If you’re getting ready to shoot a gun at the local range for the first time, Cyndee has some tips to make your experience one that you’ll want to re…load.
-Fear of the unknown
If you are preparing to shoot a gun at the local range for the first time, I can lead you through the process to take fear out of the unknown for you. You’ll feel confident in your decision to train when you go to the range for the first time! Fear of the unknown is what keeps most women away from the range and/or gun ownership.
I will always remember the first time I stepped into the local range. It is located in an industrial park and the parking lot was filled with trucks. My truck was in the same parking lot, but I felt very different than the other patrons. I did feel that special “whoosh” of air when the sliding doors opened, but I soon realized, I was not in my favorite retail store.
On the walls were advertisement banners of different manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and accessories. I could hear intermittent sounds of gun fire, I definitely was not in my favorite retail shop. Then there are the counters, lots and lots of counters, with salesmen standing behind and looking at me. I know I looked out of place, I felt out of place but I had a desire to increase my shooting skills. This was just a hurdle to overcome, stepping out of my comfort zone.
I asked to be directed to the shooting range. It was through the store towards the back of the building.
It felt like the walk of shame, everyone watching, knowing I was a “Newbie” at the range.
The staff are there to help you have a great experience.
Once at the registration counter, I came face to face with a very pleasant and helpful staff member. He explained how to fill out the form, where to initial and sign. With the assignment of a lane, I given a tag with the lane number in exchange for my driver’s license. He inquired if I needed ammunition, target, eyes and/or ears. Once I had my necessary supplies, I was directed to a staging table. You must wear the ears (I use double protection: inserts and over the ears) and eyes (prescription glasses are permissible) before entering the shooting bay. You step through the first glass door and wait. Once it is completely shut, the second glass door to the shooting bay will open.
A little preparation of your supplies at home will help you feel more comfortable when you arrive.
All the lanes are numbered and I knew my lane assignment. Placing my range bag and other supplies under the counter, I began to set up for my target training. I took my pistol pocket out and unzipped, exposing my firearm of choice. All firearms must be kept facing down range (toward your target). The Pistol pocket opens completely flat and that becomes my “counter”. Gun counters can get dirty (gun powder travels, imagine that!) and having your own pistol pocket can help you organized, calm, collected, and to keep any loose ammo from rolling off the table. You’ll be there with an objective and your tools ready for use in a functional way. On the counter I have my firearm, ammunition and my “cheater” magazine loader. I double checked ammunition to make sure I have the right caliber.
You’ll want a magazine speed loader to save your hand strength.
If you’ve never seen a speed loader used, let me introduce you to your new best friend at the range. As women, we tend to have limited strength in our hands as a general rule, and that strength tends to diminish as we age. Do not waste your hand strength on loading ammo into your gun! The last few rounds can be especially tough to load, as the spring in the magazine (what holds your ammo that is loaded into your gun) has increased tension with each round (bullet) that is loaded into it. I recommend keeping a speed loader in your range bag to make your experience at the range the most enjoyable it can be, because it is a much less enjoyable experience if you cannot fully load your magazine each time you shoot a round (the number of bullets your gun can hold). Take it from me, save your hand strength for the smoothest trigger pulls. Accurate shooting with smooth trigger pulls will greatly increase your satisfaction in shooting at the gun range!
Training with an objective makes for a more productive experience.
I have trained many women who have tried to go shooting before, been spooked by their experience, and chalked it up as something that was not for them. I have found when I train with women, three things tend to happen as a result our training:
- They have a much clearer picture of the type of gun they want to own.
- They are less intimidated training with a firearm once they’ve trained with a woman. Men regard guns differently than women. They tend to gravitate towards what I call the three B’s: Bigger, Badder, Blow stuff up.
- They are much more confident in their ability to use a firearm when needed.
When you have an objective in mind for training, it sets the stage for effective personal protection when and if the time to act on your training arrives. Your body cannot do what your mind has never considered.
It’s a good idea to try out more than one firearm during your first time shooting at the range.
After I finished checking my ammo and loading my firearm, I was ready to train. I hung up the first of three targets. I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and began my one hour of training. Decide which target you are going to shoot and what you’re aiming for, and do not be tempted to jump around on the targets if you don’t hit your original target. The picture below shows two targets on one paper. If you have rented guns to try or are trying out more than one gun, it’s a good idea to test your accuracy with each gun for comparison. Just because a pistol comes in Tiffany blue does not mean you’ll have any chance of hitting your target with it. Additionally, a bigger gun can actually increase your accuracy in some circumstances. I have shot with more accuracy on my .40 than I have with my 9mm, but a bigger caliber is not always better when it comes to women and their firearms. Your hand size will determine how well you’re able to grip different guns, the kick that the gun gives when firing, and even your ability to be accurate with that firearm. Are you more comfortable with a semi-automatic handgun or a revolver? Can you rack a slide or understand how a hammer works, maybe you’re considering a concealed hammer on a revolver? These are all things to consider when you rent or try guns prior to purchase. A gun is a big investment, and you’ll want to be happy and confident with yours.
Load, aim, fire, repeat!
Going to the range can be an enjoyable experience if you prepare well and find a firearm you like. If you can’t try more than one firearm on each visit, I recommend renting a different firearm each time you go. Give yourself the experience with different firearms to familiarize yourself with the vast variety available. Often what we think looks like the right gun may not give us the desired results at the range. Even if you enjoy outdoor shooting, I recommend indoor training regularly so that you have the closer proximity experience you can only get in an indoor range. I find training at the range to be the best therapy…
I call it my aroma therapy…..gunpowder!
Shop range accessories here.