One of the greatest challenges we can face in the firearms community these days is getting women to want to shoot. Though women are showing more interest in owning and carrying guns for protection, that doesn’t mean that they all are suddenly interested in becoming a master shooter and being gun nuts. Getting a spouse or girlfriend to shoot is a huge accomplishment for many people. It is even better when they want to learn to be proficient and be able to handle themselves with a firearm. But you must remember to take it slow and remember that they are learning and that takes time, repetition, patience, patience, and more patience. No one picks up these skills overnight.
Many people prefer to teach someone the basics of shooting with a rifle due to the fact that they are generally alot easier to control, and therefore adds to shooter confidence, leading them to want to continue learning new things. I always recommend having your spouse learn to handle firearms in an actual class taught by professional and credible instructors where their actions can be monitored in a controlled setting. But beyond the classroom, I have found that drills generally inspire personal competition and therefore stimulates the desire to learn in order to get better.
When setting up drills for your spouse though, I recommend starting off with simple things that are basic. Things like learning to bring the weapon up, take the safety off, fire a shot or two on target, and bring the weapon back down while putting the weapon back on safe and taking their finger off the trigger. This will seem very basic for alot of people, but it can be new and somewhat challenging for a new shooter. You can add a timer if they agree to it, but don’t try to force it on them. Learning to shoot is a choice for people who are not obligated to use one for their day job, so remember to not be pushy.
Another drill that I like to teach is reload drills. Have your spouse shoot a magazine until it runs dry, do a reload, and fire one more shot. Again, you can see if they want to use a timer when they get more used to the sequence of the drill, but be prepared for them to decline.
One of the biggest issues I have seen at the range is when guys try to get their wife or girlfriend to shoot something that they don’t want to shoot. I have seen many guys argue with their significant other about how they “need” to shoot this or that gun so they know what to do “in case” they should have to use it. It isn’t my place to tell you not to communicate your feelings, but there is a point where you need to accept no for an answer and respect the other persons decision. Again, shooting is a hobby, and no one “needs” to know how to use one, just like no one “needs” to learn how to drive. It is a choice, not an obligation.
If you are like me and have a wife that is interested in learning the ins and outs of how to use their guns, there are ways to encourage growth while also keeping it fun and simple for them. If they are very serious about advancing in their shooting skills, I would recommend getting them to look into joining a local chapter of The Well-Armed Women. This organization is very empowering for women in the safe handling of firearms, and they often participate in doing local competitions if they wish to participate in that kind of thing.
Just remember that shooting is a choice, and no one should be pushed into, or feel pressured into learning to shoot just because there is a gun in the house. But, if your spouse is amenable to it, learning to shoot together is an incredible bonding experience. I should know.
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