Sunday, June 7, 2009

Having Fun with New Shooters - Part 3: At the Range

The Saturday morning for shooting was a nice 55 degrees. We met at the church to drive together. As with the class, the average age of those who showed up was north of 50. We had a total of 4 experienced shooters (including instructors), two shot-some-here-and-theres and 7 brand newbies. I had them recite the four rules of gun safety to make sure that they understood what was important. The range we were going to was a county range that did not have a rangemaster, so I went over the rules of the range.

When we go there, most of the women were not sure what to do. We had the 200 yard range all to ourselves. I passed out hearing and eye protection. The other instructor and I started setting up targets (5, 10, 15, 25 yards) and we unpacked all of the .22 we had brought. We were shooting at paper plates and crackers (although the wind kept blowing the crackers off before they were hit). This took up four shooting stations (two for rifles and two for handguns).

Someone had to be the first shooter and would you believe it, the 70 year old who was afraid of guns volunteered. I started her off with the Bounty Hunter revolver. I loaded one round took aim and fired. Then I helped her do the same thing. She was very nervous and then pulled the trigger. It did the classic 22 bang with next to no recoil. She held the gun steady and asked "Did it go?"


"Is that all there is to it?"


"Well, that's nothing to be scared of. Can I shoot some more?"

"We have 2000 rounds of 22. You can shoot as much as you like." So she loaded up the entire cylinder and went to town. Meanwhile the other instructor started two people on the rifles. We both brought Marlin Model 60's so it made it made it easy. Someone started with the semiautomatic 22. Our plan was to get everyone started with the 22's and then graduate them on up to the big guns.

Through this all, I had put the 9mm handgun on the table. Since all of the 22's were being shot, one lady picked up the 9mm and asked if she could use it. Now think of someone like Mother Teresa in her late 70s. She hasn't ever shot a gun before, and only held one the Thursday before. In fact she wasn't planning on coming shooting on Saturday until some of the other women convinced her it would be fun. Normally with new shooters I like to start out small and build up. But if they want to try something more, I am not opposed to starting higher. I loaded one round, showed her how to rack the slide, took aim and fired. She then did it herself. "Whoa, that has some kick to it." I thought she wouldn't want to do much more of that (again this is Mother Teresa size women with the equivalent demeanor), but she proceeded to load up the entire magazine and go to town.

After about a half hour of shooting, new shooters were getting comfortable with the 22s and the 9mm. So we started bringing out more guns. A 9mm carbine, the AK-47 clone, the SKS, and the Mosin Nagant. They were laid out in so that each station was progressively more powerful. The AK was naturally dubbed the "Terrorist" Gun and not only did everyone have to shoot it, but they had to have their picture taken shooting it. The lady who was originally afraid of guns asked me to help her shoot it. She only weighed about 80 pounds, but was excited now about this fun prospect of shooting guns. "That was fun!" was her response after firing it once.

The Mosin Nagant became the "Ouch" gun. The other instructor that came had never fired one before and he fell in love with it. He had been on a competition team in high school that shot M1 Garands. When I told him how ridiculously cheap you could get a good Mosin Nagant his response was, "I gotta have one."

One of the other experienced shooters brought along his 44 magnum, the "Dirty Harry" gun. That was a great one to shoot as well. Finally, I brought out the Saiga-12. Once again, the bigger the gun, the more zeal with which they wanted to fire it. Mother Teresa took a few shots, my wife took a shot or two. After they had had their fill, I loaded up the 10 round magazine and turned a phone book into mulch.

One of my favorite quotes involved my wife. A few weeks before, when I was preparing for the class, she said that she wanted one of the cute 22 semiautomatics that she had shot when we lived in South Carolina. So I bought her one. Upon arriving home she asked if this was her Mother's Day present. "Sure, if that is what you want it to be." So she told all of the ladies, tongue in cheek, that her husband had bought her a gun for Mother's Day. While at the range, our Sunday School teacher was having a blast with it and said "This is a great Mother's Day present. I am going to have to ask my husband for one."

After three hours of shooting goodness, it was time to clean up. It was unanimous that this had been a great activity and we needed to do it again sometime. I said I would be happy to as long as they pitched in for ammunition next time. The scared-of-guns-to-gun-convert said "We need to do this again when it is warmer so that my tumors don't act up and I can shoot more!"

1 comment:

  1. It certainly was a blast and at a recent gathering of the women... it was declared we need to not only do it again... but drag the other naysayers to come along!