heidi-shotgun-courtesy-thetruthaboutguns

H.L. Harris writes:

Lampasas is 60 miles north — and a world away — from Austin. It’s home to four gun shops — and not a single Starbucks. Before last week, I thought I lived in the best possible place to learn about firearms. I was wrong. I started my misadventure at Nocked & Loaded . . .

N&L houses a shooting range for bow and arrow and a courtyard in the back where customers can kick back and smoke a stogie. The gentleman who greeted me at the door was nice enough, and honest to a fault. He stated straight out that he knew nothing about guns. He pointed me in the direction of a salesman named Chris.

I waited twenty minutes or so for Chris to finish with another customer. As I explained that I’d come in to get my first gun, Chris got busy rolling his eyes. When I asked him about buying a GLOCK — recommended by a friend who said they never jam– Chris shut me down. “I never recommend a GLOCK to a woman,” he said. “In my experience, women can’t handle a GLOCK.”

“Is that so?” I replied, trying not to let him see my feminist feathers ruffle. “Why is that?”

Chris said he’d never come across a woman strong enough to rack a GLOCK’s slide. I asked him to show little old me how it’s done. He sighed and fetched a GLOCK from the showcase. Chris showed me where to place my hands so that I wouldn’t pinch myself or drop the gun. Without much effort, I racked the slide.

There was a beat of awkward silence between man and woman. I broke it by asking what kind of ammo I would need. After showing me a box of something-or-other, Chris lost interest. My “interview” was over.

I drove to two other gun shops. One was only open two hours a day. The other didn’t have its hours displayed on the door; a sign simply said ‘closed.’ I ended-up at J’s Gun Co.

‘J’s’ as it’s known locally, operates out of a tiny, windowless room inside an old office building. J told me that he opened his shop 21 years ago, after post-military boredom.

As we talked about my situation, J made fun of the idea of a woman carrying a concealed firearm. Where do you hide a gun under a skirt? While I happened to be wearing a skirt that day, I pointed out that women wear jeans and T-shirts, just like men. J was undeterred and unimpressed.

When I mentioned that I’m originally from Austin, J immediately pronounced me a liberal. In his world view, everyone in Austin is a liberal. And they’re all afraid of guns. All they want is a safe place where they can run and hide from an active shooter. Did I have a safe space?

My confusion must have been written all over my face. When I countered that not everyone who lives in Austin is liberal, J declared that all common sense had gone from “the younger folk.” I took that as my cue to leave and politely excused myself.

I was ready to give up. Macy, my partner in crime prevention, said he knew a guy who might help.

Johnny Chadwick is an Emergency Room nurse. He says he spent several years in Army intelligence, charged with finding, identifying and destroying enemy weapons. He “fell into” the medical world when his platoon was short a medic after an especially violent firefight. He agreed to meet me as long as I didn’t spout any “Lib-tard rubbish.”

“Which gun do you recommend I buy for personal defense?” I asked after we’d been introduced. “Revolver,” he replied.

He said a revolver’s a great starter gun because there’s no magazine to fuss with. They’re light, easily carried on a smaller-framed person. And some revolvers are snag-free or hammerless: the preferred model for women who carry in their purse. I asked if I could see one. Unfortunately, Johnny didn’t have one on hand. He’d brought an AK, AR-15, 12-gauge shotgun and a .40-caliber pistol.

Johnny told me that a shotgun was a great choice for home defense. It could inflict a great deal of damage at a short distance –ideal for my living room. A shotgun’s accuracy is better than a handgun at that distance, Johnny said. He racked the forend. “That’s Texan for GIT,” he announced.

Johnny showed me three different types of shotgun rounds: bird shot, buck shot and a slug. That’s how he loads his home defense shotgun, using the sequence to increase lethality with each shot. He showed me how the shells are loaded and unloaded, and how to hold the gun when firing and at rest.

We walked out to the bit of land Johnny uses to teach free classes for the Texas License to Carry. I was surprised how easy it was to shoot the shotgun. I fired it from the traditional shoulder position and tucked underneath my arm, Bonnie Parker-style. (Johnny explained that I might not always have the time to raise the gun all the way up to my shoulder in the heat of the moment.)

My first shot was from about 35 feet out. I hit the target dead center. I was so excited I asked to try again. I hit the target’s head square on. I loved the smell of the gunpowder that creeped out of the chamber when I racked the firearm, but passed on a chance to fire the slug. I was afraid of the recoil such a huge bullet might produce.

I left Johnny’s field of dreams feeling better-informed, and a lot less insulted and intimidated. While I’ve yet to settle on my first gun, I feel more ready to make that choice. More ready. But not ready. For that, I’ve got to travel to the liberaland to meet with the TTAG team (who were horrified by my experiences). Wish me luck!

170 Responses to A Newbie’s Tale from Texas

    • Yep, let’s see. She never denied being a liberal. She also never fessed up on where she hides a pistol while wearing a skirt. She has a partner in crime-prevention, but this was her first outing, and her partner ‘knew a guy’. All the gun stores / gun dealers were bad but she operated operationally with the first pistol held and she shot expert.

      You know what they say Austin (TX) “Fool me once. . . No the F you didn’t”

        • Robert, it’s the articles authenticity that bothers me. I’ve met gun shop employees like that and have worked very hard all these years to NOT be like them. These days I try to lead by example to my fellow gun salesmen, listen to the customer, never try to impress them with how much you THINK you know, avoid exaggeration or sterotyping, anecdotes should be only your own experiences- not “I heard of one guy who” ones. And so forth.
          Above all, sell the customer the gun they need, not the one you want them to buy.

        • Really? Just because you don’t like a stereotype, it doesn’t mean there isn’t truth in it. I twice had the $1000 1911 slapped down on the counter when I said I was looking for my first handgun, no doubt to “test” the wuss asking about .380s. I had the ex-LEOs who only want you to buy Glocks. Then the ol’ “the lady needs a snubby” fellas when I took a young woman friend gun shopping (a liberal, by the way — that H.L. may or may not be a liberal should have no bearing on her treatment). Gun stores open two hours a day? That’s every other gun store around here. Fortunately, I have avoided the outright sexist gun store commandos, but they are out there. You all whine about how more people should gun up, but then cry when reality doesn’t ratify your view of the world.

        • I am fortunate enough to have a number of friends who happen to be smart, independent, women. They’ve all encountered guys like this. Although her account may seem cartoonish, cultural bottom-feeders like this still exist and still inflict themselves on woman who have the temerity to buy their own guns, have their own cars fixed, or get their own houses repaired.

          Note to Robert: Her experience is a perfect example of why TTAG (i.e., you) should offer free women-only introductory courses on gun-choice, gun-ownership, and gun safety. The women who attend will love you for it. Really.

        • Ya, we’re not talking about buying a gun (no guns were purchased during the making of this particular OP) we’re talking about a story about going to buy a gun. Again, the purpose of the story is not to tell you about either, it’s to write a story for TTAG. She through in some other stuff as a segue that seems contrived, and I’m sticking with my answer, and I gave more honest feedback, guidance, and real encouragement with my comments than you ladies and gent.

          P.S. – I don’t get worked up, but the little I do, I don’t calm-down even when I’m sleeping.

        • You can guarantee this article is 100% authentic? Funny that I don’t remember you being present for the conversation or even in our store. But alas, if it’s on the Internet it must be 100% true…….

      • Some people go out looking for a firearm, and sometimes a firearm performs an “outing” on a person trying to write a story.

        bs flag thrown,

        and my hat.

        • Lol no one cares about your flag or your hat. Just admit that her story rustled your jimmies and move along.

          Good luck H. L., with your first experience it sounds like you’re going to need it!

          p.s. My wife’s first shots came with my Glock 19, it’s still her favorite gun!

      • I have these awesome things attached to my body called legs. On the thigh area of my leg, I could easily strap a holster and a gun. Amazingly simple, right? And it’s ok to be jealous of what a good shot I have been starting out. I appreciate the sentiment 😉

        • It coulda been a bright sunny day, nice pics of you at the range, throwin’ it downrange. People woulda lined up just to see what you wore/shot next. Instead you did the monkey cage flyby on a few places I’ve never heard about, and if they’ve heard of you, it may only be because you caught them on an off day, but you didn’t need it for street cred.

          Write some stuff about some good guns, bad guns, shooting, if you had a bad time at a few lgs’ it didn’t need more than a list.

          Let’s say I was a gun manufacturer. . . why the flaming f would I send you anything to review now. How about that article.

        • In case you were wondering, Ms. Harris, the above is what “That Guy” sounds like around here.

        • Ms. Harris, feel free to ignore that guy. He usually calms down a bit by late afternoon.

          Should it help, I’ve seen exactly what you describe in your story, though I’ve also seen people have experiences to the contrary. Way up here on the other end of I-35 and while at a range store picking up some accessories for Christmas gifts yesterday, I watched a sales person at a gun store (not a Cabela’s, but one of those less pretty locations that seems to scream “gun nut a**hole” to the uninitiated) very politely and professionally talk to a woman who was fresh out of her carry permit class and shopping for her first carry gun.

