Introducing a new shooter to the world of firearms? There are a few “do’s” and “don’ts” to keep in mind to help make the experience fun and successful. This isn’t a complete list of what to and what not to do, but, hopefully, it’s enough to get you started sharing the shooting sports.
1. Don’t start with too large a cartridge too fast.
Some of the negative consequences of setting up a new shooter with a heavy-recoiling caliber are obvious (like this girl getting introduced to a .50 cal Desert Eagle). But there are other consequences of starting up an inexperienced shooter on a big gun. But consider this: if the only experience a “newbie” has had with a firearm is unpleasant (snappy, painful, jarring, or otherwise uncomfortable), what motivation do they have to try it again? Starting off a new shooter with a smaller caliber allows them to learn the basics of shooting without the fear that the gun will “jump” in their hands or hurt them.
2. Don’t go to the range cold.
There’s a lot of sights, sounds, and smells to take in at the range. For one who has never before been there, it can be a lot to process. These are some of the factors that make the range a poor place to be a new shooter’s first introduction to a firearm. However, there is a greater safety concern inherent with having someone’s first exposure to firearms be with a live gun. It’s safer for the shooter, and everyone around them to have a thorough introduction to safe handling and operation before even arriving at the range.
3. Don’t make it a competition.
Learning to shoot is a challenge. With all the new information to remember, rules for safe firearm handling, techniques for grip and stance, sight alignment, and more, it can be intimidating. This makes it an opportune time to add stress, even through friendly competition. Allowing the newbie to enjoy the simple fun of shooting encourages them to try it again, to learn more, and improve. But, while someone’s still learning the basics, it can become overwhelming and disheartening to have someone else make them feel that they know little or are incapable can make shooting seem like “too much work” and serves to demotivate them from enjoying the sport.
Those are some ways not to make a new shooter’s experience negative, but there are also a few tips to try out to make learning about guns positive.
1. Safety, safety, safety.
Learning how to safely handle a firearm is the most important information you can teach a new shooter. Learning how to be safe with guns while inert and unloaded before heading out to the range can make that knowledge transfer less stressful and easier to process. However, it’s also practical in the sense that wearing hearing protection and being surrounded by gunfire can make communication challenging.
2. Do some dry fire practice before heading out to the range.
Training with snap caps or other dry fire tools can allow you to show a new shooter the foundational techniques that they will be employing with live fire. Then they can get comfortable with stance, grip, sight picture alignment, even trigger control, without needing to shout over hearing protection/gun fire. Having some background in how to operate the firearm also makes the new shooter more confident in their shooting, and that makes the experience more enjoyable.
3. Have fun.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the weight of responsibility each firearms operator has to be careful when using a gun. Recognizing that importance, it is still possible to enjoy the shooting sports without belittling the need for safety. When introducing a new shooter to the sport, if they have a good time, they’re more likely to try it again, and possibly even potentially improve their outlook of the firearms industry as a whole.
These are some recommendations that can help introduce people to firearms for the first time. Teaching safe handling, as well as allowing the would-be new shooter to learn the basic techniques of shooting makes the range trip less stressful, safer, and more fun. The few dos and don’ts I covered are a starting point for introducing a new shooter to the sport. How do you start teaching new shooters?
*Photo courtesy of Mark Miller