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Old May 15, 2013, 10:31 AM   #1
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Teaching a newbie

I'm planning on helping out a newbie next week, a young friend who has never shot a gun before. He's got the itch, and I want to make sure he knows what he's doing before going out and buying a gun. So, I'm going to take him to a range that has a large rental selection ( more than my normal range, they've got next to nothing ). My collection is oriented more towards SA types, and there are some calibers I don't have, thus, the range with more rental guns.
So my plan is:
Instruct him on the basic safety rules.
Show him different stances, and grips.
Remind him that this lesson is not about obsessing over hitting the bullseye, it's about becoming familiar with shooting guns.
Start him out with my Neos .22.
Move him to a .357 revolver with .38 specials on board.
go to a 9mm, his choice ( I know he loves the way the Beretta 92 looks ).
Then go to my 1911.
Along the way, maybe try a .380.
I'm certainly not going to insist he try a .357 magnum load - even if he wants to, I'll advise against it. I think the 1911 may be the upper level for him.
For a future date, I'll bring him to my regular outdoor range to shoot my BP guns - can't do that indoors ( the range with the rentals is indoors ).
Any other suggestions?
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Old May 15, 2013, 11:05 AM   #2
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It looks like you have it more than covered with the selection of guns.
But you are braver than me.
I would start, at home, with an airsoft pistol or two.
Let him make all the usual beginner mistakes in private, without risk of breaking the range rules, or killing you.
This approach also relieves him of cause to be nervous about the whole thing, until he gets up to speed.
Walt Kelly, alias Pogo, sez:
“Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent.”
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Old May 15, 2013, 03:56 PM   #3
357 Python
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Take a good size piece of card board and some small (4-5 inch) balloons. Blow the balloons up and attach them to the board. Have your friend pop the balloons from say 15 Yards. This way it seems like a game and is more enjoyable. All the time emphasize safety even when it seems to be getting to be too much fun. Defense drill, have different color balloons on the board and call out the color. Only proper hits count. All this may be a little advanced for what you want at the time but give it some thought, you may be able to incorporate into your shooting plans later on.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:48 PM   #4
Join Date: March 10, 2013
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Think you might be going for too many different guns and different calibers all on the first go of it. I think I would get him comfortable on the .22 first and then pick one other perhaps the .38 next. I agree on going with .38 rather than the .357 magnum. I just recently got a S&W686+ and cannot believe the difference between the .38spl and the .357 magnum. They look almost identical, maybe 1/4" difference in length but that .357 magnum has one heck of a lot more kick.
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Old May 15, 2013, 04:52 PM   #5
Evan Thomas
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Location: Upper midwest
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I agree with g.willikers that starting at home, before your range trip, is a good idea. Even before you start him with an airsoft pistol, you should work on teaching safety rules, proper gun handling, and operating the controls of whatever guns you have. Have him do some dry firing, and start teaching him the proper grip and stance. Doing a first lesson at home will be less stressful (and quieter!) than at a range, and it will let you spend more precious range time actually having him shoot.

And you probably already know this, but don't plan on doing any shooting yourself unless it's to demonstrate something specific. It's your friend's day, and all your attention should be on him.
Never let anything mechanical know you're in a hurry.
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Old May 15, 2013, 05:30 PM   #6
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What I do is turn the target around so that the new shooter is shooting at a big blank piece of paper or cardboard. This way they are not trying to hit the bullseye and being disappointed when they do not. Instead they are rewarded every time they hit the blank target. I find that after many years of training new shooters, this works best for the initial sessions up until we start working on precision shooting.

Also if you can, stapling or taping balloons to the target goes a long way to increasing the fun factor. If it is your own range than steel targets are the best to use.
I prepare for the possible that is most likely rather than the unlikely just because it is possible.
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Old May 16, 2013, 06:56 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input!

Unfortunately, neither of us have airsoft guns. I'll see how he grips and holds a stance before putting a single round in. I like the balloon idea, but I'm not sure the range would apreciate having to clean up the extra trash ( for the indoor one - I can clean it up at my regular range). I also like the blank target idea. Less self - induced pressure. I'd like to get him on the various calibers for one day since our schedules make meeting times kind of rare.
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Old May 16, 2013, 09:11 AM   #8
Frank Ettin
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This seems to be the season for threads on teaching beginners. We've had several. This is a post I entered in one thread describing how a group I'm with puts on a Basic Handgun 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
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Old May 17, 2013, 03:55 PM   #9
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Start with the four laws. Print out a copy and put it on the bench.

Get some reactive targets, whatever the range allows.

Stick with the .22s rent a semi-auto, a single action revolver and a double action.

If your friend wants to try a centerfire try the type of gun he most enjoyed while shooting .22s. Make sure it's a full sized gun with moderate loads.

Have fun.
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Old May 18, 2013, 09:01 PM   #10
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Don't overwhelm the guy with a variety of calibers until he's got a firm grasp of the fundamentals. .22 is what I learned on at age 12, and I didn't touch a thing other until I was 14.
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Old May 20, 2013, 03:45 PM   #11
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Took him shooting today

Well, I took my young friend shooting, and I think I created a monster....... he really enjoyed himself, and fell in love with my 1911. He also really liked shooting .38's out of the rental GP100 there. I kept the distance close at 10 feet, and he shot very well with everything, but the Px4 .40 compact ( his choice, not mine ). I didn't like it either. He held his stance well ( I didn't know this, but he had martial arts training - that definitely helps ) and he maintained good grip and trigger discipline - better than I thought he would. I think I brought in a new member of "the club" today.
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Old May 21, 2013, 10:54 AM   #12
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If you are doing instructing at a range, please make sure both of you have electronic hearing protection. There will be a lot of other shooters, and you will need to keep your hearing protection on the whole time... With standard hearing protection, verbal comunication is significantly hindered.

I always start new shooters with some home instruction first... the 4 rules, correct operation of the various types of long guns and hand guns (loading, unloading, chambering, cycling the action), how to use sights, grip, stance, dry firing, all the while correcting them on the fully-expected lack of muzzle discipline and trigger finger safety... rinse, repeat, lather, rinse, repeat... A new shooter has a lot to learn before they ever fire their first round.

An hour (or two) spent practicing basic techniques while under constant gentle-but-persistant reminders of the 4 rules will pay big dividends when you go to the range to shoot live ammunition.
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Old May 22, 2013, 04:08 AM   #13
Jammer Six
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There are four rules if you go with Thunder Ranch, 3 if you go with the NRA.

I almost never use the NRA curriculum.

Don't overwhelm him.

A good goal is to shoot a semi-auto .22 without an injury.

Teach the rules of your choice, teach one stance, teach one range routine.

Teach clearing and loading one type of weapon. Don't mix semi-autos with revolvers in the first lesson. Best to stick to one weapon the first day.

Go to the range, demonstrate the sequence again.

Stand behind him on his dominant side, and watch the muzzle.

The only thing that matters is where the bullets go.

Everything else can be another lesson on another day.

Good luck.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998
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