A dad has been hit with backlash for teaching his eldest son how to hunt, sparking a discussion on whether children should be able to use weapons.

Zach Williams has a passion for hunting and is currently teaching his eldest stepson, who is seven, how to shoot a bow and arrow while his two-year-old watches from the comfort of a backpack.

Williams told news.com.au’s podcast I’ve Got News For You that he was taken hunting when he was a child, and that he takes his children now to pass on that experience and to bond.

"I started hunting before I had any memory of going out. My grandparents used to take me out camping and fishing and hunting quite young so it's just all I've known growing up," he told host Andrew Bucklow.

His seven-year-old practices shooting at targets while his youngest son watches on, laughing as the pair take their shots.

"I've got my stepson's elbow and have wound down the poundage, which is the drawer weight and I've just started letting him shoot targets with help from myself," Williams said.

"[My younger son] giggles, [my eldest] shoots the bow again, [and my youngest] giggles and he's like more please dad."

Aussie dad Zach Williams has been teaching his young stepson how to use a bow, sparking controversy about his style of parenting. Image: @aussie_arrow (TikTok)

On other occasions, Williams takes his youngest to explore the terrain and local animals.

"I want him to have fun out there, take notice of all the other things that's going on. You see all the native animals, you see all the native bird life, you come across lizards, see plenty of kangaroos, emus and stuff like that,” Williams added.

Along with teaching them how to shoot, Williams said the boys receive other educational benefits that non-hunters don’t typically notice, such as learning about conservation and the dangers feral animals impose on the environment, as well as how to be patient and how to “butcher” their own meat.

"You learn firearm safety … You're drilling in how dangerous a gun can be. But you know …, [athletes] break their necks, break their legs, break their spines, you know have all these life changing events,” he said.

"Hunting can be dangerous if something goes wrong, but so can everything."

However, Williams doesn’t necessarily want his sons to shoot at animals just yet, since they don’t have the strength to kill their prey humanely.

"You need a certain poundage to efficiently, effectively and humanely kill something with a bow and arrow and that's what you're trying for when your bow hunting is the most humane shot possible," Williams said.

"So you have to get lots of practice in it and you also have to have the right setup, the right arrow. So it's as clean a kill as possible."

Unlike Williams, Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst is among those who strongly oppose the activity and has expressed concern about how NSW hunting laws could be reformed in relation to children.

Under the proposed changes, children would be allowed to hunt with bows and dogs regardless of age, while those aged 16-18 would no longer need supervision while hunting using these methods.

Hurst said the proposal needs to be scrapped, despite similar rules existing elsewhere in Australia.

"These are absolutely shocking proposals being put forward by the Minister of Agriculture, Dugald Saunders. It completely ignores the significant safety risk of these weapons, and the enormous animal welfare impacts that they will have as well," she told Bruckhurst.

Though it’s still unclear whether these changes will be implemented, Hurst said she would be keeping a close eye on the situation in case the government attempts to “sneak” it through.

As for parents like Williams, she said her party was greatly concerned about the “traumatic experiences” children go through if they get hurt.

"I mean, that puts that toddler in a very dangerous situation, and also risks them experiencing trauma from witnessing an animal dying and being torn to pieces. It's really concerning,” she said.

Image: @aussie_arrow (TikTok)

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