The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) designates August as National Shooting Sports Month. This is the perfect opportunity for experienced gun owners to invite one of the estimated 8.4 million people, who purchased their first firearm in 2020, to a fun day at the range. I’m sure you know at least one. To help your day run smooth and safe, I offer these tips for bringing a new gun owner to the range. #LetsGoShooting
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This may seem obvious to the novice shooter, but not everyone knows what to wear on the range. Although it’s not always a rule, close-toed shoes are usually preferred. Likewise, avoiding shirts with low-cut necklines helps prevent hot brass from going down the front. Ouch! Also, make sure everyone has proper hearing and eye protection. Everyday sunglasses usually do not protect against impact hazards. Giving a new gun owner this information may help avoid an uncomfortable situation, like doing the “hot brass dance” at the range.
Begin your trip to the range with a safety discussion. Knowledge and an understanding of the four firearms safety rules should never be taken for granted. Plus, it always helps as a reminder and reinforcement for everyone. Sometimes it’s easy to become complacent, and the range is no place for that!
If there are rules posted at the range, show the new gun owner where to find them. If range commands are not listed, this is a good time to mention those also. Some common commands include:
National Shooting Sports Month is a time to welcome new gun owners into our community. Set them up for success during your day at the range. Offer larger targets at a close distance in the beginning. If shooting shotguns, find out which stations are set up for beginners. Once you notice a style of target they can break, find more of those to shoot.
Always encourage them and compliment their shots. Instead of pointing out misses, ask what they did right when the hit the target. Smile, laugh and offer high-fives! Finally, know when to stop. If you notice your new gun owner getting tired, it’s time to call it a day. If possible, end on a happy note. Perhaps that means ringing that final piece of steel or breaking one last clay.
So, it’s now up to you. Go out there and find that new gun owner and invite her or him for a day at the range. #LetsGoShooting!
Those are some great points for introducing someone to firearms. Thanks for sharing!
First let me say that from personal experience, not everyone can do this well. Many years ago with my wife I basically did everything wrong and was getting aggravated with her. That just created a negative feedback loop between the two of us at the range. Not until I became a certified Fire Service Instructor did I learn how to teach physical activities and why she had such a negative experience.
I like to start off small and simple, and work our way up as far as my participant wishes to go. Nothing makes me madder than seeing those “gag” videos online where some bonehead hands his 4′ 10″ 90 pound inexperienced girlfriend a S&W .500 or 12 gauge loaded with 3″ magnums so he can take a “hilarious” video of her shooting. Totally stupid and unsafe. I demonstrate how each firearm works and reacts when fired before they actually handle it loaded to fire. Proper grip for each type of firearm and sight picture are explained. All handguns are fired at 10 yards to ensure successful rounds on paper for newbies. First up I’ll use my 1935 vintage S&W K-22 Outdoorsman revolver. After a few cylinders, I switch to my semi-auto Browning Buckmark in .22LR. Easy to load magazines and an easy to operate slide and well balanced to shoot. Each firearm I progress them to is a combination of revolvers and semi-autos in progressively powerful calibers. Safety is paramount for the entire outing, and newbies may need constant reminders on trigger and muzzle discipline as well as “ears and eyes”. The last person I did this with was my wife’s girlfriend who shot and enjoyed every firearm I showed her. She went from never touching a handgun in her 60 years to firing .357 Magnums and my S&W Governor loaded with .410 shotshells. The non-stop smiles and fun she had that day told me she had a positive experience, and that all the negativity she saw in the media was anti-gun propaganda.