Need advice for my wife as a new shooter


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Gaiudo
February 22, 2007, 02:44 AM
My wife has finally gotten interested in shooting, especially after my M1a came in last week, and then she went out and saw me shooting IDPA. I'm excited she is interested, this is a good start.

However, here is the problem: she has weak hands: can't work the slide on a semi- of any centerfire round as far as I can tell.

Double-wammy... she can't pull the trigger on a double-action revolver; she can only pull the trigger shooting single action.

Also, she is terrified of recoil and noise, having never shot much.

This has made her very frustrated every time we go to the gunshop. I don't want her to keep getting frustrated, especially since she is finally interested and wants to join me. I've been having her shoot the Python with loaded down .38's, and she enjoys that, but its huge in her hands and very heavy.

Does anyone, perhaps some of the women on the forum, have opinions on this matter? The one gun she can work the slide as far as I have found is the Walther P22, so I am considering getting the Walter as a starter. Eventually we would like to work up to a carry gun, but for now we just need something she can physically handle.

Requirements: light recoil; light weight; ease of operation; fool-proof.

Thanks.

Nick

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hso
February 22, 2007, 02:49 AM
Have her go to http://corneredcat.com/ and read Pax's site. What men often think women can't do other women have found out how to do already.

pacodelahoya
February 22, 2007, 08:42 AM
for a .22 my wife like her Baretta Neos. Single action, good accuracy, and a built in scope rail.

Not to mention you can get different colored grips!

philbo
February 22, 2007, 10:43 AM
My advice would be same for anyone starting to shoot. Learn the basics on a 22. A decent autoloader and an inexpensive single action revolver. All the basic skills can be learned w/those 2 pistols. Once the person has developed a comfort level w/proper grip, trigger control, sight alignment, let them try other pistols as often as they want till they find one they are comfortable with.

25 years ago my wife started this way , and now regularly shoots an XD9 service w/a 22# spring, Don's guide rod and 3# trigger job. Her everyday carry is a Keltec 32... which she claimed for herself after firing it at the range the first time. And when I brought home an AR15, her only response was "show me how it works"

S&W 24 SR
February 22, 2007, 10:57 AM
possibly a Kimber 1911 in 22lr? After she gets the hang of it You could switch to 9x19 or 45ACP.

jfh
February 22, 2007, 10:59 AM
to which I would add this:

1. Besides a .22, even consider an airgun--ANYTHING TO LOWER THE ANXIETY LEVEL.

These initial experiences HAVE to be "pleasant," and if you can avoid any of the typical problems--flinching comes to mind--becoming bad habits, it will be a big jump ahead for her. I assume you have GOOD hearing protection--I would recommend electronic muffs, so she can hear as well as have the noise dampened.

2. Buy her one of those "hand strengtheners"--you know, the spring tool with handles on it, that you squeeze to strengthen your hand. Be sure she exercises with both hands. That will eliminate the operational problems for her. I used to use mine when I was reading, watching the TV--it doesn't have to be during "gun time."

3. Finally, tune in to the interpersonal dynamics--e.g., if you are not the best instructor for her to work with, either hire some instruction, or trade off with a friend / whoever. As many of us know, the partners in a relationship are not necessarily the ones to teach / guide the other.

Jim H.

Steve H
February 22, 2007, 11:06 AM
I think I would start her with a .22 Ruger Single Six. First short's or CB's then long rifles'. That gun should get her commfy with something with some size and still not be abusive to shoot. If that works out then move her up to something a bit larger and you would have a good .22 in you collection.

Another gun might be the Beretta model 21, she would not have to pull the slide and recoil is very small.

1BLINDREF
February 22, 2007, 11:06 AM
Maybe a Beretta Cheetah .380 with a tip up barrel.

Gaiudo
February 22, 2007, 11:11 AM
All of this is great advice. I'm looking for a good .22 she can shoot, hope to find one soon. I'd like to get her started on something that replicates the action of what she would be using for defense in the future to some extent. If y'all could throw me the names of some preferred .22 pistols with a new shooter in mind, I would be most appreciative.

The mechanical issues may need some sort of hand spring strengthener, and I'm looking into that.

Thanks again, its nice to have feedback.

Nick

Gaiudo
February 22, 2007, 11:16 AM
Oh, one other thing (sorry about the double post...)

She can't pull back the slide on the Woodsman-style .22 yet, so those are kinda out. Too bad, as I think that might be a good trainer. I wish the Walther P22 was more accurate, but that might be the least of the considerations at this point.

Also, she doesn't really have the hand-strength to cycle a single action with her strong-hand thumb, and has to use her off-hand. Is this ok to allow at this point? I mean, of course if thats what she has to do, ok, but I dont' know if I want to get a singleaction that she can't cycle properly yet.

Thanks,

Nick

jlbraun
February 22, 2007, 11:38 AM
A CZ-75 with a .22LR Kadet Kit would fit the bill. Big heavy steel pistol turns the .22 recoil into nothing. Cycling is OK as long as you cock the hammer first.

