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Two of my kids go to a Quaker school. A few fathers and I have formed the ironic SCHOOL NAME HERE militia. Our motto: defending non-violence at any cost. There’s a major stumbling block for their non-range (i.e. home defense) activities. Their wives are dead set against “keeping a gun in the house.” Some of our pistol posse have overcome this barrier through sheer persistence. When the Mrs. sees her bread winner return from the range without extra holes on a regular basis, they gradually chillax. Other wives have drawn a line in the sand. The trick is, of course, to get them shooting. My wife, an NRA Instructor, attempts to lure them into busting a few caps. Hell no, they don’t go. What’s the best way to convince someone to make the leap? What kind of campaign should we wage? How many converts have you made and how?

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25 Responses to Question of the Day: How Do You Convince Someone to Try Shooting a Gun?

  1. I got my fiancé and father out shooting pistols. Definitely important to start small (s&w in springfield makes you shoot .22 if you are new). Since then my fiancé has lived it, and wants a 1911. The real challenge is getting my mom out, I think that might take some convincing

  2. We also just need more places like AFS or s&w- gun clubs open to the public that rent weapons ad emphasize safety above anything else. Lot of rod n gun clubs around mass, but you need memberships and your own guns, which precludes any newbies

  3. I’ve taken dozens of people shooting, and they all asked me if I could take them. I don’t try and talk anyone in shooting, but I’ll take anyone who wants to try it for the first time for free and see how they like it.

    • I love that “for free” part. Isn’t that the old tactic of street-cornor smack dealers, first one’s free, wink-wink.

      I think it’s a good question Robert asks. “What’s the best way to convince someone to make the leap?” By keeping this in mind, you remember you’re not in that little echo chamber of like-minded gun folks where you can do no wrong. You might even think twice about ranting about castle docrtrine or open carry.

      • I think he just meant that ammo costs money. Not a big deal the first few times, or if you only ever shoot .22lr, but $0.50-$1.00 per shot can get expensive quick, esp when your idiot friends are bump firing your beautiful brand-new M1A.

      • Gents, don’t feed the troll. He’s just here to insult us and provoke a reaction. Don’t give him the satisfaction.

  4. I’m working on my wife now. She comes from a very liberal family who would never own a firearm. I, on the other hand, am just about the average “assault” rifle owner according to the previous post on that demographic. I got my wife to the range by getting together with her best(also non-firearm experienced/scared) friend’s husband and arranging a trip. Surprisingly, my wife seemed to enjoy it a great deal, and tried my .22, a 9mm, a .40 and my 1911A1. Being able to start her with the .22 was a big help, as the other pistols were a bit intimidating, but by the end of the time on the line, she even tried out the 870 Tactical that I had brought along. Her friend was another matter. The range was not the safest, and many patrons who had rented pistols had no idea of how to properly carry or handle them(she noticed this, which does not say a lot for the range’s safety). We are planning a camping/shooting trip to their farm with another couple who are also split like we are as far as firearms go. I hope that this more safe and non-claustrophobic environment will make it easier for my wife’s friend to learn to enjoy shooting. Basically, putting someone who is not sure about firearms with a group of trusted friends is the best way, I think. Help them to feel comfortable with it and they will be less likely to be frightened away.

    • Yeah I see some non-safe behavior at the range from newcomers (muzzle flashing the lane next to you AND showing no trigger discipline while trying to turn off the safety is a dangerous combination), but typically it’s pretty safe. I do think they should post huge posters EVERYWHERE on the path from the storefront to range with the 4 rules. That would go a long way to drilling that into the head of beginners.

      • The range officer’s job is not an easy one. But if you take a new shooter out, drill the four rules into them before they get their hands on a gun and gently correct them each time one is broken. It’s the experienced shooter’s job to make sure any newbies they take to the range handle guns safely.

        • I was shocked at this range. The first thing I saw after walking in the door was a man carrying a pistol limply at his side, hand on the trigger, with no barrel discipline at all. The mother trying to teach her 4 kids aged 6-12 how to shoot a pistol horizontally was another scary moment. The range safety officer only got on their case after the 6 year old couldn’t control the recoil and let the barrel flash past everyone there. Those few incidents did more to hurt our chances of convincing my friend’s wife that guns are safe than any anti-gun news story could. The range was crowded, not very safe in comparison to the other indoor ranges I’ve used, and loud/dark and cold. Maybe taking new shooters to indoor ranges is not the best. I always felt more comfortable at an outdoor range when I was getting started.

        • Yeah, that’s one range I’d have turned around and left. Never mind the good first impression on the new shooters you brought. It sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

        • I hadn’t been able to shoot in a couple years due to college and ending my membership at the local range to pay for beer(worthwhile sacrifice?). They also have a buy your ammo here and you are not allowed to leave with any rule, so we shot up what we had and left. I still managed to walk out with 15 rounds of .45 though.

