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Linda Thomas
NRAapp.jpg
While criticizing the video game industry for its first-person shooter games, the National Rifle Association has released its own target practice app. They say it's educational for children as young as four. Yes, I realize I have a poor aim. (Screen grab from NRA Practice Range app for iPhone)

NRA target shooting app for kids as young as four years old

The National Rifle Association, which has been critical of the gaming industry in the debate surrounding potential gun control legislation, has launched its own target practice app.

Practice Range spits out facts like, "NRA programs train over 750,000 gun owners each year," and offers gun safety advice such as, "Know your target and what is beyond it."

After that, users are able to select their weapons. My only choice of firearm is the M9. It costs 99 cents to upgrade the basic firearm to a Beretta, a Browning or a Colt.

It also offers indoor, outdoor and skeet shooting modes. Fully loaded, I was set to begin shooting. I quickly discover I'm an awful aim.

According to the app ratings system, "Practice Range" is appropriate for users as young as 4 years old because it contains no objectionable material.

The NRA game "instills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations. It strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education, allowing you to enjoy the most authentic experience possible," according to the description.

The NRA app has been in development for awhile, as a way to counteract what it sees the video game industry doing - "marketing of violence to our kids."

It is far milder than the first-person shooter games I've watched my 12-year-old son play. He tried the NRA's target practice and said it's "boring."

The Entertainment Software Association is a lobbying group for a number of major companies, including Electronic Arts and Microsoft.

These companies' games, including "Call of Duty," "Halo" and other "first-person shooter" games, have come under criticism in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre last month.

The killer, Adam Lanza, was reportedly "obsessed" with video games. Police found thousands of dollars worth of violent video games while searching his home.

But the gaming industry says that violent crime, particularly among young men, has fallen since the early 1990s while video games have increased in popularity.

There are conflicting studies on the impact of video games and other screen violence.

Some conclude that video games can desensitize people to real-world violence or temporarily quiet part of the brain that governs impulse control.

Other studies report there is no lasting effect.

By LINDA THOMAS

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About Linda
Linda is the morning news anchor and features reporter for KIRO Radio. This is her local news blog, with an emphasis on social media, technology, Northwest companies, education, parenting, and anything else that grabs her attention.

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