How To Teach Someone How to Fire a Gun in Two Minutes or Less

I reckon TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia have reached something of a consensus: if and when the SHTF, working with your neighbors will be your most successful survival strategy. The chances that your neighbors will be as well armed as you, and trained enough to lend a hand with collective defense, depend entirely on geography. You good old boys are good to go. Those of us who live amongst gun-hating liberals face some major petard-related self-hoisting. We may need to train our former antagonists how to run a gun. Start with the same trick that master dog trainers use to train a dog  . . .

Buy the right dog. A good dog will pretty much train itself, saving its owner untold amounts of aggravation and removing the need for training expertise. In this case . . .

Buy the right gun

Buy as fancy a gun for yourself as you please, but have a weapon for someone who doesn’t know jack about guns. Actually, make that a bunch of weapons: plenty of guns for dummies.

Handgun-wise, you can’t have enough revolvers. For shooting ease and accuracy, the bigger the better (excepting JOE’s 500s). While a newbie will probably drop a handful of bullets when re-loading under pressure, at least they’ll know what they should be doing. Just show them how to open and close the cylinder. Done.

Shotgun-wise, forget pump-action. An amateur will short stroke it. A simple semi-automatic shotgun is relatively fool-proof (except for the Benelli M2 with its funny little slide release). Shove the shells in here, pull this back, jam the thing into your shoulder, aim and pull the trigger. When nothing comes out the front, stick more shells in the bottom, pull the lever and do it again.

In terms of rifles, I recommend a side-loading lever action rifle. Front loading .22s are an excellent choice for gun guys (and gals(, but the less time a novice spends with the muzzle near their face, the better. With the lever, it’s stick the bullets in here, work the lever like this, jam the thing into your shoulder, aim, pull the trigger, work the lever. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Safeties? This is not the time for safeties. Off please.

Give them ear plugs

Instructors tend to dwell on the evils of recoil. It’s not a bad idea to have a large supply of low-recoil rounds. But it’s not recoil that completely unnerves novice shooters. It’s the noise AND the recoil. And that’s with ear plugs. Without ear protection, well, at least the new guy or gal will get one shot off before they get the ballistic shakes.

I recommend a large supply of the earplugs with a string connecting them. Tell ’em if they jam ’em in too tight, they’ll break their eardrums. Yes, they’ll still lose a large margin of situational awareness. But they might be able to hit something. Repeatedly.

Get them to shoot something squishy

You and I probably don’t have much problem in the “oh my god can I really shoot another human being” department. A man’s gotta do. But total firearms freshmen, including women and children, will have serious qualms and self-doubt. Set up some soft fruit right in front of them and have them shoot it. Wow! I did that? Yes you did. Now go stand over there.

Give them clear safety instructions

Don’t point the gun at anyone other than bad guys. Don’t put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Cross your fingers. That’s it.

Give them clear shooting instructions

When it’s life during wartime, the danger that the newbie will shoot you, themselves or another friendly is high. You have to weigh the need for another gun shooting for the home team against the obvious dangers of a loose cannon.

I’m not exactly sure exactly what kind of scenario we’re looking at here, but the only thing worse than getting shot by someone to whom you gave a gun (last words: D’oh!) is getting shot by someone who should have been shot by someone to whom you gave a gun but wasn’t because that someone choked.

Hesitation kills. So tell them how to process information. Then make sure they get it. Like so . . .

If you see someone you don’t know, shout the words LEAVE NOW. If they don’t leave and you believe your life is in imminent danger (my lawyer suggested that bit), shoot them in the chest. Move to another position. Reload. Look for their friends.

Warn, shoot, move, reload. Got it? Say it. Warn, shoot, move, reload.

A shouted heads-up is a great way to tell your adversary that it’s time to take cover and/or kill you. But it’s a moral trip-wire for a newbie: a signal to their subconscious that it’s OK to shoot someone. Once the newbie gets past that initial reticence, the chances of them issuing an inappropriate warning diminish considerably.

