Tipton: How to Teach a Woman to Shoot A Gun

I was doing some simple target shooting with my AR15 when a couple arrived at the outdoor range. She had that newbie, deer-in-the-headlights look. As the man approached the firing line, he gestured at me. “Look. See? There’s a woman here.” I was finishing up anyway, and I prefer to shoot alone, so I started gathering my gear. The man handed his partner a 9mm Kimber Solo Carry. . .

The Solo’s a seven-round “micro-compact” carry gun with a rep for reliability issues. Kimber’s improved the design, but it’s still a high-maintenance machine. As TTAG’s Ralph reported in his four-star review, the svelte Solo eats high-price ammo and requires a recoil spring change after just a thousand rounds. Anyway, it looks gorgeous. Exactly the kind of gun that appeals to well-heeled fashion-conscious females.

The guy loads a magazine for her. Her eyes are darting around. Her body language says 911. She looks at me beseechingly. At this point, I figure I should say something.

“First time shooting?” I ask. She manages to nod. “It’s fun. You’ll love it. Are you shooting the Solo?” Again a slight nod. “This is going to be a good little gun for her to conceal eventually,” the man says. “Of course,” I reply. “But maybe she’d rather learn on something with a little less recoil.”

I offered the couple the use of my Smith & Wesson Sigma 9mm. The guy politely declined. Maybe he didn’t like a woman appearing to know more about guns than he did. (It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve come across gender-sensitive alpha males at a gun range.) Maybe he wanted her first shots to be an intimate moment just between himself and his partner. I didn’t press the issue. He insisted she shoot the Solo, so I started putting my things in my Jeep.

I watched her lift the gun. I watched her put her thumb in the path of the slide. I watched her pull the trigger. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what happened next.

She almost broke her own nose. She dropped the gun and grabbed her bloody thumb. Then she began screaming that she’s never shooting again that she’ll “be in the truck when he’s ready to leave.” I knew this would happen. I’ve seen it happen at least a dozen times. I’m not saying all men teach women this way. And not all women would end-up angry. But it’s a huge loss for gun rights every time it happens.

The best advice I have for a man teaching a woman to shoot: start her on a gun with minimal recoil. There is no way a new shooter can anticipate or enjoy stout recoil from their very first shot. The experience is literally overwhelming. And dangerous. This is especially true for women, who tend to be smaller than their male counterparts, with less grip strength. They also have less of a tendency to associate “injury” (or potential injury) with “fun.”

Alternatively, ask if she’d prefer a female teacher. I don’t want to get into a debate about sexual politics. The more a newbie feels safe and comfortable when learning how to shoot, the better. That lets her build her confidence and expertise. Anything that increases that sense of safety and comfort will help her. Anything that frightens her won’t. If it brings one new shooter into the fold….

comments

  1. avatar Removed_californian says:

    >explain manual of arms
    >give basic instruction on function
    >THEN take to range/shooting

    Personally I believe that when operating any tool that one should be somewhat aquatinted with it.

    Took a friend shooting on my property and the first thing I always do is explain what will happen, how to hold/shoulder said weapon, how to clear and safety said weapon. Not about being masculine or an ass, it’s just about safety habits.

    Eta: female friend (pertinent to topic)

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      My wife has gone shooting with me only once so far, and she enjoyed it. I started her out with .22 shorts in my NEF revolver. Then we moved her up to regular 22lr. Then, I let her shoot my CZ82 (which she didn’t like). So she went back to the 22 revolver, and had some more fun.

      Since then, I’ve picked up a Ruger SR22 which I think she’d probably like even better than the revolver. I also want her to start shooting .22 rifles. Rifles are so much easier to shoot accurately than pistols. Hopefully someday I’ll get her up to a 9mm pistol, or an AR/AK rifle. If not, at least she will know how to us the 22s.

  2. avatar Don says:

    Guys that would avoid teaching their significant other how to drive like it was death by slow torture seem to insist on controlling those first encounters with live firearms. Too much ego and testosterone. My fiance is already in a negative place about guns, if I ever get the chance to have her experience shooting a handgun, you can bet I will be open to whatever it takes to make it a pleasant and fun experience if at all possible. Cheers.

    1. avatar Soccerchainsaw says:

      Like pellet gun and soda can targets. What could be more fun?

