You’re finally ready to take a step. You’ve been curious about shooting for a while, whether it’s for self-defense or fun, but haven’t been sure how to get started. The first step to learning to shoot a firearm is to find a good instructor. Learning correct marksmanship skills and creating good habits from the start will give you a solid foundation for success and confidence at the range.
If you’re interested in learning to shoot a gun, follow these steps:
1. Talk to others. Many women are curious about shooting a firearm, but don’t know where to start. If you’re curious, others may help point you in the right direction to a recommended instructor or range. If you’re afraid, talking to others about their experiences will help normalize what you are thinking and feeling. Often times we think that we are alone, that no one else has ever felt the way we feel.
2. Find a reputable Instructor. Take time to research instructors in your area. You can find women who are certified instructors through AGirlandAGun.org, or other men and women instructors certified through the NRA or USCCA. Talk to family and friends to find out if they have a favorite instructor. Ask if they would send their daughter or mother to the same trainer and why.
3. Ask to attend a portion of a class. Some instructors will allow you to observe a class before you actually attend. This gives you the opportunity to see how the instructor interacts with others and if you will be comfortable in his/her presence. You have the chance to experience his/her teaching philosophy and quality of the curriculum. Other instructors may not be accustomed to letting non-paying people observe a class, so make sure you say that you will limit your time to about 20 minutes and will not interfere with the class in progress.
4. Observe the instructor’s demeanor. The instructor should be able to teach to your level to ensure the class is appropriate for you. Make sure your instructor is open minded to make physical adjustments as you need them, won’t yell if you aren’t doing it right, and will make sure you are ready for the curriculum. Any safety violations will result in extremely firm tones and statements as the instructor’s job is to keep you safe, but at all times the instructor should have the students’ respect.
5. Schedule a private lesson. The ideal learning environment is 1:1, especially if you are feeling any level of anxiety. This will allow time and space to ask your questions and work at your own pace. One hour is sufficient time for a private lesson to learn the basics of marksmanship. After the initial lesson you can decide if you want to join a group class or continue with private lessons through more advanced material.
6. Tell the instructor your story. Let the instructor know your goals for the session, why you are interested in learning now, etc. Your story is unique, but your instructor has probably met someone in your situation before. If you are fearful of the noise or sensation of the recoil because you have been a victim of gun violence or been affected by a traumatic incident, telling the instructor will help him/her to be prepared to appropriately deal with your specific needs during class and be better able to address your physical and psychological reactions.
7. Bring a friend. When women are stressed about everyday life they often turn to girlfriends to vent, talk, problem solve, and get support. You know that they won’t judge you and you can feel safe being vulnerable. Encourage a friend to sign up for the lesson with you. This shared experience can make learning a lot more fun.