We all love action movies and chances are you’ve probably seen the movie John Wick and maybe the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 as well.
The action in these movies are very cool to watch, the choreograph is well designed. The credit goes to Taran Butler, the man who trained Keanu Reeves to tactical shoot that looks impressive in the movie.
With the third (final?) chapter in the series coming in May, that got us thinking about the films, particularly the shooting techniques that were used in them.
Now, for those of you who haven’t seen the film, or read articles on it, the directors, stunt coordinators, and the actors themselves all went out of their way to make the stunts and gun handling in the film as accurate as possible to real life.
In other words some of them actually went through similar tactical shooting courses.
In the above picture you see Keanu tilting his gun to the side like that, its not for Hollywood cool looks, but is actually a real shooting technique created by law enforcement trainer Paul Castle.
Before his untimely death due to cancer in 2011, Castle developed what he called the Center Axis Relock (CAR) system as an alternative to modern weaver and isosceles stances.
So we’ve established that its a real thing, and not simply movie stuff, but is it worth learning?
Lets take a Look
Why Center Axis Relock was Created
Most self-defense scenarios happen at very close range, in confined spaces, usually within 8-10 feet, or less.
The problem with moving in a confined space in a traditional stance is that you have the gun way out in front of you, as taught in the Weaver or Isoceles. This gives you very poor leverage in the event someone gets their hands on your gun. Weapon retention was a concern at this range.
The CAR system allows for less time between drawing and getting the target in your sights, as well as providing better weapon retention. Having the pistol closer to the body allows better leverage and control.
For shooting and moving, or shooting at the range, a standard isosceles/weaver stance could be a better choice, but what about shooting inside a narrow hallway, or from a vehicle? What about when the target is already at contact distance, maybe even inside where your arms would normally be in an isosceles stance?
The CAR system is the answer to these problems. For this reason, it was never intended to replace the weaver or isosceles stance (though we recommend the latter) but was meant to be another transition tool in your tactical shooting method.
Here’s How the Center Axis Relock System Work
There are two main parts to the CAR system, each a shooting stance in its own right, and each with a specific purpose.
First, there’s the High position. This is what you’ll be drawing into, with your body facing perpendicular to your target. The support (non-gun-holding) hand clears clothing or other obstructions while the strong hand brings the pistol up and close to the chest.
The support hand then moves up (be careful to never sweep the muzzle over your support hand) and meets the strong (gun-holding) hand from beneath.
At this point, your weak-side foot should be at a 90-degree angle to your target, and the barrel of your gun should be up, level, and pointed at the target.
Although not a goal or recommendation, it is possible to place accurate fire at a target within contact range from here if you really needed to. You can also use your elbows to get distance from your attacker.
This is your ready position.
From here, you have the option of transitioning to the Extended position, whereby you rotate your support elbow down while rotating your strong hand up to bring the sights of the firearm up into alignment with your strong eye (read up on Cross-dominant shooting if you aren’t sure which eye is your strong eye).
This is the position you’ll use for accurate aimed fire at range. From here you can engage targets as normal, using your support hand to pull back on the gun, while using your strong hand to push it forward towards the target.
This creates a very stable, yet flexible “locked-in” firing position, while also presenting as small of a target as possible to your attacker.
What’s the CAR System Good For?
The main goal of the CAR system is to get your sights on the target quickly while maintaining solid weapon retention and a stable firing position. This overall will improve the hit rate.
It does this by using your body’s instinctive reactions and gross motor functions in a high-stress situation. In such a situation, you may have trouble getting your sights aligned quickly, and if you are not strongly dominant with one eye or the other, it may be difficult to quickly choose the correct sight picture.
The Center Axis Relock addresses these issues in two ways. One, the first position, or High position, is designed to facilitate the maximum point-shooting ability for engaging a target that’s already at contact distance.
If you have an assailant in your face, punching the firearm out towards them gives them ample opportunity to begin wrestling for your gun, which is a dire situation indeed.
From the High position of the CAR system, it is much harder for such an assailant to get their hands on the gun in a way that will allow them to take it from you.
It also makes it very easy to point shoot without bringing the sights up, meaning you can stop an attack before it gets going.
If the target is further away and you need to utilize your weapon’s sights to make an accurate shot, the Extended position offers an easy-to-use position for quickly and cleanly bringing the gun up and into a firing position that still offers a stable shooting platform and good weapon retention, while also allowing utilizing the correct sight picture automatically.
