The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > General Discussion Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old April 17, 2013, 06:54 PM   #1
bt380
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 14, 2012
Posts: 331
Anxeity at Shooting

I was asked a question that I have no idea how to resolve and not give the typical male man up response. A husband took his wife to the shooting range to introduce her to shooting. She never made it part way thru the "this is the isle where we will shoot." She started crying from just the noise from other shooters. He was very easy with her. Her dad shoots shot guns and rifles frequently. He never took her shooting. She was a child that has no history of violence and has spent her life in schools (HS, College, Teacher of 5th graders and is about 30). Her folks are stable people. How can a 30 year old be so timid about guns? I could only come up with, go to a place in the country w/ a 22. Have her stay way back while you shoot. Maybe on the next rip, move her a bit closer. Have her help you clean the gun at home. Find an older female and let them two talk without the male about. Sort of easing up on this super slowly. I'd like to hear from women on any ideas you may have that are beyond a males typical logic.
bt380 is offline  
Old April 17, 2013, 06:59 PM   #2
BigD_in_FL
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2012
Location: The "Gunshine State"
Posts: 1,981
How could you be so insensitive about her sensitivity? Not everyone even likes guns, can handle loud noises, or want to be involved in something they see as only for killing - especially a teacher - I know, I left corporate to become a teacher in a very pro gun state and there were still many who abhorred guns.

Want her to like guns? Get great hearing protection, shoot only .22 and do it where some butthead isn't letting lose with some 500 magnum 2 feet from her. Then go from there......

Good luck in helping out
BigD_in_FL is offline  
Old April 17, 2013, 07:06 PM   #3
Vanya
Staff
 
Join Date: July 7, 2008
Location: Upper midwest
Posts: 3,877
Are you sure she wants to learn to shoot? Not everyone does (strange as it may seem to us), and there's no point trying to force something like that on someone.

If she does, "Go to a place in the country with a .22" is pretty good advice, IMO.

An even better idea, assuming she does want to learn, would be for her husband to take himself out of the picture as her teacher; that always sets things up for additional stress. It would be way better to have her learn from a professional in a women-only class -- ideally one with a woman instructor, but at least with someone who has experience teaching women to shoot.

It's actually not that uncommon for someone to be really stressed by the noise, especially if this was an indoor range. Even with hearing protection, it can be pretty overwhelming if you're not accustomed to it.
__________________
"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."
(Milan Kundera, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1980)
Vanya is offline  
Old April 17, 2013, 07:24 PM   #4
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,579
De-Horning the devil !!!

It's obviouis that the enviroment was too intimidating for her and her husband should have been sensitive enough to see it coming. The first time I experienced this was when i picked up my youngest daughter from college and it just happened that there was a Gun Show, on the way. I took her in and after about five minutes, she asked to go out and wait, in the car. Later we talked and found that even the sight of all those guns, intimidated her. ....

The last time I ran into this was at an "Outdoor's Women's" training day. There were three gun stations and I took part in the M/L station. There was one particular young women that refused to to shoot at the shotgun and rifle station. After going through our instructions, it was time to shoot. Took some time but did get her to shoot. Afterwards, she started shaking and then cried. Some of the other ladies hugged her till she felt better and stated that she was glad she had conquored that fear. I replied that in all my years of teaching, I had never had this happen and she had made my day. ....

Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old April 19, 2013, 04:55 PM   #5
dyl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 31, 2009
Location: Virginia
Posts: 509
double up:

Don't expect this to be an end-all cure, but even as someone who enjoys shooting I find that foam earplugs AND earmuffs one top do a lot for my comfort levels when shooting.

I would imagine that atmosphere might have something do with it too. A pleasant warm sunny day in a wide open field sounds a lot better to most than a cramped dimly lit smoky indoor joint. Like going to a picnic rather than a bar. The sound of each shot seems amplified by the walls at indoor ranges.
dyl is offline  
Old April 19, 2013, 05:03 PM   #6
Vanya
Staff
 
Join Date: July 7, 2008
Location: Upper midwest
Posts: 3,877
Quote:
The sound of each shot seems amplified by the walls at indoor ranges.
And so it is. Without getting into the fancy acoustics of it, it has to do with the way echoes interact with the original sound and with each other in a reverberant environment.