      1. avatar Removed_californian says:

        I started with a little pellet gun and pigeons that dad wanted dead. I would like to think that was excellent training.

      2. avatar Mark N. says:

        I was thinking that I started my kids on a .22 rifle (an excellent choice), but you reminded me that it was a BB gun we bought for my son. My very competitive daughter had to get her shots in, and we went from there, to the .22 rifle, to a large 9mm. So she grew up not fearing firearms, and has shot everything I own, including an AR, a .45, and a 12 gauge.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, but if she doesn’t like guns that’d be a deal breaker for me. I told my girlfriend – before she became my fiancé – that I was going to have guns at home, CCW, and home carry. Non-negotiable. If that was a deal breaker for her, so be it. Now she’s my wife and has her own guns. Still working on her CCW, though.

  3. avatar Gunr says:

    I noticed right away, none of the guns on the table were pointed to the front of the table, or what would normally be construed as “down range”. They were pointed slightly to the rear of the table. Many may not fault this, but when I took my shooting test with a local instructor, When I got to the range, he had arrived a little earlier and had 4 handguns laying on the table. He asked me what three things all these guns had in common.
    I replied: “all have their action open, to show they are unloaded, all are capable of killing a human being, and lastly: All are pointed DOWNRANGE!

    1. avatar Bob in Washington says:

      I agree with you, but maybe she was avoiding pointing the guns at the film crew.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        I thought of that. The guns could have been pointed 45 degrees or so, to the left, with the film crew, 45 degrees to the right. I’m sure they could have figured it out.

  4. avatar AaronW says:

    I always start people on a .22 bolt action rifle. Then maybe a .22 semiauto rifle, then my .357 Marlin levergun, using only mild .38 loads.
    If we’re outside of NYS or the person I’m instructing has a new NYS pistol permit, I start by pantomiming the actions of loading, shooting and unloading. Next is a realistic Airsoft gun similar to what I’m using to instruct. Next step is a .22 pistol, then finally a centerfire handgun.

    1. avatar Billy-bob says:

      Or just go with the S&W 500 and “if you can shoot this you can shoot anything”.

  5. avatar CGinTX says:

    I’ve helped multiple women try out their first shots without a bullet in the chamber nor on a range, so that they can take it at their own pace. To do that safely, I used snap caps in the handguns so they could learn the manual of arms, and the “Safe Direction” accessory so they had (literally) a safe direction to point the gun while dry firing on the snap caps in the comfort of their own home or office. THEN we made the trip to the range (and the outdoor ranges are nicer, weather permitting, due to the lack of echo-based noise from the other shooters.

  6. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Teaching a female to shoot a gun is no different than anyone else so scram the sexism.
    I have two daughters who I taught to shoot and I started both of them on.22 Remington Nylon 66, .22 Ruger 10/22, .32 ACP Walther PP, .243 Win Remington 788, and the Ruger SR9, in that order. The progression and shooting worked very well.
    The oldest daughter was always a wizard with a rifle and can shoot groups with the bullet holes in the paper target mostly overlapping and touching one another at 100 yards with the 788. She had a Hunter Safety course target shoot out with scoped .22 rifle years ago with redneck little boys and she won the entire competition.

    1. avatar BlindMan says:

      It’s scientifically proven that men and women are exactly the same in every way and so they must do everything exactly the same way and be treated exactly the same way or else SEXISM.

      And SEXISM must be avoided, because women are a lot more sensitive and so will probably get emotional and start crying.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        Is there a term for people who are on the opposite end of the spectrum from SJWs but are still just as annoyingly self-righteous?

        1. avatar BlindMan says:

          How about “obviously correct”?

          Sorry if reality annoys you.

      2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

        It’s scientifically proven that men and women are exactly the same in every way and so they must do everything exactly the same way and be treated exactly the same way or else SEXISM.
        So what is so different in teaching new female or male shooters to fire a gun correctly? The title of this blog post is How to teach a woman to shoot a gun.
        The answer is you teach a woman to shoot a gun the same dang way you teach anyone else to shoot a gun. Why does their sex have anything to do with the whole topic? I have taught my wife and two daughters to shoot well. This is not rocket science.

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      I guess you have more time to be PC than I do.

