New female shooters are taking the gun industry by storm. The number one reason? Self-defense.
So, it’s no surprise that women are bombarded with shooting advice. This advice can be spot-on and well-intentioned, but sometimes it fails to address the mental barriers women often face.
Every novice shooter faces challenges, but new female shooters encounter a unique set of obstacles. After all, the gun industry is still dominated by men, and many women feel uncomfortable around firearms. From shopping for their first gun to awkward practice on the range, carrying and shooting a lethal weapon can be intimidating.
New Female Shooters: How to Get Started
Despite these obstacles, many women face their fears, head out to the range, and prioritize their concealed carry. For new female shooters, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.
So, how do you get started? What should you focus on as a new female shooter?
Whether your goal is concealed carry, sport, or competitive shooting, everyone starts somewhere. If you’re new to guns or shooting, begin with the basics.
Let’s look at six essential tips for newbies just like you. They’re practical and straightforward. So you can implement them right away. The goal is for you to be safe and comfortable so you can learn effectively.
Find a Gun that Fits You
If you’re new to shooting, you obviously need a gun. It won’t take you long to discover you have TONS of options. So how do you choose the right gun?
You shouldn’t order the first gun you see online or at the store. Don’t buy a gun because you like the way it looks, because it’s popular, or because of the price (typically a quality handgun is in the $400 – $700 range.)
Buy a gun that’s a good fit for your hand.
How do you know if a firearm is a good fit for your hand?
Let’s break that down.
When your handgun is a good fit, you can:
- Comfortably reach the trigger guard
- Rack the slide
- Pull the trigger with your trigger finger
- Properly grip your firearm
Those are the basics. Obviously, you can’t shoot if you can’t reach the trigger or pull a heavy trigger.
As a new female shooter, keep your end goal in mind. Is your firearm for concealed carry? Home defense? Range practice? All three? Compact firearms are best for concealed carry, while larger guns typically work better for range practice and home defense.
Choose the Right Caliber
Caliber size affects recoil. The larger the caliber, the greater the recoil. So if you’re new to shooting, don’t start with a .44 magnum. Minimize recoil so you can focus on mastering the basics.
A .22 caliber is recommended for new shooters, although a .380 also works well. A 9mm is a fantastic balance between recoil and efficacy, which is why it’s the default handgun caliber for concealed carry as well as police.
This doesn’t mean, however, that your first range gun should be tiny. A large gun provides more grip surface and absorbs more felt recoil. So as a new female shooter, aim to shoot a larger gun that’s chambered in a smaller caliber.
Find an Instructor or Join a Club
Sure, almost any skill can be self-taught, but when it comes to shooting, you want to learn from an experienced firearm instructor. As a brand-new shooter, you want to be safe, and engrain best practices from the get-go.
Find an instructor who makes you feel comfortable and who’s open to you asking lots of questions. The more questions you ask, the more you learn.
Also, you’re more likely to shoot consistently if you have a group of friends to shoot with. If you’re looking for shooting partners, sign up for a class, or join a women’s shooting club. Commit to your practice and find friends that’ll hold you accountable. And of course – have fun!
Don’t be Intimidated by Men
As we’ve talked about, the gun industry is male-dominated. Chances are you’ll shoot with men, and they’ll give lots of advice. They might use confusing terminology, and yes, their expertise might be intimidating.
But don’t let their experience intimidate you, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Everyone starts as a beginner, and you have a right to learn at your own pace. Yes, traditionally, men are the defenders, and you might feel uncomfortable stepping into that role.
But the world is changing; women are taking responsibility for their own safety. The more you practice, the more competent you’ll feel, and the less intimidated you’ll be. Consistent practice reduces self-doubt and boosts your confidence.
Buy a Good Holster
Unless you’re actively shooting at the range or your gun is stored safely at home, it needs to be in a holster. This goes for novice and experienced shooters. Because your safety depends on the quality of your holster, a well-designed holster is a must.
What are you looking for in a holster? You’re looking to balance two elements: comfort and safety. The trigger guard should be protected by a hard surface (leather or plastic.) Also, it needs to be secure. If your holster flops around, it’s bad news.
However, the safety of your holster doesn’t matter if it’s so uncomfortable you skimp on wearing it. This is why the hybrid holster design is so popular. The hard shell is protective, while the soft backing provides comfort.
And of course, the most important thing…be patient with your journey. As a new female shooter, you won’t master shooting overnight. In fact, even after a few hundred rounds, you’ll probably still be terrible. It’s okay. Consistent practice, paired with proper instruction, will do the trick.
That’s why it’s crucial to partner up with an experienced shooter and get some range time in. Through repetition, you’ll become a confident and accurate shooter.
Once you feel comfortable shooting standard target rounds, you can focus on building advanced self-defense skills. You’ll never expect an attack, so self-defense drills will greatly enhance your real-world efficacy in an emergency.