  5. Just watched the vid. I’d be happy to show him how. Just as soon as he learns to make his bed.

  6. I took my wife shooting on our 1st date as a litmus test (lol), but in general I’ve found a lot of women do want to try shooting, they’ve just never been asked or the timing just wasn’t right for them. In CA, there’s a fair amount of perception to wade through in changing minds. Self reliance for one’s own safety being a big one. I’ve found that if I approach the idea in a non confrontational, non competitive nature, many ladies will come out if asked enough and if its couched in a fun way to spend the day (or a few hours).

    I go to the range on a regular basis. I keep an open invitation to all the ladies I know that they are welcome to join me and either learn from me or my wife (who is now proficient). And they get a regular reminder because I think being self reliant in one’s own safety is that important. And yes, I’ve offered the opportunity to some ladies with no luck and with others that took a few years to get out there.

    Aside from my day job, I help teach a free monthly class specifically just for ladies down at my local club (Manteca Sportsmen, CA). Our classes run from the basics through holster work. Last class pulls it all together with a day of scenarios, clearing your home, etc. Practical application that has value IF there is a home intruder. Stockton, the town just north of me has 1 home invasion everyday so the need and desire is present from people wishing to learn. Its entirely volunteer run and all paid for from a yearly Friends of the NRA grant.

    That said, we have a successful program that gets larger every year because we partner with gun shops and advertise locally and at the local colleges. We garner a wide variety of new shooters from all demographics but class size hovers around 80 students every month. Part of our club’s mission statement is to increase responsible gun ownership and help teach anyone in the community that may want to learn. I think you might be amazed at how many people want to learn but haven’t a clue where the nearest range was located or how to approach getting involved. If your local club isn’t running some program, you ought to step up and start one. Its of value today and for the future of our culture.

    Observations.
    1) Wives do not generally like to learn from their spouses. Call it a desire not to be criticized or critiqued. Or it may just bring out aspects of competitiveness best left elsewhere. Regardless, we find a lot of spouses want to learn; just not from their husbands. So you might not make headway going as a couple, but as a double date where your buddy teaches your wife and vice versus, you might find a win.

    2) Before you touch a lady (including your wife) when trying to correct stance, grip, trigger finger etc, ASK FOR PERMISSION. You’ll probably get the green light, but everyone comes with a different history and preconceived notions.

    3) A shooting class/learning environment for beginners is not the place to make any political speeches, absolutist 2nd amendment remarks. Shooting needs to be more inclusive across all ideologies. Grow the tent.

    4) I gave my 5’1″ 70 year old Jewish mother a $100 certificate to Front Sight to take their course ‘2 Day Empty Hand Defense.’ I told her it was non transferable and non refundable. She had little interest in firearms, but after taking that 2 day course, she’s changed her mindset. She’s now looking forward to taking their 4 day handgun course. The little old lady from AZ who now has a carry permit.

    5) Shooting is fun, safe and a great way to get outside and spend some time. Concentrate on the activity being fun for THEM when you go out. If they had a good time, you may find they want to do it again. And don’t stop asking new people if they want to go. Some may end up going just because they know YOU think its important.

  7. Folks who are genuinely not willing just won’t go. Period.

    The vast majority of folks aren’t that determined to not go. The vast majority will usually be willing to go try it at least once.

    Emphasize how much fun it is. Make sure they start with a .22 with lots of good instruction and good safety practices. Reactive targets are great if you can get to a range that allows them. At my backyard range, we like swinging steel targets and bottles full of water or cheap, off-brand 2-liter sodas especially well.

    Reactive targets that go “PING” or that move or flip or fly or splatter or blow up or do something are just so much more satisfying for newbies than simply punching holes in paper.

    Don’t pressure them to go with you. But don’t ever hide the fact that you go shooting and that it’s a lot of fun.

    And for mikeb30200, you are 100% right and have no idea just how right you are.

    Shooting is very fun. It can be quite addictive. Folks who try it once “for free” oftentimes get involved and buy guns because of how much fun it is to shoot. I know because I’m personally responsible for probably hundreds of newbies getting into shooting, as I’ve worked as a professional firearms instructor and rifle coach for almost a decade. I’ve taken men and women, straights and gays, whites, blacks, Vietnamese, Hmongs, Cambodians, Jews, Native Americans, Indians (as in sub-continent of Asia), Mongolians, Japanese, Peruvians, Mexicans, El Salvadorans, French, Germans, Canadians, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and even some Marxists to the range before.

    And that’s not a comprehensive list, either. And I can’t think of anyone I’ve taken to the range who didn’t break out with a big grin of pure enjoyment when they hit a target.

