Every time I see someone getting it badly wrong with a gun I feel the need to correct them. But I don’t. Back in the day, I’d intervene. I’d start by asking the shooter what gun they’re firing (as if I didn’t know). Then it’s “I’m an NRA Pistol Instructor. Do you mind if I show you something about your stance/grip/trigger finger/trigger squeeze/sight alignment/breathing/pacing?” When one of my involuntary students—a prison guard—complained to management I learned to mind my own business. The gun range guy put it this way: “A lot of people come here just to have fun. What’s wrong with that?” So, do you correct other shooter’s mistakes or leave poor enough alone?

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109 Responses to Question of the Day: Do You Correct Other Shooter’s Mistakes?

  1. Nothing to correct here. Everything looks fooks fine to me.
    She might have to rip that top off if the hot case lands in the right place.
    Would that be wrong?

  2. If they ask for help, sure.
    If not, then butt out of things that are none of your business.
    And if, as the picture implies, you’re more eager to correct the mistakes of attractive women wearing shorts and bikini tops than old men you’re a skeeve.

  3. I tend to only intervene when the business end drifts over me and mine. I once threatened to shove an AR up a tourist’s ass because he kept pointing it at me and my friend (and his son) while his moron tourist friend was taking pictures.

    I don’t think I ruined his trip to America, though. He got to go home alive, which is better than he deserved.

    • Yup, that is the line on which I must intervene as well. Having fun is all good and happy, until you stop paying attention and safety goes out the window.

      I kind of enjoy going to the range and seeing 10+ different bad ways to shoot a pistol, I think it really depends on the person and feeling it out to see if they want some help/information.

    • Same here – if someone in my vicinity at the range is doing something that is a safety issue, I will:
      (1) politely point out the problem and ask them to correct it;
      (2) complain to the range safety officer;
      (3) leave, if neither of the above works to stop the problem.

  4. If folks are blatantly fumbling around, I may introduce myself as an NRA instructor and see if they’d like a pointer or two. Same with skiing (I’m a PSIA instructor as well). Otherwise my tendency is to stay out of other people’s business.

  5. I would only ever butt in and correct someone if what they were doing was inherently dangerous. Otherwise, it’s not my business/problem/whatever.

    • Word. Her form is magnificent, but she’s barely holding on to that Glock. Actually, this is definitely someone I’d talk to if she was receptive. I thought it was KJW for a second, until I realized (after quite awhile) that she want properly holding her tactical Tupperware.

    • That’s the ONLY thing that will cause me to make contact with other shooters for anything other than idle chat. Most recent example: father and son shooting a variety of guns, including a nifty Ruger Vaquero single-action revolver. Cocking technique: finger on trigger, both thumbs on hammer, squeeze until cocked with gun pointing downrange and towards floor at 45 degrees. They were minutes at most from an ND off of the concrete (indoor range) so I intervened.

      Busy outdoor ranges like Chabot, occasionally populated with pairs and trios of jackholes? Not worth it, I get to a safe distance (even if that means leaving early) and possibly alert the RO if it’s really egregious.

  6. Unless we’re already talking about technique, no. Especially if I didn’t come to the range with them in the first place. As long as they’re not endangering anyone else, they can send lead downrange however they want. Besides, my own technique isn’t that good anyway.

    I don’t run into that very often, though; I don’t go to commercial ranges. In three years at the piece of public land that’s my favorite shooting place, I’ve only seen other shooters there twice.

  7. It they are with me, yes, I will correct them. If they ask me for help, I will help. If they are not with me, or don’t ask for help, then NO – I keep my mouth shut. If they are not with me but are doing something dangerous, I won’t say anything to them, but I will talk to the range officer. If the range officer (God forbid) doesn’t address the issue, I leave, and never come back.

    Live and let live.

  8. I do w/my wife & daughter. And once, I did so for a couple who were one lane over when the husband kept putting his thumb behind the slide on a 1911. I was able to do so, because of a stupid mistake I made a couple of months earlier when I was trying off-hand shooting of a WWII FN 1922. The slide got the knuckle of my right hand & I still had the photo on my phone to show the couple.

    But… for the photo above… from here everything looks fine!

