Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Would you believe it? I’ve already got a New Shooter request!

Posted by Lissa on November 10, 2009

And this is in addition to a friend who hasn’t gone shooting for years, and another friend who wants to learn basic firearm handling and safety.  Three guests lined up already — damn shame Lissaville Gun Club only allows one guest per month!

This latest new-shooter-wannabe is my friendly co-volunteer Delta (not her real name), who does meds at the Lissaville Animal Shelter.  We initially broached the topic the Sunday after this summer’s bloggershoot, when she asked me why I was so hopped up and what I’d done the past weekend.  I casually mentioned that I’d gone shooting with some friends, and she was FASCINATED.  Ever since she’s been periodically checking to see how my journey to the LTC was going.

Well, this past Sunday I was able to happily tell her that I had my license.  Her overriding emotion at this point is curiosity.  She asked me why I was interested in shooting — whether it was entertainment or self-defense — and listened closely to my explanation of why it was both.  I did a quick Four Rules rundown on gun safety, and she agreed wholeheartedly that guns could be very dangerous, but it was the intelligence and diligence of the handler (or rather lack thereof), not the weapon itself, that caused danger.  She told me frankly that she’s never held a gun, never seen a gun at close range, and doesn’t know at all how they work, but that all the people she knows who shoot love it.  Finally, when she heard that I was planning on going shopping next weekend, she enthusiastically accepted my invitation to go shooting once I was all set up.


So . . . what tips do y’all have for me?  I’ve been reading good stuff here, here, here, and here.  I also tried, and failed, to find Jay G’s ruminations on taking new shooters/female shooters out.  (Jay, why can I never find what I’m looking for on your site???)

My plans so far:

1. Give her an index card with the Four Rules to memorize before we go shooting.  Quiz her in a friendly way to make sure she has them pat before we hit the range.

2. Outdoor range would be better than indoor range.  It’s not as loud and I can have her go plinking with a .22.

3. Cans are good — bean cans, tomato cans, the bigger the better.  Anything that will go “BINK!” and either move or fall over.

4. If weather prohibits the outdoor range, try and pick a slack time of day for the indoor range.  The upside is that we could have the targets as close as we liked, to start off with.

5. If we’re at the indoor range, make sure I have some spatter targets; something that will splat bright orange or green and give her instant gratification when she makes a shot.

6. Concentrate on safety basics; technique can wait until later.  If she gets in the habit of safe handling NOW, chances are she’ll keep those habits.

7. Start on something small.  We’re planning on getting a Sig 239 for my gun and a Sig Mosquito for training purposes; that will give the feeling of handling a real gun but the kick and cheap firing cost of a .22.

8. The outing won’t be about me.  I can go practice anytime I want.  It’s about making sure Delta learns to safely handle guns and has fun while doing it.

What else should I keep in mind?

UPDATE:  Thank you, everyone!  I agree that I’ll need to be rock-solid on my own bangsticks before I let anyone else handle them.  As I wrote in an email earlier, it’s a bit scary and humbling; I feel like anyone being introduced to shooting should be with someone super-knowledgeable, with decades of experience and ten different guns to try.  That being said, since I’m the only gunnie Delta knows, I’ll just have to make sure I do a very safe and good job!

Also, Jay G links.  Thanks!


14 Responses to “Would you believe it? I’ve already got a New Shooter request!”

  1. julie said

    when i take a newbie to the range, i first hand them the gun unloaded and go through the basics of grip and stance and to get them familiar with holding it.

    i will then put a mag in with 1 or 2 rounds (have another full mag in my pocket), i make sure i put the safety on (i use my ruger 22/45 for newbies) I get them to hold it for a bit and then help them take the safety off and warn them that when they pull the trigger it will go bang. Make sure your standing in reach of the gun (but safe) so you can grab it if anything goes wrong (photo calls can be done later!).

    once they don’t do anything crazy with the 1 or 2 rounds, i will give them the full mag and let them go for it.

    after a couple of mags of 22 I move them to the 9mm – using the same process.

    Have fun 🙂 It’s great to see newbies on the range.

