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At my day job, the idea behind “Take A Newbie Shooting Day” has really taken hold. Even in the more remote offices of the company I work for, plans are afoot to take some of the new hires and younger people out to the range and let them fire their first shots. We’ve been talking about how the gun control advocates are using an emotional argument to cloud the judgement of legislators, but I think we can use their own tools against them. I know I was hooked after firing my first rounds, and the emotional argument for our side becomes a whole lot easier to make if you’re talking to a newly minted enthusiast. That’s the idea behind the March 9th National Take A Newbie Shooting Day being organized by yours truly and promoted by people such as the Firearms Policy Coalition. But the question remains: are you ready? Have you made plans?

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  1. I make it my job to recruit newbies into the cult of the gun every day. We cover safety first and then have controled fun. Turned my Chicago born sister-in-law into a believer with one fun afternoon with empty popcans, a shotgun, and a SW22a. Its a good thing to have an organized event so people can plan it.

  2. I have a standing offer to anyone of my acquaintances to take them shooting their first time…no fees or costs to them than their time.

    Start ’em out with a .22 and work our way up for them to try a range of firearms.

    Never had one who didn’t have a blast, so to speak. Yet.

  3. I took my left leaning sister in-law shooting for the first time the other month. It took a bit of prodding but I assured that it would be in a controlled environment, and that I would be there to enforce safety rules the whole time. She loved it and wants to go again. In the end she likened it to driving a car – It can be dangerous, but with the proper training and understanding of safety rules, it is a very safe and enjoyable time. So I’m very happy to say that there is one more of “us” and one less of “them” out there now. My brother in-law is next.

  4. Thanks for the reminder. I try to expose newbies to the fun of shooting every chance I get. I believe it is one of the best things you can do to protect gun rights.

    Fortunately, I have plenty of .22 lr. So, that pesky ammo shortage shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance.

  5. I love shooting with newbies. I like to use party balloons for closer targets and sheets of ice from a baking pan (11×17 I think) farther out. That way they get an instantly gratifying hit the first half dozen trigger pulls. Some folks giggle and some shout in surprised jubilation, but either one can carry me through weeks with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Great idea, Nick. Thanks for encouraging proselytization.

    • 24 packs of Walmart brand soda cans. Use diet in the summer to keep the bees away. For 5 bucks you get 24 exploding targets. Very satisfying for a newbie to shoot.

  6. my younger sibling is currently medicated for depression and anxiety issues, but does not have any violent tendencies to my knowledge. i’d like to take him shooting, but my parents are concerned, and obviously have been affected by the mental illness = gun violence media meme.

    two questions for TTAG: how would you convince a parent that such activity is not bad for child, and

    what are your criterion for someone you would NOT teach to shoot?

    • I would start with a single shot long gun, not even bring anything else. That way you can sit nice and close in complete control. If your parents aren’t shooters offer to run them through your planned course of fire on a range trip without the brother. But I wouldn’t push it too hard, I would NOT teach a kid to shoot if his parents told me not to.

    • We all love guns but they are not the answer to every problem or enjoyable for every person. Sometimes in our own enthuisiasm we forget that everyone is different, my friend offers to take me skiing all the time but even with a practicaly free trip it just doesn’t interest me.

      I would be very hesistant if he is on SSRI’s, the track record they have mixed with firearms is very poor, give him time to get better.

      • I don’t think the track record of SSRIs and firearms is poor. Millions of people are on them, and not just for depression, and only few people on them have ever shot people.

        For some anxiety sufferers they simply inhibit the somatosensory reflex that induces your body to respond as if it was subject to extreme panic. Like sweating and extreme heart rate and numbness and inability to focus and adrenaline rush… when everything is perfectly fine and you don’t even have anxious thoughts. It’s a straight up physical response, like a tic or a spasm.

        Also, millions of people in this country suffer migraines and certain SSRIs have proven extremely effective treatment when no other treatments work.

        I think however if a person is newly on SSRIs or is on a new one they should be careful. If a person tolerates an SSRI after a few weeks with no negative change in mood, then it’s likely not going to affect their mood negatively ever. They don’t make people ticking time bombs.

