Girlfriend that is completely new to shooting


July 25, 2011, 10:24 AM
My girlfriend of about 1 year is really wanting me to teach her how to shoot. I am completely looking forward to it. I have taught other friends of mine, and they all enjoyed the experience. I consider myself to have above average proficiency (25 years old with about 23 years of shooting experience) and way above average firearm safety.

The problem is...I have never taught someone that has ZERO firearm experience and it is kind of intimidating. There are SO MANY topics to go over. Obviously, safety is the first thing. I have already expressed to her that I want to have some "classroom" time to make sure she knows what to do and what not to do...before we go to the range. She is fine with that. Now, I should say that she is a very smart gal (but she still likes my dumb a** for some reason) and I think she will be able to pick up on things very quickly. So, I am thinking of giving some kind of oral test. "What are the five firearm safety rules in order?" "What part of the firearm is this?" "How do I eject the magazine on this pistol?" Tell me what you think of that idea...

Next is where I am lost. I know to start with stance and grip, blah, blah, blah.... What I need help with is how to make this fun for literally a FIRST time shooter. I am going to start with it a good idea to have her shoot off of a bench to help her get her hits?...thus making her feel good that she is hitting what she's shooting at? Have her shoot at full soda cans so she can see effect on target right away? Do I keep her out there for 2 hours...or 4?

I guess what I am really looking for here is to hear some of YOUR stories of teaching first time shooters. What you taught first, how you taught it etc...

Thanks in advance, gents.

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July 25, 2011, 10:31 AM
Weaver stance at seven yards with a silhouette target would be my first choice. It is easy to see hits and you can move it out further if they become proficient. You also have access to the gun if you are behind them. Used this for my own children and several adults that had not fired before. Ruger GP100 is a good gun for this because it is heavy and you can shoot 38's.

Good luck and have fun.

July 25, 2011, 10:33 AM
Go take a class with her.

That way it's a date, not "My boyfriend chewed me out for doing eveything wrong for three hours; I'm never gonna do that again!"

July 25, 2011, 10:34 AM
A TEST...NO NO NO. You want this to be fun for her, right?

Start at home with an un-loaded gun. Let her handle it. Teach her to keep it pointed in a safe direction and not to touch the trigger. Explain, IN SIMPLE TERMS, how it works.

Go to the range and have fun. Be right next to her the whole time to watch muzzle control and safety. Start her off with a .22, rifle then pistol if you're able.

Have fun. Don't over-think it. Don't overwhelm her with useless info(a parts test, really?)...that will just turn her off.

It's about safety and fun...nothing more at this point. Let her determine if she wants to learn or shoot more in the future.

July 25, 2011, 10:41 AM
Hmm... A familiar topic. I've been there and done that, actually at around the same age.

At home, take an empty .22 and explain the three NRA safety rules:

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

That's it. Take her to a range, have her tell you the three rules as you walk up, and tell her to put the gun down on the bench/stand/etc. facing downrange if anything unusual happens.

She will do great - remember to smile like crazy the whole time, because if you make it FUN, she will want to do it again.

Jim Watson
July 25, 2011, 10:47 AM
I'm with kluge. Instruction by or for a family member or sweetheart is just a source of dissention. A disinterested professional instructor is best.

I recently sent friends of a closeness approaching family out for class because I did not want to have to boss them around on the basics. Now they have the basics, I can offer tips and suggestions without coming across as a stern taskmaster.

On the other hand, I worked with a friend of a friend, no emotions involved, and she had a good time and turned out a good shot.

July 25, 2011, 10:47 AM
Thanks guys.

Yeah, I figure the "test" is a good idea. I doubt you would want to teach someone to drive who has never even been inside a car without them knowing the names of things in the car....steering wheel, gas, brake, clutch, gear lever, etc....

BTW I am a VERY patient and understanding teacher. There will be no yelling at her or making fun of her...and I have already advised her that if there happens to be other people at the range that make fun of her, they will be advised of their mistake...and we will leave for the day.

July 25, 2011, 12:33 PM
A TEST...NO NO NO. You want this to be fun for her, right?

In FIRST Steps Pistol there is no test.

July 25, 2011, 12:43 PM
Take a basic pistol course with her. It will help you re-inforce your skills and will get her up to speed on the basics. This will also allow shooting to become "your" hobby.

July 25, 2011, 12:49 PM
When Mary's Peak was still open I constantly took new shooters to shoot for the first time.

All my instruction consisted of telling them the four rules on the way up, having them repeat them once, explaining how to work the gun, explaining how to use the sights, handing them the gun, some ammo and sitting on a rock, watching them until they had a question.

