So my wife’s sisters came for a visit this weekend, and one of the sisters had never shot a gun before and has decided she really wanted to have that experience.
I LOVE teaching new shooters, and I find the best way to start is down in the armory with blue guns and empty guns. This gets them solid on the 4 rules , as well as basic mechanics (tho I keep a lot of the individual mechanics down to a minimum to avoid overwhelming or boring the student…Like I don’t teach safeties because on a range with a shooting bench they’re unnecessary. Just shoot the gun and when you need a break just set it down, loaded or not), also Uncle’s Rule #5, as well as stance, sights and trigger pull. This means when we get on the firing line, wearing eyes and ears, and possibly hearing other people shooting, not to mention dealing with live ammo they have a good understanding how to have a safe and fun time with minimal teacher involvement.
The range trip was as good as I could hope. The morning started off dark and dreary but the sun came out by the time we hit the range so we spent our time on the outdoor pistol range. We started off with my S&W617 which is my preferred handgun for first shots because you don’t need to worry about jams, you can cock the hammer for light SA shots, and its heavy enough for recoil control. There were two other guys on the range, and without prompting one guy let her borrow his Ruger Mk II with a heavy bull barrel. She really enjoyed that.
Thinks almost took a turn for the worse when he “corrected” her to a teacup grip. I didn’t want to argue with a guy nice enough to lend us a nice Ruger target pistol, and with the light-recoiling gun I knew she couldn’t get into much trouble. Also another gentleman lent us his Sig Mosquito which didn’t strike her interest much.
After the Ruger we tried my Beretta 21A, which she thought was “Cute”. Also I don’t think I noted in my review but the Beretta has a surprisingly stiff recoil and main spring which seems to make the gun really eat up recoil. She felt a bit odd calling a gun “Cute”, but really the Beretta IS cute!
Now was time to graduate to centerfire. I gave her a choice between my Colt Trooper stoked with .38 Specials, and the CZ-82. She picked the auto-loader and was impressed at the step-up in power. Still through this whole session her target was looking great, and she was having fun. Also she realized that a standard isosceles was MUCH better for recoil control and getting a good firm grip.
She tired with the CZ quickly and asked if she could step up to my stainless 1911. I was pleased to see she LOVED it. After that it was onto the Trooper with .38s. Then she said she was ready to head home. A good range session. Still knowing she was there for new experiences and self-discovery, I asked her if she’d be interested in trying the colt with some .357 Magnums. I assured her it was nothing she couldn’t handle, and she agreed.
Her first shot went high, I suspect she was anticipating recoil, I asked if she was game for another, and she was, and placed the shot in the 8-ring at 9:00.
I burned off a few stray rounds myself and then we headed for the barn.
She was a PERFECT student, she was very aware of her muzzle and her trigger. Also she knew her limits and had no problem taking breaks, even in mid shooting string when she needed it. Also even tho her target looked awesome she wasn’t concerned about how her shots were scoring, just that they were landing on paper. This is a common frustration with new shooters because they’re new, and they’re trying new guns, and different grips and trigger pulls which makes a HUGE group, but rarely do I have a student that can’t keep all shots on an 8×10 target at 15 feet. Also she was interested and willing to try new things, but also not afraid to put down guns she didn’t like. And WE HAD FUN!
New shooters to the range Rule #1 is stay safe, Rule #2 is have fun. Mission Accomplished!