An indoor range not only seems noisier than outdoors -- it is noisier.
__________________
"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."
(Milan Kundera, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1980)
Vanya is offline  
Old April 19, 2013, 05:16 PM   #7
OPC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 9, 2007
Posts: 123
I would take a step back and start with class-room stuff at home. Take out a couple of samples and discuss firearms safety. After she is comfortable (hours? days? weeks?), move on to handling and operation. Gradually progress to dry-firing. Finally, go shooting in a quiet area with a .22lr.

But, as has been emphasized, only if she is actually interested in learning.
__________________
José
OPC is offline  
Old April 19, 2013, 06:20 PM   #8
shouldazagged
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 17, 2013
Location: Louisville, KY, USA
Posts: 273
Quote:
An even better idea, assuming she does want to learn, would be for her husband to take himself out of the picture as her teacher; that always sets things up for additional stress. It would be way better to have her learn from a professional in a women-only class -- ideally one with a woman instructor, but at least with someone who has experience teaching women to shoot.
Exactly right. And in addition, the fact that her father was a shooter tells you nothing about her attitude to firearms and loud noises today. Or about being taught to shoot by a male. No assumptions. Offer to arrange the training as Vanya recommended. If she says no, forget it for now.

Lots of people, and not just women, really have an aversion to the activity we value so highly.
__________________
"Don't let macho be your epitaph."
---Ed Lovette
shouldazagged is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 09:02 AM   #9
Salmoneye
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 31, 2011
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,346
I had two Blueticks from the same litter long ago...When a shot rang out, one would hide under the truck, and the other would run towards the sound as he knew that was where the 'action' was...Guess which one we allowed to breed...

Sorry if this seems callous, but...

The Woman doesn't sound as if she should be anywhere near guns, let alone have one in her hand...

If the issue is 'self protection', then maybe her husband should save them both a lot of grief and get her the highest level of non-lethal protection their area allows (ie. 'mace', bear spray, etc.)...
Salmoneye is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 09:50 AM   #10
Vanya
Staff
 
Join Date: July 7, 2008
Location: Upper midwest
Posts: 3,877
Salmoneye, the reaction described in the OP isn't that unusual, and it says nothing about whether this woman can learn to shoot, do so safely, and enjoy it, with proper instruction.

Here's just one example, which also points to some of the reasons why some women have this kind of reaction:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo View Post
I've taught a few women who've been victimized....

The worst was a woman who'd been raped on her way home one night. She was trembling like a leaf, and her husband was (almost literally) dragging her in for lessons. He was doing all the talking, and she wouldn't even make eye contact.

He was very aggressive and he acted as if he was affronted somehow by the whole situation. According to him, she didn't need therapy, she needed to learn to "fight back." I ended up declining.

I've had women come in who seemed fine on the surface, then broke into tears on the range. Each time, it sends a chill up my spine. The worst part is that they almost always articulate some sense of shame that they "can't handle it," or that they'll be seen as weak. The last thing they need is someone who bullies them through it.
__________________
"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."
(Milan Kundera, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1980)
Vanya is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 10:37 AM   #11
Salmoneye
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 31, 2011
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,346
Flinching is not 'unusual' at the sound of loud noises...

Emotional breakdowns are (in my limited experience) not 'usual' in any sense of the word...

The OP very clearly spelled out that this Woman was not abused or 'victimized', so I am unsure what relevance that part of the quoted post has in this instance...The last paragraph in that post simply restates my position...

My point was that this nice Lady may simply not be capable of handling the emotional responsibility of discharging a firearm...To try and 'come up' with a way around that may not be in her (or anyone else's) best interest...

