We were all beginners once. We’ve all made this journey.
It’s a challenging and rewarding one. The world of shooting—whether for self defense, competition, recreation, or hunting—is a rich one. There’s a lot to do and see and learn, and you’re likely to make a lot of friends along the way. As shooters, guiding a newbie into the world of firearms can be a real joy for everyone involved.
But what’s the best way to go about introducing newcomers to shooting?
Just as there are many facets to the shooting life, there are many different ways to get someone new involved. So with that in mind, I’ll offer a collection of thoughts and ideas on the subject as a springboard for the conversation.
First off, it starts before you take them to the range. I’ve talked in the past about the role we all share as ambassadors for shooting and the Second Amendment, and it applies here. By practicing courtesy, kindness, and calm, we make the world of shooting more attractive to folks on the fence. Let’s destroy the stereotype of the ignorant, bullying gun owner—it does nothing but help us in the long run.
Secondly, I think it’s best to proceed by meeting new people, making friends, and talking about your interests. New friends are always a good thing, and you never know what you might learn as well. Make it a two way street.
The third step is so simple and obvious, but it needs to be said: invite folks you know shooting with you. Range days are fun, or they should be. Don’t take a newbie along if you’re planning on running serious drills; a light day of fun and easy plinking is probably best. Plan on spending some time introducing them to different kinds of firearms and the ever-important safety rules.
.22 rifles and pistols are your friends when teaching new shooters—or (ah-hem) brushing up on the fundamentals yourself. On a related note: make sure you’ve got the right equipment for both you and your new shooter friend. They’re not likely to even know what they need, so have everything handy.
The best way to teach good habits is by example. Make sure you follow safety procedures, display a knowledge of and respect for the laws of your state, and in general practice good behavior all day long. New shooters of any age are looking to you as a role model when you take them out for the first time, so live up to that.
Finally, I would suggest exposing your new shooter to a variety of shooting sports, events, and firearms once they’re comfortable and proficient in the fundamentals. While they’ll (hopefully) take a real shine to firearms, they might develop an interest in something other than your favorite part of it all. That’s absolutely OK—you’ve helped them develop a rewarding and potentially life-saving hobby. That’s nothing but a good thing.
Now I’m curious to hear from you. I imagine a lot of you have introduced other folks to shooting before, so sound off! Tell us what worked, what didn’t, and what you’ve learned along the way. Your experiences might make a difference for another reader, so don’t be shy.