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Teach me to shoot: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot. Today Jill moves to firearms!

Our guest writer is reader, Jack Cooper. Take it away, Jack.

Teach me to shoot

by Jack Cooper

This report covers:

  • The range
  • Start shooting
  • .22 Magnum
  • .32 revolver
  • .32 H&R Magnum
  • Boyfriend

The range

This is the first day Jill will shoot a firearm with me teaching her. Her last experience was in college, when a boyfriend had her shoot a .357 Magnum revolver as her first firearm. I would never do that. In fact if it was up to me, she would never get to shoot a .357 Magnum revolver at any time. She isn’t up to it — any more than many men I know. A .357 recoils so heavily that most casual shooters are unprepared for it.

I asked you readers to guess what gun I would start her with, but I didn’t see any responses. I started her with a Ruger Single Six that not only shoots .22 rimfire ammo — it also has the plow handle grip of a single action that I wanted her to get used to.

She started to take the target stance I’d taught her, but for today’s shooting I showed her a different stance. I had her try a version of the modified isosceles two-handed stance. Her feet were stable, with the right foot behind the left by 12 inches. She is right-handed. She leaned forward slightly so her shoulders were just ahead of her knees. Her knees were slightly bent.

With the single action, she held the revolver in her right grip and wrapped the front of the right hand with her left hand. She pushed forward with her right hand until the arm was straight. The left arm was still bent and pulling back, holding the right hand steady. Her hands raised up until her eyes were in line with the sights. Her head was upright and not bent forward.

Start shooting

She started shooting with standard-speed .22 long rifle rounds. We were on a 15-yard range and shooting at a larger bull than we had with air pistols. She was right on target and shot 12 rounds into a nice 2-inch group that was well-centered just below the inner 10-ring. Even she knew this was good, and I praised her for it. Many men I know cannot shoot a group that small from 45 feet.

I then shot at a different target and showed her that my groups wasn’t much smaller. Then we stopped and I asked her what she thought so far. She said there was definitely more recoil with the firearm than the air pistols had, but it wasn’t that bad. She enjoyed the shooting so far.

Next I had her load some high speed .22 rounds and repeat the experience. She shot another 12 shots at her first target and got a group that wasn’t much larger than her first. But she noticed the small increase in recoil. And that was what I was after!

.22 Magnum

The Single Six Ruger has a second cylinder that holds .22 Magnum rounds, and I made the switch at this point. Then Jill shot another 12 rounds at a new target. These went into less than an inch — teaching her a couple things. First, that different ammo shoots better or worse in the same gun. She said she never thought of that. Second, the .22 magnum round recoiled more than the long rifle. She knew I was getting her used to the recoil, and she appreciated the slow workup.

The third thing she learned was profound! She said, “Now I understand why you started me shooting one-handed. I learned to triangulate my whole body to get it stable. This two-hand stance is even more stable, but it’s entirely different. What you have shown me is there is a proper way to do everything, and it’s the way that works the best every time.”

I told her that was exactly right. She might never shoot a handgun one-handed again, but now she knew there was a way to do it properly.

.32 revolver

Next I handed Jill a Ruger Single Seven, chambered for .327 Federal Magnum rounds. This is a serious cartridge that will actually out-penetrate a .357 Magnum round when shooting at steel plate. Don’t ask how I know (shot a dumpster with both rounds). But the beauty of this gun is that it also accepts .32 H&R Magnum rounds, .32 S&W Long rounds and an obsolete round called the .32 S&W Short! I don’t have any of the .32 S&W Shorts, but I have the Longs and I loaded them mild for Jill.

After the first 6 shots she set the gun down on the table and then kissed me! She said, “I knew there was something better than what that jerk had given me! Boy, am I glad I asked you to teach me! This is exactly what I wanted. I can tell this round is a little more powerful and I see the cartridges are larger, but the recoil is less than the .22 Magnum. Jack, you’re a genius!”

Actually, the .22 Magnum is more powerful than the .32 S&W Long on paper, at least the way I had loaded it, but the .32 S&W Long is a larger centerfire cartridge. Next I gave her some rounds I had loaded hotter. These were standard .32 S&W Longs on the hot end. She fired them and said there was no increase in recoil. That was what I was after.

.32 H&R Magnum

Her group with these hotter rounds was about a half-inch between centers at 15 yards. It was the smallest group she had shot to date. I praised her for it and could see she knew she was doing very good. Now it was time for the .32 H&R Magnums.

She loaded the rounds and asked me how much more recoil there would be. This time I think she was scared because of the word Magnum in the cartridge title. I told her I didn’t know how to describe the recoil of this round. It would be greater, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much as she feared. She was in for a pleasant surprise.

She said that was good enough for her and got into position to shoot. Then she shot all the rounds through the 10-ring in a cluster than measured less than an inch on the outside! When the last round fired, she held on the target for a few moments and then set the gun down. I thought I was going to get another kiss, but when she turned to me I saw tears coming down her face.