  9. No, unless someone is breaking one of the cardinal rules of gun safety and then I notify the range offical and let them handle it.

  10. I rarely give my unsolicited opinion about anything, shooting included. This excludes safety violations. I will calmly but firmly inform whoever is committing said violation(s) that they are being unsafe, and recommend that they modify their behavior. The other thing I may occasionally comment on (since I don’t see it very often) is grip, but only if the shooter’s grip is going to cause an injury. In my mind, the guy/girl who leaves the range because the slide of their rented Glock chewed up their thumbs probably isn’t going to be a huge fan of guns. Its a fixable problem with sizable benefits for the firearms community. As far as techniques for becoming a better shooter? I’m keeping my mouth shut until I’m asked. I’m far from the best shooter out there so I’ll leave the instructing to Travis Haley and James Yeager.

  11. Unless it’s a safety issue, I do not step in unless I get verbal authorization for help or pleading body language. More than likely, someone else could give them superior advice than myself. Now, should I be taking one of my friends who don’t shoot regularly to the range with me, that’s a different story, as they often come so I can give them help/pointers. But the simple fact of the matter is that I’m not a very good shot. I have a good academic understanding of the techniques, and can identify and critique flaws myself, but putting that into practice, still being a new and young shooter myself, doesn’t always work out well for me. If we were all at a range, I bet the majority of the commenters here would out shoot me. I’m a guy that needs to be doing more listening than talking, so unless someone is having a real hard time at the range, and looks open to help, I won’t say anything.

  12. I don’t know if it’s a “safety issue” per se, but I will correct impending slide bite if I happen to notice it. One, to be nice, and two, if they get bit, it might turn into a safety issue when they start dancing around.

    • That’s a valid point, Matt. And it could also scare away a brand new shooter. I have to say, when I took a friend of mine to the range, who had never shot a handgun before, I let him try my Steyr S9-A1, with it’s ludicrously low bore axis. Turns out, the S9’s slide bit him. He got the web of his palm too high on the grip and the slide gave him a nice little sting as a reminder. I am thankfully blessed with very bony hands so slide bite has never been, nor probably will be an issue for me. But everyone’s different, and as the guy instructing him, it taught me to be more mindful to those differences. I did give him a warning, but if I had been doing a better job coaching, it’s something I should have noticed. My buddy has now written off super-low bore axis firearms like the Steyr S9 and I’m partly to blame, or at least didn’t help contribute. Thankfully, he liked shooting, but who knows, that could have ended badly for a different person with a different mindset. And we need all the new shooters with positive experiences we can get.

    • To this day I still can’t figure out how I managed to get slide-bite from my USP when I first owned it. And yes, it would have been nice if someone had pointed out that the back corners of the slide were (a) quite sharp and (b) going to slice into my hand on my next shot.

  13. Unless it’s a matter of safety, I don’t say anything. Mainly, because I don’t feel I’m all that qualified to do so. However, I *welcome* folks offering to help me out. My son and I were out in the forest shooting, and several AFA cadets were there, one of whom was a firearms instructor at the Academy (who was probably no more than half my age). They spent probably half an hour with us, helping us with stance fixes and letting us shooting their toys. First time I’d shot a slide-trigger equipped AR-15. My, my, that was a great, fun day!

  14. You really have to judge the situation, I generally dont intervene unless I see something downright dangerous to the shooter, myself or others (I.E. “Crossed thumbs” on a semi-auto, poor muzzle control)

    I have learned however that women are a lot more approachable than men and women that ive talked to have been gracious and are very keen to listen, most of the time they pick up something right away and usually come back with immediate results, thus, the “Thanks”

    In fact, on that note, when I bring friends to the range I’m way more keen to taken women rather than men because I dont feel like they are wasting my ammo and not listening to what I have to say.

  15. I treat it like the gym; if I see someone that’s actually endangering themselves or others, I’ll politely (or not) intervene. “Please don’t wave your muzzle/please don’t throw your dumbbells/keep your squats by the rack not in the MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN FLOOR”. If I see someone looking lost like they want help I may volunteer, but that’s rare.

  16. Dear Person that knows what their doing,

    If you see me do something wrong please correct me. Always looking to get better.