    • Just because some kid with depression and anxiety shot a bunch of people doesn’t mean they are all predisposed to doing that, or even at higher risk for doing it.

      What about all of the people who have depression and anxiety and aren’t shooting people? Finding out that a shooter had depression and anxiety these days is like finding out that he had an x-box and likes emo music.

      It comes down to knowing the kid and not lying yourself or deluding yourself about them. In every case where a kid killed a bunch of people everyone around him KNEW he was potentially dangerous and they were either lying to themselves or procrastinating at getting them help. There are other parents out there who recognize their kid is troubled and then manage them appropriately, and none of those kids who care capable of killing people do so.

      If he’s depressed and anxious at times so what, join the club. Use your judgement and don’t lie to yourself and you will make the right decision.

      • I didn’t read into the post that the brother has indicated he wanted to go shooting. Either I missed that part or you and I read different posts.

        I was responding to the idea of offering to take a troubled person shooting on the chance he might enjoy it or might be helped by the experience.

        My best friend who was a shooter killed himself after being on a SSRI that has a reputation for bringing on suicidal tendencies. My friend was going thru a divorce and was prescribed it to help him get thru the divorce. He was upset because of the divorce but I saw and heard a change in him a short time after he started taking that drug, in fact I asked him several times to go back and ask the Dr. to change him to something else. I begged him to, he didn’t. I know this is anecdotal evidence.

    • I personally have been diagnosed and treated for sever clinical depression, with suicidal tendencies. Before I was old enough to purchase a pistol, I did extensive research into other methods of suicide. While owning and having anytime access to firearms is likely not suitable for someone in your sibling’s position, the actual shooting (in a controlled environment) is helpful to anyone who would enjoy it. I happen to love shooting, own several guns, and find that if anything, it brings me more joy in life than if I didn’t. I do have to be extra careful to control myself, in that if I hit a low spot for a few weeks, I have to distance myself from my guns to prevent an irreversible decision.

  7. I am still a newbie myself! I might just take myself out to the range, and sweep myself off my own feet!

  8. In Virginia I run a -very- informal get-together every other month. I started it to get to know people when I moved to a new area but it has turned into a larger event and we seem to draw in a lot of first-timers.

    Google: The Staunton “Shoot n’ Greet”

    Anyone in the eastern part of Virginia is invited to join.

  9. Still trying to get my mom and mom-in-law to go. They’re the only ones left in my immediate family that haven’t gone.

  10. No, because the regimented manner in which shooting ranges are run makes it impossible to do anything in a relaxed, informal, and enjoyable manner.

    In othe words, shooting ranges take the fun out of shooting.

    When it’s just me, this is not a problem. I tolerate it. But I will not subject anyone else to “gun range culture”.

    • It breaks my heart ’cause I know the feeling. I’ve lived in places where the only nearby ranges were run by staccato shouting nostalgic drill sergeant wannabes. It’s a tough row to hoe. My condoling encouragement is to keep looking. Even if it’s a drive you only make once a year, finding a place to shoot how you want to shoot is critical, especially once you start bringing noobs.

      Maybe you should sign up on the site as a guest and someone can teach you the secret handshake for a range with some freedom.

    • Yeah, I hear you. Don’t even get me started on the outdoor ranges where they have timed shoots and strict “unload your weapon” requirements between rounds. (*cough*Chabot*cough*) It is SO much fun it is to hear the “cease fire” call when you have a dozen-plus rounds still in the tube mag on the lever-action rifle…

  11. When I was introducing my kids & nieces & nephews to shooting, I would first give them the safety talk (of course), then they would shoot, one at a time, with me watching closely. We hung baloons on branches (I lived in the woods) and shot at them from about 25-30 feet. Unbeknownst to them, I loaded the .22 cal. single shot rifle with Winchester crimped, .22 cal., #12 bird shot. After several sessions, I only recall one miss, ever. A great way to get youngsters enthused about shooting.

