Novice Shooters

March 29, 2009 at 2:20 am (Guns)

Two of my wife’s friends were interested in going to the range, so we scheduled it for early this afternoon.

The first had taken the NRA Basic Pistol course a few years ago, and hadn’t been shooting since.  She was excited, and hopes to get a suitable defensive gun and concealed carry permit in the near future.

The  other had only fired one shot from her former husband’s rifle, which left her bruised for a week.  She wanted to go, but is VERY nervous around guns.  She was expecting to fire a few shots, not like it, and retreat to the ‘safety’ of the car while we finished shooting.

I gave them about 10 minutes of safety & basics before we headed out.  It consisted of the NRA’s three rules, and basics on grip, stance, trigger control, and sight alignment.  I took an old broken Marksman bb pistol that I’ve painted red to use as a training aid.

The first remembered most of her prior training, but wasn’t clear on if she should be using the Weaver or Iscocoles stance.  I spent a few minutes with each of them and we worked out a comfortable two-handed stance for both.  This led to a discussion on the drive to the range about stances, which I explained are a very personal matter.  Physiology and strength play a large part, and very few people use a textbook one.

Since these were novice shooters, I went over my other two rules.  If something is wrong, I’ll tap their shoulder, at which point they are to remove their finger from the trigger guard.  This allows me to correct errors without them removing their grip or sights while they are still occurring.  My other is that if anything unexpected or troubling happens, the gun is to be laid down on the bench pointing downrange.  As these are novice shooters, any malfunctions they experience are beyond their ability, so I correct them at that point.

Once at the range, after a brief wait for a lane, we finally got down to shooting.  The least experienced goes first.  As I always do, the first magazine is only loaded with one round so that the gun is empty in case they don’t manage the recoil well or (gasp) turn around.  The next two magazines are loaded with two each, and if they are comfortable we then move up to five.

From then on, we shoot 5 magazines of five rounds between target changes.  I stand behind them and reload so they have a fresh magazine by the time they’ve run the last one dry.  I also keep an eye out to correct any problems they have as soon as they appear.  It’s easy to avoid bad habbits if you never get into the habit in the first place.

Both of the new shooters ended up firing about 75 rounds, with groupings about 8 to 10 inches from 30 feet.

Then my wife wanted to shoot her .45.  Apparently two Marines who were firing in the lane next to ours had made some comment about the ‘wimpy’ .22 that we were using.  They were shooting a .40 glock or sig at the 20 foot line, and patterning like a short-barreled shotgun.  (Grouping at that distance shouldn’t be measured in feet, guys.)   So she sends her special VisiShot target out to the 30 foot line and proceeds to put 20 rounds in an 8 inch group.  We change targets, and she’s not quite done showing off yet, so she fires two more magazines one-handed.  Her friends, and the Marines were suitably impressed.  As was I, because she’s really only been shooting for about three months.

On the plus side for the day, two novices have a bit more experience.  A person who ‘didn’t like guns’ had a really good time shooting, and my wife’s flinch with her .45 seems to be gone.  The only downside was that of the 100 rounds of .45 that we shot, I only brought home 80 spent cases to reload.

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