Parts test? Classroom time? I always wonder why people do this. If a method worked for you, why not repeat it? my first outing looked exactly like I described and I didn't blow myself up.
Hells. The wife and me had to sit down in front of youtube afterwards and figure out how our shotgun broke down for cleaning afterwards.

July 25, 2011, 12:57 PM
All my instruction consisted of telling them the four rules on the way up, having them repeat them once, explaining how to work the gun, explaining how to use the sights, handing them the gun, some ammo and sitting on a rock, watching them until they had a question.

I have taken this approach myself. I often take people shooting for the first time. I tell them the rules and then pick out a pistol or 2 with them that they will be shooting. I go over its safety features like trigger safety (Glock), thumb safety and/or grip safety (1911 or BHP) decocker (DA/SA) etc... I make sure they can manipulate the gun with a proper grip etc... I personally think some "ammo free" handling time is valueable.

Then I show them how to load the mags put them in a proper shooting stance and let them shoot. I stand behind them so I can see what they are doing and work with them as they progress. With a new shooter I like to be close enough that if I have to I can take control of the gun.

I however did not do this with my wife. I let someone else teach her in the same manner. I guess that was my point. It is not that it is hard to teach a newbie to shoot it is hard to teach a newbie who happens to be your wife. :eek: We then took a basic pistol course together at the Quantico Shooting club. Classroom + range time. It was well worth the cost.

July 25, 2011, 01:07 PM
Making a "date" out of a class where you are both students is an option, but it will cost money of course.

It is a very common internet forum opinion to not instruct friends/girlfriends, but personally I don't see what the problem is assuming you are both functioning adults. Functioning adults should be able to give and receive advice from their friends, assuming that both parties are really interested in the transaction. I suspect that most of the time when "my wife got PO'ed when I tried to tell her how to shoot this thing", the wife may not have really been interested in the first place. But anyway... I have helped and been helped by plenty of friends without our friendship suffering. That is what friends do; help each other.

I would probably avoid the "tests"; for a rank newbie I would just start out in a dry environment at home, explain the basic safety rules; let her do some handling of the gun, add snap caps if you have them so she can see all the functioning other than the actual firing in a dry environment.

Once she demonstrates the ability to load, unload, and "fire" the gun safely at home, I would head to the range, and starting one round at a time, let her do the same thing she did at home. Big targets, close distances, and not more than a couple hours max would be my choices for a complete newbie, unless they were REALLY having a good time and wanted to stay longer.

Steel Talon
July 25, 2011, 01:43 PM
Go with a 22lr revover
Ear and eye safety
Paper target at 7 yards to practise basic marksmenship
Focus to proper gun handling KISS to start with finger off trigger ,muzzle discipline.
Teach her to load and unload confidently.

After paper target , have some coke cans to shoot. Think easy to hit reactive target
Teach her how to pick up from shooting
How to clean a unloaded cleared pistol
Teach her how to clean/ wash her hands properly to remove shooting debris,lead,cleaning fluids before she eats etc.
Take her out to lunch, tell her how well she did, how proud you were,and how she made those cans dance. Set another date.Tell her lets keep it at 22lr for now that you can move up to 38sp. 9mm 40sw next month... Tell her once she's comfortable with pistols just wait until she starts shooting a rifle...

If your relationship is such, take her home take a shower with her and tear it up.
Cause you the man....

Tips to consider

Resist the urge to yell, scream, embarras, freak out etc. if she makes a unsafe operation. Intelligently and calmly re-direct and explain importance of safety. "Calm steady Mantra"

22lr is best to learn with for ease of recoil, and easier to identify/control flinch. It's also not as taxing on the body.

July 25, 2011, 01:50 PM
Resist the urge to yell, scream, embarras, freak out etc. if she makes a unsafe operation. Intelligently and calmly re-direct and explain importance of safety. "Calm steady Mantra"

THIS! There is exactly one situation in which you will ever want to yell in any kind of instructive or professional capacity: To add stress to a situation.

At least that is all I have ever seen in the Air Force, Navy and Army. Yelling is to makemthings harder, not easier.

July 25, 2011, 01:55 PM
All my instruction consisted of telling them the four rules on the way up, having them repeat them once, explaining how to work the gun, explaining how to use the sights, handing them the gun, some ammo and sitting on a rock, watching them until they had a question.

