Monday, July 28, 2014

Taking A Girl To The Range

I do not give out much information about myself here on the internet. I believe less is more and in COMSEC, OPSEC, and INFOSEC (communications security, operations security, and information security). But I do admit I’ve been married for several years, I have more than 1 daughter, and more than 1 daughter in law, and I have friends who are female. I’ve been shooting many, many times with women. This article is about taking a inexperienced woman to the range. If it were about taking an inexperienced man to the range it would be a completely different article. Men seem to need more attention and training than women. This article is not meant to be sexist, so please don’t take any of it that way. Women as a rule need less instruction, and are better shots than men. But they are different, and that’s why this article is specifically for men in teaching women. Some of you guys won’t be able to do this successfully. You will fail miserably because you are thinking like a man, and trying to teach like a man. For those of you who cannot overcome your ego, will not be humble and patient, ask or hire someone else to help the female in your life on the range.
Some women will tell a story such as this one:
“The first gun I ever shot was a double-barreled shotgun. I was 15 years old and my best friend’s older brother had set up two liter soda bottles outside for target practice. I didn’t have any real interest in shooting, but he insisted that I give it a try. I had no ear protection and was given zero warning about the giant bruise that would form the next day on my shoulder. I took aim, and to my delight, I blew my arch-enemy, Mountain Dew, into another universe. I shrieked, jumped up and down with sheer joy, and promptly planted the barrel of the gun into the soft sandy soil. My friend’s brother did not share in my ecstasy, but lectured me about how he was going to have to spend all afternoon cleaning his gun. His dark looks did not encourage my inner-sportsman. Since then, I was given a couple other opportunities, but due to my previous experience, I never relished the idea of shooting anything unless it was plugged into a gaming console.”
I would suggest having a talk before you even leave the comfort of her living room.
In this talk emphasize safety and trying to help them to feel comfortable. Tell them what to expect. I’ve never shot consistently at a indoor range. But if this is where you are going let them know how loud it will be. Let them try on the hearing and eye protection. Let them wear earplugs and muffs at first if it will relieve some anxiety. Emphasize that guns don’t just go off. The trigger has to be pressed. Let them use a “blue” gun or dry fire to get an idea of the feel of the weapon.
Of course the first thing to teach is safety. Sometimes experienced shooters take this for granted. I explain to all my students not only the 4 safety rules, but the reasoning behind them and how most accidents or negligence is from breaking one or several of these rules.
I’ve always started my kids off with a Ruger Mark II pistol and a Ruger 10-22 rifle. These weapons are so easy to operate and have relatively no kick. Let them watch you first. Do everything slow and deliberate.
Teaching anything should be done carefully no matter who you are teaching. Do not talk down to anyone. Especially don’t try to impress your student into thinking you are the best shooter since Chris Kyle. Understand that most of what you are teaching is brand new. Do not use jargon. Most women (some do) don’t read gun magazines and go to gun sites and forums online. They don’t know the difference between MOA and FPS. So don’t throw out acronyms and slang that will confuse them. Explain everything. Encourage them to ask questions. Encourage this by giving them confidence by not smiling, snickering, or rolling your eyes when a question you think is simple is asked. If you can turn this intimidating experience into something fun and positive, they may return. If you turn it into a contest or a “guy thing” who in their right mind would want to return? One of my daughters was hooked the first time I took her out. I don’t think it was anything I did, she just took to it!
Be very patient. They may forget something you just told them because of the loud noise. Gently remind them but don’t nag. Let them try something they think might work for them. Don’t worry so much about stance unless they are doing something unsafe. Make sure they have a good, safe hold on the weapon but don’t worry so much about grip. This is supposed to introduce them to shooting not prepare them for “Top Shot”.
You get more with honey than you do with salt. Praise them when they do well. If they do something wrong, show or tell them what they missed and let them try again doing it right.
Let them do things that are easy, but if they desire something more difficult or challenging, instruct and let them try.
If you will teach and train this way with every person, but especially women, you may have a shooting partner for life.
I love shooting with my wife. She enjoys it, but not as much as I do. She will never sing like I do, “Home, home on the range!”
Semper Paratus