What its Not Good For?
I truly believe the CAR system is something every defensive-minded shooter should learn. Another tool to have in the “Tactical Shoot” toolbox. But it may not be for everyone.
The CAR system is not a replacement for the isosceles/weaver stance most modern shooters are more familiar with. This stance offers a better chance of moving, shooting and acquiring sights quickly.
Remember, unlike Hollywood movies, you want to be in as few gunfights as possible, and a well-armed banana peel retreat is better than a well-armed engagement any day.
The CAR system is also not great (in some opinion, there are those who disagree) for room entry.
If you enter a room with an attacker in an unknown location, you may have to pivot your entire body to make a shot, especially if the attacker is to your support side.
But, for coming around the corner when you don’t have the distance to back away from, the CAR can be used.
That being said, how often does that happen? In most situations, if you have to draw your gun, you’re already reacting to a visual threat, probably one right in front of you. For that, the CAR system is incredibly effective. Again, this all depends on how the CAR system is used by the individual. The CAR system is a transition movement, for those that have never learned and used in a tactical situation like room clearing or a bus take down may not fully understand its usage.
The CAR system was designed for moving through confined spaces with your gun in a ready position that reduces the likelihood of your gun being taken from you.
The Center Axis Relock system is not a common shooting technique used by us normal folks but may have been popularized by Hollywood, but it is way more than just filmic flim-flam. This is a real-world technique, developed by a professional with over two decades of military and LEO experience.
And if used properly, as another tool in the “Tactical Shoot” toolbox, it can even save your life.
For more information, be sure to check out Sabre Tactical, the company founded by Paul Castle primarily to teach the CAR system.
Have you train with the CAR system? What do you think about it?
Sources: Matthew Collins, Sabre Tactical
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You’ve probably heard that the US military isreplacing the M16/M4 and looking into new rifles and ammo. (US Army and Marine Corp) Wondering why they’re looking into 6.5 Creedmoor in particular? No, its not because the Russians are out gunning us. Here’s the scoop.
There are a couple things you should know about 6.5 Creedmoor and today, we’ll put this round into sharper focus for you. So let’s look at it in more detail so that you’ll see why it works for the military and why it could work for you.
Creedmoor Kicks Ass at Long Range
Right off the bat, the US Special Operations Command understood all the good things about this cartridge as an alternative to its existing ammo.
The cartridge was introduced in 2008 as one of the first and best cartridges for precision long range shooting.
At the time, there weren’t a lot of civilians shooting long range, but in recent years, the company has seen demand grow in the hunting industry, and grow as manufacturers continue to put out more affordable long range rifles.
Today, it is the go-to cartridge for many hunters and competitive shooters.
Precision long range shooting skill a learned trait which is an advantage to have in combat and the military seems to be catching onto Creedmoor’s awesome reputation and populatiry for shooting close and tight precision groups at 500 yards or more.
Having a bigger bullet means you’ll do bigger damage to your target, whether your target is a tango or a blood thirsty wild hog.
Our brothers in arms go through enough shit. The last thing they need is hellish recoil.
If there’s one thing you won’t get with 6.5 Creedmoor, is its crazy blowback.
6.5 Creedmoor is specially designed for low recoil rounds without compromising pinpoint accuracy.
Did you also know that it can go subsonic after 1,300 yards?
When it comes to tactical applications, this cartridge packs a serious wallop
There are some long range groups think that there aren’t any real differences between 6.5 Creedmoor and the long-established .308 Win.
But those people would be ill-informed.
The truth is, they are very similar, however there are some things in which they differ.
First there is the huge gap between the two when it comes to ballistics. 6.5 Creedmoor loads can reach a thousand yards with less than three hundred inches of drop with proper windage.
This is true of just about any ammo, particularly Hornady 178 grain HPBT, that is used with a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge.
The .308 Win doesn’t compare to that kind of numbers.
Another area in which 6.5 Creedmoor often bests .308 Win is in its accessibility.
A lot of .308 ammo is out of stock when you visit the major online ammo dealers.
But if you run a search for Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor 140 gr AMAX, they’re everywhere.
And thats the other thing that is very good news for the military and all of us: there are plenty of dealers – large and small – from which they could order 6.5 ammo in bulk.