          I’m glad you found someone who was willing to help you out, and I’m quite positive the TTAG staff will be able to further assist. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel that gun rights aren’t for every citizen of this country or that you aren’t welcome, just spend your money elsewhere!

          Carry on.

        • And there are concealed carry purses, such as the one I bought for my daughter. While off body carry is considered not optimal, she finds it stylish, it has a strap long enough for cross body carry with an integrated cable to prevent purse snatchers getting your purse, and has enough room for a small concealed carry pistol with reloads. Don’t let the a**holes get you down. Women are in many places half the participants in CCW classes.

        • Dont let the ney sayers get to you H.L. …. Out here in the bastion of conservative thought (San Francisco Bay Area) we have gun dealers exactly like the ones you described. Usually the boutique gun store owners who maintain a store front as a means of maintaining their FFL’s; i.e. small, non-descript, store fronts open for the bare minimum number of hours to justify their front as a “buisness operation”. They have no interest in selling guns and probably just wanted you out of their “store”.

          On the other end of that, I’ve run in to the guys who want to sell women “my little pony” guns, and cant believe that a woman would want a full frame semi auto etc. My wife wanted a single action vaquero because it looked fun to shoot and she wanted to mix it up from her sig226 .357 and beretta 92fs. The guy kept pushing pink and purple hammerless 5-shot revolvers on her to the point where she got frustrated and gave up. She usually sticks her pistolas in the stroller, diaper bag, purse, or jacket pocket. Shes not big on body carry…. that being said my daughter loves pink and purple and we built her a punisher/hello kitty themed AR-15’ish rifle, and she loves it. The idea I’m getting at is that you should know who you are, know what you want, and stick to your guns…. you sound like you do that anyway so keep it up.

        • Congrats on the accuracy of your first two shots, however buckshot and the slug you didn’t fire are going to have no significant difference in felt recoil. Plus if the photo accompanying your article is how you fired the shotgun with full loads, you did not have a pleasant experience. You look like one of those utube videos where some assh@le gives a heavy recoil gun to a newby woman w/ no instruction so he can film her being knocked on her butt.

        • I hope your next experience is more positive. Not all of the XY crowd are ass-hats, and I hope some of us down there can show you that. Writing from Western Washington, I’m always blown away when I read accounts like this.

      • She never said anything about shooting the pistol. It was the shotgun she was talking about, and if you cant hit the target with a shotgun you have problems. I have heard many gunshop counter people talk down to customers because they dont live and breath guns. Its like car people who scoff at you because you cant recite the hp numbers and zero to sixty times and g-force for every car out there. You sound a lot like the people she is talking about.

  1. jesus, sorry you had to run into some many right-tards on your first outing. At least you found one person who has “unbiased” at least in their vocabulary.

    • I have been in the same gun store (Notched N Loaded) and I have never been treated the was y say u were. I have the utmost respect for them, there help and info for my son and I on many trips to the gun shop. I have a fealing u came to town with your mind already set up for a bashing!

  2. You’ve just taken your first step into a larger world!

    …Unfortunately, you are gonna get some of those guys. I usually just wave my hand and tell them they’re not being idiots.

    • Oy. Yeah, you’ll want to lean into the gun a bit more to keep your balance, especially when it comes to something that bucks like a 12-gauge. Bonnie Parker did a lot of things that shouldn’t be emulated.

      But still, if your first experiences went like that and you were undeterred, then you’re off to a fantastic start.

        • As well you should be.

          Every fandom has “That Guy” in it; the sort for whom it’s not enough to simply enjoy something and use it as a way to bond and share experiences with others. You can usually spot them by their uniform, whether it’s a football jersey outside of the stadium, a Team GLOCK polo shirt and 5.11 pants behind the counter of your local gun store, or a homemade Starfleet outfit anywhere at all. They come in many shapes and sizes, but the personality type is generally the same.

          We admire his dedication, but we honestly don’t really care for “That Guy” either, and for what it’s worth, many of us appreciate you keeping an open mind and not letting him ruin it for you.

        • I’d recommend getting some proper training before buying a gun. And by proper, I don’t mean from a guy who likes to shoot and owns some guns. The NRA offers a few basic rifle and basic handgun courses. And there are similar classes available from reputable instructors. You want a structured class that’s been designed by experienced shooters to effectively teach students. For example: a good instructor would have spent several minutes explaining proper stance to you, before you picked up the shotgun, then would have handed it to you unloaded to get your stance correct while you dry fired it (pull the trigger with an unloaded gun), and only then would have had you load and fire it.

          With just a quick search I found texasguntalk.com and austinhotshots.com, which appear to be web forums for local shooters. You could ask on there for recommendations for introductory courses.

          Then, once you know how to shoot and manipulate a gun, go to a gun range with a rental counter and compare every revolver and pistol that meets your criteria for capacity, size, and price. A Glock might be the best gun for the guy who recommended one to you, but there’s no way for him to know what’s best for you.

        • Sorta in the same boat….trying to figure out if, and when, and which gun. Thinking the big stores would be packed, and staffed by “experts”, took a day to visit five small shops (no corporate connections). The treatment was just as you described, and I am not woman hear me roar. Seems like these smaller shops are more hobby than business. Got pretty much ignored. Asked a sales person, or two, what to get for first gun. Told to look around and if something looked interesting, he would show it to me. Another store had no time for unknown customers. Staff busy talking to each other about whatever staff talks to each other about. At two other stores, staff recommended I not try to by a gun there, because people needed to find a place to rent guns and decide based on that. The final store, in a very small unit in a strip mall only carried S&W and GLOCK, but they could order “just about anything”.

          Being poorly treated seems more a cultural thing, than a sex thing. Nothing to get excited about. Take your business elsewhere.

          Looking at Google, San Antonio doesn’t seem that far from Austin. Might be more stores in San Antonio.

        • Ms. Harris,

          First off, I’d like to know how you “quoted me so accurately” when you were in the store for close to 30 minutes without taking a single note? I cannot speak for the other places you visited, nor the people in our great town of Lampasas that you felt the need to disparage, but your part about Nocked & Loaded and the time you spent with me was complete and utter garbage. You have misquoted me throughout the entire piece. Not once did I say “I’ve never met a woman who can’t work the slide on a Glock”. My exact words, when you asked me why I would recommend a revolver for an inexperienced female shooter, were “they are much less complicated, more reliable, and easier for people with a small frame and smaller hands to handle.” I went on to add that “a lot of women that I have met have difficulty working the slide on an automatic.” To which you replied “You mean like a Glock?”

          Furthermore, if you wish for someone to take you seriously, perhaps the next time you visit a place of business to write an article, you should take out a pen and paper and TAKE NOTES! That way you can make sure to get your facts straight. It would also be a good idea to leave the individual you brought with you behind. It appeared as if you were merely trying to distract me while your partner cased out our store. I noticed him looking to see where all of our security cameras were located and aimed, he checked out each display case to see what they contained, and spent an awful lot of time looking around the store checking out our security. Several times I caught him looking at the monitor which displays the security camera images and then looking up at the cameras as he moved about. It was obvious enough that the person working our archery department noticed it as well.

  3. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies…. those ignorant asshats very well could be turning off a number of possible converts just looking for some help and guidance like you were. Stupid on a stick.

  4. It’s counterintuitive that one would have trouble finding knowledgeable and polite folks to help select a firearm in rural Texas. Is this sort of experience unusual in the region, or more commonplace? Here in the urban/suburban areas of Tampa, FL, we have loads of gun shops, large and small, with helpful staff and massive selection / inventory. I guess I didn’t realize how lucky we are here in the “Gunshine State”!

    • Gotta agree with that. Shooter’s World, Shoot Straight and Pasco gun are top notch I’ve never had anything but great service.

    • It is VERY red in Lampasas and folks are weary of outsiders. I was very shocked that neither store wanted to give me the time of day, especially because I am pre-second amendment!

      • H.L., it’s unfortunate that people jump to conclusions and that your experiences in that area of TX were so negative. On the (hopefully) odd occasion when that sort of thing happens in the future, try using some of your newly acquired knowledge gathered here on TTAG and from other reputable sources to demonstrate that you are not an average uneducated consumer. Stay positive, learn as much as you can, and train hard!

      • “. . . It is VERY red in Lampasas . . .”

        Trust me, H.L. although it’s probably incidental, political conservatism is not the source of the problem you encountered. You just ran into a succession of particularly backward A-holes who, unfortunately, continue to infest gun culture. There’s nothing to be done for guys like this; they are who they are and are unlikely to change. Ever. I’ve gotten similar kinds of attitude at some gun stores when I’ve been standing there ready to spend money on their wares so I don’t think they’re hostility is necessarily gender-specific, either. People like you ran into just don’t like people who are different from them. It’s as simple as that. The best thing to do is get away from them as quickly as possible . . . and let them continue to eat their young.

