Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Shooter Report

One of the women at the office wanted to go shooting, so we went.

Before we went, we started with the basics, meaning the four rules. I also pointed out one of my older posts, about how things went wrong with a combo four rules failure, pellet gun, and sliding glass door. At the range, she surprised me with her ability to rattle the rules off - she had clearly paid attention.

We also discussed the importance of keeping the muzzle down range, and finger off the trigger (rules 2 and 3), as these in my experience are the most frequently violated rules on the range. She was scrupulous in observing these - she didn't have a single safety lapse. Maybe I'm too used to taking kids, but I found the whole experience much more enjoyable than usual, since I didn't have to play range safety officer at all.

We also talked about how loud things can be at an indoor range. While we weren't planning on shooting anything that makes super loud booms, I did want to set her expectation that even with hearing protection, there are unexpected loud noises that can startle you. Turns out that it was good that we covered this.

Lastly, I brought #2 son's CO2 pellet gun, to go over grip. I'm not by any means an instructor, but she'd never held a gun before. Now she quite likely has all sorts of bad grip habits, but they're very similar to my bad grip habits. In any case, it de-mystified what to do with the real guns. Since she took to them like a duck to water, I assume that this was fairly worthwhile.

We started with a Ruger Mark III .22 pistol. This is light, accurate, quiet (no big BOOM), little recoil. Semiautomatic, she remembered not to have her left thumb behind the barrel (ouch!). The trigger on this is very nice; with the bull barrel absorbing just about whatever little recoil there was, she didn't show any sign at all of developing a flinch. While reloading, we had an interesting discussion on target shooting competitions. Not only does one of the guys in the office compete in these, but her daughter used to compete at archery. Not a 100% connection, but close. It will be interesting to see if she gets into competitive shooting.

As she started shooting, I remember Lady Elf's advice to men teaching women to shoot, which is to squash the tendency to focus on technique, and let her have fun shooting. This not only worked well - she would ask questions regularly that let me introduce new ideas at more or less a good time - but once again it let me shift into "have fun mode" rather than "firearms instructor mode".

She did fabulously well - at 5-10 yards, nothing outside the 7 ring, and a good portion (15% or so) in the X-ring. Fun!

After 100 rounds or so, she asked about "what's the next bigger gun?" She was happy to keep shooting, and liked the idea of trying something bigger. Twist my arm ...

Since we'd shot a semiautomatic, we tried a Ruger SP101 .357 revolver (although we shot 38 special). This not only introduced wheel gun load/eject concepts, but single vs. double action. Now I quite like this gun, and had no trouble making friends with the trigger. She found the single action pull very nice, but the double action pull too heavy.

Once gain, lots of shooty fun, and excellent grouping for a first outing. By this time we'd shot enough to have the discussion about not worrying so much about the x-ring, just keep the groupings small.

The BANG was a lot more than the .22 of course. As was her grin. What is it about shooting louder guns that causes everyone to bust out grinning?

Not that we were the loudest kids on the block: two lanes down, someone had a shotgun. I was glad we'd had the discussion about how sometimes loud things happen at the range. We had fun talking to a girl that I think was his girlfriend, who had absolutely no intention of shooting the thing. Seems like he missed an opportunity, but hey, he got her to the range, right?

My coworker is probably going to move from the People's Democratic Republic of Massachusetts to New Hampshire. No sense paying high taxes now that her daughter is out of the house, and getting a gun in her town is a royal pain in the butt. After the shotgun episode, she clearly wasn't too keen on getting one for home defense (any suggestions on getting a lady shooting a shotgun, Jay?), but she is planning on going back shooting again. The advantage of a range that rents guns is that you can try a lot of different ones before you buy.

LadyElf, thanks for the great, great advice. Guys, if you take ladies to the range, shut up and let them have fun shooting!

UPDATE: 16 September 2008 13:47: Holy cow, it's a Jay-alanche! Welcome, and take a look around.

UPDATE: 16 September 2008 13:50: And a Greg-and-Beth-alanche! Thanks!


zeeke42 said...

"any suggestions on getting a lady shooting a shotgun"

I helped out on the Trap range at a GOAL Women on Target event on Saturday. Most of the women really enjoyed shooting trap. The key is light target loads and shooting outdoors. We used 1oz loads in 12Ga in autoloaders and heavy trap guns. For smaller statured women and kids, I think an autoloader in 20Ga with a youth stock would be ideal.

I personally hate shooting indoors. The only thing I'll shoot inside is 22LR. If I'm shooting anything bigger, I'd rather be outside in the rain than inside with the loud noise. This is partially because my club's indoor range is relatively small. I still don't think I'd shoot anything louder than 45ACP inside though.

Jay G said...

Good job Ted!!!

I know a fair number of women who have no problem shooting trap with a pump-action 20 gauge. There are plenty of loads available for the 20 (you can get birdshot, buckshot, and slugs at WallyWorld), although not as many as the 12.

Mossberg 500 would be a great please to start, IMHO...

West, By God said...

Point Scored!

Mulligan said...


now we just gotta find a way to get him on the map