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7 Ways to Inspire Confidence In Others When At The Range

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I have often thought back on moments when I've been out to the range with a friend or family member who is firing a gun for the first time. They are visibly nervous albeit often excited and anxious as well.

While it is important to be competent and safe with a firearm, today we will explore some of the things you can do to be perceived as safe and competent. The way others perceive you is important when guns are involved. You need the ability to put other people at ease and make them feel comfortable. Here are some tips to help you outwardly show that you can be counted on to keep others safe and comfortable.

  1. When you first arrive at the range introduce yourself to everyone else there. During the introduction just ask them for their name and perhaps what they are practicing or training today. Ask if they come to the range often. These quick introductions will not only remove the stranger effect but they will also make you some friends in the process.
  2. Review the safety rules with those in your group before the guns come out. If the rules are on the wall of the range you can just point and read them. Try to keep a brochure or paper in your range bag that you can retrieve to quickly review the rules. This communicates that you feel gun safety is important and you are not above the practice of reviewing them.
  3. Be an example of humility. Gun folk are generally thought to be full of ego and pride. That attitude of “I know more and I know best” doesn't make others feel good. It makes them either hate you, distrust you, or feel intimidated by you. It never makes them feel comfortable. Look for opportunities to express what you don't know. I often do this in reference to guns I don't know making a comment like, “I've never fired that gun before do you like it?”
  4. Have the right gear. Walk in with your eye and ear protection on. Use empty chamber indicators to show that your firearm is safe when not in use.
  5. Take a course to become a certified NRA Range Safety Officer. Anyone can take the RSO course and it will arm you with the range commands and also the confidence to better manage yourself and others at the range.
  6. Follow the safety rules EXACTLY. It sounds overly simple but if you become obsessed with the rules this will not only make others comfortable but it will also make everyone safe.
  7. Become a master of your vocabulary. Become a student of the terms. Read the instruction manual for your weapons and always ask questions when you don't know what a certain firearm, part, type of malfunction, cleaning equipment, stance, drill, or anything else is called.

Gun safety is everyone's concern, and when you practice it both on and of the range, we all benefit. What else have you found that you can do or that others do around you that helps people feel comfortable?

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4 Responses to 7 Ways to Inspire Confidence In Others When At The Range

  1. Doug September 26, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    If we are shooting several types of guns or pistols, I lay them out, unloaded in slide lock, for the people to see and handle so they can familiarize themselves with weight and feel before being handed a gun on the firing line. Of course this is after the safety briefing.

  2. Donn September 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

    A practice I’ve found very useful is to spend time dry firing with new shooters prior to going to the range. That is covering all of the fundamentals in a safe environment with no ammo around and no distractions. Less stress on them, no loud noises while they get comfortable handling the weapons, easier to maintain their attention, less risk with them making a mistake that could be fatal the first time they touch a weapon. Too many times the first time somebody touches a gun is when they are shooting it. Not always a recipe for building their confidence in you or themselves.

  3. LM September 26, 2017 at 7:55 pm #

    Look, I want to preface this by saying that in my lifelong experience firearms owners are NOT more prejudiced that anyone else. That said like with any group there are unconscious biases.

    I recently took an American American pal and his 25 year old son, both professionals, to the range. I belong to one near my city, and a more rural one an hour away. Since they were both first time handling firearms, I used my rural one as it has a nice clubhouse and I was able to give them a handling and safety lesson for an hour before hitting the actual range. (I have NRA basic, NRA PP inside, NRA Outside, and NRA RSO. I do not have a formal certification in training others but i certainly have good experience in doing so.

    There were maybe a dozen people on the line. ten were friendly as is the typical experience, but two looked outright alarmed. My pal and his son were not dressed strangely and did nothing was was unsafe the entire time (again I have RSO certification). But there were two people there who kept staring quite a bit, and really were telegraphing fear at my friends. Really it almost turned a pleasant experience into something less than pleasant. Fortunately the great majority of the people there were the usual friendly and welcoming people, expressing a the typical hospitable attitude. I just think we all ought to make sure to put any appearance based fears away and limit our worry to anyone not actually paying attention to the rules or practices.

    • LM September 26, 2017 at 7:56 pm #

      should read “African American”

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