I’ve taken a ton of people off to the gun range to fire their first shot from a gun. I don’t know if its a sign of the times, or if its just my own personal bias rubbing off on my students, but most of my recent newbies want to shoot handguns exclusively. Now what’s been talked about a lot these days is semi-autos vs. Revolvers for new shooters. Bottom line some people prefer semi-autos some prefer revolvers, and that’s just a personal preference. Because there’s no way to know I like to bring some of each to the range.
Still what gun first? I prefer them to take their first shot on an all-steel .22 LR revolver, preferably a double-action with an exposed hammer. Why, well first lemme share my gripe from Caleb:
The problem with that line of thought is that it’s VERY difficult to wring accuracy out of a DA revolver when you’re a new shooter and you shoot it DA. If you’re allowing them to shoot a DA revo single action, then you’re actually hurting their development as a shooter.
Gahhhh! Well he’s 100% correct, shooting a DA revolver in double action is difficult to do accurately if you don’t have all the shooting basics down….but don’t allow them to cock the hammer?
Before I go on, I am of the school where one must master shooting a revolver double-action only, the skills you learn doing that translate to all other handguns. Still I agree that the DA trigger pull comes later. Caleb recommends using a .22 Semi-auto, I don’t for these reasons.
#1. .22 auto-loaders malf. That’s not your gun, .22 ammo sucks, bad priming compound, odd specs, soft lead fouling in the chamber. You’re going to have stoppages with a .22 semi-auto, and stoppages are very distracting to a new shooter overwhelmed with new experiences and safety rules.
#2. Getting hit with brass is no fun, and can distract a new shooter.
Also I could blab about added controls also distracting, but more-or-less that’s moot, the only “control” I think can distract a new shooter is the grip safety on a 1911, some hands will always press it, some can grip the gun but not the safety, and without the knowledge of what a trigger is supposed to feel like this can cause problems, but that isn’t an issue with most .22s
Drawbacks of the DA revolver is that long heavy trigger pull can mess up your shot in so many ways. Solution cock that hammer, get a good grip, align your sights and put your finger in the trigger guard and initiate the shot. One thing cool about my S&W 617 is they can do that 10 times in a row before needing to reload.
I let them shoot Single action until it looks like they’re comfortable or board with that, then I tell them to only shoot double-action, and tell them to make the trigger pull as slow as they comfortably can do.
In other words once they have grip, sights, and recoil, as well as safely handling a gun down, then I let them keep the hammer down and work on trigger pull. After the 617 we could go anywhere, but that’s how I like to start a new shooter on a handgun.