Thursday, February 4, 2016

Welcoming new shooters to our world

Welcoming new shooters into this sport, industry, cause, way of life or call it whatever you want, is sometimes hard if they have bad experiences in the past.
I will start with an example that isn't oriented towards either sex but it has been predominately an issue for females. The motorcycle ride:

How many times has a man wanted to share the enjoyment of taking his new friend on a motorcycle ride only to hear one of the following statements..  " No thanks I don't ride on back of motorcycles because"....
1. " the first time I went for a ride the guy rode a wheelie and about flipped me off the back"
2. " the first time I went for a ride the guy went 100mph and scared me to death"
3. " the first time I rode it turned out the guy had been drinking and about got us killed"
4. " the first time I rode it was with who someone who was brand new and they didn't know how to ride safely but I wasn't aware of that until afterwards"
5. "  I saw my friend get hurt badly when they wrecked theirs riding it like an idiot"
6. "  my good friend died on their bike because a drunk driver hit them"
7. " my good friend crashed theirs and died because they were drunk"
8.  "I have my own bike, thanks, but you can ride with me"

Only number 8 is a good thing and you should consider a long term relationship.

My point is that someone took what could be fun, safe , rewarding and a lifelong interest the two of you could share and ruined it with experiences and memories of something bad.
This has ruined peoples opinions of what motorcycles are like.
This is what has also ruined many peoples first experience with firearms.

Did someone hand this new shooter a magnum revolver and offer them no proper instruction or even no instructions at all only to laugh and film a video that was posted online while you laugh at their inability to manage recoil. That same someone didn't encourage or know the proper stance, grip and fundamentals to help ensure this new shooter did their very best. Maybe lets start without a magnum revolver?

Sometimes when you encourage a person to try shooting they give you a reason like "no thanks, my brother was killed by a gun"  or  "my cousin accidently shot himself so I don't touch guns".
These are powerful memories anchored by great emotions of loss, anger and fear. This is not a time to try to impose your feelings about how the gun is not to blame. 

Most people realize we fear what we do not understand and have no experience with and this is true for firearms also. Make the experience fun and educational when given the opportunity. There is nothing positive about having a bad experience after being given no, or improper, instruction and then having someone laugh out loud when you have poor results.

One thing I see happen often is people trying to start a new shooter with their target sitting 15 or 20 yards away. Start a new shooter between 10 and 20 feet so they can build confidence and get experience at the most common defensive gun use distance without even knowing that's what they are doing. Not all shooting is defensive training but all the good fundamentals can be established while simply having a fun and rewarding first experience.

So please help those who show interest in learning and think how you would like someone to train your daughter, son, sister, mother, father, brother or anyone you cared about. Think how important it is to make their first experiences good ones. I like seeing the smiles and the reactions when they see for themselves "I can do this".

Every sport, hobby or tradition only survives by passing it on to others who have a passion and thirst to learn it and everything it encompasses. Do that the right way for the right reasons and we will all get better results.

Be safe, be smart and be responsible. There is not a hobby or life choice out there that isn't strengthened by sticking to those principles.

If you or someone you know has interest in learning to shoot or has questions about how to help a brand new shooter, come see us at the store. We can find you a qualified person to help make the most out of your first exposure to shooting.

I hope everyone is gearing up and ready for the nice weather to break so we can get the spring of 2016 off to a great start.