Clifford W. Saylor, Firearms Instructor
Firing the First Shot!
OK, the time has come. You’ve decided to become a shooter and the day has come for your first trip to the range and your first time to shoot. You’ve done your research and selected a handgun you are comfortable with. You’ve learned, and committed to always following, the safety rules. You’ve purchased your ear muff s and eye protection, and it’s time to head out and put some lead down range!
The biggest challenge now is mental. You know the proper grip of your firearm. You know how to stand properly. But, you are still a little apprehensive. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger, ladies, it is very common. The first shot is always a little intimidating. Experienced shooters go through the same dynamic when they shoot a new firearm that they aren’t really familiar with or is, perhaps, larger than what they are used to. Here’s a few tips to make the experience a positive one.
Always start with a .22 caliber handgun. The .22 has very little recoil and is not as loud as some of the larger calibers. The first round that you fire will likely be a littlescary. Don’t worry, the gun isn’t going to jump out of your hand and you will be pleased with how easy it is to control the firearm. Before you know it you will have gone through a box of ammunition and will be having one of the most fun times of your life. By the way, regarding noise and recoil, you have to prepare yourself mentally to make the gun make noise. I have students clap their hands and then ask, what made the noise? Obviously, the clapping sound is made when the hands are brought together. But, what caused the noise? You did.
You chose to clap your hands. It’s the same with the gun. You are causing the gun to recoil and make a noise by firing it. If you can get your mind around this concept, that you are causing the gun to do what it does, recoil and the report of the firearm will not bother you near as much.
Next, be sure that you are at the range with a competent instructor. And, no, that’s oft en not your husband or significant other! You want an instructor that will make sure that you are being safe and that your range time is a good experience. You also want an instructor that is encouraging and doesn’t get frustrated with you if you aren’t shooting “clover leafs” the first time you shoot. You especially want an instructor that will make simple corrections and off er praise when you are doing it right!
Finally, when you are through with your first shooting experience, you need to take a little time for yourself and contemplate what you’ve done. Shooting is fun. Shooting gives you a great sense of accomplishment, and there is a tremendous sense of empowerment that goes along with it. You will have done something that is exceptional. It is vitally important that you accept the responsibility of safe firearm handling that goes along with the fun. And, you need to understand that you have joined an elite fraternity, OK, sorority of Americans that love shooting and the shooting sports. There’s no greater comradery than that of shooters that are bound together by the love of the gun!
And, when you go out to fire that first round, always remember TAB+1: Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Be sure of your target and beyond. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot!
Have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you next time at the Corner!