    Thank you

  17. I’m not a good enough shooter to correct anybody. If they’re doing something blatantly hazardous I’ll say something, but otherwise? Leave them alone.

  18. I went out shooting with a guy who did everything wrong. He teacuped the pistol, wrapped his finger all the way around the trigger, had an odd stance, etc. I was about to correct him when I realized that he was shooting much better groups than I was.

    • Exactly. There are things that can improve shooting ability, but in the end there is no one correct way.

      Mark Moseley did quite well in the NFL kicking field goals the old fashioned way. Annie Oakley could shoot bullseyes standing backwards with a mirror.

  19. Unless it’s a compliment I find it best to not say anything to someone with a gun at the range and in the middle of shooting.

  20. I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty obvious I am gay and often times certain prejudiced individuals at the range always seem to loosen up when they realise that I can shoot better than they ever could ๐Ÿ˜›

    Some interesting convos have floated out of this.

  21. For the most part no, if they are not asking for help / advise I just let them do their thing. If it looks like they may be in danger of hurting themselves or others I step in pretty quick. I am not a technique expert by any means but I understand gun safety. The last time I stuck my neck out and gave unsolicited advice it was to a girl holding a 357 magnum she had clearly never fired before with the hammer back and about a inch an a half from her teeth. She had a nice smile and I figured she wanted to keep it. She was a little indignant at first but after she fired the first round she understood why my advice was good.

  22. Always If:
    it’s a safety issue with an associated mortality
    it’s a non mortal safety issue that will affect someone other than the shooter

    or if my advice is solicited, or if I know the person well enough that the advice is welcome.

    -D

  23. I did once. A man with a pistol at the range and a laser. Each time he squeezed the trigger I saw the laser jump around like it was on cocane and, of course, none of his rounds made anything resembling a group. At seven yards.

    His reaction to my attempt to help (despite my very tight 15 yard groups that I know he could see) left me with no doubt that he thought I was an @sshoIe for trying so I just let him fail and never tried to help anyone again.

  24. If it’s a safety issue or if I see someone struggling I ask if I can show them a few things.

    I wish most men understood they aren’t good enough shooters to teach their women, and the “instruction” they are giving is often detrimental. I once intervened when a guy’s girlfriend was about to get slide bite; “if you hold it like that you’re going to hurt your thumbs”…dude got pissed off. After that, I’m less likely to offer any advice to couples because male posturing comes into play. Shooting guns is a manly thing in their minds, and showing them in front of their girlfriend/wife that they don’t know what they’re doing undermines their machismo.

    Conversely, parents out teaching their kids have been the most receptive to “do you mind if I show you a few things?”

  25. The only time I ever offer anything unsolicited is if I see someone really struggling with something, but normally of a technical or operational issue, almost never a usage issue. Say their gun is acting a bit iffy. I might jump in with “looks like you’re having some trouble there!” They usually grin and we gather around to see what’s up. Have had some really good interactions with people in these cases. Of course, it helps that I am a neurotic, old boy scout and always have a full toolbox, cleaning equipment, various lubes/chemicals, etc. with me at the range.

    When it comes to safety, all bets are off. I belong to a private range that is unattended. The rule is first person at any particular range is the RSO until they leave or pass it to someone else (hell, someone has to call hot, cold, etc.). It works because most people take the role VERY seriously. The rule is ANYONE jumps into ANYTHING if safety is involved. Other than that, mostly it’s live and let live. That said, I have sometimes taken my ear protection off when the range goes cold and shouted, “Noting is working for me today at all! I need help!!” People then offer what they can, usually with chuckling and “been there” kind of comments. Good times.

  26. I will kindly intervene if I see someone who is definitely going to hurt themselves when they squeeze the trigger. If someone shoots using unorthodox methods and they look like they know what they’re doing, I leave ’em be. What I absolutely will not tolerate are the boneheads who hand their clearly inexperienced companion a gun that as clear as day has far too much recoil for them to fire safely. I’ll gladly chew out those types.

    I’ve also been muzzle swept by unloaded weapons a few times, and will sternly remind the offender of the 4 rules. An inexperienced but cocky friend once swept me with a loaded 22. He was swiftly disarmed, slapped across the face, and scolded for half an hour. After I demonstrated what “that puny little bullet” does to a coconut, his attitude adjusted quick. He now handles firearms with undivided attention and safety checks without fail.

  27. On accuracy issues such as stance or grip, very infrequently will I offer unsolicited advice to a stranger. I might assist a comely damsel in distress (with no pesky husband or boyfriend around), but that would be an all too rare situation.

    For “minor” safety situations such as impending slide bite or inadequate distance twixt scope and eyeball, yes I will and yes I have offered unsolicited advice. For a major safety violation, I call the RSO if there’s one around or handle it myself if there isn’t.

    • I’ll usually keep to myself, unless there is an obvious safety issue. One time this fairly inexperienced couple were shooting in a port next to mine. When they were done shooting and had to put the gun down and reload the mags, they’d always set it on the tray with muzzle facing sideways (pointing almost directly at me in that case). I didn’t like that too much, so in a very friendly manner I asked that they point the gun downrange whenever they set it down, for everyone’s safety.

  28. If they are doing something unsafe I intervene immediately. If they are brand new to IDPA and they are on the stage that I am the Safety Officer for I give them some pointers for the match but never for their technique unless they ask me. I tell every new shooter that comes up to my stage. “Relax. The buzzer is going to go off and you’re going to feel an adrenaline dump but relax. This is your first match, you are not going to win so have fun, be safe and shoot accurately. When you are done shooting I’m going to give you commands, the clock stops with your last shot so do not be in a hurry to do any step, you are not being timed on your reholster.”

    Otherwise no. Not unless they ask for it after we BS for a bit.

    • The dental assistant in the local dentist’s office does not look like that. If she did, I’m sure that dental hygiene in my town would improve by at least 1000%. Minimum.

  29. I see many here say you will offer advice when asked. What is the best way for a new shooter to approach asking for help? I’d hate to interrupt someone else, but would love to learn more without making someone feel like an unpaid tutor.

    • Just ask. I’m always willing to help people that ask. I will and have let total strangers shoot my guns at the range. POTG are, as a rule, friendly and socialable critters.

      We always hear that line about an armed society being a polite society. Well, at the range you’re in an armed society. Be polite, be friendly and it comes back to you in droves at a range.

    • Pretty much just ask. In between breaks on a range everyone congregates and bullshits anyway.

      The hard thing is going to figure out if the person you ask actually knows what they are doing and if they can actually communicate that to you.

    • Just ask. It won’t be considered an interruption. We were all new shooters once, that’s the way most of us learned and 99% of us are happy to help out a brother or sister.

    • I’ll add to the chorus of “just ask” BUT… watch for a minute to see whether the “experienced” shooter is actually shooting well, or if you should ask someone else. All things being equal, it’s better to ask for pointers from someone who is shooting with skill and precision. A random distribution of holes centered on the middle of a large torso-style target is one thing, hand-sized groups covering several different specific target areas is quite another.

  30. Poor taste to offer unsolicited advice, especially w/ females, outside of formal coursework setting.

    I’m even reluctant to intervene on safety issues when the only one going to get hurt is the person holding the gun. (Crossed thumbs, for instance)

    John

  31. Are you certain “leave poor enough alone” is an actual English expression? All I’ve ever heard is “…WELL enough alone.”

    Maybe it’s some Yankee crap. I don’t know.

  32. I’m always happy when people with more knowledge help me out. It minimizes the amount that I need to pay for training, and when I’m a broke college kid, all of that helps.

    The thing I don’t like, though, is that when I go to the range with just my AR, all of the FUDDs navigate over to my direction to “help” me, assuming that I’m just some idiot kid who bought an AR for a first gun and TOTALLY didn’t grow up shooting everything between .22s and .30-06s (specifically a Springfield 1903 with a broken front sight. I could still get on paper without it at 100 yards).

  33. Only if they came to the range with me or paid me to help (as a student taking my classes).

    The only other time I will speak up at the range is if there is a clear safety issue.

  34. TO: All
    RE: Heh

    Any single man would be all too happy to help her with her stance.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Older whiskey, younger women, faster horses, and more money. — The Old Philosopher]

  35. I have to say that there are time that I agree with the guards comment.

    I took my best friend (40yo), weakened by chemo and cancer to the range. Just to have him experience something other than hospitals and people saying “sorry”. Something where he could feel the power of being in charge of something, being in control of something deadly. Compared the death he was facing and could do nothing about.
    His stance and grip was horrible but not unsafe. He had a good time and that is what counted.

    The nasty backlash I got from people commenting on the pics/vids of that day, could drive someone to jump of a bridge.
    He is dying, who gives a fuck how he is standing or holding the gun.

    Rest in peace my friend. We miss you!

  36. If they are with me shooting I may. If it involves safety, of course. The other day the wife and I headed out to our usual shooting spot in the desert. We were alone initially but then along came a family to our right. Apparently the adults in the group thought it was a good idea to send a young man out to adjust their targets, while we were still shooting. Language barrier aside, I made it very clear that it was unacceptable behavior. Soon after I observed their pistol grip only (of course) shotgun being waved around and at one point in my direction. Needless to say that was my queue to leave.

  37. The only time I’ve ever corrected a stranger’s shooting was when her support hand thumb was getting really close to learning the term “slide bite”.

  38. I have been given very good advice at the range, it also helps that i try not to act like a dick bag when i’m there. I Figure most shooters have some error in their style and have learned bad/good habits to cope. I have offered strangers my guns and ammo if they were having trouble with the guns they brought (like a .38+P snubby vs my cowboy loaded 4″ S&W) I never critqued just asked “Would you like to try this one?”

  39. It’s OK to be smarter than other people, but it pisses them off when you tell them so.

    Take it from me, I know that from the benefit of hard experience. Usually, by the time they’re old enough to go to the range, they’ve outgrown just beating you up, like they did at the schoolyard, but still.

    IOW, if you haven’t been asked for your help, then STFU.

    • If they hold the gun sideways they may just be goofing around and it’s not inherently a safety issue.

      If someone wants to waste what little ammo they could find these days doing stupid stuff, have at it as long as they are keeping the muzzle down range imo.

  40. If they ask for it, or they seem to be getting frustrated, I’ll offer help or advice. Or if I notice they have no conscious awareness of their muzzle. Usually someone like that pictured is accompanied by a know it all boyfriend, but sometimes even they have questions.

  41. โ€œIโ€™m an NRA Pistol Instructor. Do you mind if I show you something”

    That is exactly what I would have said! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  42. As a qualified range officer, I’ll intervene on safety issues. In anything else I’ll offer advice or assistance.

  43. As an instructor I intervene if they are paying me to. If they aren’t paying me to I don’t say anything. Most people do not appreciate unsolicited advice and it will be wasted on deaf or hostile ears. All that being said I will intervene if they are being unsafe, because safety is everyone’s concern, and I didn’t get a CRSO designation by letting novices muzzle sweep people.

  44. I don’t say anything. EXCEPT if they are handling their firearm in an unsafe manner LIKE IF THEY INADVERTENTLY POINT THEIR GUN AT ME!
    Then I might say something.
    That has happened.

  45. ive been shooting for years but have no problem if someone corrects a bad habit, sees something that i can improve on etc. i always want to get better – and since we don’t have a mirror at the range, im open to any advice

  46. If it affects my safety – hell yes.

    Other wise no. The woman on the lane next to me kept stove piping and asked me to clear her pistol three times and I then watched her fire. I then told her what she was doing that was causing the pistol to fail to eject (limp wrist, anticipating the recoil, hand taking the recoil energy that should properly rack the slide.) I think that was the only time I assisted someone other then a guest of mine.

  47. If they are endangering themselves or others, then yes. If they are breaking range rules, then yes. Otherwise I mostly mind my own business. If I’m friendly with someone and chit-chatting and it’s obvious they are a newbie and they are doing something like say teacupping their grip, I might say “Hey, I can show you a trick if you want” or something gentle like that so I don’t sound like I’m being critical. Then I’ll show them how to grip properly or whatever it is. I’ve never gotten anything but genuine thanks and good will doing that. I got some tips from others when I was learning years ago and I always appreciated them.

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