Neo-Luddite
February 22, 2007, 12:06 PM
Everyone has given great advice.

PAX has an awesome site--

How about a nice airgun or .22 lever or bolt to start with?

gazpacho
February 22, 2007, 12:19 PM
How about a Ruger 10/22? Is there a specific reason you/she wants a pistol first?

pax
February 22, 2007, 12:43 PM
Gaiudo ~

By all means, as long as she is willing to do it, have her start with a .22. Most new shooters should begin with a .22, unless there is some very compelling reason not to do that. I see no reason at all not to in this case.

As for the choice between semi-auto and revolver: my personal experience has been that it is much much easier to teach someone the easy way to rack a slide than it is to get them up and running on a double-action revolver if they don't have the finger strength to pull the trigger. That's because racking the slide is all about technique and not about strength, but pulling a DA trigger requires both strength and technique.

Here's how to rack a slide the easy way:
http://www.corneredcat.com/RunGun/rack.htm

The article has the long-and-involved explanation of this. The short explanation is, "Hold the slide still. Punch the gun forward. Don't be afraid of hurting the gun."

Good luck to you both.

pax

thumbody
February 22, 2007, 12:50 PM
However, here is the problem: she has weak hands: can't work the slide on a semi- of any centerfire round as far as I can tell.

She can't pull back the slide on the Woodsman-style .22 yet, so those are kinda out. Too bad, as I think that might be a good trainer. I wish the Walther P22 was more accurate, but that might be the least of the considerations at this point.

How is she gripping the slide?
If she is using a slingshot type of hold have her grab the slide with the palm of her hand facing down over the top of the gun with her thumb facing toward the rear of the gun. You get a better grip on the slide and you have more strength that way.
I have also found squeezing a rubber ball helps to build gripping strength. I do it while driving, sitting reading a newspaper or watching tv etc.

I see pax posted while I was typing

Trebor
February 22, 2007, 12:52 PM
Have her get some instruction by someone *other* then you. Trust me, the husband/wife dynamic doesn't help in this situation.

I reccomend the NRA Basic Pistol class. It's a good introduction and relatively easy to find. Look for classes at the NRA website www.nra.org and also just ask around at local ranges and gunshops. Many instructors don't put their classes on the NRA site.

After that, I reccomend a .22 for all new shooters to learn on. In my opinion, the Ruger Mk II or Browning Buckmark are better trainer guns than the P22. The only exception is if you already have a P99 and are using the P22 as an "understudy" trainer gun.

To reduce the recoil and noise have her double up on hearing protection. Have her roll the plugs up tight and then reach over her head with one hand to tug on the ear to open up the ear canal before inserting the plugs. It makes a difference. Then wear high rated (29 db to 33 db reduction) muffs over that. That will make a huge difference in noise reduction. Reduce the noise and the perceived recoil seems to be less as well.

There are a lot of women who think they "aren't strong enough" to load, operate and shoot a semi-automatic pistol. In most cases, they just need good instruction from someone who understands not only the correct techniques that don't rely on brute strength, but also how to explain and instruct on those techniques.

As far as revolvers, what specific type of double action revolver was she trying to shoot? The little 5 shot S&W "J" frames have a different trigger geometry than the larger "K" frame revolvers which makes the trigger pull a bit tougher. Have her try a S&W "K" frame revolver with a 3" or 4" barrel. If the stock revolver pull is still too heavy, a good gunsmith can smooth out the pull and lighten it a bit. That can make a world of difference.

Btw, *how* is she trying to pull the trigger? I've found that when I stress "Smoothly" pulling the trigger, some students think they must pull the trigger slowly as well. The problem is that pulling the trigger slowly makes it mroe difficult to pull the trigger all the way through it's cycle. A quick, smooth, pull is easier to accomplish.

A small investment in training now will pay big dividends later.

If you haven't already, take a look at www.corneredcat.com Pax created a great resource in that site.

doubleg
February 22, 2007, 12:53 PM
Why not a 22 revolver? You can start her out with 22 short then move up to long ect..

PaulBk
February 22, 2007, 12:58 PM
I have said it before and I will say it again, the P-22 is the only powder burning handgun my wife will shoot. What about the accuracy don't you like? Mine (ours) is hardly a target pistol, but it is quite accurate for combat/plinking. Give it a try!

-Paul

Gaiudo
February 22, 2007, 01:56 PM
Thanks all, this is great advice. Pax, love your website thats for the resources.

I'll take her down to the gunshop today or tomorrow and we will try some of the other semi autos out. I am sure its about technique, but she doesn't have it and I'm probably not the best one to teach her.

hso
February 22, 2007, 03:34 PM
Gaiudo,

If you folks get to Knoxville feel free to contact me and we'll spend an afternoon introducing your wife to a variety of handguns and techniques for working with them.

frostbiker
February 22, 2007, 04:54 PM
I agree with Trebor's first statement: Have someone else teach your wife.

