This from someone in my office that has been afraid of guns for most of her life.
We need to schedule a time for you to show me how to shoot THE GUN.
THE GUN belongs to her husband, and I do not yet know what it is. But he keeps it loaded on the nightstand for home defense. She has come to the very reasonable conclusion that she needs to actually learn to use it rather than just know that it is there.
She was home alone recently and heard noises that frightened her. She told herself that it was okay because she had her bat that she has been keeping close by and THE GUN was on the nightstand. But wait. She doesn’t know anything about THE GUN. “Do I need to take it out of the holster?” “Does it have a safety?” “How do I pull the trigger?” etc.
Yes, we are talking very elementary gun handling skills here. So she asked me to show her how.
Understand that this is a woman that has been absolutely terrified of guns all of her life. She has good reasons to be afraid too. There was some childhood trauma that I won’t elaborate on. This is enough fear that I’ve seen her become noticeably uncomfortable just looking at one of the holsters that Michael makes.
So to say that we are going to start slowly is an understatement. You know what I’m not going to do? Hand her my snub nosed revolver and 5 rounds of .38 special telling her that’s the perfect gun for a woman. There has been a lot of talk about that lately, in case you haven’t noticed. I happen to really like my snub and will even shoot .357 Magnum out of it from time to time. (I like the fireball.) But it is NOT A BEGINNERS GUN!
Not for women, men, cephalopods anyone. Well, it might be okay for cephalopods, but I’m not exactly anxious to teach a squid to shoot. Octopus maybe, but not a squid.
In fact, we aren’t even going to start with a gun at all. I’m serious, this one must be done SLOWLY. We started today with a book.
This is so she can feel familiar with terms and concepts without dealing with the anxiety I have already witnessed from her. For this particular person, I want to break it up into more easily digestible pieces. It would be a sensory overload to head her straight to the range and shout over hearing protection. The last thing she needs to have fear and anxiety associated with the learning process.
Next, we’ll look at a dummy gun. We’ll go over the 4 rules. We’ll talk about stance and grip and sight alignment. Once she feels comfortable with that, we’ll look at THE GUN. I’ll show her the same basics on that as well as discussing any specific things about that particular firearm.
And then we will head down to the local range. I will bring along a selection of things to try out and the range has an excellent selection of things to rent. Yes, the DAO snubby will be in the bag, but it will not be thrust at her like it is what she must shoot. I do not currently own a handgun in .22LR, but I will either rent or borrow one. Also in the bag will be my 627PC. That revolver was my first gun. It has a nice long sight radius and smooth trigger pull even when shot double action. The big N frame soaks up recoil nicely. She’ll also have the opportunity to try out my M&P9c that I carry every day. I will have a variety so she won’t feel intimidated by anything that she may encounter in the future.
First thing I ever shot was a Model 629 loaded with .44 magnum. Not what I recommend doing with any new shooter. I’m a stubborn one though and decided that day that I would conquer that beast. I shot it all of twice that day, but I have lost count at this point of how many rounds I’ve shot through hubby‘s model 29. Don’t underestimate what that petite woman will be able to handle. But really, don’t start a new shooter on any kind of magnum.
We will work our way up to and around THE GUN. My hope is that by the end of all of this, she will see it as another useful tool and not something she needs to refer to in all caps. Maybe she’ll even want a firearm of her own.
I’ve found with new shooters and particularly women, that doubling up on the hearing protection in the indoor range makes the whole experience more pleasant and helps to reduce the dreaded flinch. Heck, I double up my hearing protection most of the time.
This particular woman is a special case. I would not normally drag the new shooter experience out to several days in such small chunks, but you have to cater the experience to the shooter. Some will need the basic safety briefing then you show them how to load it tell them to point it that-a-way, others will need more sensitive instruction before that first shot. The point where that hammer falls on that first round should be exhilarating, not frightening.
She has decided that I am the one she trusts to teach her, and I will not betray that trust by scaring her. We should all remember that when someone asks us to teach them. They are trusting us to be their guide into a new world. We should commit to guiding them in gently and with all the knowledge we can impart. I would love for her to decide that it is fun and something she wants to do regularly. If it’s fun, she’ll practice. Teaching someone to shoot is more than just showing them how to make a gun go bang. Don’t teach them how to use a gun; teach them to be shooters.