Jennifer is a coworker of my girlfriend, and hadn't fired a gun since her preteen years. She has a nice little Browning Semi-Auto .22 Short given to her by her father when she was 12, and wanted to get back into shooting. My girlfriend referred her to me (apparently the tales of my gun-nuttiness reach far and wide), and we set up a range date. She had an interest in shooting different guns, so we planned on taking a selection of different guns for her to try out.
We met beforehand to go over safety rules and the operation of the different weapons. Unfortunately, she had managed to misplace a retaining spring for her Browning while assembling it at home, so it stayed behind for this trip.
The plan was to make a quick stop by Cabela's on the way to the range, on the off chance they actually had ammo, and failing that hit up Wal-Mart in Lockhart as a last-ditch effort to keep my 9mm stock from completely evaporating. Then, go to the range and have some barbecue in Lockhart afterward.
So we get to Cabela's, and the place is hoppin'. We find ourselves waiting for people to step out of the way to check the shelves. I get to the 9mm shelf and see the usual overpriced carry ammo but nothing else. Lo and behold, Jennifer spots some stacked 50-round boxes 9mm on the shelf behind me.
*INSERT HALLELUJAH CHORUS HERE*
It's Winchester, but a box I've never seen before. Upon closer inspection, it's marked as 9mm NATO. It looks like the Iraq stand-down put some excess 9mm stock on the market, and Winchester is selling it. We grabbed 6 boxes to add to the back of my rotation and also some 9x18 Silver Bear stuff for the PA-63. Still no luck on finding Estate #4B 12ga, though.
As Jennifer had never been to Cabelas, We took a bit of time so I could show her some of the scenery and the fish tanks, then headed out. By this time it was already 11:30, so we decided to head to town first and have lunch at Black's. Delicious.
We arrived at the range, she filled out the requisite first-timer paperwork, and got ready for some fun. The pistol bays were both a little busy, so we started off on the rifle range with the gun most similar to her Browning - the Marlin Model 60.
We went through the fundamentals of posture, sighting, and trigger control shooting 10" paper plates at 50 yards. She did quite well and we went through several magazines of .22LR.
Since I don't have an intermediate caliber rifle (yet), we stepped up to the next rifle - the Mosin-Nagant 91/30. Like every new shooter with a powerful gun, she got to learn about flinch. We worked on consistency and relaxing, and she put 2 magazines through the rifle before she was done with it - much longer than most new shooters will go with that gun.
By now, the pistol bays had mostly cleared out, so we headed over for some work in the moving/shooting and shotgunning bay. While waiting for the last shooter to clear out, we did a little bit of work with the Marlin again, this time at 25 yards. We used Dirty Bird targets, which give much better visual feedback on shots. Once we got the bay to ourselves and could move to handguns, we started out with the Walther P22, again shooting at paper plates from about 5 yards. We talked about stance, grip ergonomics, and bringing the sights to the eyes. She had taken the safety lessons to heart, and paid close attention to muzzle control and keeping the finger off the trigger until she was ready to shoot, as you can see below.
Several magazines later, we decided to try out the Hi-Power. She was quite surprised at the difference in report and recoil, but also found the Hi-Power more natural to shoot. We worked on some more Dirty Bird bullseye targets, improving her consistency and technique.
After putting a couple of mags through the PA-63, we took a short break from handguns and moved on to a little bit of shotgun work. Also, I wanted to try out my new Stoeger, and this was a good excuse to do so. I had explained to her the purpose and function of the Knoxx SpecOps stock on the EBS before we left, but it's not really something you can appreciate until you actually try it out. We loaded up some 2 3/4" #4 Buckshot loads for a practical comparison. Jennifer was quite surprised at the tameness of the recoil on the EBS, and that impression was affirmed when she tried out a round with the Stoeger as a comparison.
We moved back to handguns for a while and tried out the Ruger LCP. This is not a gun I go into a range session expecting a new shooter to put more than a magazine through. It seems like most folks don't like it, with the small grip and significant recoil. Personally, I could shoot all day with it, if I could (1) find and (2) afford the ammo for it. For some reason it fits in my hand like it was made for me. I only know one other person who likes shooting the LCP - an occasional shooting buddy from a gun forum. Well, I now know two - Jennifer actually liked working with the LCP.
We did a little more work with the Hi-Power, and then did clean up, gathering a couple of take-home targets. Unfortunately, I forgot to do my normal new-shooter smiley target photo, so I'll just have to make do with a happy trigger time photo instead.