When I first introduced mine to shooting, I gave her the basic safety briefieng and operational overview of all weapons we shot the first time. After that, I took her to a group introductory course with our regular range group's wives and SO's.

When we first shot together, I did something different, too. I told her to stand right next to my left side as I ripped through a couple of magazines of .40 from my XD. I told her to not move, and don't panic. I let her know I was going to blow through the magazines as fast as possible so she could acclimate herself to the noise, smell, and vibration without having to shoot. I did this after watching some hotshot at the range do the same for his 'date' one night. He was foolish enough stand next to a couple of guys shooting rapid fire and full-auto in the lanes on either side. The 'date,' never having shot before, RAN from the range back to the lobby.

My wife quickly acclimated and had no problems after that. We tried different types of handguns to get the best fit and find what was most comfortable for her. I just let her shoot, not worrying about her aim, stance, grip or technique overall. She'd ask questions, and I would answer them to the best of my knowledge.

After the class she took, she asked more questions and we even practiced dry-firing in the house to develop her skills and strength. She really wanted a 1911 (now owns a Kimber TLE/RL) and practiced on my commander until she had the strength to go live with it comfortably.

Oh, just another two bits worth: when you buy her that first gun, try to finds some grips other than rubber/hogue. I found, and my wife found out, that gun oil residue, sweat, and women's hand lotion tend to slick up the rubber grips causing problems when shooting. I switched my 1911 grips with micarta and have wrap around grip tape on my tactical tupperware guns.

hope that helps.

Gaiudo
February 22, 2007, 06:00 PM
HSO, if we ever plan on being in the Knoxville area I will be sure to call ahead and see if you have a couple hours. It would be good to get to know more options than the half dozen or so I have to offer (none of which suite her very well at all).

Thanks again to all.

Nick

Steve H
February 22, 2007, 07:33 PM
I'd like to get her started on something that replicates the action of what she would be using for defense in the future to some extent. If y'all could throw me the names of some preferred .22 pistols with a new shooter in mind, I would be most appreciative.


Have you thought about a Ruger Mk II?

ArfinGreebly
February 22, 2007, 08:36 PM
I open all the jars and bottles in our house.

Wife has weak hands. Small, too.

I took her shooting and, never having handled a pistol before, she was able to manage the Ruger MkII, no problem.

When we bought her 9mm, we tried out a few. I showed her how to do the slide rack according to the Pax "hold slide, punch gun forward" method.

She settled on the Taurus PT111 9mm -- "This thing was just made for my hands."

I let HER pick the gun.

I was all ready to plunk down for a LadySmith in 9mm, and the one she chose for herself cost half that. Snoopy dance.

Logan5
February 23, 2007, 12:05 AM
I'll chime in again on this idea: Get her signed up for a course of instruction where the instructor isn't you. It is a much, much better idea.

My wife has a fair bit of natural talent, and I do take her shooting, but as an instructor, I have to say that the husband/wife relationship is probably antithetical to the teacher/student one. In that situation, I am not a good instructor, and my spouse is not a good student. At best it is useless, and at worse it is actively counterproductive. Who knows what her skills and capabilities really are? Probably only an impartial, competent instructor...

Trebor
February 23, 2007, 01:48 AM
In that situation, I am not a good instructor, and my spouse is not a good student.

I agree completely. I can instruct anybody but my own wife.

pete f
February 23, 2007, 02:29 AM
+10000 about not teaching own wife,


I would offer to try to find an older smith and wesson or ruger DA revolver in DA. let her start with the SA and as she develops some hand strength and experience she can move up.

My daughter started shooting when she was 9, at first it was .22's but by the time she was 12 or so she was shooting 9mm and .38's at 14 she was handling .45 acp no problem and she manages .44 mags shortly after, it was all confidence, practice, and muscle tone.

No matter how small or tender you wife is, she can learn this stuff, and it really does not take long. a couple of times a week of some dedicated exercises or range time will have her managing a gun very quickly. I have seen women who could not hold the gun out and steady at all, within 3 weeks be able to rack the slide and hit the target.



PS, if she complains about sore hands after a range session, have her take two tylenol or advil before going out to shoot, really really reduces the soreness after the fact.

Gaiudo
February 23, 2007, 09:41 PM
Well, a friend and fellow IDPA shooter here in town and I have been talking. He is older, and both he and his wife has been teaching firearm instruction for more than 30 years. He offered to bring out a bunch of different guns, and introduce us to his wife who could take over where my "instruction" leaves off (and believe me, it leaves alot to be desired).

This is probably a very good step, especially in light of the "collective" opinion here, that someone else, with a comfortable, non-intimidating assortment of firearms begin the instruction process. I'm very grateful for this instructor offering his services.

Thanks so much for all the advice. It really set me on the right path of finding someone for my wife, rather than trying to fix it all myself.

Nick

pax
February 23, 2007, 10:00 PM
Excellent!

The best of luck to both of you. :)

pax

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