    • I bought a Ruger LCP for my wife online. When we went to pick it up at a local Pawn FFL Dealer in “Central Florida” the guy was relentless in deriding our choice.
      The “only” CC weapon is a 9mm according to him.
      When we disagreed the conversation turned downhill.
      The website posted that the transfer fee was $25 but when we paid, we were told the fee is now $45.
      Was it because we didn’t share his 9mm belief? I can’t say, but We will Never do business there again.
      BTW I own a 9mm LC (don’t like it), a Colt 45 1911, a SW 38, a Charter Arms 38 Special and a Mauser 380 so I don’t have an ax to grind.
      PS my wife finds it difficult to rack the LCP so she won’t use it.

  5. Chris is an idiot. A child can rack a Glock. In fact you would be hard pressed to find someone who can’t.

    Her friend didn’t make a wise choice either. Loading a self defense shotgun with bird shot doesn’t sound very smart either. If you’re shooting someone, you want to disable them on the first shot so maximum lethality please.

    I think the author might have taken J’s comments a little too seriously, but I don’t know. There are a lot of idiots in the world. I’m not very fond of anyone in this, really. Very impressive managing to make everyone seem at least slightly annoying.

    • I’m going to reiterate that: Glocks have some of the lighter springs in the pistol world and are easier to rack than many others, and loading a self defense gun with birdshot is stupid on the face of it. The idea that it magically creases a 1 oz “wall of lead” falls apart if you can reason slightly better than a hedgehog.

      You spoke to- and were guided by- buffoons and Neanderthals.

      • Maybe. She also may have approached these shops with the attitude of a spoiled little liberal Millenial Pretty Princess. I suspect the real story is somewhere in the middle.

  6. Good luck.

    There are many understanding, more knowledgeable firearm owners and instructors out there. Your luck will change. Odds are you won’t roll snake eyes too many times in a row.

  7. Sorry to hear about your experiences. It’s generally not that common, and most potg are pretty decent folk.
    Sadly it only takes one…. glad you stuck with it.
    Good luck with you purchase. And practice practice practice.

  8. Unfortunately this is all too common with gun stores. I just don’t understand being so damn condescending to someone who is actively trying to purchase a product from you and wanting to learn more about it.

    • That’s how I felt! Like, did they not want my money or another pro-gun person out there flexing her second amendment rights? Crazy sauce, if you ask me!

  9. While I don’t doubt that the gun shop guys were somewhat dismissive of a woman there to buy a firearm, this story reeks of victim compex. Not very many people talk in absolutes (from the story “Chris said he’d never come across a woman strong enough to rack a GLOCK’s slide”), and with the way female carry is increasing, I doubt that there is a gun store employee in the country that has not already sold a carry pistol to a woman. Sorry, but when a self described feminist starts talking about what a victim she is, my b.s. meter instantly starts going off, in the same way it goes off when I hear stories of “Trump supporters” being violent, or the media immediately blaming a mass shooting on a white racist redneck.

      • Ms.Harris, the more replies I see of yours the more I’d love to see you in my shop!
        I always take particular delight in helping anyone other than an OFWG at my counter simply because I love to burst liberal misconceptions (everyone needs a hobby I guess).
        -From an old white guy, working on the fat part.

      • “Says a male (probably white).”

        Ummm, H.L. . . . .? Just who do you think you’re talking to? You are engaging in the exact kind of stereotyping you initially complained about. Cuts both ways, kiddo.

        • Jose,

          I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ms. Harris. She has logged on and made comments since I posted my comments challenging her version of the events that transpired in our store and she has yet to reply to those. She is just a flailing writer trying to make a name for herself by instigating and fabricating stories. These days the “media” doesn’t have to be right, they just have to spew their twisted view of events and cause commotion. She is just looking for attention, because her “investigative reporting” won’t exactly get her noticed by Fox News or CNN. She drove past numerous gun shops on her 60 mile trek to our small town only to trash it. And she wonders why she got the perception that we don’t care for “outsiders”? If you read through all the comments you will see she clearly has a problem with a small town community that is mostly white, republican, god fearing, gun owners. The guy who runs this rag of a website also refuses to reply to my comment. They refuse to be held accountable for their articles they post on here.

  10. Yea, I’m not impressed by most gun store employees. I’ve done a little sales work at gun shows, and I have had several customers buy guns from us instead of a less expensive place because of how rudely they were treated. This seems particularly common towards first time buyers.

    As a customer, I don’t usually get rudeness from the staff, but I do hear a lot of ignorance “Don’t need to aim with a shotgun” “45 will stop them with a hit anywhere”, etc. I don’t expect store staff to know everything, but I’d be satisfied if they just stopped spouting lies.

    • That hasn’t been my experience with gun shops. I’ve only been to a couple a couple of times. In fact most of my limited experience has been at big box stores like Walmart, Bass Pro, and Rural King. At those places, save for maybe Walmart, the staff were friendly and relaxed. That was mostly the same experience I had at gun stores. But being new to guns, I always did research online and always went in knowing exactly what I wanted and why. I think one mistake a lot of first time buyers make is relying on recommendations from other people, even from the people in the gun store sometimes. A gun is a big purchase and I think most people should go in knowing what they want and why and a lot of the condescending behavior from shop attendants could be avoided. The internet is a wealth of knowledge that people should use.

      • Well, I believe it that experiences are different at different places. I’m grateful to have the TTAG team to hold my hand along the journey!

        • Says the pretty little white female (just parroting your remark above). No other demographic would get the time of day from the single TTAG fella.

      • ^This- I get that some folks like to go into a store and try out different guns before making a decision, especially new shooters. But I know what I like and don’t like in a gun. If there’s one I’m interested in buying, I research the mess out of it before even setting foot in a gun shop. Hey, for most of us, it’s a major purchase- wouldn’t you research a tv, washer or mower before you bought it? New shooters, even if they aren’t sure what they’re looking for need to take advantage of the net. You ain’t gotta buy it the same day. Find one that feels good, go home and tear the web up researching it.

  11. I went shopping with my girlfriend when she was looking for a shotgun, but stood back and let her do all her own talking with the shop people. They were all very helpful and not the least bit sexist/condescending whIle helping her find one that fit her needs and stature (she’s 5’1 so length of pull had been an issue).

    • “And that, sir, is how it’s done! You just stand back and keep the credit card warm while she and I take it from here!”
      Actual quote from Black Friday

  12. I’ve been a gunsmith now on and off for over 25 years. I’ve also taught basic handgun safety courses and close quarter combat classes for use with an AR-15 Carbine rifle. And I would have to say that sounds like the worst experience for anyone man or woman being a new first-time gun buyer to get that type of response from the employees are owners of these facilities. Basically to put it should short hook up with the guys from the truth about guns and listen to what they have to say they’re very knowledgeable and respectful. My opinion on the purchasing of a firearm a first time buyer imagine you’re buying a handgun like you’re buying a pair of high-heeled shoes or work shoes. Not every foot is the same size and or has the same amount of strength and dexterity. So answering your question what gun would be good for me well we need to First find out what gun fits in your hand correctly and you are able to operate it clear a malfunction and be able to quickly acquire a site acquisition On Target. As long as you stick to one of the top five or six manufacturers there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to purchase any firearm as long as you can do the skills that I listed previously with that firearm. But I would have to say the most important is the actual field of the gun in your personal hands what fits my hands may not fit in your hands very well we’re not carbon clones we are all different that’s why they make so many different handguns. I wouldn’t have a problem putting a Glock pistol in your hand if it fit you but that’s easy to find out you simply put the gun in your hand see how it feels try a few other ones and then get a safety instruction on how to operate and fire the weapon learn correct stance and grip on the weapon and have fun and whichever pistol does best in your hands that’s the one you should buy it’s as simple as that. I’ve seen in the past over the last 25 years a lot of salesmen pushing revolvers to women because of the fact they’re afraid that they’ll Jam the gun and not be able to clear it in an Adrenalize and close quarter calm back closes for use with an ar-15 carbine rifle. & I would have to say that sounds like the worst experience for anyone man or woman being a new first time gun buyer to get that type of response from the employees are owners of these facilities. Basically to put it in short hook up with the guys from the truth about guns and listen to what they have to say they’re very knowledgeable and respectful. My opinion on the purchasing of a firearm a first time buyer imagine your buying a handgun like your buying a pair of high heel shoes or work shoes. Not every foot is the same size and or has the same amount of strength and dexterity. So answering your question what gun would be good for me while we need to first find out what gun fits in your hand correctly and you are able to operate it clear am out function and be able to quickly acquire a site acquisition on target. As long as you stick to one of the top 5 or 6 manufacturers there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to purchase any firearm as long as you can do the skills that I listed previously with that firearm. But I would have to say the most important is the actual feel of the gun in your personal hands what fits my hands may not fit in your hands very well we’re not carbon clones we are all different that’s why they make so many different handguns. I wouldn’t have a problem putting a Glock pistol in your hand if it fit you but that’s easy to find out you simply put the gun in your hand see how it feels try if you other ones and then get a safety instruction on how to operate and Fire the weapon learn correct stance and grip on the weapon and have fun and whichever pistol does best in your hands that’s the one you should buy it says simple as that. I’ve seen in the past over the last 25 years of lot of salesmen pushing revolvers to women because of the fact they’re afraid that they’ll jam the gun and not be able to clear it in and dad rental and close quarter combat closes for use with an ar-15 carbine rifle. & I would have to say that sounds like the worst experience for anyone man or woman being a new first time gun buyer to get that type of response from the employees are owners of these facilities. Basically to put it in short hook up with the guys from the truth about guns and listen to what they have to say they’re very knowledgeable and respectful. My opinion on the purchasing of a firearm a first time buyer imagine you’re buying a handgun like you’re buying a pair of high heel shoes or work shoes. Not every foot is the same size and or has the same amount of strength and dexterity. So answering your question what gun would be good for me while we need to first find out what gun fits in your hand correctly and you are able to operate it clear am out function and be able to quickly acquire a site acquisition on target. As long as you stick to one of the top 5 or 6 manufacturers there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to purchase any firearm as long as you can do the skills that I listed previously with that firearm. But I would have to say the most important is the actual feel of the gun in your personal hands what fits my hands may not fit in your hands very well we’re not carbon clones we are all different that’s why they make so many different handguns. I wouldn’t have a problem putting a Glock pistol in your hand if it fit you but that’s easy to find out you simply put the gun in your hand see how it feels try a few other ones and then get a safety instruction on how to operate and fire the weapon learn correct stance and grip on the weapon and have fun and whichever pistol does best in your hands that’s the one you should buy it’s as simple as that. I’ve seen in the past over the last 25 years a lot of salesmen pushing revolvers to women because of the fact they’re afraid that they’ll jam the gun and not be able to clear it in and dad rental eyes situation. I have found out over years of teaching women and men that women tend to listen better to the instructor and have a higher dexterity level than men.

