One of the most common things I hear in class is “I’ve been trying to get my husband/wife/friend to the range,…” or something to that effect. Introducing someone to shooting for the first time or getting a friend or spouse back to the range for practice sessions might seem tough at times. Unfortunately, it could be that he or she really isn’t interested in shooting as much as you thought and you should look for a new range buddy. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of managing expectations or mitigating differences in skill level or learning style. Whatever your situation, here are some tips to keep your range relations on track…
Recognize Your Differences
In my teaching experience, men and women process information in different ways. Women usually like to fully understand each step in the process and see how everything fits together before they feel comfortable taking a shot. Often times, men are more willing to jump right in and learn by doing. As long as safety rules are followed, we are fine with either way. Understand up front that your partner may be coming from a different angle than you and don’t be afraid to talk about what you expect. If you’re the type to jump right in, then try planning some extra time before range day to review the fundamentals, dry-fire, etc… If you’re the one who needs all the details, then speak up and ask a lot of questions beforehand so you’re ready when you get to the firing line.
Communicate – Make A Plan
My husband and I have been together for 15 years and some of our clients have been married much longer! Many couples assume their partner knows what they’re thinking half the time, but in reality you may be on different pages. Talk about what you want to accomplish – whether it’s to learn effective defensive shooting, get your concealed carry permit, competitive target shooting, or just challenge yourselves with a new (and fun!) skill. Talk about your goals and put together at least a loose plan for your range trip. If you need help figuring out what to do at the range, try Google or contact us for some ideas. Don’t make it too complex for beginners and focus on fundamentals.
One of the most important choices you will make is which gun(s) to shoot. If one of you is a new shooter, do not let machismo rule the day. Stick to firearms that are easy for beginners to manage, such as .22 caliber or full size 9mm pistols. Too many times we’ve seen first-time shooters turned off or even frightened when their partner hands them a hand-cannon at the firing line. Yes, we know, it’s a “really cool” gun and, of course it may have its place in the arsenal, but give your friend a chance to develop some skill first. It will pay off in the long run when he or she can manage the recoil and enjoy the experience.
Be Positive And Encouraging
One thing I like about shooting is the instant feedback. You either hit what you’re aiming for or not. Nobody needs to be told that they are not hitting the bulls-eye or that their shot grouping is horrible. If you’re training for defensive purposes, then keep the targets close (3-7 yards) and remember the difference between combat/defensive accuracy and competition accuracy. Encourage new shooters to keep the groups consistent while working fundamentals.
Be upfront and tell your partner if you want any corrections while at the firing line. While this can actually help if done the right way, with encouragement and patience, ask yourself if you are qualified to make corrections. If your answer is less than certain, maybe that is your cue to hire a professional to join you at the range and provide guidance.
Remember to take some breaks and discuss the good and bad points. Shooting on different lanes may reduce the stress of having your partner watch your every move. Resist the urge to make it a competition unless your partner is willing and competent. Then, it’s “Game On!”
Cover The Basics At Home
Half of the battle with a new shooter is demystifying guns. You can lay the groundwork for good fundamentals and a positive range experience by taking a class together with a qualified instructor. If you have already taken some classes, spend some time reviewing firearm safety rules, firearm operation, and shooting fundamentals before your next range trip. Follow all the proper dry-fire rules (empty/unloaded firearm, no ammunition in the room, point the gun in a safe direction, etc…) and practice building your grip, aligning the sights and making some good trigger presses.
Sometimes it helps to take the gun apart and put it back together again a few times, explaining the safety features and function of the parts. For beginners, explain what the range will be like (noise, hot casings flying – possibly into your shirt/shoe, range commands, etc…) and talk about what to do if there is a firearm malfunction or any other issue at the firing line. All of these things will help put new shooters at ease and will allow them to focus more on the fun part – the shooting!