Bonus! A newbie’s warning cry creates a far better sonic marker than a gunshot. If they do get themselves killed, at least you’ll know where the bad guys are.

And there you have it. The most important thing to remember: no man is an island. No matter how strong your fortifications or how much firepower you can bring to bear, at some point you’re going to have to depend on the marksmanship of others. Scary, but true.

comments

  1. avatar Ralph says:

    “Start with the same trick that master dog trainers use to train a dog . . .”

    As a former master dog trainer (yes, it’s true), I always found that strips of boiled liver worked well. But my neighbors prefer chicken.

  2. avatar GAKoenig says:

    What’s up with the revolver fetish?

    Novice shooter who actually needs to defend themselves? Glock 19.

    You can buy them used all day long for ~$350. Couple of new springs any monkey can replace and it is as good as new. They always work. Parts for them are everywhere. They are more accurate than 95% of shooters. They are easy to learn. They don’t weigh much. The trigger is perfect for social use. The balance between size, weight and capacity STILL trumps anything on the market. They last forever.

    I get asked the “Which gun should I buy?” question constantly from folks who want their first firearm. The only exceptions to the G19 recommendation I make are for women (G26) or really big guys (G17).

    I own 6. I lend them out to (good) friends to learn how to shoot with. All but 2 were purchased used. I own lots of other pistols; all of them fancier. Even so, the Glock 19 is the definitive arm of this century and – while the M&P comes close – nothing beats it for sheer flexibility.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      You have two minutes to teach someone who’s never held a gun in their life how to load, hold, aim, fire and reload a pistol. Ready? Set? Go. And remember: your life depends on their skill.

      1. avatar GAKoenig says:

        How is a revolver any easier to teach somebody than a G19?

        Sights? The same.
        Grip? A wash.
        Trigger? Pull and it goes Bang. No manual safeties.

        The only real difference is reloading. Let’s focus on that.

        First and foremost, they will have do do this action a hell of a lot less frequently with the Glock than they will with the revolver. 6 rounds vs. 15 (not counting a chambered round, we’ll avoid talking about topping off).

        Second, the gross motor skill required to reload a G19 is a HECK of a lot less. Hold the boxy thing with the bullets pointed forward, slap it into the ass of the gun, grab the big slidy thing, yank it back and let it go.

        Revolver? Push the button thing forward. Rotate the the weapon upwards while pushing on the rod bit till the shells fall out. If they don’t fall out, use your hand to wipe them out. Grab a shell from your pocket and slap it into eacy cylinder. Repete 5x more times. Slap the cylinder shut.

        Theoretically, I guess the revolver and the G19 are equally easily explained, but you have 3 spots in a revolver reload where things can go wrong, setting the noob user’s OODA loop into a full, slow, reset cycle.

        Oh, and that noob user, in a life threatening situation, under a massive adrenaline dump and with crap in their shorts gets to perform that action 2.5X more with the revolver than they will with the G19.

        This says nothing about how much easier the Glock is to shoot, how much better it points and the comparative lack of recoil.

        I just can’t picture how a Glock (or frankly, XD or M&P) doesn’t downright dominate the pistol part of this exercise.

        1. avatar homobangbangamus says:

          Revolvers have two things to master, Other than the sight picture, they are the trigger pull and cylinder release. A semi-auto gives you the slide, magazine release and magazine reload as well, complicating the situation for the novice user in what essentially is an emergency.

          The Gunny uses watermelons and I concur with his choice. Nothing like splatter to give someone confidence in their weapon and their ability to perform.

    2. avatar supton says:

      I thought G26/19/17 had the same grip diameter? G26 is going to be lighter, have shorter sight radius, louder (shorter barrel) and be missing the pinky.

      1. avatar GAKoenig says:

        This is true, the G17, G19 and G26 all have the same grip circumference. My recommendation is driven more by how easy each is to wear every day in a holster.

        Normally, the WORST mistake I see new firearms owners making at the gun store is buying a tiny gun. However, the G26 is decent enough to shoot (even without the pinky) that smaller folks don’t have trouble with it. Those same folks also have an easier time concealing a G26 than they would a G19.