  7. avatar Youzernayme says:

    it’s a damn shame when you see a guy handing a lady a gun for the first time, eagerly awaiting what will happen next. oh, it’s just sooo funny when a chick can’t shoot a gun! what a hoot! /sarc
    all the assholes around the country who give their girl a shorty 12ga. just to see them shriek can take a flying leap.
    TEACH THEM THE RIGHT WAY! let her set the pace. insist on safety, but nothing else. let her pick her gun, her target. make “suggestions” instead of corrections. and more importantly, don’t be a dick.

    i took my wife and one of her new-to-guns friends out. she was nervous, but ready.
    gun safety brief.
    1 round in the PT22.
    Bang. you like that? Good.
    2 rounds. still ok? good.
    full mag.
    it didn’t take long before she was loading her own mags and channeling her inner Lena Miculek.
    then disaster struck. she let her thumb find it’s way to the rear of the slide, and the slide did what slides do when they meet flesh during cycling. ouch.
    i applied first aid. she said, “my thumb shouldn’t have been there” and laughed.
    then she said, “when it stops bleeding, can i try again? turned out to be little more that an advanced papercut. she was back to it in minutes and was moving on to parabellum and rifles that afternoon.

    1. avatar ScottS says:

      I find this story hard to believe. Are you trying to tell me you got a PT22 to fire more than 2 rounds without a malfunction?

      1. avatar Youzernayme says:

        oh, ha, ha.
        funny you should say that. the first two rounds on the range always seemed to mis-feed in that gun. after that it sang the rest of the day.

  8. avatar TTACer says:

    I think you should have put “alpha” in quotes. That dipshit aint leading no packs.

  9. avatar John N says:

    Couldn’t agree more. When my girlfriend, now wife, wanted to learn how to shoot I had her sign up for a local beginners class when she was ready. And I’m an instructor. I’ve seen what you wrote about too many times. It usually doesn’t go well with the significant others. I think the “teacher” expects too much of the student and the student expects too much out of the teacher. Both the teacher and the student will say and do things that they would never do in a class environment. It’s so much better to have someone else do the teaching. It worked for firearms, archery and motorcycles. Me and my wife enjoy all three of these activities! And there was never any hard or disgruntled feelings.

    1. avatar Youzernayme says:

      lucky you, sir.
      rule #1 for teaching a lady to shoot (or anything really). don’t be her husband.
      i heard my wife and co. talking about this very thing. when we try to show/teach/explain something, apparently it’s called “man-splaining”.

      1. avatar Gunr says:

        Good post, but it’s “man-splani’n”

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I bought my girlfriend a .25 Beretta and had her “load” and “fire” it a few hundred times over several days before I ever bought any bullets. She’s been CCing for 50 years now and my bride for 48, no problems. I bought her a 175 cc street bike and we rode together for 25 years, with her graduating to a 450, 700, then 900 cc bikes. She drove her 900 often with our 4-year-old son asleep in front of her, lying on the gas tank. If there is that much trouble teaching your wife something like that, I would suspect other troubles are ahead.

    3. avatar Sock Monkey says:

      I had no problems teaching my fiancee to shoot. She had fun. Since then, she’s taken a CCW permit class, and we went to a couple of trap-shooting classes together, but she has never really gotten into shooting as much as I have.

  10. avatar davidx says:

    I’ve started both genders (yes, there really ARE only TWO) with .22LR and .22WMR semi-auto rifles (Ruger 10-22 and Remington 597s) and Ruger SA revolver). From there to .38 wadcutter target reloads in revolvers and then moving up through .38+P and .357 and the nines. If they wanna go further then I’ve gone with them to heavier calibers in the handguns and rifles accordingly.

    The doofus at Sara’s range probably just lost us another shooting ally and he could use a good hard smack across his dumbass face IMHO. And then be put to work policing up brass at that range for a month or so.

    1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

      Hard to believe there is still a range in the country where people don’t pick up their own brass… I find a cartridge case left behind now and again at my range, but it is pretty rare. The 4H kids who shoot Friday nights sweep up the .22 brass and sell it.

      We even pick up and discard the steel and aluminum cases if we shoot that stuff. Someone who left our range littered with casings would be asked to pick them up… or leave.

  11. avatar Grindstone says:

    How to teach a woman to shoot a gun.

    Step 1: Teach her like you would anybody else.

    The end.

