Thoughts of a Newbie Gunner

Thoughts of a Newbie Gunner
Thoughts of a Newbie Gunner
Thoughts of a Newbie Gunner
Thoughts of a Newbie Gunner

Strap yourselves in, because we are going on a little adventure inside my brain…

When I was first taken shooting I had so much fun, I wanted to go all the time. I met my shooting buddy every week for about two months and we spent two hours a visit, making holes in paper. Here was my frame of mind: “Wow, I never thought I’d be so into guns and shooting. I’m lucky to have a friend who lets me shoot his guns.”

Then one day my friend couldn’t make it and I was forced to shoot alone. I thought, “I’m so lucky to live in Georgia where I can rent any gun I want, play for an hour and then give it back.”

About a month later I was three months from my birthday and I reasoned, “If I’m still into shooting by my birthday, I’ll get my self a big present. I’ll probably keep it in a locker at the range and come visit it once a week to blow off some steam.”

Two months after that, I was shopping for my first gun. See Shopping for my First Gun for all the details of that thought process. Basically, I wanted something comfortable and enjoyable for range time, but I had also decided to let it live at my house. “I am not skilled enough to use this weapon for personal or home protection. If someone breaks in to my house, I’ll reach for the phone, not the gun.”

A week later my friends were informing me of the difference between practice rounds and defensive rounds, and I was told them that I never load my gun at home. “It scares me,” I said. At that point a girlfriend took me aside and said, “You do know that guns don’t go off by themselves, right?” I said that I did know, but what if I made a mistake or something. She gently rattled off the safety rules, “Do you check the chamber every time you pick up the gun? Do you keep your finger off the trigger?…” It was within this discussion that we realized, I had been relying on the fact that my gun was never loaded in my home, rather than being diligent.

By my birthday I was religious about checking the chamber and had a magazine, loaded with defensive ammo, laying in the safe next to my weapon. It was at this point, about six months into my little hobby, that I began writing ArmedCandy and exploring all the blogs and message boards that proved to me, I was not alone in this passion. While everyone was at SHOTSHOW, I was trolling the internet for everything I could learn about women and guns.

Quickly, my new friends and fellow gun enthusiasts were asking about my “guns“, and I had to reply, “Nope, I just have the one. I’m not scared enough to conceal carry every day.” It was probably a month later that I attempted to holster and carry my full sized, all steal, 16+1 capacity, weapon. Check out my holster making video. Reliably, I failed, and shopping began for my conceal carry gun.

There is a reason I share this with you. I have received quite a few emails from men who would like to spark their lady’s interest in shooting. I have also received a similar number of notes from women who are enjoying shooting but their husbands are strongly against the idea. For those of us not raised around guns, and probably for many others as well, the broad concept of being around or using firearms, is an idea we must ease into slowly. At first, I was dead set against a gun in my home, but slowly I came around to the idea. No one pushed me. It just seemed like the natural progression of my new hobby. As one slides down the rabbit hole of gun nutty-ness it’s easy to forget how it feels to wade into something new. I hope that by reading the thought process of a true beginner, you might be better prepared to approach one and share with them, an appreciation for guns.

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Gabby ArmedCandy is humbly honored to be the first female writer at USA Carry. Compared to the site's other writers, Gabby's interest in firearms, yesterday, but once introduced, she fellinstantly in love with the gun world. With her new passion ignited, she began a female-focused blog and community called ArmedCandy. Gabby hopes to inspire others to learn and explore as she shares her growth and experiences. You can also find Armed Candy on Twitter and Facebook
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Hello again.   It’s always nice to hear the thoughts of a new person to the sport.   The thought process is also interesting as well.   Early on we struggle over trying to find just the right firearm . . . only to eventually realize there is no one ring to rule over all others.   We eventually realize we need more guns and different guns just like we need different tools for different missions.   You are very grounded and off to a most excellent start.   Stay focused as you are now and you’ll do just fine.


Thank you!


Thanks for contributing this. Women need to hear the experiences of other women to know that this is okay.

Joe Sobotka

I also Highly recommend a good training class. When I purchased my first firearm, I took a 24 hour training class. The best firearm related money I spent! They teach safety first and foremost, but it also gives a person confidence, and teaches them to respect firearms rather than fear them. In any case nice article. I’m looking forward to more. Thanks!


I’ve sat in on some classes in order to write reviews and though I am only an observer, I agree that the information is immeasurably valuable to all new shooters.


Keep at it Gabby! Every unarmed woman is a potential victim. It takes a lot to overcome a woman’s tendancy toward denial and disinterest in an activity embraced by men which doesn’t necessarily inspire the girlfriends’ envy like overpriced shoes but it can be a lifesaver.


Hello again Gabby. I explain to my students about the “jitters” of first conceal carrying; Just because you know you are carrying, doesn’t mean anyone else knows. If they see a bulge, they will think PDA or cell phone case.

Concealed means concealed. If you are doing it right, no one but you knows. And it should stay that way. Tell no one (that doesn’t need to know).

