Three Things You Should Never Do To A New Shooter


Getting new gun owners to the range is a public service and a means to preserve our rights. Court battles, giving money to gun rights orgs, and demonstrations all help, but creating new shooters is the easiest way to preserve rights and improve public safety in regard to firearms. Sadly, some parts of the gun community do this in the dumbest way possible. I’m leaving out an expletive, but you should know it’s that dumb. There are three behaviors and habits I think we should ditch to ensure we are doing our best for every new shooter we take to the range. 

Using Guns They Can’t Handle 

I bet a lot of us were victims of this. Friends, dads, uncles, and whoever else thinks it’s hilarious to hand an inexperienced shooter a harsh recoiling weapon and to watch them get hurt. They might say its to just ‘make them jump’ or hide it by saying ‘it treats them respect’, no. No training, no preparation for the recoil, just hand them the gun and sit back and laugh. This is not only dumb but dangerous. 

A young lady lost her life when some idiots handed her a magnum-powered revolver. The recoil spun the gun backward towards her head, and she pulled the trigger again by accident as the gun twisted in her hands, killing herself. 

That’s an extreme example but a real one. Handing someone a powerful rifle, handgun, or shotgun before they are ready for it is dumb, and whoever does it is dumb. It turns people away from shooting and makes the shooting community look like jerks. Causing a new shooter pain and embarrassment is a surefire way to keep them away from the range and leave a bad taste for gun owners in their mouth. 

Having Tough Shooting Standards 

Let’s be clear. All shooters should face and deal with tough standards when it comes to dealing with safety. Safety is always our number one priority, and that should be established immediately and enforced regularly. That’s not what I mean when I say tough standards. I love teaching firearms, and I commonly teach a fairly basic safety course in my community. Kids and adults both attend, and I’ve noticed an odd trend. 

(Lucky Gunner)

I hear stories about how someone else tried to teach them, and they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn! They were everywhere. They hated it, etc. I’ve also seen adults putting pressure on their kids in these safety classes during the live fire portion that I tactfully put an end to. People get this crazy idea that new shooters should be able to hit small targets with ease and can’t seem to understand why a new shooter can’t do that. 

This creates frustration in new shooters. When I teach new shooters, I use a great big target devoid of numbers and scores. Just try to hit the big piece of paper. New shooters should be relaxed and safe, not trying to hit B8 targets at fifteen yards with a 9mm. 

Showing Off Your Skills 

There is a big difference between demonstrating a method, technique, etc., and just showing off. When you take a new shooter to the range, the focus should be on their ability to shoot. This seems to be most common when one person is teaching their significant other how to shoot. The natural inclination to show off a bit comes into play. 

This photo is not a direct example. This is a good shot at an event. But it looks close to what a range chud will do to impress instead of instruct while they’re at a square range at 10 yards. Seen it. Many have.

Ignore it. Make the day about them, give them the attention and the range time. Make it something that’s not about you and the gun. Typically when I teach the basics, there is not much shooting I need to do. I can show a lot of the basics of grip, stance, etc., with a blue gun before we step up to the firing line. At the firing line, I may fire a round or two to show how it comes together and what one can achieve, but that’s it. Demo, then get them shooting.

After that, coach, inspire, educate, etc. Bring the non-gun to the firing line. That way, you don’t have to pass the gun back and forth, and it’s always in their hands. A new shooter not only doesn’t care about your Bill drill time, but they also don’t even know what that is. 

Make a New Shooter 

Protest, write your representatives, send money to gun organizations, and take a new shooter to the range. That’s how you preserve the second amendment and the freedom we hold so dear. A properly instructed new shooter is a safe shooter and a potential freedom defender. That’s a valuable resource, so don’t waste it being dumb. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.