As a female gun writer, owner, and all around gun rights advocate, I’m constantly teaching women how to shoot. I want to help women succeed. Other than trying to cope with “excessive” recoil, new female shooters have a common complaint, one that’s easily corrected. Hands down, the second most common problem experienced by brand new women shooters is . . .
their teacher’s lack of patience and overly critical attitude.
Truth be told, women shut down when they’re constantly criticized – especially by men. If a firearms instructor gives too much advice too quickly, say after every shot, the newbie female student’s going to become frustrated. They can stop listening closely, or at all. (Yes, this applies to men as well, but more so to women.) Instructors need to step back, let their female students empty the mag, then give advice slowly and calmly.
The “sandwich method” works best.
After a female student has shot at least several rounds, say something complimentary (the bread), followed by constructive criticism (the filling), followed by more praise (another slice of bread). For example, “That was pretty good, especially for your first try with this gun. Next time, try not to anticipate the recoil. Pull the trigger slowly. Let the recoil ‘surprise’ you. But really, good job. Ready to try again?” Resist the urge to say “You’re flinching. Only move your finger. OK, go.” Sandwich compliments around every piece of advice.
Instructors also need to give women psychological and temporal space to ask questions. When dealing with a woman who’s new to guns, instructors should remember that women tend to be less knowledgable about firearms than their male counterparts (who usually have a history of playing gun games and watching cinematic gunfights). If a female newbie asks a really stupid question, that’s a sure sign that they’re comfortable with their instructor.
I know it seems like I’m saying women need to be coddled more than men. In all honesty, some do. Shooting, like any hobby or pursuit, takes practice. I don’t know how many women complain to me that they don’t want to go shooting anymore because their [husband, brother, father, boyfriend, friend, etc.) is too critical and expects too much. Back off.
We all start somewhere. My father didn’t expect me to be perfect when I was little and just learning to shoot. He took his time and explained things to me. Expecting a woman to hit the center of the target on her first trip to the range is a little much. Expecting a first time clay shooter to hit every single clay is a little much. Taking the time to be patient, understanding, open and supportive is just right.