Friday, June 10, 2011

Guns: Observations from Beginning Shooters

The shooting community has plenty to teach beginners, but it's also important for us to listen to what new shooters have to say about their experiences. On my last range visit, I took a few of my friends (one of whom had never held or fired a gun before) and tried to note their observations...

Target Selection - As you might expect, it's hard to line up big black sights with a big black target. Even on my paper targets with multicolor bullseyes, my friends said they were having trouble seeing where they were hitting. Ideally, I think new shooters should be started off with reactive targets, like steel plates.

Gun weight - I started my friends off with a CZ Kadet (still one of the best .22 LR conversions ever), and, for the most part, I think it was a good choice - zero recoil and little blast. At some 35-ish ounces, though, the Kadet is a heavy pistol, and one of my friends was having trouble holding the sights up on target. Many people simply don't extend a two pound weight at arms length for hours at a time; a lighter gun would have actually made the experience more pleasant, despite the marginally increased recoil. A quality .22 pistol that weighs in at about 20 ounces would be a wonderful beginner's gun.

Trigger Weight - People who like to shoot usually develop good trigger technique. Unfortunately, what seems like a reasonable pull weight to a seasoned shooter can be daunting for a beginner. My revolvers (a Ruger SP-101 and a S&W 638) were almost impossible for my friends to shoot in double-action with any degree of accuracy. They fared much better with single-action triggers, whether on the Kadet, M&P9C, or by pulling the hammer back on the revolvers.

Loading Magazines - Another thing that experienced shooters underestimate is the difficulty of loading magazines. Hours of muscle memory make snicking in rounds seem easy, until you see someone who doesn't handle guns everyday try to do it. In my case, the Kadet magazine was hard for my friends to load, since it had no exterior tab or button to depress the follower, like a typical .22 pistol mag. The M&P9C mag was even worse.

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