    • .. Totally garbled sorry about that. Basically what I was trying to get across to you Ma’am is I’m sorry that you experienced such a pain in the butt trying to get some information on becoming a new gun owner and a new shooter I have to apologize for those guys that more or less blew you off that is not the majority of the gun population in this country. Most of us are very much willing to give special time and consideration to those just getting started with your man or woman. My best suggestion to you is to go out with these gentlemen from the truth about guns and shoot a whole bunch of different calibers and different model pistols and revolvers. See what fits your hand the best and that you can easily operate and hit the targets accurately and by that gun in that caliber. Everybody’s hands are different so me telling you to buy a certain model gun is like me telling you to buy a certain model pair of jeans and the size that I tell you what works for me May not work for you. Good luck in finding a gun shop that doesn’t treat you badly just because you’re a woman or you may have come from an area that is predominantly liberal. Besides that even liberals have the right to keep and bear arms let’s not forget that the constitution is for everyone.

  13. I am 53 years old. I grew up on a farm and shot my first revolver at age 4. I have probably purchased about 50 firearms from gun stores all over the US. I would say I have been in easily 300 stores that sell guns. A low ball estimate, is that 3 out of 4 guys that work in gun stores are know it all complete assholes. That has never changed in my lifetime. It may be worse now than it used to be. I have always wondered how many new gun buyers have been completely turned off by thier first gun store visit.

    • Well, I haven’t had as much experience in gun shops or with sellers as you have, but the experiences I have had have been very different. I have yet to meet a know it all or jerk of a salesmen. Some have been uninformed, but have admitted not knowing whatever it waseems and if I knew something they didn’t they were always glad to learn something. I don’t know if these difference could be the area of the shops or what other factors would affect that.

    • +1

      Almost didn’t buy the g40 I wanted because the sales person insisted I meant a 40 cal glock. Then when I pointed it out to him he said “oh you meant a g40L.” Which actually doesn’t exist. Then told me he likes to carry his 7 shot 44 mag and that he only hunts people.

  14. Wow. Fails all around. Several people gave her a bad attitude and the guy that “helped” her gave her some really bad advice.

    • Yes, agreed! And to allow her to fire from that position is just as bad, and to photograph it even worse. Lean into the shot and not back, well duh! And birdshot is for birds, not people or large vicious creatures. Thanks for pointing out the “fails”

      • Good to know! I definitely have room for improvement and am very grateful for the TTAG team in guiding me through.

        • I appreciate your honesty and courage in dealing with some of those shops, if it isn’t being discussed nothing would change! Glad you persevered and will find what you what to buy at a good shop.

        • Ms. Harris,
          It’s great that Mr. Chadwick started you on what was available right then. That was much better than saying “this is what I’ve got, sucks to be you.” But of all the guns he listed, that AR15 is one of the softest shooting, easiest to learn on guns in the world. That’s one of the reasons that the Army uses it to teach 17 year old girls how to shoot (and everyone else too.) The AK is almost as easy.
          But that 12 gauge shotgun is one of the worst common guns for a beginner, which is the reason for your recoil educing stance and why you probably though the slug would be too much, standing like that, it certainly would be.
          The biggest issue though is that you were taught to not shoulder the gun because of some true Hollywood bullshit.
          Always shoulder the gun. This is especially true for the beginner, and even more so for the recoil sensitive beginner. Firing under the shoulder is slower, not faster, far less accurate, and much slower and much less accurate on a moving target, as both birds and people being shot at tend to be. You got some horrible advice there.
          You might be thinking, but I shot the target at 35 feet on my first try! That’s great. Really, not trying to put down that effort at all. But at that range, the spread on birdshot form a cylinder bore is likely around 20″. So on a standard silhouette, that spread is as large as or actually slightly larger than the entire target. In other words, it would have been hard to miss.
          Birdshot for your first round is a great idea if you want the person to be able to get away, or to return fire. Your choice whether or not you would like to allow your assailant to be able to get a (or another) shot at you from close range.
          Finally, revolvers are a great choice for anyone, but not the small, lightweight revolvers. Those have much more recoil and are far more difficult to handle than full size revolvers. The snubby J frame revolvers are great guns, but they take a lot of practice to get good with, and they are generally uncomfortable to shoot because of the recoil. They are also much slower, and more difficult to reload than a semiautomatic pistol, not less so.
          Again, great that you stayed at it, and great that Mr, Chadwick let you shoot what he had on hand, but you got some very bad advice.
          If you are in the Austin area, I’d be happy to meet with you and give you some pointers from my experience, as well as let you shoot a wide variety of guns that may help you get a better idea of what you want. RF knows how to contact me.

  15. Sales people suck. This isnt a gun shop only problem. Whether its some tacticool douche or Elmer himself behind the counter or some basement dweller in a blue smock at the Best Buy or captain gear head at the NAPA retail is flush with register jockeys who think you NEED to hear what they have to say and if you don’t heed their advice you’re a fool.

    Price shopping isn’t killing brick and mortor. Pompous know it all jerk offs are.

    Best advice ever for anyone working retail: STFU.

  16. This shabby treatment of new prospective gun owners is a huge problem, why do so many gun salesmen have to be so condescending? I always went with my daughters when they needed something from a gun shop, just to insure that this wasn’t gonna happen to them. Car dealers aren’t far behind! however it seems the gun salesman are the worst.

    So be condescending and fill a prospective new buyer with that intimidation or loathing, and watch the result. They walk.. and don’t return. No need to alienate 20% or more of your customer base, jeez! Some OFWG’s behind the counter are the worst, while some have learned the lesson and are almost “fatherly” or “grandfatherly” in giving helpful advice and being polite.

    No wonder some women remain unarmed victims, with such piss poor service from some shops.

  17. I have a friend who owns a gun store in East Texas. He is very cautious (but not caustic or chauvinistic) with customers he does not know. Why?

    (1) Some people are complete idiots who do not need to own guns. He sometimes refuses to sell firearms (by quoting a ridiculously high price).

    (2) Some people are thieves. He’s been robbed by teams of crooks; one will engage him in conversation.

    (3) Some people are blow-hard wantabe gun experts or faux-tactical heroes-in-their-own-minds who want to tell him how smart they are.

    (4) Some people are so woefully without knowledge and experience that he doesn’t have time to take them to raise.

    (5) Like all kinds of shoppers in any kind of retail store, some people are dilly-dally window shoppers who have no real intention of buying.

  18. The sad part is that I believe the asshattery depicted in this article. While my own political leanings are well known on this site, I don’t bring them to the table when people are genuinely asking for advice.

    I don’t own any wheel guns (other than my Mosin antiques and Raging Judge door stop, neither good for newbies), so a new shooter generally gets a 92G, a Glock 21/34, and a full size 1911 to try out. I have yet to meet someone who was not comfortable shooting at least one of those three guns. It also covers the bases for the different types of triggers and gun styles out there. Once the shooter is comfortable with the full sized guns we start talking about which of the triggers and manuals of arms they liked. Are they comfortable with the striker fired Glock? Do they like the extra peace of mind with a DA/SA gun? Are they cool carrying a 1911 cocked and locked?

