Taking A First-Time Shooter To The Range: Recommendations, Suggestions, And Most Importantly — GOOD ON YOU!
This holiday season, there’s a high likelihood of seeing family and friends that we may not have seen in awhile otherwise. As a concealed carrier, you’ll likely have at least one or two relatives who think guns are the root of all evil or are just afraid of them for no reason. This is the perfect opportunity to let them see for themselves by offering to take them to the range and educate them on the basics.
Firearm Safety For New Shooters
When you hit the range with someone who’s never been before, it’s always good to heavily stress the importance of firearm safety. What’s commonplace for you and your understanding may not be so common for him. Let’s wash out the Hollywood and take them on a trip to Reality.
Guns don’t shoot on their own.
Be slow, meticulous, and get them used to pointing the gun down-range. Show them the little things we usually breeze through when we’re going to the range — loading a magazine, putting the magazine in the gun, racking the first round into the chamber.
People really seem to naturally grasp ideas when they’re able to physically hold onto them. The idea of responsible gun ownership and concealed carry begins with respecting the safety of yourself and others.
That’s why we always follow these four basic firearm safety rules:
- Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
- Don’t point your firearm at anything you don’t intend to shoot.
- Keep your finger clear and off the trigger until you’re prepared to fire.
- Know what is in front of and directly behind your target.
And don’t forget: always bring extra ear and eye protection.
When packing our own range bag, we’ll undoubtedly bring our ammunition, pistols, holsters, basic cleaning equipment, and hearing protection. If another person is coming along, stop in and pick up some additional “ears and eyes”. Your guest’s first interaction with firearms shouldn’t include permanent hearing loss or, heaven forbid, injury.
When your guest has his ear and eye protection, understands the fundamentals of firearm safety, and gets to practice loading the preparing the firearm to shoot — you’re helping introduce someone to the world of responsible gun ownership. That’s a pretty big thing.
The Excitement And Thrill Of Shooting For The First Time
Most of us will have a hard time remembering exactly how we felt when we first shot a gun. In my case, I was a young child up visiting my aunt in Alaska and she and her boyfriend took me out to shoot skeet. The thrill of exploding a clay pigeon with a trigger pull was awesome as a 10-year-old. But my experience may be different than yours and it will certainly be different for the person you brought shooting with you.
As fun as it is to just send bullets down range, this is also the opportunity to reinforce good habits of marksmanship.
These include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Foot placement
- Grip and hand placement
- Sight alignment
- Sight picture
- Trigger control
Don’t worry about getting your guest into rapid magazine changes and holstering/re-holstering exercises just yet. Just getting him to understand how the bullet lines up with the target may take a great deal of patience and understanding.
Something worth mentioning — hand placement. Different hands stretch differently across a pistol grip. It’s all about isometric control of the firearm. That means applying firm pressure from all angles to stabilize the gun so it’s well supported and not shaky.
A first time shooter will usually flinch when firing.
Even experienced shooters have to sometimes continually overcome this natural instinct. It’s something that usually goes away with focus, attention, and regularly firing a gun. So, be understanding but also don’t be afraid to help out the first-timer. There’s a good balance between having a good, safe time and getting critiqued on every little thing you do. Find a good balance and definitely promote the fun.
The best part about taking a first-time shooter to the range is you have the opportunity to reinforce the fundamentals for yourself. Yes, that’s right — we all need to continually reinforce the fundamentals that we sometimes push off to the side in favor of high-speed, low-drag performance. But the fundamentals never go away and our attention to them shouldn’t, either. The instructor learns as he teaches.
And the next best part of taking someone shooting for the first time is you are opening up the world of firearms to that person. Someone who may have been afraid or scared to shoot a gun before now has a positive experience under his belt. Who knows? Maybe it’s your influence that proves to be the reason someone you know gets his or her first handgun and becomes a concealed carrier.