Introducing all of our family and friends to guns is a dream many of us have! We want to share our passion for firearms and self-defense with those that we care about most. With all of the turmoil and unrest in our country right now, many are looking at guns and gun ownership in a new light. Current events are causing them to become interested in gun ownership. Family and friends who were previously against guns realize the importance of being able to protect themselves and naturally start thinking about their options. The inevitable truth now becomes clear. A gun is the great equalizer!
We find ourselves with new opportunities to inform and educate others that we just didn’t have before. So what can you do to help them feel more comfortable as they learn about guns?
When introducing friends and family to guns – ask questions!
I know, this might seem counterintuitive as they are asking you about guns! You are teaching them and not the other way around. However, you need to know what they know, what they don’t know, and what their real concerns are. What are your friends’ and family’s perspectives on guns? Do they know anything about guns? What misconceptions do they have? Everyone has an opinion and an idea of what gun owners, gun ownership, and concealed carriers look like. It will be your job to help them to understand truths about guns and gun owners. We are not gun nuts, we don’t WANT to shoot anyone, we want to be safe and protected. These may be things that people new to guns don’t understand or are just coming to understand. The only way to find out is to ask questions. Lots of questions. Patience and compassion are key.
Take yourself back to the beginning of your journey with firearms. Did you have rational or irrational fears? Remember, the real reason so many people hate guns is because of fear and a lack of understanding. It is important to find out what their fears are so you can start to educate them and help them understand and reduce those fears. So ask them what scares them about guns.
Some common fears are: Not knowing how to use it, the gun “going off” accidentally, hurting themselves, accidentally hurting a loved one, having the gun taken from them, what other people will think, and not being sure if they could actually shoot another person if their life depended on it.
As information and knowledge are learned, fears begin to dissipate. Your role and your job are to patiently “hear” their concerns and begin to educate them and to inform them.
As always, everything about guns begins with firearm safety.
As I said previously, fear is one of the biggest reasons people do not like guns. Teaching the Four Rules of Firearm Safety and the importance of following them at all times will help reduce their fear over time and start them off on the best foundation.
The four rules are:
1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Knowing the safety rules and the importance of the safety rules in the world of firearms is one of the most important things, if not the most important thing you can teach your friends and family when introducing them to firearms.
You might want to jump right into shooting at the range but that might be a mistake! Take your time and really help your friends and family to become comfortable with the thought of handling a firearm which is something they may have never done before. This is a big deal and a significant journey for them! Don’t try to rush it and don’t try to force it. Be respectful and understanding. Everyone is different and everyone needs to be able to work at their own pace.
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When they’re ready, introduce your friends and family to the basics of gun ownership and use.
This is where the fun can begin! You do have to take this seriously, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. When they are ready, start to teach your friends the basics of handling and shooting a firearm. This is where dry-fire practice and other home training comes in. With an unloaded firearm, teach your friend or family member the parts of the gun and how a gun works. What is a slide? Where does the magazine go and how does it work? What is manual safety? Teach them the basics of how your gun works (semiauto or revolver). Then move onto how to load and unload your firearm by either watching videos or using inert rounds.
Before heading to the range and shooting live ammunition, make sure they are comfortable with the controls of the gun. So many women are intimidated by guns because all they know is you have to point the gun and get it on target. If the controls are not explained or understood, your friend or family member may not handle the firearm correctly. Explain how your slide will shoot back, recoil, and resetting the trigger. All of these things are taken for granted by a seasoned gun owner but need to be explained to a new shooter.
Introduce your friends and family to guns at the range!
You’ve asked your friends about their fears and concerns, you took the time to explain the rules, gone over gun basics, now it’s time to shoot! Finally! But remember, be patient. You can’t expect someone’s first time at the range to be perfect. What’s most important is that they feel safe and have a sense of accomplishment. If your friend has some trouble with shooting on target or can’t quite rack the slide perfectly, that’s ok! Make sure they know that all of these skills take time. It’s ok if their shots are a little off-target or they take a long time to get back on target after a shot. It’s all about practice, preparation, and patience.
Now that your friend or family member knows the basics and how to shoot a firearm, help them find a good instructor to teach them beyond the basics. Unless you are an instructor, it is not a good idea for you to teach them anything beyond basic information and skills. You can continue to go to the range and be a support to your friend, but a professional instructor will be able to help them become a proficient and capable shooter.
Introducing your family and friends to the world of gun ownership and self-defense can be so rewarding! As long as you take your time, respect your friend or family member, and follow the safety rules, you can help a new gun owner start their journey right. Know that when you agree to do this, it is a responsibility that you need to take seriously but that does not mean you can’t have fun! Don’t forget to use all of the content and videos here at The Well Armed Woman as a resource for yourself and for your friends as you all go through this process! We have a great section of the website “Where Do I Start” that can be especially helpful.