    Basically, start with a full sized pistol to get the newbie accustomed to the bang. Then work your way down based on which gun they prefer.
    G21/G34 -> G19
    1911 -> Commander 1911
    92G -> P229 -> PPK

    I don’t like telling anybody to buy any particular gun until they’ve had their hands on a wide variety and can make an informed decision. I’m also very upfront with the fact that I don’t like revolvers and that this is something they might want to look into if none of the guns I have them try quite fit the bill.

      • It’s really important to get some trigger time with a variety of guns before you plot down the cash. Not many of us can afford the large collection of safe queens that I accumulated over the years. (I’m up to three gun lockers at this point.) I like starting with full sized guns because most people are far more comfortable with them than little mouse guns that tend to kick like a mule. That gets you familiar with the basics and gets the intimidation factor out of the way. (You’d be surprised how many people have a hard time telling the difference between the 9mm G34 and a full sized 1911 in the recoil department.)

        At that point, it’s important to have a conversation about features and intended carry. I’m a big fan of DA/SA guns with no manual safeties for EDC because shit happens and a lot less shit can happen with an 8lb trigger and an obvious hammer on the back of the gun. That being said, where you intend to carry your gun is also critical. When I spent most of my day out and about, I carried a tiny PPK/S because it disappeared in even a modest IWB holster. These days, since I spend most of my time in my office, I carry a P229 because it still conceals moderately well, but gives me the firepower that the PPK/S was sorely lacking. For tactical shooting, I prefer the G34 because of its weight and simplicity (it tips the scales at almost exactly the same weight as the P229 even WITH a big light mounted on it), but I would never carry it as it is far too large to conceal except under the most bulky clothing. (It spends most of it’s time either in my 2/3 gun rig or in my nightstand.)

        Off body carry (unfortunately too common with a certain part of the community) is a no-go for me for both practical and philosophical reasons.

        That leaves a few options.
        1. IWB -> Smallish gun recommended to ease concealment.
        2. OWB -> You can get away with a mid sized “compact” gun like a G19 or a P229, but your clothing now has to suit it.
        3. Shoulder holster -> Lets you carry a hand cannon, but has some serious training issues, as well as most of the same concealment issues as OWB.

        • I doubt she can follow this post. Too many acronyms that new shooters, or people that have no experience with guns, just won’t know. Keep it simple.

          Also – like me, not many people have access to a bunch of guns to try before buying – esp. someone who is new to guns. It’s about finding something that is comfortable to hold, and that has a decent trigger.

        • Glossary…

          DA/SA == Double Action / Single Action. Basically, your first shot will have a long and heavy trigger pull while subsequent shots will have a light trigger pull. Gives you a revolver style “safety margin” of things nudging the trigger. Great as an extra safety to avoid negligent discharges while carrying with a round in the chamber ready to fire.

          Striker Fired == Basically a consistent trigger pull for every time you pull the trigger. Tends to be very light (4lbs – 6lbs) and you need to be very careful about things snagging. Strongly not recommended for any situation where something can nudge inside your trigger guard. (Such as off body carry.)

          Cocked and Locked == Unique to the 1911 and other similar pistols. Once you charge the gun, the hammer locks back and will fire with a very light trigger pull. The only thing that keeps it from doing so is the external safety that has to be manually deactivated in order for the gun to fire.

          IWB == Inside the Waistband. Basically a holster that sits between the waistline of your pants and your body. Great for concealing but requires either a very small gun or buying pants one or two sizes larger than what you normally wear. Also really uncomfortable with full sized guns.

          OWB == Outside the Waistband. A holster that rides on your belt much like a police officer’s duty weapon. Great in that it will allow you to carry any but the heaviest hand cannons, but problematic because it requires either a loose shirt, sweater, or jacket to cover the gun in order to conceal it. Very easy to accidentally flash people with your gun or print if that is a legal thing in your neck of the woods.

          Shoulder Carry == As the name implies, the gun sits under the armpit of your off hand. Much easier to conceal than a OWB holster due to its position on your body, but can get rather uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. Also has some serious training issues as drawing a gun from the shoulder safely is not simple.

          Off Body Carry == Basically carrying the gun in any manner where it is not connected to your person. Purse, handbag, backpack, etc… Avoids all the concealment issues, but I strongly advise my female friends to avoid this even though it seems like an ideal solution. 1. Think of all the times you forgot your purse somewhere, and now realize that your gun is in that purse. 2. It’s not easy to reach the gun under stress. 3. If you carry your gun with other things in the same compartment, it’s a recipe to wind up with a hole in your bag and / or your person when something else hits your trigger.

        • And of course, getting range time with lots of different guns is also good, clean fun. Especially if you’re not the one cleaning them all.

      • I agree, Serge has given you some very good advice. The only thing I would add for a complete beginner would be a .22LR semi- auto or revolver, as a first range gun in order to get used to the flash bang, trigger pull and sight picture. Obviously time and funds become a condition of your ability to test fire multiple weapons. This is a good thing in that you want to be certain that you make an informed decision before shelling out your hard earned cash for the pistol that best suits your needs as defined by you, not someone else. After 30 years in the Army, I have witnessed everything you said at a multitude of different stores and range facilities. Just remember that the store owner has no obligation to hire someone who has any knowledge of rifles, pistols or shotguns other than what is printed in the booklet provided by the manufacturer. Of course, your situation may require a short lead time, if so good luck.

        • One of the things I would recommend is finding a range than rents guns. Most such places will have examples of all three of my go-to guns on the rental shelf. That way, you’ll be out the cost of the rentals and one or two boxes of ammo. (Cheap fmj Federal or Blazer will serve you well here.) Make a day out of it, as you will be going back and forth to the counter quite a bit to try different guns. The local indoor range in my area, GAT Guns, has a system where they will let you use any of their guns, one at a time, for a certain time period provided you buy their range ammo.

          I would not rush into anything. You’ve spent most of your life not carrying a gun, so rushing into something will not serve you well here. Try them out, see what you like, think about it. If you have any gun friendly friends talk to them about what they carry and why. The worst thing you can do is buy a gun too soon and wind up with a $600 paper weight that spends most of its time in a safe rather than on your hip.

        • Serge offers very good advice on working your way down in gun size to find what’s comfortable to you.

          Based on your pic, you are towards slight of build, and that makes things harder to conceal. As the guns get smaller, their recoil takes on a very unpleasant quality.

          It’s not so much they have more recoil, they flat *hurt* to shoot. Semi-autos much less, but for most effective concealment, the smaller the better.

          Mr. jwtaylor is very well thought of by the TTAG staff. I’d take him up on his offer to try an assortment and see what’s best for you.

          And if at all possible, as tempting as it may seem, off-body carry (think purse) is not a good idea in my opinion. TTAG writer Sara Tipton is about your size, I’m sure she would be glad to go over options with you in that department…

      • Dang, Serge covered everything I was thinking going through the posts. Don’t rush, and go shooting with different friends that have guns, they’ll love to let you shoot them, and you’ll find what you like with no pressure.

        Practice and shoot often with others. As long as its safe, don’t listen to the naysayers about your stance in the pictures. It takes a while to learn proper stance for different firearms and situations. I love getting comments on my stance at the range from “helpful” experts.

        You’d be amazed how many times I’ve been treated the same at gun shops. I’m 6’4″, 250lb retired Special Forces NCO (and recently minted gunsmith), but since I don’t announce who I am or what my background is, I just sit back and let the tacticool guy tell me all about guns.

        Judging by your humor in dealing with the comments, I think you can have a lot of fun with these idiots. I do.

      • One final bit of advice. Get the largest gun you can comfortably carry and conceal. The smallest pistols in the lineup are always a stone cold bitch to shoot and will keep you from getting the practice time in to get comfortable with them. This will make you far less likely to carry them due to the said lack of comfort. In my experience, even a very svelte build can conceal something the size of a Glock 19 / PPQ / P99 / P320 etc… you just need to adjust your wardrobe accordingly and not worry too much about printing. (Not actually a thing in Texas, from what I understand.) As long as your gun is not peaking through, most people will have no idea what that bulge is. For the extra lols, I occasionally tell the obnoxiously inquisitive blue haired asshole that it’s my colostomy bag.

  19. It’s almost impressive that you got the hat trick of gun shop stereotypes. It would be impressive if it weren’t so sad.

    From a business standpoint, these guys are fools. Women are one of the fastest growing segments of gun buyers as evidenced by how many “ladies” firearms there are on the market now. I guess those guys are happy selling another XXXX gun to the same guy who has been buying guns forever or getting a FFL fee because the guy can’t compete with gun broker and then bitching because they can’t make any money.

