Taking new shooters to the range -- how many at time?


July 17, 2003, 09:26 PM
One of my friends from work is really interested in shooting, so I've invited him out to range. Thing is, now 3 people want to go. These are all first-time shooters, and I want everyone to be safe, so should I limit the number of people I take? Do you have a personal limit on how many people you'll teach at a time?

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July 17, 2003, 09:30 PM
One on one.

Gives you a chance to tutor and to watch safety rules and keep a new shooter from getting yelled at by the range officer. A PRE-rangetime 'class' on safety and how the weapon works is a must as well.


July 17, 2003, 09:33 PM
If its a group thingy, you can gain mileage by shooting wth a group.

Problem is with 3 newbies you need help. If you can't do it one at a time, get an experienced shooter to give you a hand.

July 17, 2003, 09:34 PM
Unless you can sit them down and give them an hour or two of instruction on gun safety/operation/range protocol first, one on one is the only way to go.

July 17, 2003, 09:42 PM
Agreed ... one on one ... AND a pre-shoot safety chat too.

A group can work IF they are ''coached'' one at a time re live firing ... the remainder observing from safe distance .... one guy can only IMO can assist, in all the ways needed - to safely manage one novice with a gun ...... it requires total concentration, patience and attention.

July 17, 2003, 09:49 PM
One on one if at all possible.

If not, only one new shooter per instructor on the firing line at a time. That's how I prefer it, anyway.

July 17, 2003, 10:15 PM
Definately 1 on 1. I always insist on a pre-range safety session too. Going over operation and safety at the firing line with guns blasting and ear protection on is a pain in the rear.


July 17, 2003, 10:19 PM
I agree that one on one is the best way to go, and that having a safety discussion before heading to the range is of the utmost importance.

July 17, 2003, 10:31 PM
One is the most I've ever taken at a time.

July 17, 2003, 10:35 PM
Going to go against the crowd a little bit here.

Yes, one on one is the ideal.

However, if you have three real live newbies who are willing to go this weekend, and you put two of them off, that's two people who may not ever be interested again -- human nature being what it is.

So don't put them off.

It's obviously turned into a group thing, so go ahead and invite one or two more friends along -- people you absolutely trust 100% to help you keep the new shooters safe.

Go over the safety rules and basic gun anatomy before you get to the range.

And have fun. :cool:


Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods. -- Aristotle

Standing Wolf
July 17, 2003, 11:34 PM
I wouldn't even consider taking more than one newbie at a time to a shooting range, and then only after a serious, detailed chat about firearms safety. The vast majority of new shooters are conscientious, but it takes only one mistake.

Ala Dan
July 17, 2003, 11:48 PM
I'm also in favor of the one on one theory. Not to say
that an accident won't happen; but this sure cuts
down on the likely hood of it happening.

My wife and I took another couple shooting right
after we got married. The female friend had 0 fire-
arms training, or experience; and the male had
very little. I'm instructing the female, who is armed
with a Smith & Wesson 2" barrel model 36 that
belonged to her husband. She has the gun in her
hand, and assumes the Weaver stance firing
position. Next thing I know, she has cocked the
hammer and turned sideways; aiming the
cocked and loaded firearm right at my noggin!:uhoh:

After shaking in my boots momentrily, I got her
attention; watching the firearm ever so carefully.
Lucky me, she was scared to pull the trigger for
fear of the recoil; so I was able to get the weapon
pointed safetly downrange. Moral of the story is,
we never invited those particular persons to go
shooting again!:( :D

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

July 18, 2003, 12:30 AM
I do NOT think that having multiple experienced people on scene will make it ok to take multiple newbies to the line in and of itself.

AND, risking the lives of 3 people just so two of them will have the chance to shoot on a given day doesn't make any sense--not even if it means that the other two don't every get interested in firearms.

I wasn't being sarcastic with my initial post. If you want to take more than one at a time, you need to have a thorough session on gun safety, gun use, and range protocol. It should take as long as is required to make sure that everyone understand the important stuff.

There should be only ONE firearm during the shooting session so you can completely control what's happening. Take the most experienced/most careful shooter to the line first so the others can learn from his/her mistakes.

IF you decide to have other experienced people help, you MUST assign the people to one newbie apiece and make it clear to the newbies which person is their "instructor". You must make it clear to each "instructor" that he is to pay attention to his "student" ONLY so you don't get all three "instructors" trying to help the cute blonde "student" while the other two wave their guns around. You should still do a brief familiarization session to make sure everyone understands things like "Cease fire" and basic muzzle control and how to make their gun go bang when it should and not go bang when it shouldn't.

July 18, 2003, 12:31 AM
One on one is generally best. However, I agree with Pax. Take all three and let them go one at a time. Best case would be getting other experienced shooters to go with you. I once took four newbies to the range. They shot one at a time.

