Lessons from GRPC: Expanding gun ownership

By Jim Irvine

The Second Amendment Foundation’s (SAF) recent Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) was so packed with good information that it was impossible for me to share it all in one coherent article. This will be the first in a series of articles highlighting different topics from that conference.

The overall theme of this year's GRPC was, “Expanding gun ownership.”

I will forward one of the challenges Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) and founder of SAF made to everyone at the conference; to recruit one new gun owner in the next year. Once each quarter, take a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor to the range with you. If you are a hunter, consider introducing someone to hunting this fall. We believe that if you properly introduce four new people to shooting, one of them will likely become a gun owner.

Make it fun. Your goal is to take something that is scary to many people, and show them a good time. Teach your new shooter the safety rules. Read the range rules with them, and make sure they understand them. Encourage them to ask questions. As you increase their knowledge, you will remove their fear.

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Start with guns that have smaller felt recoil such as a .22. Revolvers are easier to understand and operate than semi-auto’s. Start with a large target at close range. You want your new shooter to be successful. Once they have some confidence, you can move the target back a little or let them try other guns.

Explain the unique features about each gun to them before they shoot it. Let them practice dry firing before you put live ammunition in the gun (if it’s approved by the manufacturer). Explain to them how each gun is going to feel different. Will the gun “kick” more, or eject spent casings over their head? If they know what to expect, the new experience will be less scary, and more exciting.

Don’t try to do too much on the first day. Consider taking a break to let you new shooter rest and relax. Introduce them to others on the range as a first time shooter. We all like to welcome someone new to our sport, and you want to encourage your shooting buddies to bring some new friends out too.

Something I like to do at the end of the day is go back to the first gun at the first distance you shot from. After shooting higher calibers, that .22 has almost no recoil, and their accuracy will have improved, so not only can they see how much they have improved, but that gun that was so scary before the first shot will have become comfortable. Now you are using emotion to make them feel good about guns.

Remember your goal. Introduce new people to shooting, and make it enjoyable enough that they want to get more involved.

Need to find a good club or range to take a friend shooting? Check out our Web Links section, which highlights Ohio Clubs, Shooting Ranges, and much much more.

Other Articles in the Series:
"Expanding Gun Ownership"

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