Help! Taking novice shooter to range tomorrow


November 12, 2004, 04:59 PM
Hey I need some quick advice.

I’m taking a friend to the range tomorrow. He’s never shot a gun before and has told me several times about how “scared” he is of guns. He’s not a wimp, but he is a *very* cautious fellow.

I want to make the trip as enjoyable and interesting for him as possible. I’m bringing along a lot of 22’s, but also will have along a 357mag, a 44spl and a 45acp. The range also rents 9mm SMGs and we might go there if he’s looking comfortable (what do you think, MP5 or Uzi?).

Any ideas of both: a) how to “ease” him into shooting and b) how to make sure he doesn't get bored/intimidated?


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November 12, 2004, 05:05 PM
Bring clay pigeons, pop cans, and other fun targets for plinking if your range allows it. Start him off with the .22s, get him punching paper and using the sights correctly, and then move him up to different calibers. Be helpful, but don't critique every little aspect of his shooting (cheek weld is an especially foreign concept to new shooters - go easy on 'em ;) ).

November 12, 2004, 05:06 PM
Just work your way up. You'll be fine. Go over safety a LOT. Lots and lots. Shouldn't be too hard, as long as you have a modicum of social skill. ;)

Oh, and while I have never fired the MP5, I have fired an Uzi - FUN! Either one should be fine, though. I would just get whichever is less expensive if there is a price difference and if not, just let him chooose.

November 12, 2004, 05:13 PM
Bring along eye protection and ear protection. If indoors consider plugs and muffs. A lot of bad habits and unfun are attributable to noise.

Spend thorough time on the four safety rules of sports shooting. Don't skimp here to get to the range. Make sure he knows and understands. While going over the rules, let him handle the .22 to get familar with how it feels. Spend a little time on aiming, but not too much time.

Use big targets and set 'em close. Nothing like success to bring 'em back.

Assuming you are using a .22 slide gun, load up one round first in the mag and let him begin the manipulation necessary to load the mag, insert the mag, rack the slide, squeeze the trigger, etc. Then move to 3 rounds then to 5 then to a full mag.

Alot of the problems folks have with handguns is they feel alien in the hand. They have no muscle memory to use so it is acquward (?sp yea, I know its mispelled) which leads to fear which . . . . .

I'd bring along one centerfire handgun and sufficient ammo to make a day of it. A .38 spl out of a .357 Mag is a great combo to use on the newbie. Different technology (revolver vs slide) more noise but manageable recoil.

Using an old sales management saying, "Don't spill your cookies in the lobby." Let your guest have a great, fun time so he will ask you to try it again. Try to avoid overdoing it with the uber-blasters. Maybe next trip after he is bitten by the bug will be appropriate.

Keep us posted. We get off on newbie stories. :D

November 12, 2004, 05:14 PM
For a new shooter the MP5 will be easier to control than the Uzi.
Rent one with the A2 stock (not collapsable), and have him lean into it. Only load about 3 rounds in the mag to start.

The Uzi is harder to get a good cheek weld, and has more initial buck because of the open bolt.

November 12, 2004, 05:30 PM
Tell him cautious is good. Guns are potentially dangerous and should be treated with respect and care. Just like cars, power tools, kitchen knives and other potentially dangerous objects. When explaining the safety rules, try to explain why, not just how. People who are "scared" of guns usually fear what they don't know. Make him feel as comfortable as possible about the situation.

Before you let him shoot, have him watch you shoot the same gun - especially the more powerful ones. That will give him an idea about what to expect of recoil and muzzle blast.

November 12, 2004, 06:08 PM
Safety first, complete with eyes and ears. My first gun with a newbie is usually a 10/22 with a red dot on it, so they can get the hang of things and find it easy to aim PLUS hit what they're aiming at. For handguns, I've got a Mark II Target also fitted with a red dot. After they've got those out of the way, some .38 wadcutters in a revolver will show them how important trigger control and sight alignment is, and you can build up from there :) As shooters, our biggest challenge is making sure there are MORE coming up behind us.

November 12, 2004, 07:21 PM
Being new to handguns myself, I recently took a intro to shooting class offered by my local shooting range. The class greatly increased my comfort with hanguns. It was a 3 hour class (1.5 hours in classroom and 1.5 hours on the range) covering handgun basics - parts of the gun, how they function, grip, stance, sight picture, breathing and trigger control, ammunition and how they all play a part in shooting your firearm.

The most important things that I took away from the class (besids the safety rules) were learning which was my dominant eye and proper grip & stance.

On the range we fired both revolvers and semi-automatic handguns in .22, .38, .357, .45 and 9mm caliber.

