Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Shooter

Don from the officehas been following my shooting for some time. He's actually been shooting before, with his dad when he was 8. Since he's my age (i.e. an old fart), this was a long, long time ago. He didn't enjoy the experience, probably because his dad had an odd choice of guns for an 8 year old: a derringer in .38 special (probably something like this), and a .30-06 hunting rifle.

Actually, I think his shoulder is still sore from that experience.

I was a little surprised when he took me up on the shooting offer, because his wife is extremely anti-gun. She grew up in Brazil under the Generals - they were corrupt, brutal, and armed, which is a bad combination.

The first thing about taking a new shooter is safety, and Don was a quick study with the Four Rules. The question then is what to shoot? A .22 pistol is often recommended for beginners, and for good reason - almost no recoil, moderately quiet, easy to control. But Don's a big guy, and knew what to expect (he's from the south, and most of his family is still there with their guns); while we didn't talk about it in so many words, it seemed like getting back on the horse was what was called for.

But not with a derringer. The Ruger SP101 is heavy, so there's a lot of mass to soak up the recoil. The .38 cartridge is certainly a step up from a .22, but is not overpowering. And it's a revolver - what's nice about it for a new shooter is that the design is dead simple: everyone understands how it works. There are no controls other than the bang-switch. Simple, simple, simple.

Plus you can shoot it single action. Single action is always more accurate than double action (in a revolver), and more accurate means the new shooter has more fun. After the first five rounds (making friends with Mr. Revolver), Don was sending all the bullets into the X Ring, often through the same holes (that's his shooting on the target in the picture).

Not bad for not having shot in (mumble) years!

I wanted to do a "compare and contrast" exercise with an autoloader, and "simple" means Glock. Now you've added two controls: a magazine release and a slide release, but that's it.

This was a step up from the SP101, recoil-wise, and it opened Don's groupings up a bit. Still, everything was in the 9 ring or better (once again, the results of Don's shooting is shown in the picture).

When we were done, we both had the expected big grins. He'll come back, which will be very nice indeed - it's always nice to add a shooting buddy. He's also thinking about taking his Son-in-law, which is also nice.

Likely it's an uphill battle to get his wife to the range. Her childhood had some traumatic episodes that involved bad guys with guns; worse, they were from the government and were definitely not there to help. Here in the USA we're lucky that way. I suggested that the Second Amendment was not there by accident, and this seemed to strike a nerve.

So not a bad day - shooty goodness with a friend at the range, and new shooter, and a civics lesson all rolled into one.

UPDATE 24 January 2009 09:34: Welcome visitors from StumbleUpon! I have some more New Shooter Reports, and some Range Reports too. If you like what you see, come back again sometime! My best posts are here.


EDGE said...

What age would be appropriate to start a kid shooting and what do you think they can handle? My dad took me shooting my first time when I was 12 and we shot his .22 rifle (which is now mine!)

Ted said...

Edge, it likely depends on the kid. Responsibility is the key point.

I took #2 Son shooting when he was 11. I started him out on a .22 bolt action rifle which seems about as hard as anything to mess up.

I'll bet that rifle of yours means something to you. What a great memory. My dad wasn't a shooter, so I had to start on my own.

doubletrouble said...

Good job Ted- getting newbies (or returnees) into the fold has to be our focus for the future of shooty happiness. (BTW, I think the defrag worked- tnx)

If I may be so bold to answer Edge: Whatever age the child can understand the safety rules is a good age to start. My bud Paul's daughter (a fairly bright young lady), got started at 7.
Try to use a kid-scaled rifle rather than an adult rifle, or the child will be stressed trying to hold the thing properly. And yeah, a .22 is the way to go, maybe even .22 short, or use LR shotshells on reactive targets like balloons to get them all charged up with early success.
One big thing- stop the session while the kid wants more. If you drag it out too long, the tedium of it all will make the lad/lass less likely to want to return to the scene of the drudgery.
Good luck!

wv:"cznhav"--yes! I have n cz