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….