To deal with the “jitters”, for your first week, just wear the concealed holster (empty). Get used to it being there. The next week, wear it with… a squirt gun. You know it is there, but it’s just a squirt gun. The next week, carry your real gun (unloaded). You feel the weight. But you know it is empty. The next week, carry with it loaded, but (if it is a semi-auto) not one in the chamber. The last week, carry with one in the chamber and notice that the “jitters” are under control. After a few more weeks, you will feel undressed if you are unarmed.

Keep up the great writing, dear. 🙂

Dan Ess

Yes, welcome to a very powerful (hee hee) adventure. I used to shoot as youngster (9 to 14) and then didn’t for 38 years. Today I enjoy the sport of target shooting and look to advance beyond that, as life allows me more time down the road. Might even take up hunting for food as I near retirement in 10 years. Glad to see you are making Respect, Responsibility and Safety paramount in your firearm learning program. One thing I picked up on and I will mention was this comment: “to blow off some steam”. Hopefully that is just a figure of speech, as it is not good to use firearms as venting devices for built up pressure. You don’t go to the range and hang up a picture of the boss or say take that  . . . Remember, you cannot take back a bullet once it’s fired.


When ever I go to the range I leave with a smile on my face. No matter how I walk in,by the time I leave I’m in a great mood. That’s all I meant by “blowing off steam”.

Dan Ess

I am there with you 100%. I do not think about anything except what I am doing when I go to the range; it is pure Focus on the activity at hand. It truly removes me from the everyday humdrum. Certainly there are days with BIG Smiles, especially when we impress ourselves with some awesome shooting : )


For 60 years I have been terrified of guns. A balloon popping freaked me out. Last year my husband decided we needed protection. As a kid I shot small rifles and shotguns but I didn’t care for it. I had never held, let alone shot a handgun. He chose a Glock 9mm for me. Great. It felt too big for my hand, the trigger was too hard to squeeze and I mostly closed my eyes when I shot. What a bang! Experts told me to keep practicing, I would get it. Right. I still hated shooting. One day I went out just to look at other guns. I came home with a Sig Mosquito. A 22 with no big bang and no recoil. All of a sudden I started to enjoy myself. Soon the 22 was boring and the 9mm became fun. Now I shoot almost daily and I shoot everything I can. For Valentine’s day I got my own shotgun. From none, we now have more than half a dozen handguns and I hit the bullseye at 15-25 yards almost every time. I know how terrified I was less than a year ago and I can’t believe how passionate I am about shooting now. I am encouraging my daughters to learn to shoot and I am personally working with 2 of my grandsons. I totally love it!


So glad to hear from you and I’m so glad you kept with it!

Dan Ess

@2c274c6427a23dde0cf16244e5be9ce7:disqus You did the right thing by going to a gun you were comfortable with. Too often people buy something they think is cool or that someone else tells them to buy. You have to buy use what feels good in your hand, and what fits your comfort zone in many ways. 22’s are a lot of fun to practice with, and they are cheap too! I have 22’s both large and small, revolver and pistol, even one with a scope on it. As for Glocks, they have a fat grip and a long reach to the magazine eject. I won’t ever own one because of this. My S&W M&P’s fit my hands perfect, with the medium sized palm swell. Yes, it is very easy to want to acquire multiple firearms. Different weapons for different purposes and different dress style when you carry conceal. Glad you are getting the youngsters involved. I taught my kids, and whenever they visit me, we go out and shoot. My daughter was 15 when we first shot together, my son was 18. Last year she was 17 and shot my S&W 460 with 45LC rounds, a big step up from shooting 22’s and 380’s the previous two years. My son was rocked when I let him shoot the Bond Snake Slayer IV with 2 1/2″ 410 shells. He decided he didn’t want to try the 3″ shells.  Glad you are having fun, be safe and promote respect for and safe and responsible handling to the youngsters, all the time.


Thank you!
Let the kids go slow. I spent months with a 22 before I moved up.

Dan Ess

I’ve been been going to a range for 4 years now, and to this day, I start out by shooting 22LR and of late 22WMR rounds out of a pistol or revolver. Typically run about 100 to 120 rounds and then move on to the larger caliber(s). Most of my visits I shoot 3 to 4 different weapons, and maybe 3 calibers. Generally run about 50 rounds per caliber (after the 22’s). Just enough to keep in practice with the weapon and make sure it is functioning properly. If i’m doing shotgun or rifle, then I only run  about 25 rounds if shooting indoors. I try to get to the range at least 3 times a month and get outdoors (here where it’s legal) about 2 or 3 x’s a year to shoot higher powered handguns, high powered rifles and shotguns. It’s a wonderful sport/activity.

Barry Hirsh

Gabby, having gone through your, ah, metamorphosis, you ought to understand that a) hoplophobia or indifference have no rational basis and are therefore ridiculous and unacceptable and not to be tolerated, and b) because of a), hoplophobes and ambivalents can and should be justifiably bludgeoned into accepting guns once and for all. None of this gentle shoehorn garbage. FORCE their foot into the shoe. They can’t be allowed to run around in circles, hands over ears, shouting “lalalalala” – they must be FORCED to accept guns and being armed. Look at how many months you wasted, being a namby-pamby. No mercy. FORCE THEM.

Tough love. Yeah. That’s it.