Twice a month I trek 45 miles to a ladies gun club that meets at a Bass Pro range. It’s out of my way and I pass plenty of other ranges I use regularly, indoor and outdoor, that are just as nice but I love the ladies who show up here. All experience levels, varying ages, distinctly different walks of life and newbies with one commonality- an appreciation of shooting. The newbies are my favorite and the focus of each meeting. The more experienced shooters like to get their range time in but quickly become mentors when encouragement or explanation is needed by another shooter.
This week was particularly cool for my new shooting buddy, we’ll call her Star. Star showed up with a brand new Ruger LCP 380 with a laser. Straight out of the box, never fired. “I read the manual cover to cover” Star smiled proudly as she showed me her new sidekick. She was equally excited and afraid and had already voiced her disinterest in actually shooting her gun tonight. “Just here to observe” she claimed.
The organizer for the group went over the basics (and a little more) to get everyone focused on the task at hand before the group headed down to the lanes. As I was laying out this evenings guns it occurred to me how perfect my earlier laziness was going to work out for Star. My go-to guns are my family of 9mm Springfield Armory XD/XDMs. However, I didn’t have any 9mm ammo (ironic considering we make ammo) so I packed the ammo I had in the house and guns that matched. A Sig Sauer P250 .40 caliber and a Smith & Wesson 22A long rifle. Star had mentioned the only firearm she had ever used was a .22 some years back. I monkeyed around with the .22 for a little while, considering it hadn’t been fired in about 5 years, I wanted to make sure it was okay before offering it to Star.
Star was enthusiastic about shooting the .22 and did great with it! However, she still wasn’t all that interested in her own firearm. Matter of fact, she’d decided to give back the 380 and replace it with a smaller caliber gun. Without ever firing the LCP. I was thinking to myself, “Good heavens, this chic can not go home and tell whoever gave her this gun she didn’t want it. She never even gave it a try.”
I took Star down to her lane where her freshly unpackaged firearm and full box of ammo sat. “Star, you have to shoot it, it won’t be like the movies” as she stood 4 feet out of the bay. ” No Harry Carey business” she asked skeptically. “Promise.” I said, explaining the difference in caliber and the barrel length of the two guns we had been dealing with to caution her that it would have more kick but she wouldn’t be picking herself up off the ground from recoil.
Five rounds later Star had one giant hole at center mass. Maybe it was beginners luck or that fandangled laser she had, either way Star left proud, confident and encouraged! So did I.
The Range -Lessons
Helping others is a great way to learn about your own strengths and opportunities.
- Realistically this is true for life also.
- Our explanation of how something works describes our own understanding.
- Listen to questions or comments after explaining a particular topic, there is a lot of hidden insight in the feedback you get from someone new to an activity. (sometimes its similar to a toddler’s unabashed questioning of the world, they don’t know they have offended you because they’re unaware of what they’ve really said.)
.22 caliber is great for learning to shoot well.
- It’s super fun!
- I focused on sight picture and breathing vs. subconsciously anticipating recoil.
I subconsciously anticipate recoil with .40 caliber ammo.
- LAME!! Down and to the left-boooo!
- I can improve because I recognize the opportunity.
Take a Class.
- There is a lot to learn before you ever fire a single round.
- Find someone who can tell you what you don’t know!
Find a club/league/group.
- Learning from one another is the best way to improve your knowledge of guns, ammo, shooting style, best practices (and the things you never want to do)
- This can be intimidating and frustrating. If you’re not comfortable with the first one you find, try another.
- Or start your own! I promise there are ladies (or gentleman) just like you looking for someone to shoot with.
Research your investment.
- Shooting is not a cheap sport.
- Try as much as you can before you buy. Rented guns can have a downside but getting some idea of gun size, caliber size, recoil etc. is better than nothing at all.
- I had a very gracious young lady offer for me to use her firearm last time I was shopping around. A much appreciated favor I am happy to pay forward to another shooter.
Practice Makes Perfect
- More time at the range, please and thank you.