        For bigger guys, hell… take the capacity and longer sights of the G17. Why not?

        1. avatar supton says:

          Fair enough, and good points.

          I’ll only add that I’m not interested in hip guns, as my usual style of dress precludes something on my belt–hence my revolver bias.

  3. avatar Magoo says:

    At what point in this strictly hypothetical scenario does the practical planning cease and you become the star of your own fantasy action movie treatment? Who are we supposed to be arming ourselves and our neighbors against in this post-apocalyptic how-to? Zombies? Martians?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      I think the catch-all term is looters.

      1. avatar Buuurr says:

        Rioters? Mobs? Those people that take advantage of an unexpected situation? Fires break out in California all the time. Do you think the folks are reluctant to leave because they think they have a chance against the fire? Or is it because they are not insured enough and know that nothing will be left even if the fire passes them by? How about flooding? New Orleans anyone? Nah, gun was no good there. Fictional scenario. Where was the government then? Out to lunch? Worrying about other things? Yes, they were. Those that were prepared fared well I would think. Do I need to mention the LA riots? Having a gun for yourself would have helped massively methinks. How about in the news right now? How many governments are falling or are in turnover right now? How many straight up boat people are squatting in Italy because there is nowhere else for them to go? And that is just the start.

        Again, I will say it for myself. It baffles the mind how many blind and sheepish people we have walking around in our society. Oh to be in that magic ‘nothing bad will happen’ bubble when TSHTF.

  4. avatar Magoo says:

    It’s not a real, living fear for me. While I’ve never actually ranked it, it can’t be in my top 50 personal concerns for the future. Reminds me more of really bad fiction: The Turner Diaries, Molon Labe!, etc.

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Just out of curiosity, why DO you have a gun?

    2. avatar John Fritz says:

      Come live in my town for a while and we’ll see what your opinion of armed self defense is.

      1. avatar Buuurr says:

        Ditto.

  5. avatar Magoo says:

    Oh, I own lots of guns. However, I don’t have or need them for personal protection. Nor am I currently fantasizing about becoming the neighborhood warlord in the upcoming ______(insert favorite conspiracy theory here) apocalypse. Guns do not define my relationship with my community, society, or the government. To me they are simply guns — and that is more than enough for me.

    1. avatar homobangbangamus says:

      Well Magoo, most of use are simply interested in the well being of our families and have no interest in becoming a “warlord.” Thank you for the insults, by the way.

      I think the most we ever asked of our fellow man, community, society or government, was to be left alone and unharmed. Something that they apparently have increasing difficulties in doing. We’ve noticed the situations and circumstances we have been pushed into and are reacting accordingly. As any rational human would.

  6. avatar Jeff O. says:

    Thumbs up on the revolver!

    I have shot both pistols and revolvers, for about 8 years now, and while I don’t want it to be true, I can consistantly shoot a revolver far better than a semi-auto pistol.

    And I always break out the revolvers first when I take new shooters to the range. They’re dead simple to operate.

  7. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I love revolvers because they are dependable and it’s very easy to teach any newbie how to handle and shoot a wheel gun. I also love 1911’s but a newbie will most likely kill himself or me (which would really suck) in a stressful situation. I thought magoo kept his guns in a barn many miles from his home, which makes no sense to me because he doesn’t seem to want any of us to have or carry guns.

  8. avatar TSgt B says:

    Magoo:

    Always love your posts. I am curious, though: do they allow you have sharp objects in your facility? I mean, how do you cut paper for the afternoon projects? Or do they let you use the round-nosed scissors? What about meals? Does the meat come pre-cut in bite sized pieces? Also, what meds do they have you on? If I ever degenerate to yoru mental state, I’m sure I’d like something that puts me in orbit like yours does.

    Seriously, dude, ask them for more assistance. And don’t worry about that thing under the bed. Like everything else, it’s just an illusion.