    • I thought that as business people, they were rather foolish to treat me like that, too. Also, it wasn’t as if I was in there only asking to see the pink-colored guns or something equally as vapid. I mean to arm myself and flex my second amendment rights like any other American has the right to do.

    • Right? I don’t use it as a price-lowering tactic but, there was a time I’ve told a local asshole that I could get my gun way cheaper online and pay an FFL fee. However I like supporting local business, and if means paying a little extra, I’m OK with that. Don’t kiss my ass, but treat me good. He was being a stereotype, so I enlightened him and left. I couldn’t resist the urge to be an asshole in my own right and tell him maybe he’d get his $20 FFL fee once in awhile.

  20. I have visited gun shops across fifteen states in the course of my travels. I have found that this business tends to hire arrogant, condescending people whose actions and words would get them shitcanned on the spot at most other jobs. Once upon a time, guns could be bought and sold freely nationwide and across state lines. Now that an FFL is required to be “in the business,” it has created a superiority complex. This attitude goes to 11 in states with restrictive laws, because FFL’s see themselves as benevolent gods to whom you must bow in order to purchase a gun at whatever price they set.

  21. Very impelling article. I had to go pop off a few rounds of my 38special. Growing up in Liberty Hill, the next town over, there were plenty of old “traditional” rednecks who just don’t believe a woman should carry or much less shoot a gun. I guess that’s why they still live in these small towns. The truth is that it is almost 2017 & traditional stereotypes just don’t exist anymore. There’s a fine line between wanting to shoot a gun & being able to protect yourself if need be. It sounds like the folks of this website will be a good foundation in learning the fundamentals & owning your first gun. Good luck H.L. Harris!

    • We must have grown up differently. In the small town I grew up near it would have been considered strange for a woman to not know how to shoot or not own a gun, and even stranger for a man to want much to do with her.

      • Yes, the younger generation of females & most of my peers are gun savvy. I was referencing more of the older, traditional stereotypes, much like these old redneck dudes who gave her a hard time for even showing interest.

        • Different indeed. I’ve found just the opposite, with younger women less likely to be expected to own and shoot than older women. Of course, we may be considering old and young differently. I was talking about women who were in their 40s and 50s back then, and that was 40 years ago.

  22. Rude, condescending, misogynistic sales staffs? Clerks telling customers what size they need and belittling their choices? Then the clerks disappear, never to return to help the customer?

    That reminds me very much of the average shoe store.

  23. My sister just bought her first handgun. She’s in the Austin area and had a good experience with Red’s north location. I’ve been in Red’s south location several times. Occasionally they get an new guy behind the counter who’s an asshat but most of the folks doing sales are pretty good and I’ve seen them walk first time gun buyers through the purchasing process with an emphasis on listening to needs and finding a decent fit several times. They have the added benefit of having an on-sight range and a lot of stuff you can rent to ensure you really are comfortable with it before you buy.

  24. It seems that some of the people responding to your article are just as bad as the people behind the counter. I have had similar experience with absolute idiots behind the counter. I was most amused when I asked the guy at the counter of Dick’s if they had a Sig 2022 in stock. He replied no, they only had a 9mm and .40 with a smug smile of satisfaction. The fat f@*k gave a new meaning to working at Dick’s.

    The problem is two-fold, stores like Dick’s and Gander Mountain employ salespeople who aren’t necessarily qualified to to sell guns. On the flip I have been to small gun hops where the staff are cantankerous to say the least, and seem put-off because they do not know you. As it is I now research online and go to only 1 or 2 stores to handle the weapon. Nine times out of ten I will then order it through my local independent FFL who belongs to the same club as I.

  25. Miss Harris,

    I am sorry to hear about your first experience. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to travel to a larger city with a few gun stores. Make it a fun all day event!

    I cannot offer much guidance since I do not know what you want to do. Perhaps that right there is the best guidance: defining what you want to do. Do you want to hunt? If so, what game? Do you want to protect your home? Do you want to have a handgun that you can carry when you are out in public? Do you intend to limit yourself to one firearm or are you willing to purchase two or three? Your answers to those simple questions are important and will really help narrow the field of options.

    One very general piece of advice: firearms are tools … and just as no single tool is best for everything, no single firearm is best for everything. You would not expect a hammer to be a good screwdriver. Nor would you expect a screwdriver to be a good hammer. (Although I will admit that I have used the handle of screwdriver has a hammer with exceedingly poor results!) After you have decided what you want to do, friendly and knowledgeable people can help you choose the best tool (firearm) for the job that you want to accomplish.

    I wish you the best on your endeavor!

  26. I’m definitely sure your experience with the ttag crew will be much better. I’m very envious you’re going to spend time with them chatting and testing some of the hardware they have…

  27. There is a gun store in the town I live, outside of Denver. Big selection, fairly high prices, all the salesmen are complete arrogant jerks. The only reason I go there is to use the range. They hire this young(early twenties) kid, who knows nothing about guns, to run the range desk. This was maybe a year ago. Funny thing is, after a year of handling and shooting all the rental guns(lots of full auto, including a belt fed medium machine gun), this kid probably knows more about handling and shooting different kinds of weapons than most people I know. He doesn’t think he knows much, but I have actually heard him give very good advice to people that ask.

    When ever I walk into a new gun store, I don’t say much of anything. I just wait for the first blowhard to start talking. And invariably they do. I just politely wait for them to finish as I look at the inventory, and then I leave and don’t come back.

  28. What is the deal with some women leaning backwards like that when shooting a gun..my gf does it and i cannot break her of the habit.while benched she has a good posture and a damn good shot…and shes all for guns too..i think i need to enroll her in a class..

    • Really? What is it with women? Anyway, for what it’s worth, that was my very first time holding a shotgun, so maybe that’s what my bad posture had to do with, rather than my gender. Worth a thought ?

      • “Really? What is it with women?” – Yes, really. That stance is much more common in women. It has nothing to do with your gender, everything to do with your small size. Women, because of their smaller stature than most men, tend to want to bring the center of the mass of the gun over their forward hip, as you are doing in that picture. Without additional training, that’s more natural and allows you to steady the front of the gun much better than leaning forward. Of course, that radically limits your mobility, and also greatly magnifies the recoil of the gun. With just a little training, that will change.

      • I used to do that, before I really knew the proper handling of firearms. Still occasionally catch myself. And ya, it’s mostly a stature and balance thing. Based of the picture, I’m probably still a bit smaller than our lady here, and ya, I’m a dude.

        The other factor may be intimidation. As a child, though I enjoyed shooting, I was intimidated, made my “pull away” from the firearm. Here’s the thing to remember: With any powerful equipment, firearms, vehicles, etc, you’re the boss, not the other way around, and if you learn how it works, there is nothing to be intimidated by.

        For rifles, slings in my book are essential. As I just learned thorough experience recently, they can make the rifle feel half its weight or less, and can dramatically increase stability for unsupported shooting.

        Take your time. The right gun is the one that works for you.You’ll end up with multiple guns for multiple situations, dress, etc. Welcome to the family.

    • Opie, start training to walk forward while shooting with your girlfriend. Aggress on the target. That one action, in and of itself, tends to break a bad habit. You just can’t lean back and fire a gun while walking forward.

      • Theres the problem im in ri where you need to join a gunclub to be able to shoot outdoors..only one range is public for rifles and its indoor..it sucks i truely want to help her and increase her accuracy and handling of a gun. Sure i can join a gunclub but theres huge wait lists, theres the cost which i dont mind but the kicker for me is you need to do voulenteer work which i have no objection to, however working 6 days a week as a mechanic last thing i want to do on my day off is work more…ri is a fairlt free state but cant shoot easily. One of the only things i miss about south carolina..but im not getting into the story of why i left.. oh hl harris i meant nothing negative so stop viewing what everyone says as negative..hell even a smaller guy could have the same problem or even a young child with his/her first .22 or bbgun. Thats my advice chill out on assuming a man only views a woman negativly or that her place is in the kitchen im the last one to pull that bs with as my gf has a career and i encourage it..

    • Leaning backwards is an instinctive way to balance the weight sticking out in front of you. New shooters do it (not just women), until they are trained to lean forward and balance on the front foot.

      Thankfully, the correct posture is easy to teach and learn. Once a shooter experiences recoil both ways, they rarely fall back to the more painful method.

  29. You have to question the intelligence of some business owners. It shouldn’t be difficult to make the connection between customers and sales.

    I used to know a husband and wife who owned a small auto parts store which they ran themselves. A significant fraction of their business came from small time independent mechanics who sent their wives on parts runs. Because of the way they were treated, the wives felt comfortable coming into the store. Eventually, the husband and wife sold the business. The wife-friendly environment disappeared under the new ownership and so did the sales.

  30. Ms Harris, if you are a complete novice to firearms, I suggest an introductory class, sponsored by the NRA, to get yourself started right. They are offered all over the country. Instructors are trained and certified by the NRA. For a modest fee, they provide everything but the student. Check the NRA’s web site

    • Oddly enough, there are very few in her area. The NRA website lists a total of 2 instructors that teach any of the basic courses within 50 miles.

