It never ceases to amaze me how many guys out there seem to be unable to get their wives to the range. Shooting is an incredibly enjoyable sport that has the ability to turn just about anyone into a convert.
What I see instead is a bunch of people going about it the wrong way. It’s not hard to get someone interested in shooting, but many of you are simply doing it wrong. You may be shooting yourself in the foot if you aren’t careful about the way you try to convince someone to come to the range.
When I first got into shooting about 5 years ago, I recall a conversation with my then girlfriend (now amazing wife) when I told her I was going to try shooting. We were en-route to our dorm at college when I brought the subject up, and in less than five minutes she started crying, She thought I was going to die, because clearly all firearms are bad and only hurt people.
Flash forward 5 years, and not only does she own her own guns, but she teaches men and women alike how to shoot rifles. While she probably isn’t the most dangerous person on the planet when you’re up close, if you’re 100 yards or further away you better have hard cover.
I didn’t do anything magical to make her interested in shooting, I just didn’t goof up and make any stupid mistakes to turn her off from shooting. These tricks shouldn’t be a secret to anyone, but sadly they are.
Have Someone Else Teach Her
You may have been shooting for a million years and be the best instructor on the planet. Odds are if you’re married (or dating) she doesn’t want to hear it from you. The best thing I ever did when I brought my wife shooting the first time was to have an instructor at the range teach her. He showed her all the basics of safety and operation, then coached her on making good groups. I hung around for moral support, but this allowed her to hear all the basics from a neutral third party.
Whether we intend to or not, all guys seem to exude some sort of mystical aura that makes the women in our lives hate us when we try to teach them something. It’s not necessarily your fault, and you might even be the exception, but why take the risk?
My wife enjoyed her first visit to the range, and as a result she kept coming back.
When You Do Bring Her, Shoot Fun Targets
I didn’t really follow this one very well myself because we used to shoot indoors, but if you want a new shooter to enjoy themselves, shoot something easy and enjoyable. Clay pigeons, jugs of water, or anything else that might explode when you shoot it can’t hurt the acclimation process. The first time out, very few people will really enjoy shooting tiny targets. Bulls eyes can be great for competition, but how exciting is that?
On the other hand, provide ample opportunity for your wife to smash things down range and she’ll be hooked for life.
If she is taught well, she’ll probably be better than you
My experience has been that women shoot better than men. For some reason they are more stable, have better trigger control, and can align those sights better. As a result your wife, if trained properly, will be shooting better than you before you know it. You may rest easy knowing that your tactical training and high stress shooting will probably always put you at an advantage, but she’s going to be more accurate.
This isn’t a bad thing, but try not to be too much of a chump when it happens. If she produces better targets, don’t cry about it. Or at least don’t cry too hard about it. If she feels like she’s doing well and can match or beat your performance, that should probably help her own enjoyment level.
When it comes time to buy her a gun, don’t pick it out for her
How many guys end up trying to pick out a gun for their wives? It’s usually some tiny revolver with pink grips or some other rainbow colored pocket gun. STOP!! Don’t assume you know what she wants to shoot. My wife is the exact opposite. She shoots a full-framed Beretta 92FS and has her own AR-15, not a bit of pink furniture in sight.
Is she the exception or the rule? Does it matter?
What really matters is that she picked them out. When it comes time, don’t bring her to the gun shop and try and guide her to what you think she wants. Do help her avoid some really bad decisions (if she wants a Hi-Point please guide her to something…. more better).
Let her come into her own
Finally, let her develop into her own shooter. This means two things: don’t force her to come with you to the range or shoot something she doesn’t want to. Make it enjoyable so she wants to shoot, and she’ll make sure she’s with you when you go to the range. And also don’t be condescending. Guess how I learned that tip. You may know more or be more skilled (for the moment), but don’t try and hold that over your wife. As soon as she feels like it’s no longer fun, you are on your own.
The downside: buy more ammo
Once she starts enjoying it, be prepared to go through ammo twice as fast. Getting your wife enthused about shooting can be great for your relationship, but remember it will hit you where it hurts: the wallet.