    1. avatar TravisP says:

      I treat women differently, but it’s only because they are easier to teach. A lot of times men are little too proud to accept advice, even if it’s about crossing their thumbs. Women typically need to be told once, shown twice, and they have it. Men need to be shown once and ocassionally told a few dozen times.

      1. avatar anaxis says:

        The Army doesn’t call it “corrective training” for no good reason. 😉

  12. avatar Jon in CO says:

    I would say that most people, sexes aside, prefer to have the same sex teaching them things. I would think that it more equates to “this person is just like me”, and it makes them more comfortable.

  13. avatar tfunk says:

    Not sure why if you saw her thumb where it was going to be injured you didn’t say something, regardless of whether you think the guy would approve or not.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      Yeah, if you see someone doing something that’s straight-up unsafe (and breaking your thumb with the slide definitely counts) at a gun range, you shouldn’t be worrying about bruising someone’s ego.

      1. avatar twency says:

        I can think of a couple reasons she didn’t. One, she’d already been waved off by someone how thought he knew better. She couldn’t be sure he wasn’t about to correct her mistake, and if he was then she was going to make the situation worse. What she was doing was unwise, potentially unsafe, but probably not likely to result in permanent injury or death. One has to weigh the potential cost of attempting to intervene vs. the potential cost of the possible injuries (physical and or psychological).

        Two, at the point where she saw the problem developing there was a newbie with a live gun in her hand and her finger on or near the trigger. Trying to get her/their attention could have resulted in the dreaded “HUH?” muzzle sweep of the range as the newbie turned around, which is bad enough with a weapon thought to be unloaded but is truly a deadly risk with a weapon certain to be loaded and a shooter on the cusp of pulling the trigger. It may have been the safest thing to do to let her injure her thumb while keeping the gun pointed downrange. (Of course is there were more than one round loaded then you have the ensuing potential problem of an injured, maybe panicked newbie waving a loaded gun around while assessing the injury.)

  14. avatar TravisP says:

    I’ve taught more women in my safety classes than men. Go over safety, how the weapon works, and my golden rule, just be safe and have fun. They typically are easier to teach in my opinion. I start with a .22 for all zero experience shooters. Then we move to a CZ 75 or Sig P225 in 9mm, heavy steel frame eats recoil, thin grips, and a good ergos. If they are still wanting to shoot we move to a PPS or Glock 26, some people get exhausted after the first 50 or so rounds, and I don’t force people to keep shooting

    Of course if they bring their own gun we use it after the 22, except for the one lady who brought a LCR in 357 with 158 grain 357 loads,

    1. avatar Tim C says:

      That’s a good one! Bought a LCR in 38 spcl and my wife was saying it was “hers”. Had some +P loads I used to work her up to a GP 100 357 loads. She fired it once and put it down and has never touched it again.

  15. avatar DaveL says:

    I prefer to start beginners on long guns, especially small bore rifles, for several reasons:

    1. Muzzle discipline is easier. It’s very easy to laser everybody on the range with a handgun using only an absent minded turn of the wrist.

    2. On a related note, it’s very easy for a beginner to pass their hand in front of the muzzle of a handgun without realizing while trying to manipulate it.

    3. As the author’s example shows, handguns have “no go zones”, behind the slide on a semi-auto and at the cylinder-barrel gap on a revolver, where an incorrect grip can result in instant pain.

  16. avatar John L. says:

    The best advice I have for a guy who wants to teach his lady to shoot:

    Don’t.

    Offer to take a beginner’s class with her. Or to just pay for her class if she’d rather go solo. Or hire a private instructor for a couple of hours.

    But those first steps are far too important to let something like the relationship get in between knowledge and practice.

    1. avatar Grindstone says:

      I’ve taught my wife. My mother. Two sister-in-laws. A friend. And a friend’s wife.

      Drilling on the Four Laws before the range is essential. When they have that, everything else is just details. Patience and understanding are also key. Be clear and concise. Go slow. Know their limitations. Stick to the basics.

      Women aren’t some alien species that speaks only in Greek. They’re humans, surprisingly just like men.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        “Women aren’t some alien species …”

        I cannot tell you how relieved I am. I heard that women are from Venus and men are from Mars!

  17. avatar Charlie says:

    Rule #1: Never, ever, ever, start a newbie out with a handgun or a semi! All of my students start with a single shot .22 rifle. Adult, teen, child, it doesn’t matter. If they want Rambo they can get another instructor!

