Getting New Shooters To The Range Is Only Half The Battle.

Getting them to shoot is the other half.

Put yourself in the shoes of a new gun owner. You’ve just bought a pistol for self defense. You keep it safely loaded at home, and you want to start carrying it more often, because darn it, the neighborhood with that terrific sandwich shop is getting rougher and rougher, and the nephew of your friend down the street got jumped by a pack of thugs and beat up pretty badly.

You’re scared. You want to feel safe. You know carrying a gun and using it well might help keep you alive on a very, very bad day. Your CCW instructor told you that competition is a good way to help prepare your mind to think clearly and use a gun effectively under stressful situations, so you go out to the local range with your gun, your holster, a few mags and a couple of boxes of ammo.

What do you find when you arrive there?

Match directors, how do you handle someone who shows up with a Ruger LCR in .22Magnum or a Sig P238 at a USPSA match? Do you turn them away, or do you have them shoot for no score? Do you want newcomers to enjoy the sport and learn from the experience, or do you want enforce the rules above everything else?

And why are competitions that are .22LR only considered to be an effective on-ramp for new gun owners? That new gun owner just spent HOURS of deliberation before buying that Glock 19/Sig P320/M&P/P10C* they now own. Then, when they reach out for advice, we tell them that the best way for a beginner to learn how to shoot under stress is to buy a .22 pistol, something that a gun store clerk has just told them (over and over and over again) is not a effective self-defense tool. It’s like teaching people to ride a motorcycle by handing them a bicycle. Is bicycle riding fun? Of course it is! Is it the same as riding a motorcycle? Well, sorta, but not really.

I’m not bagging on the .22 sports, they are a LOT of fun, and I love shooting my red-dotted M22A. However, the .22 sports appeal to people who already have a .22 they can compete with, not to someone who spent hours and hours agonizing over their first handgun purchase.


* Like I’m NOT going to add in a CZ to that list.