November 12, 2004, 08:09 PM
I like to use a revolver to demonstrate single and double action triggers.
Then the .22 autos.
The grandkids seem to like the SA XD in 9 mm.

I don't push larger calibers.
I am trying to get another shooter started, not scare them off.

I like to warn the ladies about hot brass.
Any distraction can cause problems.


Standing Wolf
November 12, 2004, 08:14 PM
The stronger the hearing protection, the better. Those of us who are accustomed to the noise tune it out. Those who aren't find it both physically painful and unnerving.

November 12, 2004, 08:40 PM
I drop the 4th rule from the 4 rules for newbies. That's how the NRA does it too. They're not hunting and they're not CCWing, so the 4th rule is moot, don't overload them with one more rule. Others may differ on this, and it may not hurt to include the 4th rule, but explain WHY it exists and don't stress it beyond that.

Draw a picture of what the sights should look like on paper (I actually have a whiteboard for this, but I'm a geek) and show it to them. Helps if they hit what they're aiming at. It's more fun that way.

Safety is important, but forget trying to teach them the manual safety. IMHO it has no purpose on a range and the newbie shouldn't be given ANY false sense of security with regards to a manual safety. Too easy for people to flick that thing on and ignore all 4 rules.

I wouldn't have them load their own mags. It's such a foreign movement to somebody that hasn't done it before that it's just going to be frustrating to them. If there's no time limit though, and you can take your muffs off to actually show him how, perhaps it's a good idea. I never do though. Let 'em learn it when they get their own handgun. :)

If you're alternating he shoots, you shoot, and they get depressed because of the accuracy of their shots assure them that it just takes time. The "I've done this 40,000+ times, you've done it 20 times, it just takes practice" thing works. With a guy I think it makes them want to learn more.

Let 'em take a natural stance and grip even if it's wrong. No point in harping on them this early on... just let the lead fly safely. Only stress safety, not technique.

Just my two cents.

November 12, 2004, 08:47 PM
If he is as he says scared of guns then forget the SMG. No need in trying to overwhelm him on his first time out. Teach him the basics of shooting irst.

rust collector
November 12, 2004, 10:55 PM
We tend to gravitate toward the boomers as we get more comfortable with shooting, but by all means start with a .22 rifle and concentrate on the basics. Perhaps a single round in the mag, go over the drill and see how they're doing before full mags. Less chance of the spray and pray he's seen on a million cop/combat shows.

A well mannered (hefty) .22 pistol might be the next step. If more is wanted, a few .38s might be fun. No full house loads for a noob, or the basics go out the window and it becomes a flinchfest.

Let us know how it goes.

November 12, 2004, 11:29 PM
Go over safety a LOT. Lots and lots.

I took a novice to the range this week. Before we left the house I went over the fundamentals of each type of handgun we were going to use. (Once you're at the range, with the muffs on, communication is a little difficult.)

Safety rule #1, at least in my neck of the woods, is always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction. I told him, jokingly, that if he violated this rule he would know it instantly. He would know it because I would slap him upside his head.

When we got to the range, I didn't shoot until he and my son were finished. My son grew up with guns, so I wasn't too worried about him. But I never took my eyes off the novice.

Then, when they were done, I took my turn.

Everybody had a good time and nobody got slapped. The novice fell in love with my 1911 and is in the market for the same.

November 13, 2004, 08:51 AM
Wow! Excellent suggestions, all!!

I'm off to the range shortly and think I will pick up some extra 22's and some Shoot-n-See targets on the way.

Thanks to everybody :)

November 13, 2004, 06:04 PM
Well, the trip today was an immense success!

We started off w/ the .22 pistol (which has a dot) and my friend was immediately up and running. Safety was not an issue with him, and his groupings were commendable. He eventually took his targets out to 15yds and was keeping his groups consistently under 3”.

After that, I began sprinkling in a .357, a .44 special, and a 1911- 45ACP, all the time allowing him to go back to the .22. This kind of rotation seemd to be a good approach.

The only disappointment was that we ended up *not* renting the SMG--not because he didn’t want to, but because the range raised its rental prices to absurd levels (the three of us would have had to pay a set *minimum* fee of $25 *each* and we just weren't ready to cough up $75)

In the end though, he had a good time, enjoying the .22 the most (which I completely understand :) ) I had fun too, but I certainly didn't end up shooting as much as I would have liked--I've never had so many rounds left over!

I guess the true test will be whether or not he asks to go again!

Thanks again for all the suggestion.

November 14, 2004, 09:58 PM
ExMachina, what range did you go to? (he asks, from Cary, NC)

November 15, 2004, 12:42 PM
SkyDaver, check your PM :)

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