“That was exactly what you said it would be, Jack! And look where they all went. I guess I’m now a SHOOTER!” She sat behind the shooting table and talked about the experience for several minutes. She said the recoil wasn’t half as much as she expected. It was more than the .32 S&W Long, but it was just a bigger push, instead of the sharp sting she anticipated.

I explained that the shape of the single action grip made a lot of the difference. The grip rotates in the hand, absorbing some of the recoil. And the .32 H&R Magnum has an 85-grain bullet. It may leave the muzzle at 1,255 f.p.s., but it’s about half the weight of a .357 Magnum bullet, And in guns, the bullet’s weight is where a lot of the recoil comes from.

After a few minutes, she put up some fresh targets and shot up the remainder of the ammo I had brought. In all she shot 35 rounds of .32 H&R Magnum, plus all the other ammo. We spent three hours at the range.

On the way home we stopped at the gun store and she bought me two more boxes of .32 H&R. I told her that was the round I was recommending for her carry gun. Of course it wouldn’t be a large single action like the Ruger. We would look at some snub-nosed revolvers that would fit her purse better.


When we got back to her building she introduced me to the security guy, “Jerry, This is my boyfriend, Jack Cooper. He’s going to be coming here a lot and I want to get him into your system.” They took my picture and asked me for my address and phone number, then I got an ID card for my wallet.

On the way up in the elevator I turned to her and said, “Boyfriend?”

She answered, “For now” and just smiled.

Next time I’ll tell you about her defense gun and also about the concealed carry class she took to get her carry permit.

24 thoughts on “Teach me to shoot: Part 6”

  1. After the first 6 shots she set the gun down on the table and then kissed me! ” Yuck ! that is as bad as the Gene Autry Movies when he stopped shooting the bad guys and kissed the girl. My friends and I used to go to the snack bar and buy more popcorn and hang out until we could hear the shooting start again 🙂 ” Seriously , great story BB I could never shoot my Ruger Single Six near that well.
    Best wishes

    • B.B.

      I really am humbled by your extreme courage & strong will. Lesser mortals will be totally immobilised with such a serious problem. Thanks so much for your dedication but PLEASE don’t push yourself Sir till you fully recover. Get well soon & God bless you!


  2. B.B.,

    Part 6 published and no need to use ALL CAPS. It looks like you’re doing better and that’s great news.

    Your medical situation made me wonder about shooting opposite of what I am used to. In other words, I’m right-handed and right-eye dominant. I’ve never tried shooting in a left-handed position using my left eye. Have you experimented with that in the past?

      • BB
        I was wondering if you could shoot with the opposite hand.

        I have tryed. It’s very uncomfortable for me. But if I had to I guess I would adapt.

        And when you say you can shoot with the other hand. Is that pistols or rifles, or both?

        • GF1,


          Yes, it is not familiar, but you adapt. You can do it if you try.

          This past week I worked on th4e set of American Airgunner with a man you had both legs amputated at the knee and no left arm. He was also missing fingers on his right hand. Know his job? He was a general hand on the set and he handled more stuff than I could and moved faster than I ever could.

          He is a reminder to me that all things are possible.


          • BB
            Yes, ain’t it amazing what can be done if you get yourself in the right frame of mind.

            If a person goes around saying that they can’t do something they probably never will. And then with the right frame of mind you can accomplish pretty much what ever you want.

            My mom lost both of her legs below the knees do to diabetes when she was around 60 years old. She was a very active person and was always out helping older people with housework or yard work or whatever they may need done.

            When she lost her legs she didn’t crawl in a hole and stop. She went absalutly the other way. She learned to walk again. She wasn’t as active as before but she still was able to keep going on her own. And my dad had passed away a few years before. So she had some things going on that if it would of been me in that position I don’t know if I would of went about as good as she did.

            But it’s all in the mind. It’s how bad you want something that will determine where you go.

  3. B.B.
    I love this “saga”. I was at the same level of skill with a handgun. I have focused very hard on the info available to build skills. I used to think handgun shooting was a waste of time for me. With a solid foundation I can keep getting better. I have made an indoor range and bought a Beeman P17 completely on the authority of this blog. I work at it everyday now. I just wanted to thank you. Keep fighting the good fight!

  4. It will be interesting to hear about Jill’s conceal carry class.

    I wonder if the classes in all states go by a predetermined guideline for the classes or if they vary by state.

    Either way it will be interesting to see how Jill’s experience went.

    And I do hope Jack gets her out plinking some cans with the air guns. Like to see what she thinks is more fun. Paper targets or knock’n cans around.

