Every day carry (EDC) means being a good ambassador for the Second Amendment community. Part of that responsibility is introducing new shooters to the world of firearms by giving them a positive first interaction, making them want to learn more. Often times people come to firearms with preconceived notions, fears, or concerns based on past experiences or misinformation. Experienced shooters need to be understanding of these concerns and address them appropriately so as to not push away or further intimidate those seeking to learn more. I have two big pet peeves in this area. One is forcing someone to shoot or learn about shooting when the person is not ready or possibly scared of shooting. The other when someone gives a new shooter way more gun than they need–whether as a joke or because it’s what they are familiar with already.
I’m a firearms instructor, and I have also worked at a range. Countless times I have met groups of people that included new shooters. More than once have heard these new shooters express concern about having to shoot, or even say that they do not want to go shooting. Once a daughter told her dad that she didn’t want to shoot … he basically told her to “man up,” and that she was going to go do it anyway! More experienced shooters like that father may not even realize or remember that there was a time that they, too, didn’t know anything about shooting. They may not realize what is causing the hesitation from the new shooter, or how to handle it without being a jerk.
Sometimes the dynamics within a family may even hinder the learning process. They may be so close that they don’t realize that they may not actually be helping the person to learn. In these situations, it is ideal to have a third party come in to “mediate” the learning process. This can be a firearms instructor, gun store employee, or even another friendly member of the shooting community. Listening to the concerns of the new shooter and finding the root cause of the hesitation to start shooting will help open up the communication. It may be as simple as the new shooter lacks education about how firearms work. Or they may be concerned about safety or any other number of issues. Once their concerns have been addressed they may feel less intimidated and more willing to learn.
I’ve heard horror stories of a police academy where it was a rite of passage to give new recruits shotguns and laugh as they got beaten up by the shotguns. This may sound extreme but I’ve also seen countless videos where some jack wagon give an inexperienced shooter way more gun than the shooter can handle for the first shooting experience. The end result is often that the shooter gets hurt, laughed at, and it sours the whole experience for the new shooter.
I’ve also witnessed this first hand at the range. Not only is it dangerous, but it instantly turns that person off from the shooting sports. It’s hard to overcome a bad first impression. It also creates bad habits including flinching, bad trigger control, and bad overall gun handling practices because it makes light of the seriousness and the great responsibility that is required for EDC. It’s good practice to start smaller or less intimidating, then work up to bigger more involved firearms. Starting with an air gun can be helpful for teaching safety and firearms basics. It can instill confidence, which helps set the shooter up for success when moving up to more powerful calibers.
When it comes to being a good firearms ambassador, sometimes bravado is not needed. We want to instill good practices with these new shooters. We want them to become involved in the Second Amendment community rather than get scared away. Education is the best way to overcome a fear or lack of understanding about firearms. Starting out small with basic tools and information can ease new shooters into the firearms world. Not everyone needs to be a master marksman; isn’t it better to have as many people trained and capable of watching your back as possible? So keep this in mind when introducing new people to shooting. Take a step back from what you know and listen to things from their point of view. Start them off right because their life–or yours–may one day depend on it.
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