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A friend’s son recently got married and moved out on his own. He’s 20 years old and ready to take on the world. He recently mentioned that he’d never shot anything other than a shotgun and the occasional airsoft gun. This was a situation that was crying out to be remedied. Fortunately I know just the person to do it. So we spent some time at home with an airsoft pistol – going through some basic gunhandling and safety fundamentals – then headed to the range. . .

I put an Advantage Arms .22 conversion slide on a G17, showed him how to load the magazine and the gun and handed it to him. We went over grip, front sight, slow trigger press and I let him go at it with the target set at three yards.


We corrected that backwards leaning stance a bit and let him shoot the .22 for a while. After 30 or 40 rounds, a respectable 3-inch grouping took shape on the target. Time to try a larger caliber.

Next, I popped a TSD Combat Systems 9mm slide on the pistol, and we loaded up some parabellum.  Here is video of his first two shots of 9mm ever. Be patient.

He really did a great job taking it slow and easy, just as we talked about. He didn’t know what to expect and I tend to talk too much.

The RMR simplified the sighting process, while making any trigger technique issues glaringly obvious. After a magazine, he’d produced a single 1.5 inch hole with just a couple flyers. Not bad at all for a first-time shooter. The “kid” learns quickly and we took down that target for him to take home.

Then let him shoot the G19 with open sights and finally we finished the day with the .45 cal G30sf:

Watching this last video, I think the confidence he gained handling the pistol throughout our session is obvious.

But here are a few things I learned in teaching a new shooter:
-Electronic hearing protection is really helpful in allowing communication when instructing.
-Hand-eye coordination is hand-eye coordination. This young man is a reasonably accomplished basketball player, and had no difficulty learning and implementing the fundamentals very quickly.
-Don’t forget eye protection! I usually just wear my prescription glasses, and had to borrow a pair of safety glasses for my student.
-Take someone shooting. This weekend. Today. We all know someone who’s curious about guns. It’s as fun for the teacher as it is for the student and it introduces another gun muggle to the shooting sports. I can’t think of a bigger win-win.

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  1. I’m taking my girl friend this weekend to shoot for her first time ever. I wish I had a .22 pistol or rifle but I don’t and she says that she finds my rifles too heavy to shoulder for more than a second. The range has shooting benches so that should help but does anyone have any suggestions? The lightest rifle I have is an M1 Carbine and she has taken a liking to it so it’s definitely going. We definitely won’t be stressing trigger control and perfect sight picture and all that, I just want to familiarize her this first time, not stress her out.

    • You don’t have a .22?

      Get thee to a gun store, pronto!

      IMO everybody’s first gun should be a .22 of some kind. Inexpensive (well, some of them are…), easy to shoot, find ammo anywhere, and best of all, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to shoot. Even today you can get a ‘brick’ of 500 rounds of .22 for less than $20 in most metro areas.

    • at first i thought i would never want a 22lr because i was just too big and manly for it. read an article on this site about the usefulness and roles of a 22lr firearm back in october and bought a ruger 10/22 later that day. 1200 rounds later i couldn’t be happier with my purchase.

  2. Take someone shooting. This weekend. Today. We all know someone who’s curious about guns. It’s as fun for the teacher as it is for the student and it introduces another gun muggle to the shooting sports. I can’t think of a bigger win-win.


    One of the things we as “gun people” have to realize is that there are people out there who are not neccessarily familiar with or comfortable about guns, but they are not neccessarily hostile to them, either. In fact, given that guns play such a prominent role in entertainment, news, etc, it’s natural that even people who have never been around guns can be curious.

    Here’s a tip: Assuming most of our readers are male (I think that’s a safe one – yes, I know there are a few unattached women who frequent the boards but I would guess at least 75% or more of our readership is male) try this: Ask your spouse, significant other, sister, or other female acquaintance if they have any girlfriends who are interested in learning how to shoot. I think many of you would be surprised at how many women out there have a genuine interest in learning about guns. But they’re reluctant to just “take the plunge” without knowing someone who is in the hobby now, for a number of reasons (many of them justified.) Having a female friend or relative take them on their first shooting foray removes a lot of the anxiety that they might have about plunging themselves into such a testosterone-laden world.

    • This is very true.
      Over the years I have taken many people to the range for the first time.
      In the last three (3) to four (4) years I have seen a large increase in the number of women expessing interest in owning a handgun.
      In years past if a woman was interested in a handgun it was usually because her husband/ boyfriend was trying to convince her to get one for protection.
      Today, even in homes where there is no gun at present, many times it is the wife or girlfriend that is the more interested partner. More than once I have had discussions with couples who were thinking about buying a handgun where the female partner did all the talking.
      I have also seen cases when the male partner, who had no interest in guns, was completely unaware of the females interest.

  3. What would be the liability to a gun owner if the owner took someone shooting or loaned their gun to someone else at the range upon request to try out, and that person accidentally or intensionally decides to shoot someone and does?

      • Absolutely Not! I’m just wondering what our liabilities could be if another person (adult/minor) using a gun legally owned by one of us is misused in a dangerous way causing harm to another person. This might be a Ralph question.

