Take a Friend to the Range

20121001-213423.jpgMassad Ayoob had a lovely blog post today about a GSSF match he and Gail shot in Salt Lake City over the weekend. Mas talked about the joy of taking someone shooting and seeing them do well and have a great time. He ends his post by encouraging us to “take someone shooting. On the practice range if they’re new, and to a match if they’re ready. You’ll feel as good about it as I do, today…”

Mas’s post was very timely for me, because I had a similar experience over the weekend. Having just written about the empowerment that comes from spreading our wings and trying new things and pushing our internal mental boundaries, Sunday was a great opportunity to reflect on that in action.

We went to the range with my compound bow to take photos for a magazine article I’m working on. The teenage daughter of a friend of mine, who has a definite artistic streak, was my photographer, and her mom came along as well. When we got to the range, I discovered that another friend of mine, a firearms instructor (I’ll call her “B.”) who’s been mentoring me in my own teaching, was there, and she invited us to stop by the pistol range when we were done with the bows.

We quickly discovered that the range had bows available for visitors to use, so in addition to the shooting and photographing we did for my article, both my friend and her daughter were able to do some archery. Afterward, we wandered down to the pistol range, where my instructor friend had a .22 pistol and one of her Glocks out. (She also had an AR-pattern rifle, which I tried out, but that’s not the main point of the story.)

When she found out that my friend and her daughter had never shot before, B. led them over to the range table. She picked up her Glock and handed it to me. “You’re going to teach this, right?” she said. I don’t mind being put on the spot, so the three of us (my friend, her daughter, and I) went over the basics under B.’s watchful eye. Afterward, both my friend and her daughter got a chance to shoot the .22. Shooting at steel targets at 12 yards or so, both achieved quite respectable results.

Then I set the .22 down on the bench. “Would you like to try something a little bigger?” I asked my friends. To their credit, although both were somewhat intimidated by the larger 9mm, both tried it, and the earth didn’t go spiraling off its axis and crashing into the sun. Afterward, we went back to the .22 for a bit more practice, and a quick photo op. The main topic of conversation on the way home was when we could go again, and my friend said she’d like to try the Glock again now that she knows what to expect.

So, I agree with Mas’s point – take people to the range, and introduce them to shooting. Show them that guns are both a useful, important tool and a lot of fun. Make sure they’ll have a positive experience – use easy-shooting guns and close targets – Shoot N C targets are ideal, but the clang of bullets on steel is motivating too. Take pictures, shoot some video, give them a positive memory and a lot of encouragement. If you make sure new shooters’ first experiences are good ones, they’ll keep shooting, and that’s all to the good.

And in case you’re curious, I hit the 50-yard steel with all of my shots with the AR.

The photo is my friend C., who rocked it with both the .22 and the bow. Her daughter, T., did great too – it was a privilege to introduce them to shooting.


  1. Mark Cronenwett says:

    Good for you, and for them. I love getting new people to shoot. A friends daughter wanted to learn to shoot this summer, so I took her through the rifles and pistols (.22lr). Then I got her mom started, and then her older sister. She did her first competition (local club defensive pistol) with the .22, and the next match wanted the 9mm. She is working up to it, but really wants to do 3 Gun after watching a couple of matches with me and my boys. Sometime you create monsters 😀

    • That’s very true…but we create empowered, self-sufficient monsters this way, which is a very desirable outcome indeed in my view. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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