  9. avatar Bill says:

    Magoo, it is you who seems to be living in a fantasy world. With the economy the way it is, the debt, the deficit, the way the Fed is printing money, the fact that other countries are now looking to abandon the dollar as the world reserve currency, an economic collapse is certainly a possibility. Add in natural disasters, like what happened in New Orleans during Katrina, and you have a fair likelihood you could find yourself in very dire straights indeed. Hoping that nothing bad happens and life will go on as before is short sighted and naive in the extreme.

  10. avatar Pete says:

    Good thoughts on training newbies, but I strongly disagree with one key point:
    “Those of us who live amongst gun-hating liberals face some major petard-related self-hoisting. We may need to train our former antagonists how to run a gun.” I would not waste the time, effort and ammo on a “gun-hating liberal”. I would not trust them with a gun, and I would definitely not trust them to risk their lives to cover my back. Most gun-hating libs are cowards, who want the gummint to protect them – failing the gummint, they will settle for “somebody else” to risk their life to protect the liberal. I would much rather spend my time working with the neighbor who has no strong hatred for guns, but was more or less indifferent to guns and gun owners. The gun-hating liberal is a waste of time, effort and air. Let them suffer the consequences of their own beliefs. Read John Snyder’s “A Nation of Cowards”, and ask yourself if those are the kind of people you could rely on when the SHTF.

  11. avatar Paul R says:

    Well, as someone who teaches gun handling, I can tell you that the “two minute drill” for a newbie under stress is pure fantasy. When looking at the video at the top of this page I find it interesting that the shooter was aiming at the target in front when he/she should have been aiming at the hostage taker in the rear.

    Newbies firing a high power round will flinch (just like in the video above) making accuracy, even at close distance, impossible. You are far better off taking your friends and neighbors to the range in advance of the “end of the world” scenario you are describing. If you put a gun in a newbies hands in a crisis you had better be directly behind them when they fire. Not to sound too cold, but having soft targets available in a crisis makes the well armed less tempting.

  12. avatar Gigolo says:

    Zionists, aka Satan worshiping “do as you wilt” types own the central banks, rule our Congress with an iron fist, train our chiefs of police, have corrupted media and have openly boasted about “new world order.”

    It’s not like some shadowy conspiracy, rather all is in plain view. Cameras and checkpoints everywhere. Chip in every person. Mark of the beast will soon be demanded, or death.

    Because our military leaders are cowards, the Rothschilds and similar will serve Satan and order the killing of billions. The Gulf is already destroyed. The fracking will poison all water in areas where the technique is being deployed.

    When troops come to your neighborhood to take you to slave worker camps…will you shoot ziobolshevik taskmasters…shoot as many as you can before death, or meekly submit?
    Think carefully before you answer because your eternal soul is at stake.

    Solzhenitsyn wrote that had the Russian people fought the thugs, Stalins’ regime would have promptly failed and 60 million would not have been murdered. But, alas…because they cowered…because they did not kill the kidnappers and murderers…60 million indeed were slaughtered.

    The ziobolsheviks now have technology…drones and microwave weapons to kill us. We SHOULD KILL the owners of the central banks and Fortune 100 company BOD’s while there still is order. How to reach the degenerate rich pukes when chaos reigns and they are safely tucked into their bunkers?? Kill now you body guards and cooks, gardeners and nanny’s.

    But the servants of the despots won’t kill their masters. They refuse to look at the big picture and that is humanities downfall. Humanities downfall is the selfish…every man for himself mindset. Besides, Biblical prophesy must come to pass. For it is written, ya.

    Happy killing folks.

  13. avatar Magoo says:

    Indeed. Realistically, you are going to have to shoot all the neighbors in order to establish an adequate defensive perimeter. This needs to be done now rather than later, as soon they will be begging for food and could be carrying infectious diseases. Let’s face it, they aren’t strong enough for the end times — and you could use their gasoline and light bulbs. You can’t be soft or sentimental when the SHTF.

    This is the same plan I followed to the letter for the Y2K disaster. Oops! Was my face red! We still laugh about that one around the Magoo household.

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