  5. Is your single six a full size frame or more like a bearcat? My dad’s got a bearcat that he’s had over 30 yrs and once had a boxed full size single that came with extra cylinder

  6. B.B.
    Great story! I have taught some women to shoot; at first, they “think” they are going to like shooting my S&W 317 in .22LR, because “it’s just so light!” But once they see that it’s hard to exert a few pounds of trigger pull against a gun that weighs less than a pound (without having the gun move off-target, that is), then they come to love my Ruger SIngle Six in .22 Magnum (5-1/2″ & balances great). With its single action light trigger pull, excellent balance, and minimal recoil, it scores well with new shooters, especially women.
    Keep up the great work!
    take care & God bless,

  7. I totally agree with the single six. One round only. Once it is shot you are safe. No long trigger pull. Nice sights. Small recoil that rolls in the hand. I love my single ten and have taught many people how to shoot using it as a starting point. For those that are gun shy I start with my crosman 2300T in the basement.
    PS my wife owns and shoots a 4inch model 66 S+W. She picked it out as her first home defense gun years ago. Started her with mild handloaded wadcutters and worked her up to full bore magnums. She is not very big but has a very strong temperament. My friends don’t like me to bring her with shooting because she outshoots them. LOL

  8. I tried to post this a couple days ago, but I must have screwed something up. Here goes again.

    I recently purchased a used Diana Model 6. Pretty cool to pull the trigger on a spring piston air gun and it doesn’t move.

    It’s in like-new condition which always makes me wonder how that happened? I have a theory that some guns have an inherent problem that compromises their utility and the owner just puts them away and years later they’re still in great shape, but they have a problem. This might be one of those examples.

    With the rear sight centered (there are marks on it indicating where center is) it shoots about 1 1/2″ to 2″ to the left at 20′. Even in my wobbly hands it produces about a 1″ group.

    If I move the rear sight all the way to the extreme right of the range of adjustment, the POI is ALMOST centered on the target. The sight doesn’t look bent. The barrel looks straight. The barrel hinge point is tight. The front sight MIGHT be rotated slightly off to the left, but it slides onto some longitudinal dovetail grooves on the barrel and then clamps in place with a pinch bolt. The only way it’s location could be off would be if way back in November, 1970, the factory mis-machined the dovetail grooves.

    Any theories on way it might be doing this? Suggestions on how to fix it?

    Thanks, all!

    St. Louis, MO

    • Motorman,

      Your earlier comment was also posted. I didn’t respond because I couldn’t see.

      The rear sight may be bent to one side. Look down from the top.

      The notch may not be centered. Does it move, too? I’m talking about a plate held by two screws.

      Or the barrel is simply out of alignment with the outer plastic shroud. Can it be repositioned?

      That’s all I can think of.


  9. Oh no. This series is uncanny. After my Dad began missing regularly with the 1911, I decided to back up to smaller cartridges. My choice was a Ruger Single Six in rimfire with the different cylinders. Trouble was, he did worse than the 1911. He didn’t hit anything although he claimed to like the magnum cylinder for the “balance” and “solidity.” I still haven’t figured that out except that in his case, probably more than most, shooting is in the mind.

    Also, I have an object lesson on why a beginner should not use a .357 magnum. I have a friend whose wife accompanied him to shoot guns for the first time. The friend had shot once or twice before, but the authority was some older relative who owned the guns. When the wife picked up the .357, she supported the barrel with her offhand just like a rifle. That was actually reasonable from her point of view. What I don’t understand is how the others let that happen. I don’t believe she would have fired the gun without them knowing. Anyway, the outcome was what you would expect. She burned a hole clear through her hand. They had to drive to a hospital some distance away and what that experience was like I cannot imagine. However, she regained the full use of the hand and, being a jolly and resilient person, doesn’t seem bothered by the experience. But she has no fondness for guns. Where is Jack Cooper when you need him.

    Boyfriend, eh? Why am I not surprised. But I think the series misses a key step which is how you get a girl out to the gun range in the first place. Once there, with careful control of the weapons and the course of shooting, the odds are that you will prevail. But how do you get her there in the first place? Most of the women I know who I might like to take to the range would look at me with horror if I asked. There was one I actually did invite and that was the last I ever heard of her, although that may have been for other reasons.

    But take care, Jack. You have initiated a dangerous logic. What happens when a better shot with a more expensive gun comes along! Her own emotional logic suggests that she jump ship. Let’s hope she remembers Jack’s great generosity but I wouldn’t count on it. As it says in the beginning of Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s Conan the Barbarian films: “Trust no one, my son, but your steel sword.”


    • So what you are suggesting Matt61 is that “size matters? Let’s hope the size we are talking about is intelligence, charm, and character, not ego and nether region parts {:-)

    • BB
      50 years ago my girl friend and i would go shooting in a quarry with a Webley Mark VI converted to 45 acp. Yea, she could shoot better than me. Once took her to Class III dealer’s range and shot submachineguns.

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