I mentioned yesterday morning that I was heading out to the range with a young lady who has been a friend of the family for over two decades. We'd not talked much in the last couple of years, so when she said that we should do something together, I naturally suggested going to the range. She accepted, and told me about her only previous shooting experience with her then-boyfriend. It was reminiscent of some of the "What NOT to do" posts I've been reading recently. From her descriptions, he'd set her up with some sort of .40 S&W handgun, gave her no proper instruction, and let the recoil do the rest.
So we set a range date for Saturday morning, with barbecue to commence afterwards in nearby Lockhart (the barbecue capital of Texas). Saturday came, and I arrived at her family's house. We reviewed the Four Rules together again, and I with started a familiarity lesson in the use of the firearms I brought along for the day. A good hour and a half later, we prepared to head out.
She hadn't expected us to spend anywhere near the time we did working on safety and operation lessons, and as it was nearing noon by the time we approached Lockhart, we opted for lunch first. We picked Smitty's Market, and had a nice meal of brisket and pork ribs, topped off with cones of Blue Bell ice cream for dessert.
Once we were sufficiently stuffed full of meaty goodness, we headed to the range. We started out with the Walther P22 at a range of 5 yards, using paper plates as targets. Going into this, she'd let me know that she was afraid of guns mainly due to inexperience, and that her previous experience had not helped. Knowing that the best way to remedy such a problem was to provide a safe and fun shooting experience, I looked for a more secluded part of the range for better personal interaction.
Much to our benefit, it was a somewhat hot day and range traffic was sparse. We happened to come up just as the last CHL shooting qualification test let out, and got the entire bay to ourselves. We started at a relaxed pace, and assured her that I would be there to help her with anything and to answer whatever questions she had. We got our targets stapled to the boards and placed, and she took her first shot. The first piece of brass came back and hit her in the chest, reaffirming why I recommended not wearing an open-top shirt to the range. I'm glad I remembered that little piece of advice. She was obviously nervous, so we spent time discussing specifics of the guns and ammo, and what they do and do not do. Apparently the myth that guns just "explode" is alive and well. I explained what conditions would cause such a thing to happen, and than it is almost entirely an ammunition problem, most often associated with improperly loaded handloads or squibs. As time went on, she got a little more relaxed.
We moved on to shooting a Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifle at 10 yards. She found immediately that she liked the rifle much more than the pistol. Aim was much more natural (as I would expect), and her consistency improved the more she shot. We worked a bit with grip and stance, and moved on to working with the Browning Hi-Power. While the loud report and recoil was a bit daunting at first, she found that the larger and more complete grip made it easier and much more fun to shoot. After she was comfortable with the gun, I grabbed the camera and got some great shots with brass in the air, such as the one below.
Time flew by, and before we realized it, the time was nearing 5:00. It's a ways back to Austin, and it was election day for the local mayoral and city council elections (I needed to be back before the polls closed at 7:00), so I put up a couple of Dirty Bird targets to give her something to take home. She shot her favorite gun - the Marlin Model 60 - again from 10 yards, and got all 17 shots inside the 9 ring. We wrapped it up and headed back. She thanked me profusely for taking her out and having the patience to help her work through everything. It was definitely my pleasure. She had a great time and is already wanting to go out again, even arranging to bring her brother and sister along for the next trip.
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