        • Definitely a Ralph question. I think it’s safe to assume, however, that we would hold some sort of liability.

        • This is a great question, and the answers would be controlled by state law.

          If you were to loan your car to a friend and he negligently killed someone, you would be at legal risk. I’m not sure that the answer would be any different for a gun.

        • Thanks Ralph. I think that if anyone at a range asks to try my gun (its happened) I will moving forward inform them politely that I am unable to do so. Better safe than sorry.

          I can imagine it now; loan your gun out and the shooter accidentally fires a bullet that ricochets hitting someone or a hot shell casing burns them causing them to jump and shoot themselves in the leg.

        • it happens at my local (outdoor) range. depends upon the person(s), but usually it’s no problem.

          last time I was out, I traded firing a .44mag, let the guy shoot my HK .45. That’s one way to actually get a bit of hands-on time with a different gun.

          I can see where there might be times (or people) with whom it would not be a good idea, but have always had positive experiences.

          as always, with any situation, YMMV

  4. A friend and I took his former assistant to the range for the first time. We spent over two hours there and she got to shoot seven different guns, including various pistols, an AR, a PS90, and a shotgun. She had a great time and hopefully will give it a try again soon.

  5. When I get a chance I’ll need to send along a photo of my 10-year-old granddaughter being taught how to shoot by her Daddy. It’s how we do things in the South, I guess.

  6. Dude, unless they’re specially made for the purpose, don’t “just wear your prescription glasses.” They aren’t strong enough to protect you from everything that could happen.

    • I will take this into consideration, but I always thought polycarbonate was polycarbonate, Oakley’s marketing to the contrary. Dedicated shooting glasses would cover more of my eye, however.

      Hmmm, need to bump this in the priority list I think.

      • Safety Rx glasses have additional thickness and are supposed to be tested at the lab for impact. Poly is a good material for safeties because it’s strong and not very dense (not as heavy as plastic or glass). Do not trust normal poly prescription glasses to be safety-strong.

  7. I’ve taught many women to shoot, and most of them use the same word to describe their first shooting experience: “empowering.” Once they realize that they can direct the controlled chaos of gunfire just as well as any man, the scales fall from their eyes and they want to do it again. With the wonderful small-muscle control that many women bring to the range (how many guys can knit?) and their eye for detail, the ladies often are good shooters from the get-go.

    Most of the guys who I started on shooting just say it’s fun.

    • +1

      although the number of women I’ve taken to the range is limited to my daughter (17) and my wife, I am duly impressed at how few rounds it takes until they center in and shoot better than me. I write it off to the chromosone thing: (xx) vs (xy).

    • I think it’s a lack of ego as well. I think most women don’t feel they have anything to prove going in, so they can just pay attention and learn.

      • I think it’s a lack of ego as well.

        Brilliant observation, CarlosT. You are absolutely correct. Women are not afraid to admit to firearms ignorance, and man do they learn fast.

    • You know, it could be a factor as to why many rabid antis are so against it. It’s hard to deny that it is empowering, and once you admit that you’re empowered, you can no longer be a victim. Since so many are warm and cozy in their victimhood, why would they want to give it up?

      • once you admit that you’re empowered, you can no longer be a victim.

        Bingo! Which is why women love it.

        And to those who wonder if a woman would actually shoot a guy, my answer is: oh, hell yeah.

  8. I think every experienced shooter needs to own at least one pistol intended for teaching others to shoot. I have a Browning Buckmark that used to be the favorite of new shooters, but a recently acquired Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless in .32 acp has taken over that role. Kids especially love shooting the 1903.

    If you shoot much at all, sooner or later you will end up taking a friend/relative/acquaintance to a range, and you’ll be mighty glad to hand that person something with less recoil and less blast, instead of your standard EDC master blaster.

    • I thought I had the training gun thing all worked out until I took my significant other to the range. The Ruger MKII with red dot sight was too heavy (??!!) and the Colt Woodsman was too hard to line up the iron sights. I didn’t even try her out on a full size 9mm cuz I’m sure the grip would be too big and the recoil too powerful. She’s the only person I’ve ever taken to the range who is still ambivalent to the whole thing. Next time I take her I’m going to encourage her to fondle as many store guns as possible and rent the closest thing to it that they have available. That and get the largest target set to the closest allowable distance.

      Graybeard’s comment below is exactly what I’m hoping to avoid!

  9. I agree about the Buckmark. I started my daughter with that, and then she graduated to the .22 rifle. I am thinking of getting a 1911 in .22lr

  10. I have been taking men and women from Church to the range for some time now. We just had a couples last night even with my wife in tow and then dinner out afterwards. They all loved it. I just had a few more people hear about the couples night and ask me to take them, including the associate minister. I feel it is my duty to get them over their apprehension for a number of reasons, including, more in the fraternity and making sure if they ever have to use their newly acquired skill around me or mine in our defense, then we have a damn good opportunity of making it out without additional holes.

  11. I remember my father telling of teaching my mother to shoot. He started her on a .22 pistol & she was doing real good. He then handed her the 9mm – but forgot to warn her it kicked. He was standing behind her & almost got thwacked on the noggin. She drilled the target dead center, laid the gun down on the counter & never shot again.



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