As Nick mentioned on Monday, he and I got the opportunity to meet up with several like-minded, gun-owning, millennials for a little range time with Ronan Farrow over the weekend. Like Nick, I thought it went well. The questions were fairly innocuous, and for the most part he seemed primarily interested in Kirsten Joy Weiss doing trick shots. Which is interesting and fun, but my attention was mostly focused on Ronan and his producer Candace . . .

Ronan’s an interesting guy. Very well-spoken, even when he’s thoroughly out of place, and about as gracious as they come. And while he claimed to have shot trap and skeet in college, two things became quickly apparent during out limited range time. First, he didn’t know anything about rifles or pistols. Second, he wasn’t afraid to ask questions.

As a native Texan, my exposure to people who have never seen, touched, or fired a rifle is extraordinarily limited. I’ve taken dozens of people shooting for the first time, and all of them have at least some experience shooting a gun. Before I met Ronan and Candace, I’d never actually gotten the opportunity to work with someone who knew literally nothing about firearms.

As you might expect, I spent as much time as I could with Ronan covering the the most basic of topics. I showed him various cartridges, explaining what the word caliber means, and, lucky for me, I brought along some clips for my M1 Garand so I could explain the difference between a clip and a magazine. At various points along the way, Ronan asked questions that not only betrayed his lack of knowledge, but also showed a guy genuinely willing to learn.

His producer Candace was even more fun to work with. She had never even held a gun, and it became apparent quickly that she was a touch uncomfortable, but willing to push that aside to help get the content they needed to work with. I’m basing my opinion on several interactions, but the crown jewel had to be our very first meeting.

Shortly after beginning to shake her hand, I asked Candace if she was going to shoot during the day. Her initial reaction said it all when she took a few tiny steps back, nervously started giggling, and said, “Oh, I don’t think so! I’ve never fired a gun before at all!”

I asked if she wanted to, and she replied that she’d be open to it, assuming that it didn’t interfere with filming or interviews. So throughout the course of the day while Ronan interviewed others, I explained the various parts and pieces that were laid out on the tailgate of my truck, and gave a brief overview on grip, stance, trigger control, and sight alignment.

With fifteen minutes left before they had to leave for the airport, she said, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to shoot. We just don’t have time.” To which I replied, “Let’s make some time.”

I snagged a Ruger 22/45 with a threaded barrel, Nick’s .22 can, and an already loaded 10 round magazine. I walked her up to the line, had her remove her hearing protection so she could hear me, and walked her through the same talk on grip, stance, trigger control, and sight alignment. Once she had it down with an unloaded gun, I had her load a magazine, drop the slide, and when ready, flip the safety off.

She gently squeezed the trigger and sent her first round low and left. And then she started laughing. I coached her through the next nine rounds and she was able to put three on a steel target. I showed her how to check to make sure the 22/45 was unloaded and clear, and then we walked back to the tailgate of my truck.

She was still giggling, and she kept telling me how much fun that was. I told her that she could now go back to New York, sip $30 cocktails, and one-up her hipster friends by telling them that she went to Texas and shot a gun. She graciously thanked me, made a promise that she was going to find a gun range and a friend because she wanted to do that again. She then grabbed Ronan and headed off.

Like any coachable moment, both parties learned something. Hopefully, Candace learned some solid fundamentals and got a first hand look at what today’s gun owner looks like. Selfishly, I think I learned a lot more. I’ve been a bit lax in the last year about getting new people out to the range, and this was a good reminder of how much fun it is to ring some steel and hear that giggle. If you’ve taken a new person shooting, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The other, more expensive lesson was that I’m going to have to jump in with both feet on ownership of a dedicated new shooter gun. In my mind, the perfect new shooter pistol is a Ruger 22/45 with a silencer and a red dot sight. With this sort of set-up I can say, “Pull off your hearing protection, put this red dot on that target, and slowly squeeze the trigger like we talked about five minutes ago.”

When dealing with a truly new shooter, getting hits on a reactive target with a quiet gun is second in importance only to safety. Everything else can be worked on, but you have to get the hook in early. You’ll know you succeeded when you hear that steel sing, and see that shooter’s infectious, ear-to-ear grin.

48 Responses to Coachable Moments: Working with Firearm Neophytes

  1. I’ll still have to see the result before judging anyone in media. If you managed to squeeze KJW into some of the takes, the chances go up. Who could possibly see a video of her popping balloons over her shoulder or whatever, then launch into a diatribe about how evil she is?

  2. Very cool backstory that hopefully finds its way into the NBC piece. I also think a good new shooter introngun would be an air pistol or rifle, which to be honest isn’t hugely removed from a silenced 22LR from the shooter’s perspective. Gets them used to feeling and hearing something happen in hand when the trigger is pulled, which is most of the problem for newbies that do not know what to expect. Lots cheaper and more available in slave states, too.