    Our first session always starts in the living room. I teach them the manual of arms and the safety rules. They won’t even see ammunition until we get to the range.

    People like shooting things, but you can’t present a newbie with concepts above their grade (like autoloaders!). You’ll be winning if they can figure out the sights the first time out!

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Good advice. It’s too easy for a beginner to forget there is another round in the pipe, waiting to go! For newbies, there needs to be something happening, before the next round is ready, something that the shooter needs to do, like cycle a pump, swing a lever, etc.
      Autoloaders for beginners is an accident waiting to happen.

    2. avatar Grindstone says:

      Wife started on a pistol, we didn’t have any .22s or small rifles at the time. As long as the Four Laws are understood and obeyed, there should not be any problems. Of course, don’t be a dumbass and hand a S&W500 to a 12 year old. But if you load the semi with one round at a time, it makes no difference from a single-shot bolt action.

      1. avatar Chrispy says:

        My 10 year old nephew desperately wanted to shoot my SR9c. I made it safe and while in the house showed him how it works, and exactly what happens after the trigger pull. I grabbed snap caps and taught him to load a round in the magazine. I showed him how to grip the gun properly, passing it back and forth between us a couple of dozen times. Each time he took it from me I watched him slowly and carefully adjusting his grip until it was exactly the way I showed him to make it. When I was confident he wouldn’t hurt himself we went outside with a couple rounds of live ammo. I was very impressed with how well he could take instruction!

        I fired it once so he could see what it really looks like and sounds like (of course ear pro was used). Then we loaded one round into a mag, and I had him stand in front of me so I could support his arms and keep control of the muzzle direction while he handles the gun, (he is small framed and diabetic, so the gun was still physically a bit bigger than he could comfortably handle). When he was ready I disengaged the safety and he put a hole on the target. Whats more, he didn’t hurt himself, and after the shock of the event wore off he caught a case of the giggles and couldn’t stop.

        Of course he wanted to do it again, so after a debriefing of what happened and a review of everything we had already covered in the house we did it again. He ended up with two holes in the target shaped like an 8.

        What a great day that was…

  18. avatar Kendahl says:

    My immediate reaction is what a stupid son of a bitch. I understand that Sara didn’t want to intervene any farther than she did. Doing so would probably have provoked a confrontation. I’ve been in the same position and didn’t feel I dared straighten out the mess.

    What Sara might have done was to offer first aid to the wife and, while bandaging her injury, offer to teach her the right way or point her to an NRA introductory class. For a nominal charge, they provide everything including instructors who actually know how to teach.

    My gun club’s range rules authorize and require any member to intervene when safety procedures are violated. If that doesn’t work, the incident is to be reported to the club’s officers for further action. That can range from a scolding to revocation of membership.

  19. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    I’ll give Sara credit for trying, but this ain’t complicated. Starting out ANY new shooter with a pocket 9mm is just stupid. And you can’t fix stupid.

  20. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Wrong tool for the job of training as mentioned. I think either she thought it was a cute gun or that he didn’t evaluate her capabilities compared to the gun she was shooting. Snappy is crappy for new shooters.

    I want to take my wife out with my ar22 and k frame and see what she does with those. Handloads should let me roll some gentle .38s.

  21. avatar Ralph says:

    I’ve found that women are really good students because they actually listen. In my experience, the Walther PK380 is an excellent training gun — well, it has to be good for something — because recoil is very manageable and anybody can rack the slide. Starting anyone, male or female, with a snappy pistol is just bad practice. And that little Kimber is snappy.

  22. avatar Accur81 says:

    After safety, the biggest factor for new/women shooters is light recoil. The video on top was clearly introductory, but a .357 snubbie LCR is not a comfortable gun to shoot. My Smith 340 PD with full power .357 loads is the snappiest gun I own.

    I think the .22 LR is a great starter gun, whether a pistol or rifle. It can be a self defense gun in a pinch, although there are a lot of better options. If a women is comfortable and having fun, the good times keep coming – in pretty much any activity. If not, then the teaching approach is lacking.

    My first time shooting a 12 gauge was with my dad’s old side by side in a Hunter’s Safety class. I was all of 13 years old and weighed about 120 pounds. My “gift” was a high brass turkey load, and I was told to hold the end of the buttstock exactly 6″ from my right shoulder. I pulled the trigger and got knocked on my a$$. A group of nearby father’s and sons had a good laugh. I did, too. My dad apologized, and then the real instruction began.