    Unlike illegal drugs, owning guns is legal, and even your constitutionally-guaranteed right. Not only is it perfectly legal and your right and a lot of fun, it’s a practical skill that teaches you all sorts of things, from zen-like concentration on a task to understanding how to competently handle a powerful technology to the weighty responsibility of ensuring safety for yourself and others.

    Knowing how to shoot can help feed you. I regularly eat all sorts of meat I legally take during various hunting seasons. In fact, I’ve got some venison marinating in the fridge that I plan to cook for lunch today. It can help protect you and your family. But more than anything else, it’s simply a whole lot of fun.

    Unlike illegal drugs, learning to shoot well builds you up in several ways, instead of tearing you down.

    Yesterday, my wife and I were at a local range popping 12-inch party balloons with rifles at 300 yards. Talk about fun. Talk about addictive. Popping a balloon 300 yards away is the closest anybody can come to being Harry Potter.

    Only you don’t have to wave a wand and say any weird chant in order to make a physical reaction happen three football fields distant. You just have to focus on the sight picture, control your breathing, figure out what the wind is going to do to the bullet in flight, and use proper trigger technique and VOILA! The balloon, she is gone! Quick. Where’s the next balloon? I want to do that again!

    • I like the idea of using balloons. I’m going to steal that idea. Reactive targets as well if one’s range will allow them. We use frangible ammunition on steel during our pistol classes, but generally the range doesn’t allow steel for the general public. Always fun when camping though 🙂

      I’ve always been a big fan of gluing charcoal briquettes to my 100 yard targets. They make a nice puff when you hit them and the RSO is ok with their use.

  8. I offer to teach them about guns in my home for safety sake, and they accept or not. I start them off with the safety lecture. It takes two hours and no beginner goes to the range with me until and unless they’ve taken my personal Firearms 101.

    The two issues that seem to be the most daunting for noobs are muzzle discipline and keeping the finger away from that oh-so-inviting trigger. Good gun design requires a trigger that’s in a very natural position and begs to be pressed. Good gun handling requires keeping the trigger finger in a position that can be called unnatural. Noobs struggle with this.

    I teach them how to “make the gun safe,” and let them open the action and check the gun so they feel some confidence — the controls can be daunting for a noob. I let them dry fire a few times. If they don’t enjoy the training, they won’t enjoy the range.

    Once they have the four rules down pat, can open and check the action, and enjoy the experience, then and only then it’s time to go to the range if they so choose. We shoot a .22 before anything heavy. Most enjoy the experience, even if shooting isn’t for them on a long-term basis.

  9. Use reactive targets, and use a .22. One of the first handguns I ever shot around age 10 was a .44 magnum. I was asked if I wanted to shoot it again. “No thanks.”

    If they are really against it, pushing that button might be in order.
    “You’ve never fired a gun, but you hate them or don’t think people should have them? If someone points out you hate guns but have never even fired one, you’ll look like a fool. Come to the range with me this weekend, shoot my .22 a bit, and then no one can ever say you never fired a gun.”

    Btw, I’d recommend a rifle over a pistol. Not only for muzzle discipline, but they’re easier to control, “feel” less dangerous, etc.

  10. Scott, the charcoal briquettes on cardboard is awesome. At several youth shoots and Women on Target events that I’ve volunteered to RSO, the biggest thrill for the shooters has been the .22 rifles at 25 yards on sheets of cardboard with charcoal chunks glued on them.

    The briquettes fragment in a very nice, black puff of instant destruction, and lots of the kids at those shoots all look at the little cloud of dust and say “Cooooooool.”

    At an NRA Women on Target event, one woman popped three or four charcoal briquettes in a row with a Ruger 10/22 and hollered, “I know what I want for Christmas!”

    Charcoal briquettes are awesome reactive targets, and cheap.

  11. I push the safety issue. You may hate campfires and frayed electric cables and snakes and many other things, but it still makes sense to know how to deal safely with them. Everyone should know how to tell if a firearm is loaded, to unload a gun and put the safety on. That done, it’s not much of a stretch to try shooting it, when the safety part is learned hands-on.

  12. When I first met my mom-in-law, she wouldn’t even touch a gun. Now she’s a good shot, and goes to the range with me on occasion. It started with taking them down and showing them how they worked. Of course, she’s a nurse, so I think “the hip bone connected to the thigh bone” approach worked particularly well with her. It might not work so well with others. But once she could see that it was just metal and springs, and that there were multiple safety features, and nothing was going to move unless she made it happen, it made it easier for her to start thinking of it as a tool, and not a scary magic totem.

  13. Try taking them to lunch. I take them to an outdoor range. It is about three miles out of town. We stop first at this little Resturaunt than has some great lunches and get them to go. I tell them we’ll eat outside as the weather is great for it. We sit on the benches for rifle shooting. I always start them on a 10-22. Easy to shoot well, easy on the ears, and fun to shoot. If you get them that far then they are usually yours. Just remember to teach gun and range saftey.

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