    TCB

    • “… more available in slave states.” except NJ where pellet and BB guns are considered to be firearms and subject to all the same permitting and state registration and regulations. A CO2 powered pistol is considered to be a handgun in NJ, same as if it was a .44 mag. Get caught with one on your person without a concealed carry permit, “do not pass go, do not collect $200, but go directly to jail.” Makes me so happy that I snuck across the Delaware river in the dark of night to the freedom of Pennsylvania.

  3. My college honors program recently sent a group of us to WA for a research conference. While we were there, my wife and I took a few of my classmates to a local range (2 women and an Indian guy, btw — none of the usual OFWG type). I’m pleased to say that these NY neophytes had a wonderful time shooting the G19, 1911, and even the evil black AR15.

    It’s these kinds of positive experiences that will help us win hearts and minds. Besides, now there are three more people who know the 4 safety rules and other shooting fundamentals.

  4. I dont trust anything that NBC reports on, especially when it comes to private gun ownership.Too much history of distorted editing and lifting statements out of context. I wonder how much this will be edited to make gun owners look bad.

    • ^^^ That.

      As I wrote in the prior thread regarding Ronan’s trip to the range, even if the entire piece is positive some producer will make room at the end for an anti group to put in some quotes, misinformation, and bad statistics, all to the tune of tragic, sad music (accompanied by slow motion video of children on swings).

  5. Color me skeptical.

    I’ve lived in Chicago long enough to know two things.Anti gun groupthink is a durable cause, one which takes a lot more then a magazine of .22s to perforate.
    Next: when it comes to the media, they have a job to do-sell negative emotion to the population , so they will tune in .

    On the flight out Ronan and Candace likely cracked a few jokes in first class about deceiving those country bumkins in Texas with their guns and silencers. Theyve probably got piles of footage the producers in NYC can recut .By the time HQ gets done with the tapes, your suppressed .22 will look like The Tool of Minority Death.

    Lastly-this is just a supposition on my part, but methinks with all the police shootings and minority violence in American cities, the media is looking to make a hit piece showing how law abiding Americans shooting .22s in Texas perpetuate criminal violence -thus scaring cops into shooting black people.

    I hope I’m wrong and that your group of newbies didn’t have an ulterior motive.

  6. I really hope this went as well as it sounds it did. Does anyone know when they are airing it?

  7. My older sister, until a month ago, had never fired a gun. I had her come to the range at my house, as she was interested in getting a home defense shotgun. So, since that’s what she wanted to learn, and since she wasn’t scared about the possibility of recoil after I explained it to her, and grip, and stance… I handed her my 12 gauge pump and a round of target load, and set up a can of (free) hair spray for a target. We donned our ears, walked through the stance and all that again, told her to click off the safety and let it loose.

    She was hooked, and is looking for her a shotgun all her own. The laughter didn’t stop for several minutes!

  8. When will this segment air, I’d like to see if they handle it fairly, well… fairly is subjective so fairly for MSNBC. However, I have no doubt that this will be Farrow in a correspondent role and the anchor back at studio will get all the snide remarks in if it isn’t given in the piece itself.

  9. While I understand the reason and agree somewhat, the negativity in the comments section around here seems almost palpable. The majority of the large media outlets may very well have anti-gun opinions and even possibly an agenda but isn’t the chance worth taking from time to time? If Ronan and Candace were to read all of these comments how do you think they would feel about being almost if not blatantly vilified as well as having their character questioned before the piece even comes out? Why would they bother standing up for the integrity of the piece(possibly against a producer) when negativity is the majority of what they see from our side?

    Always keep your head on a swivel and prepare for the worst….. I get that but HOPING for the best and WORKING towards something better isn’t counterproductive to that goal so maybe we, as a collective, should at least give them a chance. If it does turn out to be a negative piece it will be one of MANY and will be just another tone amongst the gray noise in no time flat. IF, on the other hand, it’s an honest piece showing POTG as actual normal people it WILL stand out and may reach people who actually bother to think on their own.

    Nick, Tyler and Kirsten….. Thank you. Through this website you have contacts and opportunities most of us don’t. I for one appreciate it greatly when I see you trying to make an actual difference for the gun community.

    • +1. Venting is good. Cynicism as an excuse to do nothing is an exercise in cowardly self aggrandization.

      • Or logic. How man times do you have to touch the red hot stove before you learn it’s going to burn you?

        • By that “logic” we should just stop using stoves regardless of the fact that they also cook things. As it applies to this… I’d rather we(POTG) stop giving them ammunition against us by allowing them to see only the dumbest among us(stop putting our hand on the stove). The well spoken, educated, respectable POTG seem to rarely be interested in being on camera while the stereotypical toothless Honey Boo-Boos of the world seem to BEG for camera time.

