A Teachable Moment in Shooting


Yesterday I was fortunate to do something none of us gets to do enough—introduce some folks to shooting. A buddy has some guests visiting from out-of-state, and the father and his teenage sons wanted to go shooting. I brought along a small array of guns for them to try. Mind you, this wasn’t a formal shooting lesson, just an opportunity to shoot several guns. After going over the four rules of gun safety, I started them with my 108-year-old Model 94. That old buckhorn sight gave them some problems. Each shot about a foot over the target—they didn’t bring the bead down into the rear sight enough.

Then we graduated to a scoped .30-06. Nobody likes to admit it, but we all want to shoot something different and experience its recoil. Young men especially want to stand up to a little sting. They did better with the optical sight. Next up was my AR-15 carbine. It, too, has an optic, but the collapsible stock gave the lanky teenagers some problems in acquiring a sight picture. The AR is a lot of fun to shoot, and I demonstrated how a suppressor civilizes the shooting experience.

We finished up the afternoon with handguns, first my Ruger Blackhawk .44 Special and then a box of ammo through one of my 1911s. Throughout the session each of these new shooting enthusiasts peppered me with questions—everything from cartridge nomenclature (talk about an impossible task; try explaining the logic behind American cartridge names), to ballistics and techniques. They came away from this with the same enthusiasm we all had after our first shooting experience. The boys even picked through the dirt to retrieve spent bullets and fragments to take home as souvenirs.

The takeaway for me—in addition to the pleasure of introducing shooting to some newbies—was an emphasis on the fundamentals of shooting. It is something that most of us fail to do often enough during our practice sessions—probably because it seems rather boring. We all want to shoot fast, double tapping, engaging multiple targets and such. However, we should always shoot a couple of magazines slowly, one perfect shot at a time. Spray-and-pray may be fine for movies and entertainment, but if you are reading this you likely take your shooting pretty seriously.

Anyway, if you want to do something fun and help promote the shooting sports, take someone shooting that hasn’t done it before. You’ll be surprised at the pleasure you’ll derive from it.

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1 Response to A Teachable Moment in Shooting

Samantha Martin wrote:
March 26, 2011

Hi My partner and I are visiting South Dakota and Wyoming in September and would really like to do some shooting if possible. The laws in the UK are very strict - I have done a little .22 shooting but not for sometime. Is there anywhere close to Custer, Buffalo, Yellowstone or Jackson that a UK visitor could experience shooting proper guns? :) Many thanks Sam