Then head out to the range or outdoor shooting area and have fun. If it is a semi-auto handgun I usually load one round and have them fire it to give them an idea of what to expect. Most common problem I've seen is limp-wristing and getting a FTF or stovepipe. A lot of this seems to be solved by finding a handgun that fits their hand well and developing a solid grip. With so many high-cap guns around this can sometimes be a challenge. That said, I just took my girlfriend's daughter out shooting for the first time and she was fairly comfortable with a Glock 17, which I consider to be a wide grip gun.

I used to start with a .22 pistol and move them up but going right to a 9mm seems fine with novices that I've taken shooting recently. I've done with a number of girlfriends and others and they all come away with a very positive experience.

Sean Smith
July 25, 2011, 01:59 PM
In my experience women on average learn to shoot much faster than men, provided you have the good sense to take the right approach. Every horror story about teaching "the wife" seems to involve some kind of colossal stupid blunder, or the guy just being a patronizing jackass. If they want to learn and believe you can teach them it should be smooth sailing.

Use an appropriate gun, ideally .22LR - but honestly it's not that big a deal to teach her to shoot any full-size service pistol (remember, big and heavy = little kick.) Light CCW guns are terrible first guns, and anybody suggesting a snub-nose .38 needs to be launched into the sun. Have quality ear protection strong enough for both what you're shooting and what the people around you will be shooting. Have her comfortable with operating the gun long before you go to a range by having her practice handling and dry-firing in a safe and low-pressure environment. Have them wear appropriate clothing - how brass down the blouse is not fun, apparently.

Provided you know what you're doing, if you take things slowly and keep things light it should all work out.

Old krow
July 25, 2011, 02:49 PM
I guess what I am really looking for here is to hear some of YOUR stories of teaching first time shooters. What you taught first, how you taught it etc...

I think that ny32182's post is pretty spot on, but, you should be sure that your relationship will work like that. In regards to that post, I didn't so much "teach" her as I did guide her. My g/f had her own interest in firearms and still does. That's probably a large part of the success and maybe the hardest part to recognize.

I was 20 years ahead of my g/f when she started shooting. Taking a class still isn't a bad idea, but, she didn't want to go that route at first. We have taken classes together now, but in retrospect, I don't know that in our case it would have changed the outcome. It was still worth it and I don't see it as a waste of time.

When we first got started, I explained the rules; The 4 safety rules, the range rules, the "no pressure, have fun" rules. She handled the gun around the house and got pretty familiar with it before we ever went to the range. She picked the range day I didn't shoot a handgun at all that day. It was big targets at close range until she was ready to go home. When we did go, there wasn't a lot of people there. I think that she liked that a little better. Our range isn't prone to a lot of people making fun of anybody out there. I suspect that many are the same way, but I agree, I would not subject a new shooter to that if it occurred.

The only advise that I could offer has already been said. Be safe. Be attentive. Be sane (or calm). I think that in general people want to learn about firearms from somebody that can demonstrate how to safely use one and that they feel safe learning from. At least in her case, she was far more interested in becoming familiar with the gun and shooting safely than she was in seeing any type of results.

It's a completely different story now. She's her own shooter. She'll go to the range without me if she wants to shoot. he has her own guns and she shoots what she likes. I come home a couple of times to find her cleaning a new gun. I've gotten a couple of texts to let me know how "so and so" did in a competition. I got a couple from her to let me know how she did. It's really no different now than any other friend that I go to the range with except that dinner conversation sometimes include talk of ammunition, competitions, or guns.

Birthday presents are WAY cooler now. :D

July 25, 2011, 03:10 PM
Frankly, as much as other suggest it, I think starting her out in a pistol class is not going to be ideal. I was pretty much the only person in my family with an interest in firearms and so I had to pretty much teach them all. They now enjoy shooting we haven't had any safety problems. To me, taking a pistol course is something you do when you're serious about father and I have because we've gotten pretty into it but that would have been far too much effort for my sisters and mother (they enjoy it but not enough to go to a class). It sounds like your girlfriend is excited and that's great, so it's probably best to get her out there to try it.

Definitely go over the safety rules and telling her to put the gun facing downrange if anything different happens is a great idea. Be right there to help her with any question she has...basically, you want to be supportive and helpful, but don't force too much on her. She'll ask for help when she needs it and just have fun. Enjoy yourself and she'll enjoy it as well. Good luck!

July 25, 2011, 03:18 PM
First shot only load ONE ROUND Just in case she gets excited and turns around with the gun in hand.

Also, don't be one of those people on Youtube and hand her a Desert Eagle or something like that for her first gun. I despise the people that do that.