          To keep your analogy going…. I’m glad to see Tyler, Nick and Kirsten out there showing them that this stove can also cook.

  10. Googling Ronan Farrow and firearms does not yield good results. Here’s hoping this upcoming piece is different.

  11. I’m sure that Candace and Farrow will show their gratitude by noting that Tyler is a Bambi-killing redneck with an assassin’s silenced pistol and a lust for pig blood.

  12. Nice job, TK. Keep up the good work, converting the ignorant one by one.

    I’ll be interested to see how the news filters operate on the story when it comes out.

  13. There is exactly zero chance in hell of Ronan admitting he had fun, unless it is in the context of attempting to explain our “sick fascination.” Watch for some shoddy armchair psychiatry, and consensus that lead content in the bullets must cause “trigger glee,” and the EPA must investigate…

    • I prefer a Ruger Bearcat for truly first-time first-timers. It fits almost anybody’s hands, its cowboy good looks are fun and not intimidating, it’s heavy enough that there’s no recoil, and being single action, it’s very safe for new shooters. One of the big problems with blank-slate newbies is the tendency, no matter how hard you drill them on muzzle and trigger discipline, to spin around and grin at you after the first shot or two. Often that results in a gun not being pointed downrange, with a finger on the trigger. This is scary as hell with a semi-auto, not as much with a single-action revolver with the hammer down on a fired case.

      That said, my Ruger 22/45 always comes out to play, too. Great gun. I’m not generally an optics-on-handguns guy, but adding a red dot to that pistol does appeal to me. Any suggestions?

      • A Henry .22lr lever gun is a good starter rifle, for exactly the same reasons. Then we move to a Ruger 10/22, later an AR or whatever else tickles their fancy.

        A visiting Brit colleague said his favorite was the Mosin. When he rang a steel man-profile target at 100 yards, I told him “There’s a dead Nazi!” which brought the biggest grin of the day 🙂

  14. Never trust a leftist or statist. When they’re nice and show any actual human traits, it’s just their mask so they can get close to you, like a psychopath with a knife behind his back smiling and approaching with his other hand out. Gun guys, as actual decent human beings, tend to give these soulless wretches the benefit of the doubt and it always backfires.

    Remember, lying and deception are perfectly acceptable means to an end for their ilk. Even a cursory glance at the history of media reporting proves it. Am I jaded? Cynical? Maybe. Prove me wrong, NBC. But I believe in you about as much as you believe in the Constitution.

  15. I’d just like to point out that NBC and MSNBC are actually two different things; NBC is the parent company and is more dedicated to providing general news coverage, not that there’s not bias there, but when it happens it’s generally because while they try to be objective, personal biases of the reporters/journalists will always seep into what they write.

    MSNBC, on the other hand, is a dedicated opinion-news platform.

  16. Knowing nothing about firearms never caused that asshat Ronan Farrow any hesitation when it came to using his celebrity profile to denounce them on national television and make grandiose pronouncements about what firearms laws we should have and what us lawful gun owners should be forced to do. He’s a pompous ignorant douchebag.

    Promoting him as “willing to learn” is a completely myopic and dishonest way to talk about the fact that he’s been happily ignorant his entire lifetime and never sought out this knowledge before, despite being a professional political “newsman”? What kind of a person is he that he presents himself as a political guru and campaigns for issues that he knows nothing about?! He’s a total scumbag! That he politely accepted a drop in the empty bucket of his knowledge means nothing to me! If he has a genuine interest in changing for the better and becoming a knowledgeable and helpful journalist I welcome it, and I would love to see him use real, well-rounded knowledge to better educate the public. But it’s going to take more than one trip to the range for his sins to be forgiven. I see no real evidence that he isn’t still a snake.

  17. I’m commenting before reading the article: They turned it around on y’all, didn’t they?

  18. The 22/45 is a good choice. Last fall I went and bought one after taking my daughter to the range for the first time to shoot my Marlin 39 rifle. I added a fiber optic sight, but a “can” isn’t in the budget.

  19. What is a silencer? Do you mean a suppressor? If so, why make the distinction between magazine and clip? And if suppressed, were you using subsonic ammo?
    I suspect this story will not turn out positive once aired. I am sure the two loved it and will eventually get firearms, they will both be anti firearms for the “regular” people. Media elites/journalists are all the same as what they sell.

  20. This is a nice post Tyler,
    A Henry .22lr lever gun is a good starter rifle, for exactly the same reasons. Then we move to a Ruger 10/22, later an AR or whatever else tickles their fancy.
    A visiting Brit colleague said his favorite was the Mosin. When he rang a steel man-profile target at 100 yards, I told him “There’s a dead Nazi!” which brought the biggest grin of the day

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