Sunday, March 11, 2012

Training Your Family - My Thoughts

While my wife and I were on our double date last night, we ended up sharing the range with a lot of different people with a lot of different guns.  The range was packed and the only two lanes we could get, with our friends, were lanes 3 and 5. I had hoped for two lanes next to each other, but apparently Saturday evening is a busy time, so you take what you can get.  My friend Amy had purchased a new Ruger LCP and was in need of sending some lead downrange.  My friend Darren also purchased a new pistol - a Ruger SR9c with a stainless slide.  Both are excellent choices for concealed carry.  I would know, I carry both on a daily basis.  I'd like to think that I may have influenced their decision somewhat, but it was probably a combination of practicality and good taste that lead them both to Ruger.  Of course, they have shot my Rugers before.  So who knows?

I got set up in my and my wife's designated lane.  As my wife stood back chuckling, I fumbled around with the large silhouette target and the funky staple gun.  Then I retrieved her New Heritage Rough Rider .22 revolver from the bag and grabbed a re-purposed peanut butter jar full of bulk Federal .22 LR ammunition.  

I had to go over to lane 5 and help my friend Amy, who'd never shot the LCP before, learn how to use the pistol.  Now, under ideal circumstances, I would have rather taught her in an environment that wasn't as loud and crazy, but we dealt with hearing 44 magnums going off in the lane next to us as I worked her through the basics of LCP grip, hold, trigger control, etc. After about 6-7 minutes, she was on line and owning the target like a good shooter should.  Again, I'd like to take some credit for showing her how to use the gun, but in the end, a good shooter, with potential, is still a good shooter.  Darren required no help with the SR9c.  I think he retained everything from the last time we shot together. Still, I had to mosey on over to see how his groups were, and he wasn't doing too bad.  I really liked how Amy and Darren were shooting together.  Each other were complimenting each other and helping each other out.  They were learning to shoot their guns effectively, and made very few mistakes.  It reminded me of the first time I took my wife shooting.

It's important to teach your wife to shoot.  It really is.  It's important to teach your entire family to shoot.  We still have small children, but they are quickly approaching the age where we can start teaching them to shoot.  There are two reasons you need to teach your wife (and family for that matter) to shoot and shoot well.  The first reason is the most obvious.  It empowers them in a way that only a firearm can.  It gives them the ability to level the playing field against people who would do them harm if they didn't have a weapon to fall back on.  I think that, for most gun owners (especially those of us to carry a concealed weapon), this is a no brainer, but so many men and women are afraid of guns.  It's because they lack experience.  It's okay to be naive for awhile, but at some point in your life, it's time to put on the long pants and learn about firearms.  It doesn't mean you need to make a lifestyle out of it.  Heck, you don't even have to like it, but the 2nd Amendment recognizes our right to self defense.  Not only does it recognize that right, but it invokes a certain responsibility to exercise that right in some form or another.

The second reason is because it is fun. All too often these days, husband, wife, and kids come home from their separate places of responsibility; school, work, grocery shopping, etc.  When they get home, they go to their separate corners and do their own thing.  If the family is still lucky enough to eat a meal together, they sit down for 20-30 minutes and engage in awkward small talk over a meal, then go their separate ways again.  I know because my wife and I, at times, are guilty as charged.  Getting out as a family and shooting guns is time well spent.  Now, you may say, but going to the pool is fun too, or getting out on a picnic, going to the zoo, or a son's baseball game are great ways to spend time together as well.  I won't argue it.  We do all those things too.  For the purpose of this blog, I'm focusing on getting in some trigger time together.

Last night, after I helped my friends get their weapons squared away, I came back to my wife to see she had owned the silhouette target.  As much as we love that old army action style revolver, it was time to put it down and get to work on a new gun.  We had two magazines between us, and copious amounts of .22 lr ammo to burn up, so we got to it.

 Now, Lindsay isn't a bad shot at all.  With the new pistol, she wasn't having a difficult time putting little holes right where she wanted to on the target.  For a woman that hasn't trained with pistol as much as I have, she sure does well.  As we continued shooting, she listened to small bits and pieces of information and employed them to great effect.  She won't let me know, but she does listen.  As her shooting improves, her confidence level keeps rising.  She is more apt to try other things.

