Taking friends to the shooting range is never an easy task and it’s something you must have experienced as a gun owner, one way or another. Every building or office has that one person who keeps asking questions about guns but has never gotten around to buying one. It can be frustrating sometimes because the questions never stop.
You might have wondered why they haven’t gotten around to buying a firearm or even gone as far as asking them. For some, it could be the fear of firearms painted by the media or an incident they experienced as a youngster at a gun shop that scarred them for life. Whatever the cause, we often tend to have long conversations with these set of people and about the range trip we had.
We have a civic right as gun owners to introduce new people to the shooting sports and teaching them how to shoot. Some of these experiences could be extremely life altering and it should be done gradually. Recently, I was fortunate to share an experience like that with my classmate. My partner and I got to teach her how to shoot a semi-automatic and she was hooked instantly. The negative side to this is that like other shooters before her, she has no idea where the gun or the ammunition came from as long as she could blow it away.
1. Starting Small
How do you start? Well, you definitely don’t want to ruin the experience for them. Our goal is to minimize the incidence of them having an experience that is ruined – which could scar them from ever returning to the shooting range. If someone is a total novice on guns, the only way you can start is to start small and simple. If you have a pistol, start with that so they can get a grip on what the process is all about. Use a pistol that is straight to the point without any of the fancy stuff. A Browning Buckmark without too much recoil will do just fine. Once your friend is comfortable with the 22’s, you can then upgrade them to a full 99m pistol. The reason why I recommend a full sized gun is because they are less intimidating though a bit heavier than other guns. If you don’t have a full sized pistol but can get a compact 9mm, that will work just as fine as well.
2. Keeping it Light
No one works well when they are under too much pressure and criticism. Take it easy with them and refrain from putting too much pressure. This might sound a bit baffling to you now but there was a time when you struggled as well. You hardly knew the specs of the rifle that was given to you or how to operate it safely. This person is in the same boat and is trying to find their feet. Don’t bark orders at them or speak with them as you would with a professional shooter. Don’t be loud or domineering as this would lead to the training session veering off course. One way of keeping the training light for the person is by asking them how they felt after each shot or what they thought about each gun after using it.
This is my personal opinion and you don’t have to follow through. But when I take a friend out, I cover the cost of the ammunition. I do this because I can and also as a way of making new range buddies that we can connect with on the long term. Now, I know alarm bells are probably going off right now. You’re thinking how this possible, right? Cover the cost? But remember this article is about taking a friend to the shooting range. If the person is someone that you really get along with you wouldn’t have a problem buying their ammo. The only caveat to this idea is if the person asks if they can pick up ammo by themselves – this way, I will write it down for them and tell them to get say two boxes. With this, they get to have an idea of what ammunition costs and be more committed when I insist on buying them next time. They are also less likely to give up knowing someone has paid a substantial amount so they can get better at shooting.
4. Awkward Pressure
The final step is to relieve them off the pressure. You have to assume that at the end of this experience, your once non-knowledgeable friend now has a lot of desire on gun-related things and probably wants to buy their own gun. They could also decide owning a gun is not their thing due to the cost or the general disinterest of keeping a gun at home. Don’t apply pressure or push them into making a decision quickly. Let them be until they come to you and ask questions about it – then you’ll know they have awakened into this wonderful world of gun ownership. It takes time though especially if they had been involved in a terrible shooting accident in the past. Give it some time, don’t push. They will come around.
This concludes our little guide on taking friends to the shooting range. If you have any tip you want to pass along to other shooters, kindly drop it in the comment section and we would be more than happy to reply.