Another argument that comes up is about barrel longevity, claiming that the 6.5 Creedmoor only last for 2-3,000 rounds whereas the .308 Win will be good for as many as 10,000 rounds.
This is simply bogus since it all depends on whether you’re shooting 1 MOA.
Theres just no way that the .308 could be reaching that mark at 10,000.
If you’re using it with a precision rifle or for seasonal deer shooting, you’re going to go long ways with your 6.5 Creedmoor, no if, and, or buts..about it, except the butt you put a bullet in.
And thats another thing. Combat isn’t always what it looks like in movies and on TV. For those that have served can tell you that there are many days where you don’t see much action and, even when you do, its not necessarily a rapid fire situation.
But Murphy’s law does exist when the shit hits the fan.
If you’re an active duty sniper (Marksman Observer), you’re gonna get a whole lot more life outta your 6.5 Creedmoor than you would with the .308.
Solving the Problem
What’s really crazy about the 6.5 versus .308 argument is the simple fact that 6.5 Creedmoor was specifically conceived to be a cartridge that would be superior to the wildcat cartridges of the day.
As the story goes at the Civilian Marksmanship Program 2007 National Matches at Camp Perry, Hornady engineer Dave Emary decided to remedy what he saw as a problem among competitive shooters.
As Emary saw it, people were trying to push their cartridges to the limit, attempting to defy the laws of physics by brainstorming methods by which to get their cartridges to perform at levels that weren’t made to. Problems would then crop up as a result of these jeri-rigging formulas.
In Emary’s own words, “People were having a lot of problems with functioning the 6mms. They were running these things at very high pressures to try to get the performance they need to compete.”
“Our solution was to go to a 6.5, firing a lot higher BC bullet, and not have to push it as hard to get what they wanted.”
Emary and his team solved this problem by taking existing .264 cartridges and altering the specs, giving the cartridge the capacity for long-ogive, high-ballistic rounds.
Lo and behold the 6.5 was born, a short-action rifle cartridge capable of insane performance.
Make Your Hunting Experience a Good One
Like I said earlier, this cartridge isn’t just a slam dunk for the military should they end up choosing it over the others they’ve been testing.
Its also a damn good option for almost any civilian hunter or gun enthusiast.
If you didn’t hear the news: USSOCOM has adopted the 6.5 CM as their new Precision Rifle cartridge. It was a close call between the 260 Remington and the 6.5 Creedmoor, but the 6.5 CM won the day due to the military’s belief that the 6.5 CM has more room for innovation for the future.
Many target shooters have taken to the Ruger Precision Rifleand my targets gets shredded to pieces. The results are always incredible. At long range, many are saying the the CM leave 2.8 inches at five hundred yards.
But the advantages for game hunters is where this one really shines. Its got a sick muzzle velocity due to its extra powder space and its able to accommodate a wealth of different medium-burning rifle powders.
If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t automatically think of long-range shooting when it comes to big game. After all, ethical hunting requires limiting your range to as short as possible to ensure a clean kill.
That being said, it should also stand to reason that if 6.5 Creedmoor can take out a target at 500 yards, its going to take care of business at 100 yards with no problem.
From personal experience, I’ve seen how this can perform in a close quarters situations and I was every bit as impressed as I was when I hunted with the .308.
The round went right where I wanted it to and I bagged a deer without a rechamber. Like I said: clean humane kill.
Why 6.5 Creedmoor is Awesome for Target Shooting
Better grouping and more affordable ammo makes the 6.5 Creedmoor a no-brainer for those who camp out a lot at the firing range.
When we take into account the rising cost of ammo in the last few years and the scrutiny that many firearm and ammo companies have faced, 6.5 ammo maintains a reasonable price point and remains readily available.
And when it comes to high-end ballistics, you can’t beat these suckers. The BC numbers on these bad boys are awe-inspiring (approximately .610 G1 at 140 grain). If you’re looking to impress, you really can’t go wrong with the 6.5’s remarkable 1,400 fps at 1,000 yards(!).
Best 6.5 CM Ammo
If you want the very best from this cartridge, you’ll have to get into reloading. You can start with our Beginner’s Guide To Reloading. But if you’re not into that, then you’ll need something you can pick up at the store.
If you’re on the range to have fun, you don’t want to spend a fortune. But this also isn’t the kind of caliber that you buy cheap, crappy ammo for – you’ll want something that shoots consistent and for a fair price.
