By Julie Golob
DO – Make sure your student both knows and understands the firearms safety rules. Print a copy of these gun safety rules here. It makes no difference if the new shooter is young or old, a man or a woman. Knowing these rules and what they mean is the prerequisite for learning how to shoot, period.
DON’T – Never assume your student will be safe with a firearm. No one should be offended at being reminded about firearm safety.
DO – Choose the firearm you plan to shoot wisely. Consider shooting rimfire or, at the very least, ammunition with light recoil.
DON’T – This is not the time to bring out the big bore boomers. It’s not a matter of what the person is capable of handling, it’s about getting them to hit the target and seeing that huge, contagious smile spread across their face.
DO – Explain how the firearm you are using works and point out it’s basic controls.
DON’T – Avoid getting all gung-ho by detail stripping and going over the entire guts of the gun. Try to keep things as simple as possible.
DO – Describe and show shooting fundamentals with an unloaded firearm. Think of it as the lesson portion of your time on the range. This is where you explain how to stand, the best way to hold/grip the firearm, what a proper sight picture looks like on the target, and the importance of trigger control. As you explain, demonstrate these basic shooting skills and then have your student work on them.
DON’T – Nitpicking every little thing will suck the joy out of your range time. It’s important to correct errors as you see them, but also remember to be patient. After all, this is new! Your student may need additional time to learn.
DO – Dry fire before you live fire. A lot.
DON’T – Do NOT just hand your partner the gun and jump right into shooting. Use dry practice to help your student become familiar with the firearm and build their confidence.
DO – Start with easy, fun and interactive targets. Use gallon milk jugs or two liter soda bottles filled with liquid. Blow up balloons of different sizes to make things interesting. If you have access to steel targets use them as well.
DON’T – Don’t forget to clean up after you shoot so that others can enjoy the range too!
DO – Know when to call it a day. Pay attention to your student. If they start to struggle with shooting or look tired, then it’s time to wrap things up. You want to your time together on the range to end on a high note.
DON’T – Avoid pushing your shooter to shoot more when they don’t want to. The goal is to have fun and keep them coming back for more.
DO – Focus on the positive. Recall the first hit and all the things your shooter did right.
DON’T – Steer clear of bringing up the all bad shots or stressing the mistakes. Avoid language like, “You did good, but…” or “You really need to get better at…”
DO – Say thank you and make plans to do it again. A great way to end the day is by saying something like “Wow, this was so much fun for me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you for coming out to shoot with me. Do you think you would like to try it again?”
Editor’s Note: Do check out Julie’s new book, SHOOT! Right here http://www.juliegolob.com/the-guide.