July 25, 2011, 04:27 PM
No low cut tops. I'm not kidding. When brass goes down the front women have a tendency to forget all about where they are or what they're doing and the tendency is to spin away from where the brass came from.:eek:

More than once I've seen a gal spin away from the line with a cocked & ready semi auto... and trigger descipline was non existent as well...:eek::eek:

Might want to caution that even with a standard Tshirt the hot brass can still find a way in... ask how I know...:cool:

As for safety, trigger disciple seems to be the hardest for my wife, but she's learning.

Don't assume and always pay attention.

July 25, 2011, 04:43 PM
First shot only load ONE ROUND Just in case she gets excited and turns around with the gun in hand.

Yes. I act out the turn-around with finger-gun in an intentionally good humored fashioned manner to help set the rules about keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction and never pointing it at anything you are not willing to destroy.

July 25, 2011, 04:43 PM
I was in a position about a year ago where I showed a lot of people how to shoot and the simple basics of shooting. I made them a quick handout to read before they went to the range for the first time, and something that they came to use when they took their first steps pistol classes.

I first make someone tell me all the rules by heart.

I then let them handle the safe, unloaded firearms that we will shoot and answer all the questions they may have.

When I first let someone shoot, I work my way up in calibers.

First thing we shoot is a .22 (Sig Mosquito) until they get the basics of stance, grip and accuracy, then a 9mm (Glock 17/19), and a 1911 (.45) if they want to.


July 25, 2011, 04:55 PM
PLEASE! Take her to a Certified Firearms Instructor and pay for the lessons. Thank you.

July 25, 2011, 05:28 PM
My wife could shoot before we were married so all I have done is coach her a little when need be. I taught my sons to shoot and they listened well as kids, but that ain't your spouse or girlfriend.

The one time I tried to teach my wife to shoot skeet she did listen and did fairly well but I got frustrated that she wasn't hitting any birds and I ran out of nice ways to explain things to her. We finally got through it with no major reprocussions and she started doing well.

She did remind me later that not everyone knows all I do about shooting and I need to remember when I didn't know much and have more patience. It would definately been better if someone else have taken on the challenge instead of me. Being a perfectionist myself didn't help either.

July 25, 2011, 05:35 PM
If she is really starting at zero, you should do something with absolutely no recoil, then work your way up:
1. BB gun
2. .22 rifle with only 1 shot (Marlin 60, Marlin 70, Ruger 10/22, etc.)
3. Same as above, multiple shots.
4. .22 pistol with only 1 shot (Ruger Mk3, Mosquito, etc.)
5. Same as above, multiple shots.
6. .223 rifle
7. .38 large frame, no pocket pistols
8. 9mm large frame, no polymer (Browning hi power or an old Smith pistol)
9. 9mm polymer (G17/G19/XDm9)
10. Somewhat larger rifle, maybe .308, 54r, .30-06, etc.

By then, she'll probably be ready for any caliber and frame size. That's the order that I learned, by the way.

July 25, 2011, 07:07 PM
I just took my girlfriend out shooting for the first time yesterday. I had offered to take her sometime ago and she asked if we could do it on Sunday after church. Fortunately there was an indoor range nearby where she lives and they had expanded the hours they were open on the weekend.

Even though she would be shooting a S&W .22 revolver (a Model 34 Kit Gun with a 4" barrel), I did advise her that she should wear a top without a low cut front and to wear tennis shoes as well. I went over the four safety rules and explained briefly how the revolver works. I also showed her how to get a proper grip, stance, and sight picture. I loaded up the first six rounds for her and then let her shoot.

She kept the first six on paper and once she got accustomed to the DA trigger pull, was able to put togther some very decent groups (even managing to get a couple of rounds in the bullseye!). Overall she was very happy with whole experience and kept her targets to show her kids how well she had done.

July 25, 2011, 07:20 PM
Thanks a lot for the advice, guys. Some of it I agree with, and some I don't...but this is helping me formulate a plan. Thanks again.

July 25, 2011, 07:28 PM
Empty chili cans and .38 revolver with light loads.

Anybody who thinks that's hard, and who doesn't think that's fun, doesn't have a pulse.

July 25, 2011, 07:44 PM
I recommend that you start out new shooters at about 10 feet from the target. This makes it easy to see your hits with a 22. I use the putting in golf analogy to explain start short and working out to distances

July 25, 2011, 09:21 PM
I started my girlfriend shooting at around 20 to 25 feet as she felt vey comfortable with that distance. Easy enough to see the hits, and also used some Shoot-N-C targets as well.

July 25, 2011, 09:30 PM
Any shooting instruction that works off the game of golf as a relative premise is fundamentally flawed.

July 26, 2011, 08:59 AM
How so? I more or less consider shooting sports to be golf with a gun.

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