    Sometimes I wish our world had a little more old-fashioned hazing. Everyone’s just too damn sensitive. But that’s a topic for another day.

  23. avatar JSJ says:

    If Sara saw the finger injury waiting to happen, so did the Husband/Boyfriend.
    The fact he stood there and allowed her to hurt herself makes him a Jackass.
    Not the way to bring new people into the shooting sports, pal. Not at all.

  24. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I sure love my wife. Never a problem shooting. Then again she ain’t a girly-girl but a real woman…

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      Just curious, what is your definition of the difference?

  25. avatar Higgs says:

    I got into guns about 3 years ago. A female coworker and her husband are FFLs, when I asked her for a good pistol to start with she recomended a 22LR pistol ( Bretta Neos). She said learn to shoot if the 22 first so you dont develop any bad habits from a gun with too much recoil, has a good site raduis, was accurate, and that it would be a good gun to get my wife and kids to shoot with.

    She was right.

    Like other have suggested we started in at home, learning to operate the gun, the safty rules, practicing without ammo, talking about what to do at the range. The wife and I started to go to the range and from the begining she was able to put every round on paper from 5 to 7 yards out. Went through same process with 2 of my daughters. First time out both of them put every round on target. The range master actually complimented them and said he has customers praticing weekly that were not as acurate as they where. Now they love shooting too and one dauther is proving to be a natural with a rifle(22lr of course). They have all told me they would feel very comforatble using the 22 to protect themselves should the situation call for it. ( Please – no lectures on calibers. They are still learning the skills. I under stand all the ballistic arguments, and also understand that a 22 in attakers body is better than a 45 in the door frame)

    Based on my experince there are alot of benefits for every one to start with small caliber guns, form good habits, then start working up to more powerful calibers.

  26. avatar Bob109 says:

    Yep, I have seen that numerous times before. Guy brings girl to range for first time. She is wearing clothing for a date, I.e., short dress, low cut shirt, high heels, etc., not something for the range. He hands her his tacticool subcompact in .40 or .45 and then gives her a set of BS instructions that will guarantee she will never set foot on the range again. But for women, there is salvation. There are tons of groups forming out there explicitly for women led by women. Check out NRA’s Well Armed Women. I met a few leaders of that organization, and I am impressed.

  27. avatar Dustin says:

    facepalm…

    I’m not sure which is worse, minding one’s own business when there is an obviously bad thing about to happen, or being the doofus that handed that gun to a first timer…

    Nobody wants to get involved… Stupid wins again… But it’s so cute… Whatever.

  28. avatar slow joe crow says:

    I don’t understand the thinking, or lack of thinking behind the YouTube videos of women given Desert Eagles, or 12 gauge shotguns, just to get knocked over and laughed at. I’ve actually been through the teaching difficult stuff with my wife twice, with motorcycles and guns. With the motorcycle, I knew the right answer for the relationship was a class taught by a pro, and staying away, then getting a comfortable sized bike.
    Shooting was the same, we worked with an experienced friend, started with a pellet gun, then a .22 rifle. For a first try with a pistol we rented a .22 auto, took it slow and she hit the bullseye after 20 rounds, so now she is asking me to buy her one.
    Unlike this putz I clearly warned her to keep her thumbs well clear of the slide, and dry fired first. My wife loves shooting and wants to go back.

  29. avatar Phil LA says:

    Single-loaded bolts or revolvers first, and in small caliber. Safety and positive reinforcement. Nice and slow with gentle corrections as needed. There 3 main goals when bringing a newbie to the range.
    1) Safety
    2) Removal of the gun mystique
    3) Willingness to come back and do it again

  30. avatar Phil LA says:

    Also, new shooters are easy to spot at the range. When I see a new shooter (almost always with a more experienced shooter), I usually unload and step off the line until they find their groove. Ranges can be noisy with lots of other shooters, and I don’t want a newbie to get distracted or nervous due to the report of other guns.

  31. avatar Tim C says:

    Good info. Tried to get my wife to shoot the P95 today at the range. She doesn’t like slide guns and prefers her GP100 6″‘ Wanted her to get use to it since it is the bedroom gun in a combination lockbox. Traded it for a LCR 38 as it is 10 rounds
    Instead of five. Anyway this reminded me to have her dry fire it and watch for the slide. Next time we’ll try it.

