Tips for Taking a New Shooter to the Pistol Range +ONEMovement

August is National Shooting Sports Month, the perfect time to invite a new shooter to the range. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) encourages everyone with a love of the shooting sports to help build the sports by introducing a friend with the +ONEMovement.


Sponsored by Springfield Armory

Taking a New Shooter to the Range +ONEMovement

It’s exciting to invite a friend to the range and introduce her to your sport. However, she may be a little nervous or stressed, especially if if she’s unfamiliar with firearms or has never shot one before. If you really think about it, it’s not natural to hold something in front of your face that’s going to make a load noise, send out a projectile and recoil in your hands. Use the following tips for a more pleasant experience for both you and your friend.

indoor Shooting range +ONEMovement National Shooting Sports Month
Be sure your friend understands the range rules.

Before heading to the range

1 Find out what experience your friend has with shooting a pistol. If she tried it, was it a positive or negative experience and why. Take that information into consideration when planning your day. 

2. You know the first thing you ask when going out with a friend is, “What are you wearing?” Make it easy and recommend clothing for the range. Explain the issues caused when hot brass goes down your shirt. (This is also a great time to mention what to do if that should happen.) If you’re heading to an outdoor range and shooting steel, mention that long pants are a better choice. Find more information on what NOT to wear to the range here

hearing and eye protection
Keep an extra set of hearing and eye protection to loan your friend.

3. Loan her proper eye protection and hearing protection. Electronic hearing protection is a great choice, especially when working with a new shooter at an indoor range. 

4. Explain the 4 firearms safety rules:

  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded. 
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until your sighs are on the target. 
  • Be sure of your target, backstop and beyond.
  • Don’t let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to kill or destroy. 
Dry fire is a great way to teach your friend the fundamentals before heading to the range.

5. Teach your friend the fundamentals of shooting through dry fire. Make sure she understands sight alignment and sight picture, proper grip and how to press the trigger. 

+ONEMovement National Shooting Sports Month
Consider all the friends you can invite for the +ONEMovement

At the Range

1 Consider the caliber. A .22 is a great choice for a new shooter’s first trip to the range. Getting comfortable with how to shoot the gun is much easier without the recoil and loud noise. 

2. Make it fun. Avoid frustration by using large paper targets at a close range. Set her up for success. The NSSF offers some fun targets to download and print here.  

NSSF paper targets
Here are some of the targets available on the NSSF website.

3. Stop before fatigue sets in and end on a positive note. Make sure she leaves with a smile on her face and the desire to return to the range.

4. Ask for her opinion on the experience and if she’d like to go again, and what she’d like to repeat or learn.

National Shooting Sports Month
Even family can be invited! +ONEMovement

Help grow your sport by getting others involved. Share your success stories on social media with #LetsGoShooting and #PlusOneMovement 

Read more about the +ONEMovement and National Shooting Sports Month here.

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, first entered the firearms industry in 2011 as co-owner, president and trainer at a national training company. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and FASTER Saves Lives. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.


The Conversation

  • Clark Griswold says: August 16, 2019 at 6:27 am

    A 12-pack of triangular bandages at Amazon is $8, cheap and easy to keep a few in one’s “range guest kit” with the extra ear muffs and safety glasses. If a range guest arrives with a low cut open neck shirt use a triangular bandage as a bib to prevent that area from “trapping brass.” And, women seem particularly sensitive to noise, so keep several pair of disposable ear plugs in the kit as well so they can “double up” on hearing protection. Insist they keep the ear plugs – it will serve as a momento and reminder of the fun they had learning to shoot.