It can be a very rewarding experience. The more people we reach the stronger we become.

July 18, 2003, 12:49 AM
I prefer one on one, but I have gone 2 on one. It will really depend on how thin you can spread yourself and confident you are in controlling the situation.

July 18, 2003, 01:06 AM
One on one at the range.

Before I take anyone to the range I do a brief talk ahead of time, basically explaining how modern firearms work (aka Show and Tell), and the utter importance of the 4 Rules. No one gets to touch a loaded firearm until they can quote the 4 Rules from memory and can explain in their own words what they mean.


July 18, 2003, 01:16 AM
I have taken many dozens of people out to shoot for the first time. One on one is best. It makes for max. safety and best experience. However depending on several factors (range, help available, maturity and openess to learning) it is possible to take 2 or 3 people together.

If you decide to take them all, make it easy for yourself. One gun, one magazine and a long talk on safety with emphasis on the gun you will be using.

Don't bite off more than you can chew, more than 3 people will make you into a nervous wreck, as will more than one gun. How do I know? Where do yuo think I got all my grey hair!


July 18, 2003, 01:25 AM
The times I've taken someone to the range who's never done any shooting, I decided to make it one on one for two reasons.

1. There's only one of me. So only one shooter at a time. Watching is boring. Reloading Mags are boring.

2. Less bystanders make the new shooter less nervous. For a new shooter, being nervous is one of the major factors to overcome to enjoy firearms.

I'd try to get some trusted friends along. And explain the 4 rules until they can tell them all back to you.


July 18, 2003, 01:25 AM
Just watch them closely to make sure they observe the rules. I dont see any problem with it myself. Really, shooting safely is not a complicated thing to do. Just let them have fun and dont get on their case TOO much with regards to technique. All you should worry about is that they are safe. You'll be fine.

July 18, 2003, 01:51 AM
Take all 3. Sit down and talk to them as a group, but actual shooting should be just one at a time. Tell the others to observe and comment on what the shooter was doing.

July 18, 2003, 01:59 AM
If you're not shooting, 2 is fine. One in the lane at a time and lets them take breaks.

July 18, 2003, 02:19 AM
I agree with the posters who said you should take all three. When else will you get a chance to potentially recruit three new shooters?

Do a safety briefing for all three at once, but only let one shoot at a time. Have the other two observe and after each shooter has shot, use their experience as a "learning moment" for the other two. Always start with a positive comment on what that shooter did RIGHT, before mentioning what they should try to improve next time. Keep the comments upbeat and brief and explain that this is just a intro to shooting and not an in-depth lesson.

Bring a variety of guns, since different people might like different guns, but only uncase one gun at a time. By all means bring a good .22 handgun and have all the shooters start with that before anyone moves onto anything bigger.

Finally, offer to take any of the three out again for a one-on-one session at your mutual convienence. Hopefully, they'll not only take you up on it, but will ask your advice on where to get more training and what type of gun they should buy for their first gun.

July 18, 2003, 08:32 AM
1:1 at least, preferribly two experienced shooters per newbie. That way the experienced shooters can either watch a basket case, or if they make a lot of progress one can shoot on his/her own while the second helps the newbie and then switch after a while.


July 18, 2003, 08:57 AM
I'll throw my hat in to the 1:1 ring also.
Explain to the others that you like the first person the best, so you'll take second and third when you feel like it,.... HAHAHA

Seriously, attention to detail is easiest 1:1 and that person will get the most out of the experience. Maybe after you take them all once, and feel comfortable, bring the group. You just might find some new shooting partners.

Best of luck, stay safe.

..... "Like the first person the best"...... I make my self laugh.

July 18, 2003, 09:03 AM
i'll take em 2 or 3 at a time, in some cases, but you gotta be real careful. go on a day that's not too crowded, do all the instruction first with EVERYONE, and make sure they're the type that when they're together they aren't bad influences on each other. don't know how to describe that real well but you know it when you see it. if ver more than 2, though, get help. one other dude makes a big difference, and you only need dude for range time not prep time.

July 18, 2003, 09:35 AM
I've probably taken about 6-7 new shooters out to the range over the past two months, and had some subsequent trips with them. We spent a good twenty minutes beforehand just going over the four rules, range ettiquette, and the operation of each firearm (we had anywhere from 3-8 guns present).

I'd base what to do on what was my 'worst case scenario'. Myself and one other gunny taking another six people. Two had been shooting once before, the rest were newbies. Everyone had a blast, and there were no incidents. Generally, we never had more than three people shooting at a given time. This allowed us (the other shooter and I) to both observe and advise on handling and mechanics. For the first hour or the only shots we fired were just to show people the gun, how to hold it, how to shoot, etc. The rest was spent supervising and loading. The second hour we felt that they were comfortable enough (based on their actions in the first hour) that we got into the rotation, and we had up to six people shooting at a time. Zero incidents.