When she first learned to shoot, she was deathly afraid of anything weapon with a bore diameter larger than a 22.  She absolutely refused to fire my FN FAL or my 9mm pistol.  In fact, the first gun she bought was chambered for 17 HMR.  I love the irony.  The 17 HMR has a slightly higher recoil impulse than my Ruger 10/22 does.  It did set the stage, however, and after she warmed up to my 10/22, she got a CRR model for herself.

Nowadays, she will try bigger stuff.  She's fired a TC Venture .308 rifle, fell in love with my AR 15, shoots my M9A1 like she stole it, has been caught on film shooting a .454 Casull from a Raging Bull, and has even tried my SP101 with full house magnum loads.  She's no longer the timid little thing that she was six years ago.

So what does all this have to my thoughts on training your family?  Well, that's just it.  This has been my experience with my wife as she went from a little girl, who'd never seen a real firearm before she met me, to knowing all sorts of things, like different makes, types of guns, calibers, employment of weapons and some tactics, and generally knowing how to defend herself if in the unfortunate circumstances require it.  Ever since she became a mother, the instinct to protect her own became very strong, and she's at the point where she wants to become very proficient with a pistol so she can employ it if the need arises.

Last night, my friend Amy and I were standing back, loading magazines, while Lindsay was shooting zombie splatter targets with impunity.  She commented on how well Lindsay was shooting, and as I looked around the range, I told her that Lindsay was shooting better than every guy in the range.  To that, Amy just chuckled because she knew I was right.

Lindsay was driving tacks.  A lot of other guys were there shooting big bore revolvers, 45's, 40 S&W's, and missing all the time.  The lane full of yahoos next to us had a large target with a zombiefied rendering of Osama Bin Laden on it, and it was only 7 feet away.  Lindsay commented on how many hits were not on target, but all over the paper.  How can a group of guys with such fancy hardware shoot like such crap?  As I stood back, loading a magazine full of .22 lr ammunition, one of these macho guys asked me what we were shooting.  I told him it is a 22/45, and that we were breaking it in.  He then told me "When you get better, you should get one of these" as he pointed to a Springfield XDM, chambered for 40 S&W.  I looked at him and said, that's great.  What kind of accuracy do you get with that?  He showed me the target.  I just looked and said, "yeah, that's great."  Then I went and put a 1" group at 7 yards with my 22.  Then Lindsay put a 3" group at the same distance.  Ironic.  The only two people there who could hit a damned thing were shooting a lowly .22 pistol!  If only that dude knew what kind of hardware lives in my house!

When we were wrapping up, another couple came in.  By this time, the redneck yahoos were long gone.  They came in, missed their target, and left.  We still had another hundred rounds to run through my pistol, and Darren wanted to try out the revolver too, so we stuck around awhile longer.  Lindsay was the first to notice that this other couple had brought a pink Sig Sauer Mosquito, chambered in the little 22 LR.  Ah, another man teaching his wife to shoot.  Or was it the other way around?  I couldn't tell.  What I did know is that she was also putting holes in the paper where they ought to be.  I noticed her target was the same distance as the fancy hardware packing redneck yahoos that had previously left.  Instead of random holes all over the paper, however, there were somewhat small groupings in various places around the target.  She had done what my wife does.  First, shoot center of mass.  Tear one big hole in the center of the target.  Then go for the head shots.  Tear a nice gaping hole in that part.  Then start shooting for the numbers around the target and see if you can make them disappear.  Now, here was a couple that actually knew how to shoot.  I could tell.  The guy never shot while we were still there.  He waited for his woman to turn her silhouette target into hamburger, and quietly loaded magazines.  I would have talked to him, but between all the other gunshots and the fact that the range is generally loud, I didn't want to start yelling at a guy I didn't know.

It is important to get your family into shooting for all of the reasons above.  It has strengthened our marriage, gives us something to talk about, something we both like to do together, and it makes me sleep better at night knowing that my wife can pick up any gun in the house and use it to defend her life, my life, and most importantly, the lives of our children.  Besides, there's no showboating when my wife knows how to shoot nearly as well as I do.  I've missed my target plenty of times, much to her innocent jabs when I do so.  She also knows when an amazing hit is truly amazing, like that time she dotted the "I" on a Miller Draft beer bottle with her Rossi 17HMR.

Neither of us can wait until our children are big enough to get behind a little rifle of their own.  We even have their first guns picked out.  We truly live the gun culture.  The family that shoots together, shoots well together.

-James

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