View Full Version : A Newbie's first Time Shooting

December 15, 2006, 07:56 PM
As I mentioned in another thread here (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230093&page=2&highlight=neighbor), I took a neighbor lady shooting the other day. This was an outgrowth of a recent incident where a BG was hiding from police on the roof of her townhome. This incident made her acutely aware of how defenseless she is when relying on 911 and PD response.

One of the things I wanted to do was to make the experience enjoyable for her. At the range, I let her "window shop" some of the handguns there before shooting.

Before we entered the shooting lane, I walked through the safety procedures, explaining safe handling rules such as keeping the muzzle down range at all times and never touching the trigger until ready to fire. I also explained that all we were going to do today was fire a few different guns to see what kind of gun and cartridge she could handle comfortably. Accuracy was not a concern, but safety and evaluating each gun type was.

Some of the things I did were;
* After shooting each gun, I invited her opinion of likes & dislikes and noted them on a notepad. This allowed her to sort out her impressions of each gun afterwards.

* Worked our way up the power scale to see what her limits were. She was able to shoot them all, just better with some than others.

* Go slow. Demonstrate and then let her decide if she wants to try it.

* Ignored some things, like jerking the trigger or flinching. This was about experiencing each caliber & firearm.

* Use praise and exhibit patience - Praise your shooter appropriately when they apply the right principles. Be patient with their mistakes and errors.

* If their grip, stance or technique is incorrect, tell them "It will be more comfortable for you if..." or "You'll find it easier if you..." instead of saying something like "No, you're doing it wrong..."

* Be supportive of their efforts to learn and experience shooting.

* Don't rush them in anything.

* Use bullseye targets instead of a silhoutte for the first time out.

Afterwards we reviewed her comments on each gun, made just after she'd fired each one. This helped her sort out the impressions she'd had because so many things were new to her in a short time. We spent half an hour talking about what would be suitable for her in both gun and ammo configurations. We did rent an XD-40 and try it out and she ended up thinking the caliber was okay, but didn't like the gun's grip. That was followed by one more rental - a Beretta 92FS 9mm.

Her decision, it seems, will be between a 4" .38/.357 and the Beretta 92FS.

I also treated her to dinner and we discussed a number of topics including legal requirements for SD/HD and how long it would take to be competent. She asked good questions and I gave her honest answers.

She did say that the experience was intriguing. Intitially she was somewhat appreshensive, but once she started shooting she said she felt a kind of serenity come over her while concentrating on shooting, something she didn't expect.

December 16, 2006, 02:51 AM
Excellent job, Bill!


-- John D.

December 16, 2006, 07:54 AM
Good job! Very well thought out approach to spin the "critique" positively, which makes it much more palatable for the student. :)

December 16, 2006, 08:35 AM
Fantastic job!!

I've been shooting for 50 years, and I couldn't have done it any better. :)

December 16, 2006, 09:15 PM
Great Job! :D Did she try any other handguns besides the XD-40 and Beretta 92?

December 16, 2006, 09:41 PM
...we should all be doing that...

Good job...;)

December 16, 2006, 10:41 PM
As an instructor, I know there is no more satisfying thing than the smile on lady's face when she finds out how much fun shooting is.

December 16, 2006, 11:03 PM
Okay, I'll ask ... how was dinner?

December 16, 2006, 11:20 PM
sounds good we need more people on our side! Nice work :D

December 17, 2006, 01:32 AM
Thanks for the kudos gang. Now everyone go find someone who isn't into shooting and invite them out for a short session, even if it's just plinking with a .22. :D

RevolverLover - yes, other guns fired were a .22 pistol, a .32 S&W Long wheelgun, a 9mm Glock 17, a 4" Model 19 representing the .38/.357 class of guns and a 1911 .45 ACP.

K96771 - dinner was good. Nothing like a good Italian dinner to make you feel well fed and happy with the world (unless it's prime beef with a good Merlot!:D). Dinner discussion was good too - she asked a lot of questions and I avoided discussing the terminal effects of calibers (not a pleasant dinner conversation when you're eating veal-stuffed pasta with marinara sauce! :rolleyes: )

I wanted to make two points about this, really.
First is to let them experience shooting in a way that is safe, instructional and fun for them. I gave her enough instruction and coaching so that she would be safe on the line. Before she fired a new caliber, I'd fire a few shots low on the target so she could see what was coming. No surprises. We used some "Shoot n See" target pasters over the bullseye so she could see where she was hitting in the black. She liked that. So what this did was expose her to the fun of shooting without worrying about accuracy or doing everything "right".

Second, I did not try to change her opinion of what caliber or style of gun she felt most comfortable shooting. She liked the .32 Long best, out of all of the guns I brought, for the size & recoil. But after firing the XD-40, she tried the M19 with .38 +P's and found it wasn't as bad as she'd originally thought. Acclimatizing the shooter to different recoil levels gives a better basis for evaluation. Nor did I try to "sell" her on a particular caliber or platform. Jotting down her comments after shooting each one turned out to be an excellent way to jog both our memories. I also noted how well she fired each specimen as far as accuracy/consistency went and the Model 19 tied the .32 Long.

Also - for guys instructing women - treat her as you would a male student who has never even held a gun before. I realize this may be difficult to do if she's very attractive, but you must. When helping a woman shooter adjust her stance or get her upper body right, use a hand held flat and make brief contact only with the palm. Don't wrap your arms around her to help her aim or grip the gun. Stand facing her so she can see and hear you and use firm, gentle touches on hands or arms to point out what needs to change. Or demonstrate it yourself so she can copy. If she senses you are treating her like you would a male student she can focus on the instruction and not worry when you're going to "accidentally" touch her derriere. Besides that, if you treat her this way she will respect YOU better too. Just remember, YOUR behavior may dictate if you win a new shooter to our sport or not.

December 17, 2006, 02:45 PM
Just wanted to say great job in getting her out there and being patient with her. I've seen more than a few examples of people yelling "NO, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!" which was usually followed by a look of dejection from the newbie and occasionally by them walking out. Only thing I would have done differently is pay attention to the trigger work. I've found that I will occasionally result to slapping the trigger on some heavy DA guns to deal with the extra pressure needed while shooting without realizing it. With that knowledge, I wouldn't want to have to depend on a DA for self defense. Regardless, good job helping her out.

December 17, 2006, 11:21 PM
Thanks Dave.

We did do a little dry fire practice at the start, mostly to show her how much or how little effort was required and that the proper method was a smooth movement. We weren't trying to make a marksman out of her on this outing. :D

December 18, 2006, 02:01 AM
Gotcha, nevermind then. First time out, perfect trigger work isn't important. If she's already aware then that's one less thing to relearn down the road. Again, great job. I'm still trying to get 2 of my buddy's girlfriends out to the range so that they can learn. One doesn't really care and grew up around guns and the other is more of a "why do you need a gun?" type.

December 18, 2006, 02:29 PM
For the past few weekends I have been taking different ladies to the range to try shooting out (friends, sister in law, niece, etc). Started them all on 22 cal and moved up to the 9mm. All were comfortable with the experience and you guys are right. Patience and fundamental safety lessons are crucial to their enjoying the experience. All said they would be willing to go again. Not one looked at it as an "evil" gun. John:D