How to Teach Your Wife to Shoot
I have to say I started all wrong. On my first real date with my wife, I took her out to go shooting. Now my wife did not know where we were going and had not really seen me since I had left for the Marines. We dated a few times in high school but never really hit it off. Imagine how she felt when I surprised her by pulling into the local gravel pit and pulling out a trunk full of guns, literally!
She took it pretty well, especially how I kept giving her new guns to shoot with many “tips” on why she was not hitting anything and amazingly enough, we later married. I took some courses to learn how to teach and not just shoot. Unfortunately, my wife was still not very comfortable with me having or carrying guns. It was not until an incident at the local Wal-Mart, where my wife felt we were being followed by a guy that had paid just a little too much attention to our kid that she started to think maybe carrying guns wasn’t such a bad idea.
I convinced her to give me another chance at the range, and we tried again. This time I looked at it from a new perspective, and not only did my wife do well, she actually enjoyed her time on the range. From this experience, I have created a set of guidelines to use when teaching someone how to shoot.
1. Do not pressure her. This is not boot camp; you will find that high-pressure tactics are counterproductive. Trying to pressure your wife to do something she does not want to do will only ensure she will never accept it.
2. Have the appropriate safety gear. Having eye and ear protection ready and explaining their use will help allay any fears. Also, before the firearms are introduced, go over the four basic firearm safety rules:
a. Every handgun is loaded, even if it is disassembled.
b. Never point your handgun at anything you do not intend to destroy.
c. Keep your handgun on safe until you are ready to fire.
d. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
3. Start with a simple, small caliber firearm. Explain and show the basic operating principles of the firearm you use. For teaching long guns, I like either a .22 semi auto like a Ruger 10/22, or a single shot break action .410. If I am teaching pistol use I prefer a .22 or a .38 revolver. Make sure that if you start with a magazine fed firearm, you keep a ready supply of loaded magazines.
4. Do not use humanoid targets. If it’s an outdoor range and we are using long guns, I like stale cookies. They break in a satisfying way and are biodegradable. For pistols, a regular target turned around with a paper plate stapled to the center gives a large non-threatening target.
5. Last but not least, go slow. Answer any questions simply without going into a long technological lecture. The point of the first few sessions is to allay fears and allow your wife to become accustomed to shooting.
You will find, as I have, if you make her feel secure, allow her to go at her own pace and do not pressure her, she will rapidly begin to enjoy this sport. My wife took to shooting like a natural, and now she gets better range scores than I do. She is also slowly getting involved into the gun culture, working on becoming an instructor, and reading and subscribing to firearm magazines. When this started, I was all for it. When my wife started telling me which guns she wanted all for her own, I was ecstatic. There are drawbacks to involving your wife into your hobby. The last four guns we bought are hers, so is the last range bag and all the ammo. I have half of an AR-15 in the closet that I have never been able to finish because as soon as I get ready to buy my last set of parts, somebody comes out with a “pretty” gun…
About the Author: David Nash is a former U.S. Marine Corps noncommissioned officer, correctional supervisor and firearms instructor for the TN Dept. of Correction. He is presently commissioned as an operations officer for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. He is also a certified NRA instructor and holds instructor ratings with both the TN Dept of Safety and the TN Dept of Commerce and Insurance.