  2. Breathing is something I still find that I have to work on, and it seems to affect shooters at many points in learning. At first, I would hold my breath, which in turn caused me to stiffen up and, and being stiff tends to lead to jerking the trigger/ not being able to be smooth. So, if Delta appears to be leaning back from the gun like it is a stinky diaper, tell her to take her time, take a couple of deep breaths and when she feels ready to slowly squeeze the trigger. Another cue to help relax and breath when shooting is to have them bend their knees a little. Make sure they’re not poking their booty out behind them. Sit over the arches of the foot.

    Also, on the smooth relaxed zen-ness lines, have her dry fire the .239 before going live-fire (but not the mosquito unless you have the appropriate rim-fire ecoutremont) a few times to get a feel for the action and to practice the slow, smooth squeeze. She might still flinch on the range with live-fire, but at least she’ll have a good reference for how she should feel when things are going smoothly.

    To help prevent nervousnesss from kicking in, be they excited or scared or a little bit of both, start her out dry firing to get a feel for the action and work on smoothly and evenly squeezing the trigger. When she is ready, I would load one bullet into the chamber so that the gun is clear when she is done. Talk her through it, allow her to see that the gun is clear after she has fired. Repeat a few times, then give her two bullets and let her take consecutive shots. This is the technique the ninja boys used when they tought kelley and my sissypoo how to shoot.

    I assume you will also show her how to load a mag. This is a good teaching point for always have the gun pointed down range and never put any part of yourself in front of the muzzle. I’m pretty good with not muzzle-sweeping my hand when I rack the slide, but I still want to make sure that the muzzle doesn’t wave around too much from side to side or up and down when I’m setting the mag or racking the slide. Obviously, when I’m shooting, I’m going to experience some slight movement of the buisness end of the gun while I push and pull on it, but the key point is to be conscientious of what is happening and where the gun is pointing at all times and to try to minimize the movement as much as possible.

    Also, before you take her shooting, you need to fire in your guns, if they are new or near-new. You should put anywhere between 200-500 rounds through them. The .239 should eat most 9 mm ammo with no problem. American Eagle or Winchester or Remmington is what I typically use. I find that the mosquito can be a picky eater, and this is not uncommon for .22 pistols, I hear. My mosquito doesn’t like the bare lead hollow point bullets ala winchester white-box .22, and boyfriend’s p22 is the same way.

    Speaking of going shooting with the ninja boys, we should look at our schedules sometime soon, perhaps do some trip planning when boyfriend and I are back in the motherland. We took a basic defensive pistol class last spring, and it’s something I could definately stand doing again, and I think you and mike would really enjoy it. If you want to work on your drawing from concealment and improving your speed, it’s a terrific fun time. I definately need to brush up my skills, and would probably benefit from taking the class again.

  3. Newbius said


    I would also recommend that your friend read Kathy Jackson’s site http://www.corneredcat.com/ before or after diving in. Kathy has excellent advice for new shooters, ESPECIALLY new woman shooters. It is definitely worth the read.



  4. mike w. said

    Bring good ammo. CCI Minimags would be a good bet for the Mosquito. The last thing you want your newb to worry about are constant jamming & misfires.

    Also, familiarize her with the range rules. Snap caps are a good idea too, so she can practice loading/unloading the gun without using live rounds.

    When I brought my mom out earlier this year I stressed two things. #1. safety #2. Fun.

    I’m sure you know this already, but the two things you’ll probably need to watch for are muzzle and trigger discipline. It’s hard for a newb to pick up a gun without putting their finger in the trigger guard.

  5. Dunno if you’ve been yet, but the indoor pistol range at your local club is REALLY nice, and somehow designed that it isn’t as loud as many of the ones I’ve been to. So don’t be afraid to schedule a session that’s at a convenient time that might conflict with outdoor shooting times.

    Also I like to do dryfire work at my house before we go to the range. make sure the basic operation and safe gun handling are VERY clear before you go to a range where ear protection as well as other shooters might provide more of a distraction to somebody new. That first trip to the range is like drinking from a firehose, as the 4 rules, as well as the basic manual of arms are often VERY new and strange to the new shooter, so leave as little as possible to chance.

