I never had a desire for my older children to be exposed to, or use guns, but by the time my youngest son was around the age of ten, I decided shooting might be a valuable skill to have for many reasons. I didn’t grow up seeing my dad shoot guns, and my husband didn’t shoot at that time – even though he had gone on many pheasant hunts with his dad when he was younger and now shoots various firearms – so we were just not able to pass those skills along to our children.
After we moved to the country a few years ago, I began to search for organizations that might teach my son to responsibly use a firearm and I came upon the county 4-H clubs. The 4-H organization has a club or project for every kind of skill kids might want to learn, including some that specialize in the shooting disciplines – pistol, rifle, shotgun, and archery, so we signed up and began attending practice.
As I watched my son learn to use those firearms – and even got to shoot a few myself – I saw how much fun he was having and realized it was something I wanted to learn, as well. For one thing, I felt as though it would be a bit embarrassing for my husband and me to hide behind a ten year old as he defended our home from possible invaders. Way to go, mom and dad! And I also realized if we were going to have guns in our home, I wanted to be comfortable enough to use them and not be frightened by them.
It was still several years, though, before my husband and I even considered buying a gun for our personal use, and get the training we needed to actually use it. In fact, we went about the whole process completely backward – we went out and bought a handgun that we really had no idea how to use – and then sought out the training classes after the fact. Bad idea. For one thing, we didn’t even know if the gun we bought was one we would like to shoot, nor if it was a quality gun, or even what ammo to use in it. Crazy!
What we should have done is what I, and others, recommend to shooting novices today – DON’T go out and buy a gun until you have tried several and know what you are getting. Many men who shoot will buy their wives a handgun in the hope that their sweetie will shoot with them – and sometimes when the women try those guns, they absolutely hate them and never go back to the range. And for some reason, many men buy their female companions a revolver, which is a great firearm for an experienced shooter to carry, but one of the worst for a woman to learn on, in my opinion. Great intentions, but stop doing that, men :0)
I guess it’s pretty obvious that men and women are different in many ways, and learning to use and owning a handgun are definitely some of those ways. For many women who have never used one, shooting a gun is a scary and intimidating thing to do. Not only do the guns kick, they also are heavy and their power is really frightening to some women. I have found women become much more comfortable with shooting by, number one, having other women teach them (it’s less intimidating); number two, starting with a less powerful gun; and number three, finding a gun that fits their hands and their needs.
For these reasons, a women’s basic handgun class is a great entry point for a woman interested in shooting, and a .22 pistol is a great beginning tool – even if only for a few rounds until they lose the initial uneasiness. Once they realize the guns can actually be fun to shoot, and that they can shoot well with them, it is an easy transition to move on to higher caliber pistols, rifles, or even shotguns.
So we now own several firearms in various calibers, and not only are we all pretty proficient with them, we enjoy going to the range as a family and spending the day shooting holes in paper targets. And a major benefit is that I now know that my baby is not the only one that could defend us from the bad guys – although he could if he had to – and I am much more comfortable having guns in my home, which was the initial impetus for moving me toward the range to begin with.