Sellier & Bellot is what you’re looking for, from 9mm to 6.5CM they make a good product for a good price.
Of course, once you’re ready to really stretch your legs and see what this bad boy can do – it’s time to get out the good stuff!
Match grade ammo isn’t cheap, but it is amazing. Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Extremely Low Drag match bullet is outstanding for factory ammo. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve been getting half-MOA with this ammo.
Hornady Match 6.5 Creedmoor 147gn ELD Match – 20 Rounds
A cool cartridge is only as good as the weapon that throws it, just like a weapon that throws it is only as good as what it throws.
For a budget hunting rifle, it’s hard to beat the Savage Arms 12 FV – not only is this a solid rifle out of the box, but it is at a price that is hard to beat. I commonly see this is the $370-$410 range.
I already said it, but when it comes to long-range target shooting the Ruger Precision Rifle is just too good to beat. For the price, the options, the aftermarket, and the out-of-the-box quality – you want this rifle.
A dedicated rifle for every role is the dream for many of us, but if you don’t have the room in your safe (or your budget) for that then you might want to consider a middle of the road do-it-all rifle.
The Tikka T3x is that rifle. Rugged, lightweight, smooth as butter action and outstanding trigger – a Tikka T3x is my go-to hunting rifle.
On the precision side, Tikka offers a 1 MOA from the factory guarantee and lives up to it!
Another important thing to keep in mind when purchasing any cartridge is maintenance. If you’re going to be participating in extended shooting sessions, you should always bring along the proper gear for cleaning your rifle and cartridge. Maintenance will help you to sustain that pinpoint precision you’re hoping for.
Another Oakley pair that was designed specifically for shooting is the Oakley Tombstone that doesn’t have the top frame. There’s the Spoil version for smaller heads and the Reap for normal/larger heads.
Now that your eyes are protected…get yourself the best ear protection out there too. We cover everything in-hand from earplugs to all the most popular electronic earmuffs in Best Shooting Ear Protection.
Long distance shooting is a bit like meteorology. You can go by feel, or you can make predictions to help you plan ahead.
No plan survives the first contact, but it gives you a fighting chance at least!
If you want to “call your shot” before you make them, a ballistics calculator is in order. Ballistic calculators are an all or nothing sort of thing, you need to know exactly what you’re doing, or it’ll send your rounds way off.
If you’re willing to learn how to use them they can be the key that opens doors that were previously closed!
Purpose of a Ballistic Calculator
The purpose a ballistic calculator is important and is sometimes essential. Basically speaking, a ballistics calculator makes several calculations of given a data set.
That set includes the humidity, elevation, specifications of the round, and the expected velocity of the bullet given the rifle it’s fired out of.
The calculations are so specific every shot you ever fire will be completely different.
You won’t have to waste ammunition trying to find out if your calculations are accurate because as soon as you calculate the shot, the variables have most likely changed, mother nature is a fickle woman.
The purpose of a ballistics calculator is to just get you close enough you can manually dial in your shot. Many people think a high-tech calculator will make the shots for you, and it won’t.
A calculator will save you money and time by getting you close but it won’t have you hitting the bullseye at 1,000 yards on the first shot.
Don’t Forget to….
Take Good Notes
Every single shot you make will be influenced by the internal and external ballistics of the round, this is one of many reasons why quality control of your ammunition is so important – consistency is everything!
But it’s not just the ammo that you’re trying to account for – you also have things that while you can measure and attempt to account for, you won’t be able to get it perfect every time.
Temperature, wind, humidity, atmospheric pressure, elevation difference between you and the target, the list goes on and gets exponentially more complex the longer the shot is.
If you enter in all of this information into a ballistics calculator can give you a good idea of how the shot will ring out, but it is just an educated guess.
You should be taking good notes on pen and paper to log each shot and shooting session to get a collection of good data to help you set up your calculator.
This is especially important for users who opt for low features applications on a smartphone. Many application won’t keep data over a long period of time, the best will, but you should always have a backup and keep the data somewhere safe, otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of ammunition and money when it comes time to shoot!
Phone Vs. Handheld Calculator
With the widespread use of smartphones coming into the scene just as more and more people are hitting targets at range, naturally, people looked to the ever-loved smartphone for help nailing targets.
While an application on your phone can provide basic data to help dial in dope for the shot you’re facing, almost every application on the market is not going to give as in-depth information as a dedicated ballistics computer.