  31. I, a male, never buy at gun “shops” because the service is horrid and the goods overpriced. The demeaning attitude of the clerks is unchanging wherever you go. In fact, I have a Doctorate, was a soldier, an IPSC competitor, have been to LFI, Gunsight, and Thunder Ranch, own handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and probably know more than any clerk. But that does not stop them from trying to preach their own Gospel based on reading gunzines in the bathroom.
    My purchases are made a Gun Shows where the majority of sellers know their merchsndise and WANT to sell it to me.

  32. Sorry to read about the experience H. L. Harris went through…I guess you can find people behaving badly everywhere you go.

    Were it me, I’d make the following suggestions:
    1. Don’t let anyone tell you that a female can’t handle a gun. My wife can handle racking and recoil as well as any man…and look darn fine doing it. Glocks included. Sexual discrimination is B.S.
    2. +1 on Kendahl’s comment earlier in this thread: get to an NRA introductory class. You’ll get the straight skinny there.
    3. There is no “one size fits all” for best first cc gun. You have to figure out what works for you in terms of caliber, gun model, and carry method.

    Good luck, welcome to the gun community, and try to keep in mind that we’re not all like the jackasses you’ve dealt with recently.

    • fteter,

      “Don’t let anyone tell you that a female can’t handle a gun.”

      Absolutely!

      My wife struggled with a handgun until I finally thought of the right words to describe how to hold one. I had told her to push forward with her dominant hand and pull backward with her support hand. For whatever reason she did not understand that description and her hands would end up over her head with her eyes closed. Then I told her that holding a handgun is the same as isometric exercises. The light-bulbs turned on and she had no trouble with recoil after that. Building on that success, she even fired off a full-size revolver in .44 Magnum without any trouble.

      Like just about everything, a little persistence goes a long way.

      • This was a great story to read, thanks for sharing it. It is encouraging to hear about other ladies experiences going into the gun world.

  33. It’d be patronizing of me to tell you not to get discouraged, because from what I’ve observed, you seem to quite thick-skinned and have no problem dealing with jerks.

    What I will ask, though, is that you keep us all updated on your progress and continue to share what you learn with us. Contrary to the pop-cultural stereotype, gun owners are a widely diverse group in terms of lifestyle, class, race, sex and creed. I’ll only speak for myself as a young-ish white guy with mostly conservative/libertarian ideals, but I’d find it very enlightening to hear about your experiences and perspective, being someone who sits on the other side of the ideological table from many of us, but is nevertheless willing to try the dish we all can’t stop raving about.

    Don’t be a stranger. Please, keep writing.

  34. I, too, am sorry to read of your experience with the small shops. Although I really do like to frequent the smaller, local shops, the truth is most of them can’t afford to keep much inventory on hand, so if you want to actually inspect or hold a firearm, try it for fit, etc. you’re out of luck. The larger shops generally have a much better inventory. Both types of shops are often staffed with elitist jerks who size you up (in their minds) in about 12 seconds, then try to sell you something entirely inappropriate.

    As a lifelong shooter, NRA instructor, and long-time student of the gun, I get really tired of hearing the BS spouted from the other side of the counter. Fortunately for me, I have the expertise and experience to order online – but unfortunately that doesn’t help the local gun shop (owned and staffed by nice guys) keep inventory to help out first time owner/shooters.

  35. “Glocks never jam”?–bull shit; that’s why I work on Glocks that jam?–anyhow, the sales fields in everything are full of stupid jerks only looking to put something in someone’s hands that they hope will sell & get them out of the way for next sucker–have sold so many items in my time that it is hard to believe, and I did it honestly– ALWAYS qualified the customer to sell them what they needed/was best for them, etc–if I did not have the correct item, I sold them nothing & told them where else to look for–having a good referral system with your competitors does no harm–sales people that take advantage of anybody annoy they hell out of me, especially women shoppers–I had so many women refer their friends to me, because they were treated right, it was huge–too bad this girl did not run into me; she could have fired a multitude of guns of different types and calibers with everything explained to her & not been charged one cent–since I am retired & do not work, I would have sent her to local GOOD shops; I just enjoy doing this–for whatever reason, total strangers approach me & ask my opinion on several subjects, which is odd for sure–at gun shows I usually end up ‘selling’ about half a dozen guns for vendors, most of which I do not even know–it is fun to help people get the right product, no matter what it is

  36. I just read this after glancing at it all day. Welcome to guns. Sadly it is filled with your stereotypical rude misogynistic male. Like many retail establishments. My wife and I sell antiques and stuff for a living(for many years).IF we treated customers like you were treated we’ d starve. I ‘ve also been in many gun stores and been annoyed-never to return. I also have a big mouth and loudly proclaim my dislike or like for a shop-and I just bought my 7th gun from a shop because they helped me out when I jammed my shotgun,ran a 90day layaway 6 months,REFUNDED a layaway after Newtown(because I feared my pistol would be banned and NEVER condescended in 5 years of doing business(only been at this 6years). Being in my business it has many parallels to guns too. Lots of “experts” to go around. Hang in there-it’s your RIGHT as an American woman.

  37. Ms. Harris,

    Well, where I’m from a LGS is quite different. Guns are neither instruments of evil, nor fetish objects. They’re just gear, and hardly the only thing that will kill you if you use it wrong.

    During one pre-xmas & they’re trying to ban things again rush a few years back, my tiny, ancient mother decided it was time to consider a grandma-gun. Predator and scavenger activity has been building there in recent years, driven mostly by being a final way point on the drug & thug pipelines to two cities.

    Despite being slammed, the sales guy is perfectly polite. He asks me first — reasonable as I look the part. I respond: “Oh, I’m just the bag carrier here. My mother is looking to get a sense of her options to perhaps have around the house. Do you have time to show her some choices?”

    The rest was all him and her. Really, I wonder about people’s manners. Who is anyone to assume, to tell someone they’re wrong, to ignore one person or another when several show up, to pronounce. You can have all the expert opinions you want. There are also ways to say it, and not.

    The sales guy covers different calibers, different guns, different setups, always with why this, or what makes what kind of sense. The sales guy asks questions along the way, which guide what he suggests. He zeroes in on easy to use & care for, reliable, simple, limited recoil. The idea is for a tiny old lady to maybe not get dead when somebody’s in the house intent on doing further bad things. (He pretty much converges on a short revolver in .22 magnum, with a grip-activated laser as the most workable alternative.)

    Mom handles a couple, then declares she wants to think about it. We take the card for the local range, plus the details of their “try before you buy” arrangement because “You’re going to want to get some practice in.”

    I ask if he can show us a M&P in .40, just to see, because that’s what my sister has, and mom’s never seen one. Out comes one of those, which we get to inspect, after he runs through the controls quickly, demonstrating at the same time that it’s empty, slide back. (I ask if I can take a real grip. It likes to point. Really, a very definite and confident “It’s pointed right there.”)

    As we thank the sales guy, I remind mom she wanted to get some practice rounds for sis. “Oh, yes, may we have a box of that, please.” I signal the counter guy “2”, and remind mom: one for sis, and one for Mr. Sis. They have matching pistols. Asking about residence and ID, I’m told: “No, you’re good.” “Sorry, I live in NY.”

    This is how it ought to be. Guns are just dangerous tools, one kind among many. In an area where people own and use chain saws, a gun is not so different a kind of terrible power.

  38. While I’m dismayed Ms Harris didn’t have a better experience in my adopted hometown, I’m not much surprised. Even as an OFWG I felt the same type of condescending attitude when I first made the rounds of the local gun shops – I haven’t been back to any of them in the 10 years I’ve been here. Fortunately, I’ve got the experience to know what I want and I order online and pick up at the local pawn shop FFL (much MUCH better prices btw). Ms. Harris needs a mentor; they’re out there, I’ve welcomed a few newbies to come out to my little homestead and try out anything from my collection on occasion – I believe I’ve given them a good introduction.

  39. Very different experience here in Albuquerque five years back when my wife started fun shopping for her first gun. Went to about six or seven places, from big sports store (Sportsman’s Warehouse) to small one-man operations. Went in, got her and a salesman introduced, and left them to talk. Only one was less than great, and his main problem was that he really was pushing revolvers.
    Location, location, location.

  40. I don’t know whats worse…

    The Matriarchal Privileged on display by the author or the White Knighting in the majority of the comments.

    The pussification of America continues unabated.

    • Gun ownership has been increasing all over the country in the past decade, among many demographics who we once thought were unreachable.

      I’ll make no attempt to engage you at your level, but you should at least know that the gains we’ve made so far have been achieved in spite of attitudes like your own.

  41. That’s disgusting! The one thing I can’t stand about some in the gun community is the “know it all” attitude, and when I did my stint in firearm sales I did my best to help the customer choose something that was right for them. I didn’t “tell” them what they wanted, I encouraged them to train and shoot various firearms before plunking their money down on something that might not work for them.