    Everybody will be more comfortable then.

    Also make sure you’re rock-solid with the guns you bring before you bring a new shooter. I’ve shot with you so the only place I’d be concerned is the basic handling as well as clearing malfunctions for whatever you might have would be the only variable.

    Congrats! This is why we’re winning!

  6. mike w. said

    To expand on what Weer’d said I think it’s good to adhere to the KISS principle when bringing noobs. It’s all very new to them so the less instruction the better IMO.

    I also remind folks that if there’s a problem, malfunction etc. to set the gun down pointing downrange. The natural inclination is going to be for your newb to turn towards you to show you the problem.

  7. Lissa said

    Julie, when she shoots bullets for the first time, I’m definitely stealing that one-bullet-only approach.

    SB, you’re right about breaking in the guns. Re: dry fire, Mike (being the good doobie he is) already bought us snap-caps in three calibers 🙂 And we were thinking about visiting the first weekend in March, maybe?

    Newbius, I’ve read a LOT of stuff from Kathy’s site. Although it still seems that every time I browse through I find something new!

    Mike W, I’ll definitely emphasize Rules 2 and 3.

    Weer’d, I’ve been there, but only for orientation. I look forward to going with something to shoot! Yes, it might work better if we learned the basics before having to don ears and eyes, though I’d have to figure out where . . .

  8. Bob S. said

    I would recommend doubling up on hearing protection to start.

    I have ear plugs that I suggest new shooters wear inside the ear muffs. At first many shooters are unaware of how loud a pistol can be.

    If you have the electronic versions of the muffs, those are great because it is easy to converse but they kick in for each boom.

    Also don’t forget eye wear.

  9. BIG +1 to that. Some shooters prefer less protection just so they can hear and talk easier, but if you are noise sensitive or the range is busy plugs and muffs are a LIFE SAVER!

  10. Borepatch said

    Jolly well done, Lissa, and congratulations on the LTC.

    Also, thanks for the link. It took a while to figure out what was most important when you take a new shooter to the range:

    You want them to come back a second time. This means first thing is safety, and second is fun. And third is fun and fourth is fun.

    I think you have an outstanding plan in your post. Just keep your eyes on the prize!

    And Mrs. Borepatch is jealous that you have a pettable Sig 239 and she doesn’t!

  11. bogie said

    All the tips given seem sound and I don’t have anything to add. But I just wanted to say that I’m sure you’ll be happy with the Sig 239 – That was my first and is still my favorite!

  12. Mopar said

    Very little to add that everyone else hasnt. Safety #1 and fun #2. KISS #3. I try to start with the 4+1 rules (my rule #5: never try to catch a dropped/fumbled gun. Let it hit the ground, it wont go off. If you try to grab it, there is a good chance you will hook the trigger.) a few days before the range session. Memorizing off a card is nice, but I want them to understand the reasons for the rules, not just memorize the words. That’s a good time to go over basic operation of the gun instead of trying to yell over hearing protection at the range. Along the lines of #2-3, fun and KISS, we have a full size (no, not the NAA Mini!) .22 revolver to start new shooters on. Don’t have to worry about loading mags, jams or FTEs. Don’t have to worry about burns from hot brass. Don’t have to worry about proper grip or slide bite. Very little noise or recoil.
    Speaking of brass… that’s 2 things I didn’t see mentioned yet. First: Proper dress, especially women. No open toe shoes or heels. No low cut tops. No cuffs or breast pockets or anything to catch ejected brass. Second (and this is one reason I start with a wheelgun): Make sure they understand ejected brass is hot, and it may hit you, and it may burn a little but it’s not that bad they must ignore it until they can safely put the gun down. Nothing worse the someone flailing around with their finger on the trigger because they have no idea what just happened to them.

    Last, HAVE FUN! If they have fun, they will come back, and then you can concentrate more on grip, breathing, etc. If they don’t come back because they were overwhelmed the first time, none of that stuff mattered.

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