They’ll be much easier to use but are slower to use and can eat up your phone battery quickly but can be excellent for shooting at targets within 1200-ish yards.
The benefits of a ballistics calculator are important for a competitive shooter, you don’t have to use your phone and it’s often faster with deeper features than any app on the market.
They have a very steep learning curve and they go very in depth with high degrees of precision if you know how to use it.
The other major downside to a dedicated handheld calculator is the price…they aren’t cheap!
Kestrel Sportsman Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics
Bottom line: If you have the extra cash and want the hobby of learning to use a ballistics calculator, go for it!
If you’re a recreational shooter who wants a down and dirty solution to save ammunition when you hit the range, get a phone based solution and take good notes!
Best Ballistics Calculator Apps
KAC Bullet Flight
Knights armament is an American institution for the firearms industry. They make some of the finest precision, military grade, rifles and weapons that can be had.
In fact, they were one of the first companies to perfect the AR-10 with their KAC M110 – a rifle that is still in service with the military today.
They made this ballistic calculator app to help you dial in dope and get first round hits. It’s got a stripped-down version but is available in a detailed version, the Bullet Flight M, that is simply an excellent tool.
They factor in a ton of different data points and make it very easy to use the information when the time comes.
This application has the distinction of being one of the most counter-intuitive I’ve used.
The hardest thing to nail down about this application is working through the menus. however, once you get used to it, you can use it quickly – but it isn’t as fast as the other apps and definitely has a learning curve.
The trick to using this calculator is knowing what you need to get out of it and make sure you know what you’re doing when using that data. Trying to use the more advanced ballistic calculators like this one is a recipe for wasting ammo if you’re not used to working with the data.
Nosler pretty much owns the long-distance hunting industry. They were the first company to produce purpose-driven bullets and continue to innovate designs that eventually get copied later on by other companies.
This is their basic ballistic calculator application that does a good idea of getting you on target and helping you sight in your rifle.
It’s available for all smartphones and was intended to work well for their reloading manual as a way to predict trajectory when reloading, it works well for any bullets though.
The nice thing about this calculator is that it gets you on target with the least amount of fuss and confusion. It does an excellent job of just using the data you’re likely to have, and producing data you’re likely to use. It’s excellent for your first time figuring out a rifle, scope, and bullet combination.
This calculator is best for people who want a basic set of features and have access to accurate data about the load they’re shooting.
You can account for any factors other than velocity and ballistic coefficient, but for the majority of shooters and hunter shooting below 700 yards, this is plenty accurate and do a great deal of the work of zeroing for you.
The Applied Ballistics mobile app is certainly my favorite ballistics calculator application for Android and iOS available.
Yes, it’s expensive, costing $30 but in my experience, no other ballistics calculator comes close to the functionality you get with this application.
By far the greatest feature of this calculator is the HUD display, meaning head-up display.
This is just a snapshot of all the information that the calculator displays in an Easy-to-Read format that cuts out everything you don’t need to read when it comes time to make the shot.
This makes it much faster to call Corrections with a spotter because you’re not bogged down with plucking out information from a table. It’s all multicolored and displayed for you in an easy-to-read format.
This feature alone makes it the best in the field, but this calculator is also by far the best designed to be used with a touchscreen. Most of the other calculator suffer from having too many buttons or forcing you to use a scrolling menu to input data into the calculator.
This calculator is much faster simply because it was designed around using a touch screen and not designed around traditional calculators where you press buttons.
It does however suffer and that you can’t use it well with gloves on, even with “touch compatible” gloves. If you need to shoot with gloves on getting convertible gloves that you can still use your trigger finger to work the calculator.
This is one of the original ballistic calculators that was put onto the market for turning your smartphone or iPod touch into a ballistic computer. You can count on this as being one of the most refined, and detailed applications for ballistic calculators out there.
iSnipe generates data for bullet trajectories, based on data calculated for pitch, yaw, the wind, Coriolis effect, spin drift and atmospheric condition.
This is a very advanced calculator and the one I’d recommend for serious shooters and competitors that need a complete data set they can get their hands on.
It has a learning curve and you need to have a requisite level of understanding behind the math before you can quickly use this calculator but you can certainly learn it in an afternoon or two of shooting and read the instructions.
If you’re a nerd, you’ll love this calculator. If all you want is put holes in targets, get one of the simpler options that aren’t as in depth.
