How do you introduce someone to a new skill, activity or sport? The preferred method would be to do it slowly, methodically and with an end goal in mind.
For instance, when teaching someone to drive a car, you don’t give the first lesson on the highway. Teaching shooting skills should not be any different.
First Shots is a marketing tool for ranges to help increase the number of new participants through the doors. However, it is much more than that.
The program is designed to help ranges build community awareness and showcase how safe and responsible firearms and owners can be. It is the goal of the First Shots program to promote firearm safety, education and responsibility in a safe, controlled and fun environment.
The first step is to talk about firearm safety and the importance of following the fundamental rules of gun safety: 1. Treat all firearms as if they were loaded; 2. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy; 3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot; 4. Know your target and what lies beyond it; 5. When they are not in use, keep all firearms unloaded, locked and stored away from children and prohibited adults.
Next, cover the basics of the firearms you will be using. That includes nomenclature, loading and unloading basics and how they work. Finally, cover the basic fundamentals of shooting: sight alignment, sight picture, grip and stance.
When the time comes to actually have the participant take that first shot, that person is not nearly as afraid as he or she would be if you walked them into a range, handed them a loaded firearm and said, “Have at it.”
After the participant has taken their first shots and you have invited them back for more shooting instruction and to work or fundamentals, what do you do with them?
Here enters First Shots Second Round. This program is about helping the beginner tackle new challenges. In this instance, that challenge is the NSSF Rimfire Challenge.
Some consider this–formerly managed as the Ruger Rimfire Challenge–to be an introduction to competitive shooting. The NSSF Rimfire Challenge is a family-friendly event using both rifles and pistols. Competitors shoot steel, non-reactive targets in a specific order based on the event “course of fire.”
Although, this is a competition, the focus is on having fun and working on fundamentals. Local matches are held at some clubs monthly, and sanctioned matches are held across the country. If there is a prize table, who goes to the table is based on a random draw as opposed to score placement. Everyone has an opportunity to win a prize.
Hosting a First Shots Second Round Rimfire event is a great way to introduce beginners to this sport. This is particularly good if you have a Rimfire Challenge match coming up. A Second Round event helps the newbie become familiar with the procedures and how things work. This takes away a lot of the anxiety of showing up and shooting a match for the first time. Plus the participant will have a few friendly faces to look to for guidance.
You can charge a small fee to cover your cost for ammunition and instructor time, or arrange fee. Don’t charge too much, but enough for the shooter to feel they will get some value out of the experience.
First, set up a course of fire. You can use the same stage for both rifle and pistol or change if you wish.
As with First Shots you start by explaining the fundamentals of the game: rules, equipment, course of fire and how to play. Explain the basic shooting principals and how to transition from target to target.
Let each participant run through the course of fire untimed as many times as you think necessary for him or her to be comfortable with the event. Next run through the stage utilizing the timer. Explain that it is not about shooting fast as much as it is about remembering fundamentals and being safe; with time and practice, speed will come.
This part is very important: invite them back to shoot your NSSF Rimfire Challenge match.
For more information on First Shots, First Shots Second Round or the NSSF Rimfire Challenge, please click on the links below.