I'd also go against the grain and say go with the group, but I'd generally keep it at no more than 3-4 newbies per experienced gunny. I've found that the groups usually have more fun, and get more interested in going. Of course, this means more responsibility and stress to the person staging everything, but it's worth it.

July 18, 2003, 09:54 AM
I'd say take all three and don't plan on shooting yourself.

Giving up one afternoon shooting is worth introducing three newbies to firearms.

Take all three. Let only one on the line at a time.

Give safety briefing before. Stand near each one as he or she shoots for the first time....ideally about 45 degree angle off to the side and rear so you aren't in the line of fire and you can see the person's grip, trigger squeeze, follow through, flinches, etc.

But I think you could probably handle three as long as you let them shoot one at a time and you don't shoot yourself.


July 18, 2003, 11:38 AM
I've taken out 3 newbies at one time. I gave each one of them the run down of the safety rules and let them rent the guns they wanted to. Each person got a run down of how it all worked and we paired up using a buddy system.

No one was swept by a muzzle, nobody had finger on the trigger. It was a fun experience but if I had to do it again 2 people at the most and one on one is the best!



July 18, 2003, 11:42 AM
I think I'll go for the one shooter on the firing line idea, since I do want to get these people out to the range, and who knows when they'll have time to be interested again. Also, if there are any bay area THR types who will be out shooting the weekend after this one, PM me if you can lend a hand (and arms and eyes :)).

July 18, 2003, 12:02 PM
I've taken up to three new shooters at a time. If you take three, partner up with the weakest shooter and make everyone responsible for the other. Only allow two shooter on the line at once, making the other the "coach" who watches for safety violations. Even a novice can say "finger off the trigger!" Things go much smoother this way and everybody has fun.

4v50 Gary
July 18, 2003, 12:10 PM
Classroom time before you get range time. Be sure they learn firearms nomenclature, safety, handling, shooting stances, sight picture before you go to the range. It'll make it easier and safer for everyone.

July 18, 2003, 12:52 PM
I agree with one on one

July 18, 2003, 12:53 PM
My basic rule is one "instructor" for the shooter, and at least one more for the newbies who aren't shooting. If I were taking three new people to the range, I'd assist the person who is actually shooting, while someone else (most likely my wife) would watch over the others.

That way, I can focus all my attention on the individual with the firestick and not have to worry about keeping track of the rest.

Also, I fully advocate a pre-range meeting to discuss all the safety issues, range commands, firearm familiarization and answer questions.

It's also nice to go back and have an informal AAR with the people (perhaps in conjunction with some burgers on the grill), during which you can show appropriate maintenance and cleaning of the weapons fired.

Always keep safety the most important issue, but do your best to make sure that it's fun. It's amazing how anti-gun people can get when they have no exposure (except in the media and movies). However, once they see how enjoyable shooting can be, and that we really do stress safety and aren't lunatics, it's a whole different story.

July 18, 2003, 01:39 PM

Ideally, one on one is best.

But, strike while the iron is hot, but take precautions:

- Only one shooter at a time
- You're the range officer for the shooter; that means you're right there within reach of the shooter
- They all get the same pre-shooting safety lecture

My .02.


Mostly Harmless
July 18, 2003, 01:56 PM
I've never taken total novices, but I often take my son and his cousin. I make them take turns -- only 1 shooting at a time and I don't expect to get much range time myself.

They're both pretty well-trained, but at 13 and 11, they're still of an age where a wild impulse will blow all the safety instruction right out of their heads.


July 18, 2003, 02:32 PM
Coached 2 "never-shot-a-gun-before" in June on seperate occasions. My 9yr old nephew and my best friends 12yr old daughter.
First thing to do is tell the parents that they are spectators = no 2 on 1!
Both kids were pre-coached on range safety and gun handeling safety and repeated everything back without any problem.
Main thing I did was to stay close, but behind and off to the right side so I could be able to watch triggerfingers and muzzels and safetys. Both kids knew where the sights belonged, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the targets during the fireing. One thing to note, Paper is BOREING to a kid, they crave _Results_ - the nephew was ready to pack it in after 30 rounds at bullseye targets... When we stuck up the spinners, he shot us out of ammo - over a brick through a singleshot rifle. :D
Same thing with the 12yr old, sharp kid, had just won her first stage Black Belt in Tae Kwan Do the week before and was definately action oriented;)
She tracked and kept a softdrink can jumping from 25 to 50yds with an old Remington 510.
Both kids have shot since and are (to put it mildly) MOTIVATED.:D
The 12yr old hit Dad for a boost in her allowance for ammo:cool: :D

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