Make sure if you plan on using your phone as your calculator you factor in battery life. Especially if you plan on using a cell phone in your car as a GPS, music, or emergency contact device, make sure using your calculator at the range won’t result in you getting lost. Have a charger or extra battery back up at the ready so you don’t get left up a creek.
Consider Going Larger
My favorite way to display ballistics readout is to put the apps onto a tablet and prop it up so I can see and make notes while in the prone position. This is by far the easiest and most comfortable way to log and calculate data on your shots.
Having full color can help you more easily read the screen. Especially is the resolution is low. On almost every application for iPhone and Android, you have full-color options, but most ballistic computers aren’t color.
Waterproof & Ruggedness
Make sure you know your equipment’s limitations. If it’s your phone, get a good case. If you bought a purpose made calculator, it’s probably decently rugged, but you’ll want to baby it a little bit and carry it in a case. As always, ziplock bags are your friends!
Where You Place your Calculator
A pro tip from someone who’s been there, if you have a muzzle brake on your rifle, don’t put your notebook and phone, and calculator up near the barrel of the rifle. You’re putting it in the blast zone!
When you head to the range with hard data about your file set up, good ammunition in your gun, and shiny new targets to lob rounds at, it’s a good day! Having a good dope is a perfect start and a ballistics calculator gives you a head start and ultimately saves time and money- as long as you know how to use them!
There’s a lot of good options on the market but here are the best on the market you can’t go wrong with if you trust them with your next competition.
Do you use a ballistic app? Record your dope on paper or on a tablet? Let us know in the comments!
Team Mathews swept the Men’s Open Pro Division and seized first and second place finishes in the Women’s Open Pro Division at the ASA Pro/Am in Appling, GA this past weekend.
Dan McCarthy took top honors in the Men’s Open Pro Division scoring an impressive 494 with a total of 17 twelve rings for the weekend. Teammates Levi Morgan finished two points behind McCarthy with 492 while Joseph Goza took home third with 488, respectively.
On the women’s side, Kailey Johnston, who claimed first at the last ASA shoot in Paris, TX, continued her hot streak with another first place finish in the Women’s Open Pro Division. Sharon Carpenter finished up in second after Sunday’s shoot down.
“Our team is firing on all cylinders,” stated Mathews Pro Staff Manager Derek Phillips. “It’s really fun and exciting to watch as we close in on the home stretch of this year’s season.”
ASA Pro Division competitors shoot two rounds of twenty targets from unmarked distances. These targets vary in distance up to 50 yards and the five highest scores from the first two rounds qualify for the shoot down to decide the winner.
Follow Team Mathews through the remainder of the 2017 tournament season on Mathews Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Mathews Archery has been committed to elevating the archery experience for over 25 years. All Mathews bows are designed and built in Sparta, Wisconsin, U.S.A. and distributed through independent retailers around the world. Experience the full line of premier target and hunting bows at mathewsinc.com.
[su_heading size=”30″]There’s never been a better time to train new shooters.[/su_heading]
STORY BY ROB REED • PHOTOS BY NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]A[/su_dropcap]s a shooter, there will likely be a time when someone asks, “Can you teach me to shoot?” If you aren’t used to working with new shooters, you might not know the best way to introduce them to the sport. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to provide newbies with a safe, fun and educational range trip.
Once you’ve scheduled the trip, let the new shooter know what to expect. Discuss how to dress for the range, and why they should avoid low-cut tops and open-toed shoes. The “hot brass dance” is never amusing to the one getting burned, and trying to clear trapped brass with a ﬁrearm in hand can be dangerous.
Review the standard safety rules ahead of time so they can process them in a calm, quiet environment. You’ll reinforce the rules later at the range. I prefer the NRA’s “Three Rules of Gun Safety” but “Cooper’s Four Rules” also work.
New shooters will model your behavior, so always set a good example.
Explain the importance of using eye and ear protection at the range, and make sure you have enough of both on hand for everyone. Have the new shooters “double up” hearing protection by wearing foam earplugs underneath ear muﬀs. This will reduce anxiety caused by the noise of shooting.
It’s not enough to recite the rules. You have to go over how they work in context by explaining what a “safe direction” is at the range, how keeping the ﬁnger oﬀ the trigger helps prevent accidental discharges, when the gun should be loaded or unloaded on the line, and why these rules still apply even to “unloaded” guns.
