i say the gun w/o the sling would b better for starting out. he would have the gun in his hands at all times to practice muzzle control. i think the sling makes us somewhat lazy or even careless thrown over a shoulder. keep the gun ready at all times while hunting, or in his case practicing safe muzzle control. i just finished a hunter safety course with my 16 yo. well he did but i took it when i was younger.