Few months ago I got to meet our new neighbors. Family of three that has moved in from California. During that afternoon we talked about our hobbies and among others I have mentioned that I like to shoot. Few days later my friend came to visit and she was curious about handgun shooting. She never fired a pistol, she never owned one and all she knows about handguns is what they say on TV. And I realized how very little is known about responsible shooting and how very little is done to promote shooting sport outside of the shooting community.
For one reason or another, the sport shooting is hard to promote. You won’t see any ads in fashion magazines, you won’t see any commercials on main stream TV, you won’t hear any ads on the radio. And when you watch summer Olympics, shooting sport’s results don’t get mentioned at all despite all the medals that our shooters bring home. The topic of “guns” only comes up when tragedy strikes or during political debates.
So here I am with three new friends somewhat intrigued by handgun shooting who have no clue where to start, what to do and where to go. I can send them off to the nearest indoor shooting range, but I know how intimidating the experience could be when you are totally green to pistol shooting, so they would most likely leave and never come back.
I decided to take things into my own hands. The first experience is crucial and I wanted it to be safe and pleasant one. We have picked one Saturday afternoon and made plans to go to the outdoor shooting range, it is not as loud and not as busy. I have instructed them to wear outdoor clothes with comfortable shoes and told them that I would bring everything else.
My shooting bag included ear protection, protective glasses, .22 LR handgun, couple of 9mm handguns and one .45 pistol, targets and ammo. I made sure that I cleaned my handguns the night before. I wanted to impress them and introduce them to pistol shooting at its best.
We have arrived and I could see the excitement in their eyes. The “cool” factor kicked in and I had to make a point that we won’t be doing any Lara Croft stunts, but take things one step at a time as we would be dealing with real firearms and live ammo. The safety talk, range rules helped to calm them down. At this point I have only unpacked my .22 LR pistol. I have decided for CZ 75 Kadet. It is a full size pistol, so the grip is comfortable and any hand size can hold on to it. The pocket size .22 pistols in my opinion are deceiving, as they seem like they don’t require as much respect as a full size handgun. The purpose of this range trip was to introduce my friends to SAFE handgun shooting and they needed to learn to RESPECT the firearms before anything else. I have chosen the .22 LR caliber simply because of a recoil management.
I had my friend to feel and play with the unloaded firearm first, get her used to the grip, to “feel the steel” and I explained the basics of the firearm features – front sight, rear sight, magazine release button, safety, slide stop and I kept repeating the safety rules that you only point the muzzle down the range. Then I encouraged her to dry fire the trigger few times, so she knows what to expect. We practiced the shooting position with both feet apart to the width of the shoulders leaning forward and both hands on the gun.
The targets were set up at 10 yards. For her first shot we only loaded one round into the magazine. She got into the position, loaded the magazine and put the gun on safe. Aligned the sights, took the safety off and squeezed the trigger. Hit on the paper! She unloaded the firearm and with muzzle pointing safely down the range she had a big grin on her face. We have loaded two rounds in the magazine and followed the same procedure – load the magazine, put gun on safe, check the body position, align the sights, take the safety off and squeeze the trigger. Boom, boom. Two more hits on the paper. Then we proceeded to a full magazine. She was excited and pleased with her results. Not to mention that during the whole time the rest of her crew was taking pictures and posting them on Facebook live from the range, so for that afternoon the mom became Lara Croft.
I did the same routine with her son and her husband with similar results and towards the end of the day they were shooting 9mm and comparing scores. As we were leaving the range all three of them were very appreciative of what they have learned about handguns in general, safe handling and the shooting sports and I felt good about myself that I have introduced three new people to shooting sport the right way.