I realize we are rational, intelligent, 'nurturing' beings, that believe we can overcome any obstacle, however...As I said...I apologize if it sounds callous, but some people simply are not cut out for some things by their 'nature'...

A different setting (or teacher, or ear protection, etc.) may well change her entire attitude/dynamic, but if it doesn't, then let her set her own boundaries in what she is comfortable with...
Salmoneye is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 11:17 AM   #12
Frank Ettin
Staff
 
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 6,698
I'm with a group of instructors putting on a monthly NRA Basic Handgun class. Probably 80% to 90% of our students had never touched a real gun before. Our class enrollment run 20% to 40% female. We have students of all ages from early 20s to us more seasoned types. We've had entire families attend together. Most of our student show varying levels of anxiety at handling real guns.

We try to address this by bringing them through the course material in a step-by-step, measured and supportive way.

In addition to the core lectures, we do a lot of "hands-on" work with the students. The students handle a variety of revolvers and semi-autos under direct supervision, one-on-one, of an instructor. They use dummy rounds to load and unload the guns, dry fire and generally learn how things work and feel, and they get continual safety reinforcement.

These initial hands-on exercises help students get familiar with handling gun and lay a foundation for safe gun handling habits. The students begin to realize that although guns can be dangerous they can learn how to handle them safely and that safety is in their hands.

Then in preparation for live fire, and after the "marksmanship" lecture, we work one-on-one with students on grip and stance using "blue" inert training guns.

Before going to live fire with .22s, the students shoot airsoft (the quality type) in the classroom so they can get a feel for sight alignment and trigger control (and reset) without the noise and intimidation factor (for beginners) of firing real ammunition.

After the students fire their 25 rounds of .22 (working one-on-one with an instructor), we put out a variety of guns from 9mm to .44 Magnum so the students can get the experience of firing the larger calibers. Shooting the centerfire guns is at each student's option. Most fire them all, but some choose not to.

When someone has gone through our program, it's not uncommon for her/him to be shooting 1.5 to 2.0 inch groups at seven yards with the heavy calibers. A few months ago, a petite young woman who had never fired any type of gun before out shot everyone, including her husband, with the .44 Magnum -- putting three rounds into about an inch at 7 yards.

Going through our process most students shed a good deal of their initial anxiety. Some remain anxious to a degree but still manage to master their anxiety and perform well. In the last several years only one or two (out of perhaps a couple of hundred) could not complete the class.
__________________
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
Frank Ettin is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 11:26 AM   #13
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,579
It's natural

Quote:
We try to address this by bringing them through the course material in a step-by-step, measured and supportive way.
Well stated and you have to be prepared for all levels of anxiety. It's a natrual, protective reaction. ....

Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.

Last edited by Pahoo; April 20, 2013 at 03:23 PM.
Pahoo is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 03:41 PM   #14
Merad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 5, 2011
Posts: 336
I'd be willing to bet money that this lady was not at that range of her own initiative, and that she has some kind of past experience involving guns which was traumatic to her.

Perhaps I'm a pessimist, but I'm just imagining the stereotypical scenario where some bubba decides that his "little lady" needs to know how to shoot and drags her to the range despite knowing (or perhaps being ignorant of the fact) that she's absolutely terrified of guns.
Merad is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 05:58 PM   #15
mquail
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 14, 2011
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 140
I saw that in basic during a dry fire exercise at Lackland back in the 60's. One guy in our flight fell apart. At first the DI went after him with a stick. When that didn't work several of them tried to talk him through the exercise. I was appalled that someone would be afraid of an empty M-16. Since then I've learned to accept how others feel about guns, male or female. I don't think this is limited to one sex or the other.
mquail is offline  
Old April 20, 2013, 07:52 PM   #16
redhologram
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 14, 2013
Posts: 234
This article just came up in my Weekly WON (Women's Outdoors News) and it made me think of the situation the OP described. Perhaps he could pass it along.
http:// http://www.womensoutdoornews.com/2013/04/training-to-overcome-my-fear-of-firearms-a-guest-post-by-armed-in-heels/

