Ultimate Christmas Gift: Take Someone Shooting
It’s a can’t-lose gift idea for someone yet to discover the shooting sports—take them shooting. When National Wild Turkey Federation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation teamed up to hold introductory shooting events to teach members of local news outlets how to shoot in an effort to help them better understand firearms and shooting, even the most ardent gunaphobe couldn’t help but smile with every squeeze of the trigger. With friends and family, the chances are they will already be open to the idea of going shooting if they have expressed the interest before, so your experience in teaching them will only be that much better.
Recreational shooting is infectious and once a person has had a taste of busting clays with a shotgun, punching holes in paper with a handgun or tipping a can with a rimfire rifle, you can bet, they’re going to want to do it again. And if that person is a close friend or family member, all the better, because now you will have another companion to join you at the range or in the field. Here are some tips for that first day at the range.
Put Their Mind at Ease — For some people who have stayed away from shooting, part of the reason is out of a fear of the unknown. Put their mind—and yours—at ease by first going over the basic safety rules in a way that doesn’t inflame their nervousness, but rather is fun and short. You should be emphatic, without sounding bossy or intimidating. Help them understand that if everyone follows basic safety rules of always keeping a firearm pointed in a safe direction, treating every gun as if it is loaded, never placing their finger on the trigger until ready to fire and being sure of their target and beyond when shooting, there is virtually no way anybody can be hurt. Let them handle the gun unloaded first and then walk them slowly through all the steps needed to load it and fire it safely.
Go Long — Many experts recommend using a .22-caliber rifle for a shooter’s first experience due to the nearly nonexistent recoil and light report. A rimfire rifle topped with a scope, which will also make sighting and thereby initial accuracy easier and ultimately more fun for your new student, will be the easiest way to go to have them enjoying shots and hitting targets. Rimfire loads in .22 Long Rifle are also among the most affordable rounds to shoot.
Go Easy — If handgun fun is what you seek, many experts suggest going with a smaller caliber revolver since they are generally simpler to use; although a light caliber, full-sized semi-auto with tactical sights can be easier to aim and softer on the hand when using calibers up to 9mm since semi-autos typically transfer less recoil to the shooter’s hand. Likewise, when opting for a shotgun, go with a semi-auto 20-gauge using light field loads to start. Despite its smaller size, a .410 shell contains less shot and makes hitting a target more difficult, while the semi-auto action will help mitigate recoil better than a pump or single-shot. Likewise, a 12-gauge may be too much gun for a first timer. The worst thing you can do with a new shooter is give them too much gun that they get beat up by recoil and are reluctant to shoot again.
Keep It Short—You may love to go to the range and burn through several boxes of ammo, but watch your shooter closely and when they show signs of tiring, call it quits. Again, this first time is about keeping it fun. Once it ceases to be fun for a new shooter, you risk loosing them as a permanent companion at the range.
As a user of Winchester ammunition, you love shooting and/or hunting enough to choose the best. Remember to share that love with those people close to you this holiday season, and you are sure to open up a whole new world of shooting enjoyment for both you and them.
Photo courtesy of NSSF.
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