  32. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    I almost made that exact same mistake with a girlfriend once. I caught it before the slide hit her thumb, but the end result in her attitude was the same. Oh well. Lesson learned about learning lessons.

  33. avatar NJGUNGUY says:

    I taught my wife and daughter how to shoot. I started each of them on a Savage 22LR rifle and only when htye were comfortable did we move to a M&P 22 pistol and then slowly up from there. They both now shoot 357 without a problem and love going to the range.

  34. avatar Brandon says:

    All the comments about .22LR being the ideal caliber to teach with (and I agree 100%) just reinforces what a tragedy it is that .22 isn’t more available. There are a lot of new gun owners out there that probably don’t shoot much because they can’t feed their heater. Also, the barriers to entry for suppressor ownership is criminal too. I jumped through all the hoops and am glad I did because I enjoy it, and have helped hesitant new shooters not be as intimidated by the report of the firearm. I should have just been able to walk into my LGS and find them stacked next to the rest of the ear pro and bought one without question or paperwork.

    1. avatar Chrispy says:

      “…and find them stacked next to the rest of the ear pro and bought one without question or paperwork.”

      Someday that may very well be the case, and I cannot wait.

  35. avatar AW says:

    20 years ago my daughter expressed interest in shooting with me. At the time all I had was a .357 magnum S&W revolver, probably not the best gun to shoot first. So I take her and her boyfriend to the range, and she is really nervous. Of course I am not by any means an instructor, so I am trying to articulate to her how to hold the gun and how to handle the recoil and she says “I’m scared.” About that time the range guy comes over and asks if he can help, so I stepped back and let him take over. I am really glad I did, because right away I knew he was an instructor. Anyway, she did great for her first time and now we shoot, along with her husband, all the time. That first impression is everything!

  36. avatar dwb says:

    Consider the possibility that “screaming that she’s never shooting again” might be exactly the intended effect. just saying.

    I took my wife, she started on a .22 and moved up to my 1911. Ugh, she shot it better than me with only a few tries.

  37. avatar jwtaylor says:

    I love the 22s as well, but I’ve found a lot of success with starting pistol shooting in a heavy single action army revolver. I load a starting load for a 44spl into a Ruger Bisley Hunter. The gun is big and heavy, and to everyone just screams GUN. But loaded with a light 44spl, it has very little recoil. It also has a a long right radius, and the single action really helps with safety. Plus people love the pics of them shooting this giant gun and they get a sense of accomplishment.

  38. avatar W.P. Zeller says:

    We, my A-class competitor female partner and I, an old guy with centuries of experience, teach many Women’s Introduction to Handgun classes in our area at several ranges. We speak from a great deal of experience, having conducted literally hundreds of such classes, women’s and co-ed, over the years.
    Indeed, problem one is mates-teaching-mates.
    Mine is a chef but explodes in frustration when I enter the kitchen to feed myself.
    I have 3/4 million miles on motorcycles but simply cannot teach her to ride one.
    Experts in the field call it “marital selective deafness” and it’s a significant relationship lubricant.
    It can also block teaching input, along with the relationship dynamics gumming up the transfer of knowledge.
    But small guns, never mind the sex of the shooter, are terrible first-shot guns and even worse first guns.
    We’re on commercial ranges almost every day and what we see makes our eyes hurt and heads ache, the little guns being foisted on newbies.
    Grip is arguably the most critical element of handgun shooting and is hard enough to learn on standard-sized guns. Using a micro that’s near-impossible to grip well even by an expert is cruel and defeating.
    Incidentally, we can do without the sexism- suggesting that men are the problem ignores the very considerable sexism that women can project, on the range, too: the mere mention of female instructors somehow being necessary for female shooters is an illustration of that.
    The only big technical advantage of the female instructor is that she can manipulate female shooters without trigger warnings; the rest is stuck in the pop-psychology world.
    I will note, though, the presence of a high-skill female handgunner does have an effect on the new lady shooter, and this is to the good.
    Yet, on the range, during the first fourteen shots (our starter sequence in the Intros), it isn’t necessarily the female partner who gets the best hits out of each of the shooters, not by the evidence on the paper. The whole instructor/instructee dynamic is too variable for simple gender-isms.
    But there are two Great Truths:
    NO TINY GUNS.
    And, don’t teach your Significant Other.