Last edited by Vanya; April 20, 2013 at 07:55 PM. Reason: fixed broken link.
redhologram is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 06:03 AM   #17
thedudeabides
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 22, 2012
Posts: 990
I dated a woman who was terrified of guns (she was also ultra-liberal, but let's not get into that). She was never around them, but felt that an unloaded gun in a safe was just waiting to shoot someone and wouldn't want to stay the night at my place unless I had unloaded and locked up the guns in my safe... and showed her that they were closed up, as if they were some kind of savage animals that needed to be safely contained.

She tried to get used to it by having me take her to the range but displayed the same irrational fear you described, cringing and wincing with every shot she heard--as if every time she heard a gun go off someone was shooting AT HER.

While I think that immersion is the best way to get people to get over phobias, there has to be a desire to get over one's fears. Why would someone who vehemently despises guns want to get over their fear of guns?

A lot of women's dislike towards guns is due to how men patronize them, the perceived complexity of guns, the noise... My wife took a gun course that was 50% female, which included a range component.

I didn't make the mistake of teaching her or forcing her to shoot, because any time you try to teach a significant other anything relationship dynamics can make things worse. She liked the course, can competently shoot a gun, thought the cops teaching it were nice, but still thinks guns are loud, dirty, eject hot brass everywhere, and will only go to a range sporadically to keep up her skill set.

Last edited by thedudeabides; April 21, 2013 at 06:09 AM.
thedudeabides is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 06:55 AM   #18
manta49
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 15, 2011
Location: N Ireland. UK.
Posts: 1,261
As said earlier some people have no interest in shooting. If she wants to learn start with a .22 one to one not on a range with lots of shooting going on. If she doesn't want to shoot then that's her decision my wife for instance has no interest in firearms i have no problem with that.
manta49 is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 07:52 AM   #19
oldgunsmith
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 9, 2013
Posts: 278
If she developed skill with an air gun she might get curious enough to willingly try her hand with the right .22. How many of us started with a BB gun?
oldgunsmith is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 11:47 AM   #20
overthere
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 20, 2012
Posts: 176
I get the impression that a lot of situations where guys wants their wife/girlfriend etc. to go to the range it is under the headline of 'I just want you to be able to defend yourself' (not saying this is the case for OPs friend).

I could see how that premise conjures up a picture of aggression, with guns being used in violent situations and that this could be a strong deterrent to some people, female or otherwise.

If this is the case I think a better approach would be to introduce the person to the mechanics of shooting in the context of target shooting and the relaxing effect it can have.

In other words, I think that for some people the premise of 'I have to get you to the range so you know how to use a gun to shoot an aggressor before they are able to bash your head in or worse' is offputting and could create an anxiety response that is tied to the perceived situation rather than the guns themselves. If the premise is "Target shooting is very relaxing, why don't you come to the range and try it out" it could create a more inviting context and once the person is used to guns they could 'graduate' to self defense oriented exercises.

That and yes, do not start out with a 30-06 or an AR-10 as the first gun for them to shoot.
overthere is online now  
Old April 21, 2013, 12:10 PM   #21
natman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 24, 2008
Posts: 1,429
1) Make sure her ear protection is adequate. Plugs AND muffs, preferably electronic so she can hear instructions.

2) Take her to an outdoor range. I've been shooting for more than 40 years and I sometimes find an indoor pistol range uncomfortable. Not so much that I don't go, mind you, but enough so that I can see how it might be intimidating for a beginner.
natman is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 03:29 PM   #22
dakota.potts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 25, 2013
Location: Saint Augustine, Florida
Posts: 1,156
I have a similar question. My girlfriend is afraid of guns. Doesn't like thinking about them or looking at them. She fired one once but doesn't remember it very well and was fine then.

Her dad has a couple including a rifle, shotgun, and Glock .40 but they are all in a safe disassembled and nobody else knows the combination. She has never seen her dad's. She's never been in an incident where they were used in a negative way, as far as I'm concerned.

