My father told me he read this story when he was young (I think). He was born in 1935 and is passed away now. He didn't remember the title or author but it impressed him.

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    How will you recognize a correct answer? – fectin Feb 24 at 12:56
  • It somehow reminds me of the Catachan planet in the Warhammer 40000 universe. Anything and everything is out to eat you. – Clockwork Feb 25 at 8:48
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    @Clockwork 40k's Catachan almost certainly would have drawn inspiration from Harry Harrison's "Deathworld" series, which appears to be the one Mark is describing. – Geoffrey Brent Feb 25 at 9:16
  • @fectin "... even children are issued blasters and must be good at using them..." would seem to be pretty unique. You must admit that would be a very good clue. That is the "killer" clue! – Mark Wood Feb 25 at 11:13
  • I immediately thought this was Heinlein's Red Planet (1949), which was lightly formative for many people your father's age, so "impressed him" is the killer clue. Deathworld fits the word "issued" better. It's a less good fit for a number of other stories too – fectin Feb 25 at 13:29

I expect this is probably Deathworld (1960) by Harry Harrison. The protagonist is Jason dinAlt, a mildly psychic gambler/con man who is recruited by Kerk, a citizen of the titular planet (actually called Pyrrus) to win a bunch of money to buy guns, and who is forced to flee to Pyrrus to escape the casino bosses who come after him.

Pyrrus is indeed extremely hostile, with all the flora and fauna constantly evolving to better attack the human colonists. All the colonists always wear guns in power holsters that can put their gun in their hand in a fraction of a second. Jason is a bit of a quick-draw expert, but is no match for them. Children are taught to use weapons from a very young age, and in fact Jason is put in with some very young children for remedial weapons training.

The full text is available from Project Gutenberg.

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    Serialized in six 1960 issues of Astounding (January through June). Use @DavidW's ISFDB page to see links to individual issues ISFDB pages; each issue page has a link to a downloadable PDF version of the issue! – Ross Presser Feb 24 at 15:50
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    Totally this. Just from that short description I recognized the book- and the description fits it to a T. – J.Hirsch Feb 24 at 23:36
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    Deathworld is available at gutenberg.org/ebooks/28346 from the Jan, Feb and March issues of Astounding. Apparently the copyright was not renewed on the magazine version. The British edition of Astounding for Apr to June carried the story also (see isfdb.org). – W H G Feb 25 at 4:00
  • @DavidW This must be it. Thank you so much. Now I can read it too. It came out one year before I was born! Love Harry Harrison. – Mark Wood Feb 25 at 11:07
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    @DarrelHoffman "Kerk" is the Dutch word for "church", "kirk" is the Scottish spelling of the same. As such, the presence of either spelling as part of a name is an unremarkable occurrence, and there's hence zero reason to believe that this story is linked with Star Trek in any way shape or form. – Ian Kemp Feb 26 at 11:32

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