I've been instructing and introducing new shooters to our sport and rights for a couple of decades now since my former work as a police officer and through the NRA and 4H Shooting Sports. Without much tacti-cool, mall-ninja-type experience, I usually focus on the fundamentals of shooting, shooting sports, and self defense. My experience has shown me that there's no sense in arguing with someone about how many touchdowns were scored when you're playing baseball. The best way to win folks over is by getting them to play our game and that is why you should take along someone new to shoot... TODAY!
You may want to invite a new shooter or someone who hasn't shot in a long time. You may end up inviting someone who would like to shoot, but has reservations or fears about it. You may be the only opportunity they will ever have to experience the fun and exhilaration of shooting a gun, and depending upon their experience with you, you may well determine if they ever try it again. With that in mind, here are some tips for taking someone shooting, especially someone who hasn't shot before:
- Get to know your new shooter and their previous experiences or perceptions about shooting.
- Don't go in a large group of experienced shooters if you don't have to. Everyone will try to tell them their method or version and it can be intimidating to a new shooter.
- Use with a .22 if you can. There is nothing better than a .22 rifle or pistol for new shooters. Low recoil, inexpensive, and accurate. Laughing at your new shooter after they just experienced the pain from that improper hold and grip of a .44 magnum or 12 gauge is a good way to ensure they'll never want to try that again.
- EDUCATE! Go over the basic gun safety rules along with the parts and operation of the gun. Keep the lingo or jargon to a minimum. Review the range rules. Don't rush.
- Have an extra set of shooting glasses and ear protection ready to go for them.
- Make the first shots EASY shots. People LOVE TO HIT THE TARGET! We're talkin' ear-to-ear smiles creating refrigerator art. Cranking that three-inch Shoot-n-See target out there to 50 feet or 100 yards and assuring they'll miss their first shots will only be defeating and deflating to their experience.
- Don't be a show off! Your ability to beat up your neighbor's three-year old doesn't prove any more than your ability to embarrass a new shooter about their abilities with a firearm.