  39. avatar FedUp says:

    This reminds me of my first experience with a semi auto pistol (Ruger Standard Model) when I was 11.
    I watched my older brother shoot it, and imagined the slide continuing to go back at a high rate of speed instead of moving back a bit more than an inch and returning.
    I was a bit apprehensive every time I squeezed the trigger, but since I really loved to shoot, I got over it eventually.

    Dammit, after dredging up that 40 year old memory, I bet it happens again the next time I shoot my 1911.

  40. avatar IdahoPete says:

    + about a million.

    Whenever I help ANY new shooter – female or male – I always start them on a .22LR revolver. Easy to understand the controls, easy to tell if it is loaded or not, no semi-auto “jam drill”, easy to shoot, minimal recoil, and fun. The other thing you want to do is let the new shooter try several different grip styles and sizes, to find the one that best fits their hand (that’s a good reason to use a J-frame S&W revolver – lots of interchangeable grips). And if you are a someone who has never fired a gun before, do NOT let anyone start you on anything except a .22 revolver.

  41. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    If I had to teach a newbie to shoot, I still think some sort of .22 rifle is best. Single shot or bolt action is preferred, but the Nylon 66 and the Ruger 10/22 are not bad for a semi auto. One nice thing about the Nylon 66 is that you can have an empty tube magazine and tilt the rifle to one side, put a round on the bolt, and pull the bolt back, and the round drops in and chambers itself. Ergonomics of the Nylon 66 are great for smaller and less strong shooters. The iron sights are fairly decent as well. The Ruger 10/22 does have optional magazines that can only hold one round, so charging the bolt results in no more than one round being capable of being in the rifle.

  42. avatar joe says:

    I really don’t understand why more people don’t learn on a .22 revolver. Almost no recoil and they are much more forgiving for the student than a semi auto. Can’t undersell getting some professional instruction the first time.

  43. avatar JTwig says:

    I’ve started my kids on an old daisy BB gun, which they at first would use under my observation, in the back yard. After a few summers they can now use it without (constant) observation. This was the first summer I could take my oldest to the range (wife is not a gun person, and we negotiated what age I could take them to shoot “real” firearms).

    He started out with a .22LR Cricket, and over the course of the summer worked his way up to an AR. Last trip he even shot the 12g (of his own volition, and after much pestering), but only after I warned him several times that it was going to kick like nothing else he had fired. To his credit he fired all five rounds, and then told me he would like to wait a few more years before he fired it again, and went back to plinking away with the Cricket.

    I think its best to ease a new shooter in as softly as you can, and let them tell you when they are ready to try something new.

  44. avatar Mrbadnews says:

    I really enjoy hating the Kimber Solo.

    Personal opinion: Start newbies with a full sized pistol. I’ve found that a lot of women start off very well with a 1911 in 45. Personally I don’t like a 1911 or .45 acp. But with a new shooter, its not about what I prefer. Its about safety and what the new shooter is comfortable with.

  45. avatar Cyn says:

    Always happy to discover another knowledgeable shooter–who shoots “like a girl”!

  46. avatar Bradley Hall says:

    I was a Minnesota firearms safety instructor (moved to Nevada now) There is nothing that makes me get more upset than some guy trying to make a woman look bad. Having them shoot a 12 gauge shotgun with 3 1/2″ magnum shells for example. Like the article mentions, it’s a huge loss for gun rights every time it happens. I think it must be a guy who for whatever reason believes woman can’t or should not shoot. Does this make a guy feel better by hurting someone? My wife had never shot a gun before. I had trained her about firearm safety and sighing in a handgun. On her very first shot she hit the target. I looked at her face and I thought “Oh no, she is hooked and this is going to cost me.” Of course not in a bad way. The look on her face was one of excitement, joy and power. I say power because she had never felt the recoil of a gun. It was only a .22 cal handgun shooting long rifle ammo, but she was hooked. Before long she found a .22 target pistol and jumped at the chance to own it. Now I have ask to use HER gun! If you have someone in your life interested in shooting or learning about firearms please don’t take that away from them by being stupid. And yes I said stupid. Allow them to start out slow with a smaller caliber gun. Who knows you may make a friend for life!

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