There is an unspoken rule in the firearm community that everyone agrees on. Specifically, that everyone is welcome. It is a community that goes above and beyond to make people feel accepted, especially new shooters. A big part of that is thanks to the seasoned shooters of the sport.
Tips for Making New Shooters Feel Welcome
Many others and I have learned so much from diehards, enthusiasts, and fanatics of this industry. You constantly offer a comfortable, informative, and safe atmosphere. Likewise, you are the ones that keep this community alive and thriving. I tip my hat to you for your dedication to preserving the beauty of firearms.
However, every community has individuals who could use a little help in the welcome department. Guns are powerful tools that can tend to make you feel the same. Yet sometimes, people cannot handle those feelings and let it go to their heads. This can ruin the fun for everyone around them, perhaps without even realizing it.
There is a right way and a wrong way to make more people inclined to get involved with firearms. And sometimes people need a gentle reminder of the do’s and don’ts when teaching a newbie shooter to keep them coming back for more.
Being Honest with Newbies
Firearms are by no means gentle tools and were not designed to crack under the slightest bit of pressure. Instead, they are created to be strong and resistant. In a way, the same applies to those shooting the guns. And I think this can easily be forgotten when regarding new shooters.
New shooters should not be underestimated in our ability to handle firearms. Yes, we are still learning, but we are just as capable as you are. All we ask is to feel prepared.
We want to be given clear, precise, and informative answers on what happens from the time we pick up a firearm to the time we pull the trigger. Do not hold back crucial information, thinking it will spare us from nerves or anxiety.
Tell us if a firearm has a kick. Tell us if we are doing something wrong. We want to know these things.
The truth will not scare us away but instead prepare us to be better shooters. You’ll be doing us a disservice if you are treating us like we will break or cannot handle shooting firearms. We want to hear your opinions, stories, and recommendations because we look to you for your guidance.
These things are necessary for a beginner to hear and help us get our bearings together. We may not always agree with your opinion, but we sure will listen to it.
Word of Mouth
It can be a bit jarring when you take a step back and look at how big the firearm industry is. It is overwhelming and sometimes difficult to know where to start since there are so many moving parts. To make it easier for us, give us your recommendations on the brands you enjoy and dislike.
We want to hear about the companies you will always support and the ones you will not touch again with a ten-foot pole. It gives us a more stable footing in this growing industry.
Plus, tell us the reason you enjoy specific companies. Personally, I want to hear all the gossip on what makes your favorite brands your favorite. Are they well-made products that last for years? Does the brand have excellent customer service? Etc.
The smallest details make the biggest difference, and offering that explanation can give us an opportunity to either follow your advice or disregard it. Your recommendations start us down the path of our own personal research, allowing us to make our own mark within this industry.
Give New Shooters Pat on the Back
The biggest downfall you can make in any sport is getting in your head too much. When you stop thinking about having fun, you allow frustration to sweep in and take away your ability to focus.
I have learned one of the most helpful ways to get me out of my head is when someone tells me I am doing a good job. This quickly snaps me out of my negative mindset. And while you cannot always rely on someone else to offer you a compliment, it’s a nice change of pace.
I encourage everyone to offer a word of encouragement to a fellow shooter, especially if you notice them getting frustrated. Random compliments from strangers always give me an extra pep in my step and a well-needed confidence boost.
A simple compliment such as “You’re doing a good job” is something we carry with us for the rest of the day. Likewise, it encourages us to step into a more positive mindset rather than a negative one.
Learning from Minor Errors
To grow at anything in life, you need to make mistakes. They are normal, necessary, and welcome to enhance your skills and not something to shy away from. This is especially true for beginners!
There is a difference between big mistakes and minor mistakes when you’re dealing with a tool that can cause serious harm to you or others. When shooting firearms, safety is a topic that’s always discussed, but I think it’s equally important to address minor errors.
Essentially, there are four major rules that need to be adhered to at all times.
- Always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction
- Treat all guns as though they are loaded
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot
- Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it
Given you are following those four main rules, minute mistakes are okay to make.
A few examples of these small mistakes can be if you have an incorrect stance, a weak grip, or are anticipating the shot. These mistakes hurt no one, and new shooters want to hear from the advanced shooters that mistakes are okay. Let them know that you make them, too, and that we all are human.
Perfection is a hard trait to achieve and should never be overemphasized. However, addressing small mistakes will make you a better shooter in the long run.
Learn As You Go
There have been countless times I have watched a more advanced shooter get in their zone and feel a small pinch of jealousy that everything appears so easy for them. It seems like they know everything and have no difficulties. Meanwhile, here I am, struggling to find my way.
This type of thinking is incredibly easy to fall into. However, I find that when a shooter makes it a priority to reassure me that it is okay not to know everything when you are first starting, I can snap myself out of this mindset easily.
It is nice to hear small comments like, “Oh, I used to have trouble with that too!” or “It gets easier the more you practice.”
These simple sentences may mean nothing to you but can make a difference to someone who needs a reminder to cut themselves some slack.
Even offering specific resources you have used to help yourself along the way is incredibly helpful and never goes unappreciated. It shows us that we do not have to know everything right away and should grant ourselves some patience.
Keep Shooting Fun for Beginners
People shoot for many reasons, and regardless of the why, I believe the main goal when shooting is to prioritize making it fun.
Of course, there are times when you need to carry a serious and disciplined mindset. Specifically when you use a firearm for self-defense or competitions, etc. But I think most of the time having fun is an important part of shooting.
It is important to remember that for some individuals, firearms can be intimidating and a hard obstacle to overcome. Being fearful the whole time on the range is counterproductive. Whereas having fun can help overcome that fear. No one wants to partake in a hobby they do not enjoy or is overly stressful.
Beginner shooters want to be taught to follow safety protocols and rules as well as be shown that it is okay to joke around, laugh, and enjoy yourself. I find when I focus on having fun, I am a better shooter because I am not worrying so much.
If you are teaching someone how to shoot and all you are focusing on is the serious aspect of the sport, chances are it is going to drive them away and do more harm than good.
I am going to let you in on a secret. The beginners of this industry are constantly watching and listening to you. We see the passion, feel the love, and hear the knowledge experts share. It is what keeps us pursuing this sport.
You show us that anything is possible, and we can do anything we set our minds to. Without you knowing, you have become our role models.
The only thing we ask is that you make us feel like we belong. And, rather than tell us, show us. Your actions have a significance on how we view this growing industry, and we constantly watch you pave the way.
There would be no industry without us, just like there would be no industry without you. Together, we can make this industry the most welcoming atmosphere possible. But it starts with you taking the lead and showing us how it is done.
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