She does have anxiety that I believe to be the result of a house fire that she was somewhat responsible for when she was about 13 and has not dealt with since.

Anyways, as I'm turning 18 soon I will be getting a gun and will be keeping it in my car sometimes (this is the closest thing I can legally get to CC for some years and I accept I will have to take responsibility for some risks). I've told her of this and as much as she dislikes it she doesn't want it to be in the car without an idea of how to safely handle it. I agree with this.

Anyways, the question is trying to figure out how to make this happen. It will be a CZ 75 of some sort so I could probably get the Kadet .22lr conversion that would help. However, she does have fairly strong anxiety. She went with us to a gun show once and had a bad time because all of the guns around intimidated her and made her scared. When we showed her a couple of our rifles (straight from the store, never loaded, safeties on and muzzles in a safe direction) she declined to touch them and got tense until they were taken out of the room.

She also has a fear of explosive noises. The house fire was caused by her flipping the water heater too fast, causing a spark which ignited some gasoline her dad just spilled in the garage. The first thing that happened was the car exploding. Since then even fireworks scare her. I am afraid it will be a challenge even getting her to the shooting bay, as she's described to me in the past hearing a shooting range from a half mile away and said it made her nervous and she doesn't understand how anyone can be OK with or enjoy that.

It's not about self defense, I disagree with anyone carrying a gun who's not 100% willing to use it and accept the responsibility. It's about learning to safely and somewhat comfortably handle a gun, clear it, and possibly even fire it if need be, but really just to hopefully become slightly more comfortable knowing how it works. Even if I start with the .22 the goal will be eventually to fire 9mm ammo.

What do you guys suggest? I'm definitely not an armchair or range commando of any sort and I don't have an intimidating presence. I don't know if she'd be more comfortable learning from me or an instructor.
dakota.potts is offline  
Old April 21, 2013, 04:39 PM   #23
Old Grump
Member in memoriam
 
Join Date: April 9, 2009
Location: Blue River Wisconsin, in
Posts: 3,144
Best advice from my experience is for the husband to back away for awhile and get her to an introductory course for guns, women only class. Best classes I ever taught because there were no preconceived notions about how they should do what like you get with mens groups. Just the women. a table full of small handguns and the only powder burnt was my demonstration of the difference between pistol shotgun rifle and black powder being burnt in an ashtray. By the time the first 2 hours was up there were a thousand questions most of which most men would never consider asking.

Again on the range the targets were close large and reactive, balloons, some of them water balloons. No men except me a pastor from their church and a whole mess of women with no pressure. Had to slap the preachers hands a couple of times because he wanted to clear jams and insert stubborn magazines, (stubborn because they were loaded backwards). I made them clear it themselves by explaining what the problem was and then step by step talked them through it. They didn't know me from Adam and had no issues in trying to please me because there was no personal relationship.

If I would have had the time and the guns available I would have started them on air rifles but it worked out fine. The gal who expressed the most trepidation in class asked about joining the club because she had so much fun and couldn't wait to do it again. Baby steps and no pressure caused by trying to please a significant other or compete with each other.
__________________
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern will, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
--Daniel Webster--
Old Grump is offline  
Old April 23, 2013, 06:47 PM   #24
Come and take it.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 999
Maybe a shooting range has too many people and too much going on to introduce some people to shooting. It would have been best to have introduced her starting out with an air rifle in the back yard and than a trip to the back country for some calm 22 shooting and slow fire plinking.
Come and take it. is offline  
Old April 23, 2013, 07:06 PM   #25
BigD_in_FL
Junior member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2012
Location: The "Gunshine State"
Posts: 1,981
Another thing for you who want females to do shooting:


read this: www.corneredcat.com

Last edited by Frank Ettin; April 24, 2013 at 04:59 PM. Reason: fix link
BigD_in_FL is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:51 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13636 seconds with 7 queries