So here is something different. I was asked to host a live fire class at our Dahlonega range in North Georgia for 12 guys. You would assume, as I did, that it would be a basic shooting class like our Pistol Essentials class. Surprisingly no, it was not for that reason AT ALL!
^ Groom ^
It was for a bachelor party. The goal was bonding, memories, and to offer a unique and memorable “pre-wedding” experience. The Groom is alumni and is from GA but most others in attendance were from the Northeast, New Jersey, and Maryland. With a couple of exceptions , they did not own a firearm, nor did they have any experience with shooting. Daunting to say the least, but also a great opportunity to introduce shooting and safe gun handling to a new audience so here was my chance to make a good “first time shooting” impression!
As always, we started the day making sure waivers and registration forms were completed, moved onto the safety briefing, and then the medical plan which definitely had their undivided attention. You could see that this caused a bit of concern for the first timers with an “Oh crap, what the hell have a got myself into” facial expression.
Being immersed in the gun culture, I realize that most of what we teach can be intimidating to the new client. Loading a magazine, or manipulating a slide is a challenging experience for the uninitiated. I started everything in this class from a table start and skipped any holster work completely. We did a great deal of dry practice, forming a base knowledge of how to manipulate the firearm. The fundamentals of grip, trigger, sights, and follow through were the focus of the day. Using the teaching methodology of “explain, demonstrate, practice, and test“, you could easily see that their progress was steady and verifiable. Three hours later everyone was shooting with an acceptable level of competence. They shot a short match on the timer, testing their progress, and I was very pleased to pass out “The Complete Combat Ant” patches to the top three shooters of the day.
As an instructor, you get the privilege of seeing a client’s confidence rise and smiles on faces with a job well done but rarely do you get see so much excitement and enjoyment from an ENTIRE GROUP of shooters, however this was a new and unique experience for most of them. This class had started with a great deal of apprehension, however we finished with new-found confidence. Several clients said that they enjoyed the experience so much that they are going to go to the range when they returned home. Hopefully this changed their perspective, viewing shooting in a more positive light.
We must use the approach of “winning hearts and minds” allowing others to experience the world of shooting. Never forget we are the emissaries of the shooting world, we must conduct ourselves as such. Never miss an opportunity to work with new shooters as this may be their only chance at a good “first time shooting” experience!