Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Shooter Report

Yesterday I took my wife to the range. While it's not the first time she's gone with me, this is the very first time she's done any shooting.

First, a little background is in order. When I first moved in with her, she didn't want anything to do with guns. Didn't want any around, didn't want them in the house, didn't even want to look at them. After a hunting trip to western Wyoming, I purchased a Ruger Black Hawk in .41 Mag so as to have a sidearm in a similar caliber to the others in our group. Not too long after that, I bought a Ruger P-94 in .40 S&W for personal protection. It was another year until I got my next gun, a Century Arms imported Maadi MISR/SA, a post '94 ban AK clone that was decidedly more work than pleasure to shoot (but that's a story for another time).

So, being sensitive to her feelings, I had to store my budding collection at our next door neighbors house. After getting a couple more AKs, the neighbor ran out of room for my stuff. Finally, she (my then girlfriend and now wife) relented and let me get a Stack-On 8-gun locker (the first of what has become 3) to keep them in. So now I had my burgeoning collection in the house, but she still wanted nothing to do with them.

Eventually, she came around to the point of reloading magazines after trips to the range, 8 or 10 of them per trip. (Yeah, that was back when 7.62x39 was still $60/500 and one could afford to fire 3-400 rds per trip to the range.) To this day, if I come back with empty magazines from any of my rifles, be they AKs, the M-1A, the Saigas, or my commie sniper guns, I get in trouble if I reload the mags myself.

A couple of years ago, I got into rolling my own ammunition. What, with the price of commercial ammunition getting higher by the day, plus the fact I couldn't find any commercial hunting loads in 7.62x54r (145-155 gr soft points) that didn't cost $40 or more per box, I made the plunge. This turned out to be a great idea, as it allowed us to have quality time together while reloading. She's taken so much to this process I got an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for Christmas last year to replace the little Lee Handloader I'd had, and we'd used, for the last 3 years.

So, yesterday, I was heading out to the range to shoot my new hunting rifle, a Savage 10GLXP3, left hand. I'd asked if she wanted to go, as I needed someone to spot where my shots were going, as I haven't completely got her sighted in yet. She agreed and off to the range we went. Now, to be honest, I've asked her several times if she wanted to go shooting, and the response was always either an outright No or The Look. The only time she'd willingly went to the range with me was last fall when I had to bribe her with breakfast to go. The only thing she did that day was spot shots for me and bird-dog brass from one of my commie snipers, an NDM-86 in .308. Well, after some vivid nightmares (she's a firm believer in the power of dreams) she decided all on her own that yesterday was the day she wanted to learn to shoot. No input from me at all. This was entirely HER decision.

So, I loaded up the 6" Ruger Mark II I'd bought for just such an occasion, along with the LH .308 and all the accoutrements of a day at the open air, public access range. I know, the Mark II is not exactly a ladies gun; the grips are too big, the trigger reach is just a little too far, and it was a whole lotta front end heavy, but it was there for $225 and I wanted a .22 pistol, so there!

Once we got to the range it took a bit of coaxing to get her to come over to where I was set up, and it took a lot more convincing to get her to actually hold the pistol. Initially, I had her hold the pistol and I stood behind her and put my hands over hers. The first 2 shots were me pulling the trigger with her hands under mine just holding the pistol. I don't think she opened her eyes for those two shots, and there were tears on her cheeks afterward. At this point I was ready to call the whole thing off as I didn't want her to do anything she wasn't ready to do. But she persisted. Putting her fears aside, she fired the rest of the magazine with my hands over hers, but she was the one actually pulling the trigger. During this, I talked to her about proper sight alignment and the 4 Rules, particularly keeping her booger hook off the bang switch until she was ready to fire.

Mother Nature, however, had other plans for the day. While sighting in the .308, it took to raining, so we packed up everything so we could head home. Driving up to the backstop to retrieve the target and stand, the rain stopped and she asked if she could shoot some more. Taken a little aback, I said sure and loaded up three mags for the Mark II. After showing her how to do mag changes and charge the pistol, I turned her loose. Next to where my target stand was set up was an old discarded coffee can that some ignoramus left on the range (this is an ongoing problem at this particular range, and I'm surprised the Forest Service hasn't shut this range down over it) that she decided to take aim at. It didn't take long and she was making the can jump around the backstop area. If Ma Nature hadn't intervened again, we wouldn't have left until darkness came or we ran out of ammo, a 500 rd brick of Winchester Dynapoint, whichever would have come first.

One of her biggest complaints with the Mark II was that it was too front end heavy for her to shoot. So when we got back to town, we stopped by the local fun store to see if they had anything to her liking. After looking at several offerings, and bragging about how well she'd dispatched the hapless coffee can, she settled on the Sig Mosquito. The Sig fit her hand right, she could easily manipulate the controls, and the weight was just right. After a little horse trading, I traded the Mark II in for the Mosquito. So not only is she a new shooter, she's one of the thousands of new gun owners.

When we finally got home, she didn't waste any time calling her mother, my mother, and our next door neighbor to tell them what she'd done. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of my wife for tackling her fears head on. Yesterday was indeed a special day.

On our next range trip, I'll set up the target. Now, we'll have both of our targets hung on the fridge. Although I fear that with practice, she could, and probably will, outshoot me. I don't mind, such is life, I can't always be the best at everything we do.

Not a bad day at all. My wife conquered a long held fear and I get to play the doting hubby. Nope, not a bad day at all, if I do say so meself.


Crotalus said...

Damn fine story there, and congrats on the gentle way you brough your wife into the shooting community! Congrats to your wife, too, for overcoming her fear!

hazmat said...

Thanks! I fear though, I've created a monster. Last night I was told we were going shooting. Left the house at a little after 5 and didn't get home until almost 9. I think if there were any kinks in the Sig, we worked them out last night.