Happy Quote

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.

16 thoughts on “Happy Quote”

  1. Jennifer,
    I only know you through your blog – but this is simply outstanding. The method you detail tells me you will teach her to be a shooter – looking forward to the range report.

  2. If you want to take as many small steps as you can, an airsoft gun or a paintball gun can get her to put a “bullet” on a large target before she gets to the type of gun that fires potentially fatal bullets.

    That may or may not be a step that would help her feel a little less nervous. She would be able to pull a trigger and see a distant result. Every little step will help her confidence.

  3. If you come to a New England Blogshoot, I’m sure that JayG will let you shoot the Snubby From Hell™ with .357.

    Kills on one end, maims on the other. And if you miss the target, you might set it on fire. (I’m here all week; try the veal).


  4. Once again I’ve followed a link from chez Borepatch, and again I see why he linked you. I too look forward to hearing about how this goes, it sounds like you’ve got a fine grasp of what and particularly how to teach this woman.


  5. As usual, you have a perfect plan for handling things. Can’t wait to get out to your neck of the woods and do some shooting.

    I’ll let you work with the wife on her skills simply because there are times that she and I speak different languages

    1. I’d love to! Honestly, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable and patient a spouse can be. Spouses tend to make the worst instructors for their spouse. It helps to have a 3rd party that isn’t living with you day-to-day for firearms instruction. Typically. There are a few exceptions where it works.

  6. always nice to have another shooter in the fold, we need more of them, and often they find out after a few shots that guns are not scary or evil, but fun! and a great tool that might save your life.

    but you do know that a 38spl+P+ in a air weight revolver is the perfect purse gun right? :snark:

  7. Earmuffs and plugs simultaneously sound like the order of the day for this one. Good on ya for taking your time with this. I’m more of a “So you’re flinching with the 9mm? Then let’s try the 10mm until you stop flinching with the 9mm” kind of guy. 😀

  8. I especially liked your take on being a teacher. I teach a traditional martial art, and it can be intimidating and frustrating to a beginner. You are right…the student is trusting me (in this case with their physical safety) to guide them and share my knowledge. It is both a responsibility and a privilege…

  9. You sound like a good, no make that great, firearms instructor. I would differ only slightly from what you are doing in two regards. I would make sure that while she overcomes her fears she retains a healthy dose of them as should we all about firearms. Not about using them but about what can happen if they go bang accidentally. This also brings me to one other point, that of the so called 4 rules. Please, never rely on those rules alone and never teach them as absolutes. There are at least 6 other rules of firearms handling that come readily to mind when I think of teaching someone how to handle guns. Besides the additional, even if you look just to the 4 rules, you must make a shooter realize they should be used in a sensible and safety oriented manner and are not absolutes. I say this because I find some new shooters to be quite confused by the manner in which some people hold them as absolutes then continuously break them when cleaning a weapon or something like that.

    All the best,
    Glenn B

  10. Indoor range, especially with a noob, definitely plugs and muffs both. I always do that when anything more than .22 caliber is involved.

    And when you can, find yourself a .22; cheap ammo and low noise, I’ll always love the stuff.

  11. Jennifer you are a she-stud! I refused to teach my girlfriend anything beyond the 4 rules, and “Is Gun, Is NOT Safe!” For anything beyond that, I insisted she take classes. I wish someone knowledgeable, and a good role model, had been around to teach her.

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