    People like the ones depicted do more to damage our image than Bloombutt and all of his minions combined!

    Charlie

  42. One of the things I always tell people is find a range that rents guns and try out several. Most have a deal where you can pay one fee and buy ammo for whatever guns you want to shoot. They usually have revolvers and lots of semi’s. I tell them the idea is just try several and get a feel for what you like and don’t like. Saves buying a gun, not liking it and getting several more til you find the one you like best.

  43. Welcome to the club HL. It’s just like all the others. Diverse with the full spectrum of tolerance and personalities. Wife and I once got on a ski lift with a guy who obviously had something in common with us. Conversation led to a movie which led to the revelation of how little we had in common. I just wanted to get to the top and get away from him. Wife was ready to push him off the chair since he was so intent on spoiling conversation and a beautiful day. So it is with guns or self defense. You still have to filter for the people you can learn with, enjoy the experience and develop your understanding. Nothing wrong with being selective.

  44. I was sitting in a local diner the other day with my wife and grandson. There were two middle aged couples in the booth behind us. The man directly facing me was wearing a t-shirt with a large S&W MP 15 logo. He commenced a loud 10 minute monologue on the Armed Forces pistol tests. The couple in his booth, and the lady with him looked as if they wanted to be anywhere else.
    I am sure he had either just got off work at the gun shop, or was in charge of the pistol tests. Or both.

  45. It has changed a lot in the last 5 years or so but I got the same type of attitude from the local gun shops around here when I was purchasing my first handgun. That’s why when I decided on what I wanted, I bought online. Effum. And guys like that wonder why they can’t compete with online dealers. Hint: It’s not just about price.

  46. I know it’s beating a dead horse, but I absolutely loathe bringing new people to most ranges and stores. Same experiences as others have discussed.

    Really hard to get new people involved some times. Man I need a private range…

  47. I have seen this kind of stuff at plenty of gun shops, so I have no trouble believing it.

    An acquaintance manages a very successful store and range. One of the pillars of his success is he hires “people people” sales staff. He figures, correctly, that it is easier to teach them about guns than it would be to teach socially unskilled firearm experts about successful human interaction.

    Note: A socially skilled firearms expert would be the ideal.

    Having experienced the good and bad in gun shop experiences, I only give repeat business (and a lot of it) to shops that know how to treat customers. There are plenty of good ones, so why deal with the bad ones?

    As far as the author’s quest for knowledge goes, I highly recommend she check out Kathy Jackson’s website, corneredcat.com which is written for the new shooter / concealed carrier.

    corneredcat.com is probably the best online resource for new gunners in general, and it gas sectiona that are specifically tailored to women, such as concealed carry gear for different body types.

    Other good online resources include
    handgunlaw.us
    Thefiringline.com
    thehighroad
    Defensivecarry.com

      • You are welcome. Good luck.

        By the way, at least one commenter mentioned your posture with the shotgun. His tone was not particularly kind, but he was correct – you were leaning the wrong way.

        Most likely, you were trying to counter-balance its weight. This is not a female thing, so much as a typical new shooter thing, with handguns and long guns.

        You want your weight forward, so your body weight manages the recoil. Leaning back means recoil throws you around, and it will also result in lower back pain.

        Whether with handgun or long gun, bend your knees a little and shift weight to the balls of your feet, just like you would if boxing, grappling, or dancing. This will help shift your upper body slightly forward.

        What you really should do is ask around for a reputable instructor, and take some basic lessons. That way, you will have less to un-learn.

        The NRA website will have a list of instructors in your area. Personally, I prefer word of mouth referral, because anybody can get certified as an instructor. Heck, even I was before I let it lapse.

  48. Ms. Harris,
    First off, I’d like to know how you “quoted me so accurately” when you were in the store for close to 30 minutes without taking a single note? I cannot speak for the other places you visited, nor the people in our great town of Lampasas that you felt the need to disparage, but your part about Nocked & Loaded and the time you spent with me was complete and utter garbage. You have misquoted me throughout the entire piece. Not once did I say “I’ve never met a woman who can’t work the slide on a Glock”. My exact words, when you asked me why I would recommend a revolver for an inexperienced female shooter, were “they are much less complicated, more reliable, and easier for people with a small frame and smaller hands to handle.” I went on to add that “a lot of women that I have met have difficulty working the slide on an automatic.” To which you replied “You mean like a Glock?”
    Furthermore, if you wish for someone to take you seriously, perhaps the next time you visit a place of business to write an article, you should take out a pen and paper and TAKE NOTES! That way you can make sure to get your facts straight. It would also be a good idea to leave the individual you brought with you behind. It appeared as if you were merely trying to distract me while your partner cased out our store. I noticed him looking to see where all of our security cameras were located and aimed, he checked out each display case to see what they contained, and spent an awful lot of time looking around the store checking out our security. Several times I caught him looking at the monitor which displays the security camera images and then looking up at the cameras as he moved about. It was obvious enough that the person working our archery department noticed it as well.

    • Interesting, the other side of the story. Completely different than her version. Maybe the whole truth lies somewhere between?

      It could be that your attention was being diverted because of her suspicious friend, making you less focused on her, and requiring you to try to be focused on two things at once, and in her eyes making you seem dismissive or rude, thus leading to the overall bad experience feeling she got in your store.

      • Don’t know how long Chris has been working there, but from my couple of experiences years ago at N&L I’m more inclined to believe Ms Harris’ version

        • Fair enough. I was just stating that the actual truth is probably somewhere between the two stories.

  49. Ms. Harris –
    Just hop on IH-35 and head south to San Antonio. The NARDIS Gun Range has an excellent gun store in the building, the staff are very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful, work with female shooters and first time gun owners all the time, and you can rent most types of guns and try them out on their indoor range before deciding what you want to buy for yourself. You can also get your LTC class there (classes every Saturday), as well as specialized instruction in various areas, and even attend Texas Law Shield seminars there every other Saturday. If you like the place (as I’m sure you will) come on down for Ladies Night every Wednesday too! No, I don’t work there, and they don’t pay me (actually I pay THEM, since I am a member of their gun club), but I know them pretty well. Well enough to recommend them certainly.

  50. HL – I didn’t read through all of these comments but at the risk of repeating some things:

    Go to a range that let’s you rent guns and try out quite a few to determine which ones fit you well, which ones you can be successful at (even as a beginner, some guns may seem more accurate for you). I recommend that you look up some basic training like the NRA Basic Pistol course or a CCW/CHL class.

    Also, for you, I would recommend googling the group called Babes with Bullets. They believe in women-teaching-women and if you could go to one of their training classes/camps, you would get training from some of the top women shooters in the country, actually the world.

  51. Your friend’s “friend” should have instructed you a little more on leaning into that shotty. You kind of look like Obama when he went skeet shooting, then again, that is a classic “chick” pose with a firearm. Just sayin’

  52. First thing I thought was: leaning back a bit much; same thing I say to my daughter every time we shoot. Her typical reply is: “I am leaning forward” sure doesn’t look like it from my angle (I am like alongside her, maybe 15 feet away). What can I say, except she does some nice shooting, even with my S&W 460; okay, not so much with the 454 or 460 rounds, but very nice with the 45LC rounds. Either way, the piece weighs like a ton! and it’s huge! As for Gun Store recommendations, yep, I’ve had more of them suggest a Glock or Sig than any other brands. Personally, I like my CZ 75 PCR, Kahr MK 40 and my recent acquisition; a Kimber Micro 9 CSE. Can’t say I’ve ever had anyone mention buying a Kahr, yet it is a remarkably accurate reliable and concealable piece (a bit weighty being all steel, less felt recoil). Another excellent shooter, lightweight, but lower power (380) is the Remington RM380. Had it for a year now and after 500 rounds, ZERO malfunctions. Good luck in your quest for the perfect (season and clothing style dependent) conceal carry piece.

  53. I just came across this article. I am an NRA Instructor and teach 3-4 women only classes every year in addition to regular pistol classes and coaching one of the country’s largest (coed) shotgun teams and a high school (coed) shotgun team.

    I HIGHLY suggest you get some lessons from a competent instructor. I’m not saying that to make fun of you or disparage you in any way. I’m truly just trying to help.

    The way you are holding that shotgun WILL give you a bruise. And possibly induce VERY bad habits like flinching, even when shooting lesser-recoiling firearms such as handguns or rifles. And don’t think that because it is a shotgun that you can hit your target easily. That is a myth. If you don’t believe me, come spend some time on the trap or skeet range, or shoot at some real targets. It is NOT a point and shoot thing, and you would be hard-pressed as a beginner to hit anything with an “off the hip” stance.

    Any female of any size can shoot a shotgun, any gauge and any load, and shoot it well with proper training. Honestly, I PREFER to instruct female students, and they (generally speaking) end up better shots than the males – because they listen and follow direction without the testosterone telling them that they already know how it’s done…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *