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I’ve stated my basic position on loaning firearms to anyone, ever. Don’t do it. Now let’s look at letting a novice break their ballistic cherry with your gun. Don’t do that either . . .

I know: shooting guns is a tremendous bonding experience. I’m also well aware of the sanctity of that trans-generational passing the gun torch thing. And God knows you’re only trying to establish your alpha status—I mean, introduce someone to the joys of shooting.

But playing amateur firearms instructor to a newbie isn’t a great idea in general. From a practical POV, a new shooter needs a commanding presence to tell him or her what to do and how to do it each and every time they handle a gun, from start to finish. Legally, well, what do YOU think would happen if they shot someone with your gun?

In specific, TomPort86’s enabler [above] points the gun at TomPort86 at the end of his string. That’s got me thinking that the guy with the funky hat wasn’t an NRA-certified instructor. Or the best person to “help” someone learn how to shoot a gun.

Have a look at TomPort86’s stance. If he was any more laid back he’d have to open a surf shop in Maui. Check out :04  to about :06. Listen to the click. See the gun nose dip? TomPort86 doesn’t know the gun is empty. He’s trying to fire again. And he’s flinching. Badly.

At :07 (partially obscured by Hat Guy), TomPort86 turns the gun towards his head to see why it didn’t fire. Oh dear. Hat guy’s on the case—but not TomPort86’s case.

On the positive side, once TomPort86 establishes that the gun is empty, he keeps it pointed downrange, as Hat Guy relieves him of the weapon. TomPort86 keeps his eyes on the gun. And his finger on the trigger. Oh dear II.

As the Brits might say, a novice shooter should start as they mean to finish. Gun safety and technique are best taught early and often, rather than late, as remedial instruction.

In fact, a new shooter can learn a good habit in minutes. Unlearning a bad habit takes at least 3000 rounds. Habits like, say, like piss-poor trigger discipline, an improper stance, flinching and substandard safety.

A responsible gun owner does not create bad shooters,or irresponsible gun owners. If someone wants to break their gun cherry, take them to a proper teacher. Even if it’s just for one session. Even if it’s just for ten minutes.

Of course, you can SHOW a newbie how to shoot. And you can involve them in the process by asking them questions, getting them to be your mag bitch, asking them to call out targets, etc. But unless your gun safety and technique are flawless, leave the newbie’s initial trigger time to someone who teaches firearms for a living.

After that, by all means, go shooting together. And kick your best bud’s butt if he or she does something stupid. Hey, what are friends for?

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  1. While I share your horror at the two knuckleheads in the video breaking at least 3 of Col. Cooper's 4 Laws (I can't see what they're shooting at, so I can't comment on the 4th) and I understand the reasoning behind your article, I respectfully disagree that you have to be a "proper" or "NRA-certified" instructor to teach someone how to shoot safely and properly. I've introduced several friends and family members to shooting, and have never had anybody point the gun at anything but the target. If someone is obviously scared, or not ready, or a complete knothead, they don't get invited. (I also refuse to hunt with anyone who I haven't been to the range with – I want to see how they handle the firearm before we head to the field.)

    When I choose to take someone to the range, I first make them memorize the 4 Laws and recite them to me before we go to the range (and again when we get there). I make sure they know and understand the range rules. We talk about safe handling, how the gun works and shooting fundamentals and then dry-fire before even introducing live ammo into the equation so I can make sure they aren't going to shoot at anything but the target and so they know what to expect. I load one round and demonstrate, then we load one round and I talk them through their first shot, standing right beside (and slightly behind!) them ready to take physical control if necessary. So far we've had no accidents, and several people have fallen in love with shooting.

    You don't have to be a "professional" to teach someone to shoot safely and have fun doing it. My Dad taught me. His Dad taught him. I'm teaching my wife, kids, friends, their kids, co-workers and anyone else with the slightest interest and the necessary maturity. I don't need an "only one" to do that for me.

  2. You don’t sound like the typical “lemma show you how to shewt” kinda guy. You ever been paid for doing that? If so, you’re not an amateur. In any case, your initiates are lucky people.


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