With the 4th of July just passing by, I tend to get a ton of requests from friends and co-workers to go out and learn how to shoot. Typically in the past, I will pass on taking new people out to shoot, but lately, I have switched my position. Many of you don’t know but my day job is a special ed teacher at a public school. The majority of people who work with me know about my love for shooting and the outdoors but tend to fear what’s unknown to them. I used to keep to myself but over the last few years, I have gotten more and more people requesting to go out and shoot with me. It’s important to get people out to the range and trying new things even if it is their first time.
Make a Plan Beforehand
When taking new shooters out for the first time it’s extremely important to make a rough schedule to structure the range time. The last thing you want is the new shooter feeling bored and wanting to leave. Usually, I will break things into half-hour segments so there’s enough time get comfortable without having excess time. To start out, I will usually have a few different 22 caliber pistols for them to pick from and will have their own designated target so they each will have their own setup.
It’s typically easier to teach safety and fundamentals when everything is broken down and structured for the shooter. The biggest difference between my way of shooting with new shooters and others is the fact I like to keep it structured and focused on safety. I want it to be a learning experience rather than putting larger caliber guns in the hands of inexperienced shooters.
Keep It Simple
When working with new shooters it’s always important to just keep things simple. This will most likely be their first time shooting, so it’s best to not shove them in headfirst and hope for the best. When people let new shooters shoot larger calibers with basic knowledge on safe firearm handling, it usually turns into the cringe worthy videos on youtube. Keeping things calm and relatively simple can give new shooters confidence and helps make them feel comfortable faster. Once the fear fades away and they can feel comfortable shooting 22s, it becomes a much more enjoyable experience. Taking new people out to the range can be a relaxing and rewarding time.
I will usually have them shoot the 22 pistols for an hour or two to understand overall controls. Once they have the basics down on a pistol or rifle then we can move up to common calibers. I usually do 9mm or calibers around there so there isn’t much recoil. If they want to come out again, I will usually give them the option to try bigger calibers. Keeping the calibers limited the first time will help keep ammo costs down in case they decide not to pay you. Keeping it to one or two calibers will also help prep time for the range low when packing everything you need. One of the worst things about packing for a long range day is the sheer amount of stuff you need to take to make everything run smoothly.
With people painting firearms and shooting as a negative in society, it’s important to try and get new shooters out to show people firearms can be a safe and enjoyable experience without being fearful of a firearm. I think it’s extremely important to take things slow and teach fundamentals before letting them shoot larger caliber firearms. There can be plenty of enjoyable experiences for new shooters while practicing safe firearm handling. Let me know what you guys do when taking new shooters out in the comments below. If you have questions on anything in this article or firearms in general, feel free to ask me on my Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there.