    • Not a bad plan, especially when you consider that those {EXPLETIVES DELETED} 22LR shot shells are the only 22LR ammo readily available right now.

  12. Im off but can hardly find ammo to go shooting with and the range I shoot at just started a 1 box (of theirs) per visit limit. I have enough of my own to bring someone but it would be depleting what little stock I have. Not trying to make excuses but given the current shortage I would rather have ammo on hand for when it is absoloutley needed.

  13. I will be taking my anti-gun, obama praising twin brother sometime within the next 2 weeks. Close enough. I’m doing my part to convert who I can.

  14. I have prospects but am in desperate need of a brick of 22LR to supply the newbies. I’m down to 3.5 boxes of Winchester for the Mark II and 7 * 15-round reloads for the lever-action rifle in my quick-loader.

    I’ll gladly pay $60 shipped or $50 face-to-face in the Bay Area for a 500+ brick of high velocity 22LR. Would strongly prefer 1250fps or faster so I don’t have to recalibrate scope and hold-overs for subsonic or “standard velocity” rounds. I’ll even reveal my real world identity for a FTF transaction. 😉

    SiliconValleyAlphaGeek at gmail

    I have plenty of 20ga shells, so no worries there. I can feed our 20ga shotguns more cheaply than my USP40 right now, which is pretty wacky of you think about it.

      • I’d be happy to help you out if I could, and I have shared ammo with newbies recently at the range. Except I don’t have:

        “Would strongly prefer 1250fps or faster so I don’t have to recalibrate scope and hold-overs for subsonic or “standard velocity” rounds.”

        I guess the newbies up north don’t have such specific tastes when the pickings get slim.

  15. I start with a Sig Mosquito (.22LR semi-automatic pistol) with a supressor. Perceived recoil is half the suprising sound and pressure wave you feel in your face when the pistol goes off. Most people have a lot of fun. I am overly critical on safety to impress upon them the responsibility of holding/using a gun even on a range. I just don’t teach marksmanship…..

  16. I work in the leftie cesspool that is the film and TV industry. For years I kept my pro-gun stance a secret lest I face some sort of PC blacklist (more common than you think. After all, Libs are not a very tolerant bunch.) About three years ago I decided, f**k it, came out of the closet (or in this case the gun-safe) and let the world know where I stood.

    I am AMAZED at how many film-biz reliable liberals want to go shooting. I’ve already taken a half dozen or so, and plan to make it a regular occurrence once a range planned near my house opens in the summer. (Right now it’s an hour drive to a range that can handle my rifles. )

    I’ve noticed that once a lib gets behind a rifle and see what a great sport target shooting is, their opinion tends to change.

    • Doesn’t surprise me at all, but that’s because I operate in a similar environment: the SF Bay Area.

      Turns out that liberal males (and some females, to be fair) enjoy testosterone-infused action movies replete with evil guns just as much as anyone else. This creates curiosity about the experience of actually shooting real guns, and when someone comes along and says “I will show you the basics so you’re safe, and don’t look like an idiot, and you will get to shoot guns just because it’s fun” the reaction is generally “hell yeah!”

  17. Finally got the wife back to the range after 10 years. I’ve learned how to be much more supportive since then. Big targets, short range, and lots of encouragement. She only wanted to use one gun, my vintage .22 Colt Woodsman. Wouldn’t touch anything else. She started getting pretty good keeping them all in the black. I think she actually had fun! I sure enjoyed being able to do it with her!

  18. I’m in. I have some curious friends who I’d like to teach. Just like Antonin Scalia taught Elena Kagan. It’s not going to change the way she votes, but it may make her less of a hoplophobe.

    Make sure they don’t give themselves slide-bite. Also, even a tiny amount of cleavage can attract hot flying shell casings. This can cause a momentary loss of proper trigger control and muzzle pointy awareness.

    • Load semi-auto weapons with a single round until muzzle control principles are being followed consistently.

      I strongly prefer to start newbies out on my Winchester 9422 lever-action, which gives me all sorts of advance warning to intervene before the situation gets dangerous.

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