Remembering back 35+ years ago to when I was first shooting. I had a bolt action .410, and I handled it well at age 9. Funny thing is I took firearms training at age 11, and they had a 20 ga break action, and I damn near landed on my ass.
My Dad was wanting me to try a 12 ga the following year--and I balked big time and stayed with my .410. Finally the next summer he convinced my to try his Rem 1100, and it kicked less than that 20 ga did. Huh? Lesson to learn--as others have said, do not punish the kids, get a semi-auto, especially a gas operated one so when using a 3" load the kick is not so bad. BTW, the next summer I bought my Dads Rem 1100 since he had bought a new 3" mag Rem 1100.
And as an adult I have shot pumps. I had an Ithaca feather weight model 37 and was hand loading 3" hulls. I literally dislocated my shoulder while hunting--yes it kicked that hard that muscle got pinched in my shoulder socket. Just brutal. The doc says no shooting for 2 weeks, let it heal up. I just used my old Rem 1100 with 2.75" loads of lead 3 days later, and kilt ducks no problem and hardly noticed my sore shoulder. :mrgreen:
Yes there is THAT much of a difference. So also consider a cheap bolt action .410 as a starter when they was like me at age 8 when I shot my first pop can with it
BTW, my dad sawed off 4" off the stock so it would fit me better.