You should also explain that “Cease ﬁre” means “Stop shooting now!” and review other range commands if you’re using a supervised range.
Remember that the students will model their behavior oﬀ of the example you set, so make sure to follow the best safety practices yourself.
WHILE SHOOTING CAN BE a fun social activity, it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you are overseeing too many new shooters. If you are teaching by yourself, try to limit the trip to one or two newbies, if possible. Even then, work with them one-on-one and have the person not shooting observe so they can be better prepared for their turn.
If you have a friend assisting, you should be able to handle additional new shooters if you split them between you. Remember you are there for them, not for your own shooting practice, so focus on giving them the best possible range experience.
Also, whenever possible, split up relationship-paired couples among diﬀerent mentors so each half of the couple focuses on what they are doing instead of trying to “help” the other.
A ﬁrst trip to the range isn’t the same as a full NRA Basic Pistol class. Keep your instruction focused speciﬁcally on what they need to know to safely handle and shoot the ﬁrearm and hit the target. Leave the more technical stuﬀ for later. Draw them a diagram of a sight picture and make sure they understand how the drawing corresponds to the front and rear sights on the ﬁrearm.
Any session at the range should begin and end with a focus on safety.
HAVE THEM PRACTICE HOLDING and dry ﬁring the unloaded gun, and correct any problems with their grip or stance. Enforce the “trigger oﬀ the ﬁnger until the sights are on target” rule with dryﬁre so they’ll get in the habit. Avoid using the term “trigger squeeze” as it can cause new shooters to tighten their entire grip as they ﬁre. Instead, explain that their grip should be ﬁrm and consistent the whole time, and that the trigger should be pulled
straight to the rear in a deliberate, smooth motion.
Since you’ll likely need to recock the ﬁrearm to reset the trigger during dry-ﬁre, make sure they understand that once the gun is loaded it will automatically reload and recock itself when they shoot for real. (This is obviously not the case for manually operated ﬁrearms such as bolt- or lever-action riﬂes).
The best ﬁrearm for new shooters is a .22LR, bar none. Whether it’s a riﬂe or pistol, the low recoil and relatively quiet report of the rimﬁre make it ideal as a ﬁrst-time gun. If you don’t have a .22LR available, go for the lowest recoiling ﬁrearm you do have. For handguns, a full-size gun ﬁring standard-pressure 9mm or .38 Special loads should be easy enough to manage. For riﬂes, a pistolcaliber carbine or a .223 AR are good choices. This goes double for ARs with adjustable stocks that can be resized for smaller statured shooters.
For aerial shotgun shooting use loads appropriate for the sport. If you are shooting stationary targets, use light loads or reduced recoil “tactical” loads. Whatever you do,
avoid the temptation to have a laugh at someone’s expense by giving them “too much gun.” It’s not fair to the new shooter, can turn them oﬀ the sport, and is actually unsafe.
The best targets are those that react to the hits. Nothing is more fun for new shooters than watching their targets explode, fall down, or spin around. Plate racks or portable swinging or spinning targets are good choices. Just make sure to keep to minimum safe distances when shooting steel.
You can also improvise with cans, plastic cups ﬁlled with water, clay birds set up down range, or anything else that is safe and doesn’t violate range rules. Even if you are limited to paper targets, many ranges will still allow you to tape small balloons to the targets or use the brightly colored Shoot-N-C targets.
Ensure that firearms are suitable to the new shooter’s size and age.
Teaching kids to shoot provides challenges and rewards.
TEACHING KIDS TO SHOOT has its own challenges and rewards. Some kids learn best from their parents, while others pay better attention to unrelated adults. If nothing else, a parent should always be present whenever a child is shooting. Make sure the ﬁrearms are suitable for the physical size of the child. I prefer using bolt-action or lever-action riﬂes over semiautos when working with kids so the shooter has to manually work the action to load the next round. Pay particular attention to their energy level, as their attention and safety consciousness can start to slip as they get tired. While it’s important to stay positive with any new shooter, that goes double for kids. Start and end critiques with positive statements and focus on the fun.
Now that you’ve learned some tips on taking new shooters to the range there is no better time to do so than right now. The NRA Mentor Program oﬀers additional resources to help you promote the shooting sports by taking new shooters to the program. Whether you are a NRA member or not, you can help grow our sport by mentoring a new shooter.