This is the continuing fictional saga and guest report of a man teaching a woman to shoot.
Our guest writer is reader, Jack Cooper. Take it away, Jack.
Teach me to shoot
by Jack Cooper
This report covers:
- Safety first
- Determine eye dominance
- Sight picture
- Karen’s turn
- The real world
- Marksmanship training
- The word is out
Today Jill starts teaching her friend Karen how to shoot. Karen really wants to learn, but had a bad experience when an uncle tried to teach her. When Jill heard about it, she offered to teach her and Karen jumped at the chance.
The first thing they did was go over the safety rules they had covered the last time in their first session. Karen had gone online and looked at several videos about gun safety and she had some confusion about the rules. “You told me to never point the gun at something I don’t intend shooting, but most of the videos say to always point the gun in a safe direction. Which is right?”
“Well, they both can be, but the rule I taught you encompasses the other one and more. If you always point the gun in a direction you intend to shoot, where would a safe direction be?”
“Well right now I guess the ceiling would be safe, but sometimes my two nieces stay with me and they sleep upstairs, so if they’re here I would have to point the gun in a different direction.”
“Do you see what you are doing? You’re thinking about it. By thinking about it my way — pointing in a direction you intend shooting — you have to think it through every time. The other way — always pointing in a safe direction — can become automatic. You get into a habit and point at the ceiling every time without thinking. When my husband, Jack, was in the Army they taught him to always point his rifle up and downrange. That worked well on the rifle range, but when he walked into a two story building with his rifle everything changed. Then the person responsible for safety had to give the men a lot of special orders. If they had used the rule of always pointing in the direction they intended shooting and held each shooter accountable, each shooter would have been responsible to determine where that was.”
“So, you’re saying that each shooter is responsible for their own safety?”
“And for the safety of those around them.”
“Wow, they never touched on that in the videos I watched.”
“Jack says they don’t know how to. I think he’s right. Let’s set up the range and start shooting.”
The ladies set the BB trap with a plywood board behind it to stop any stray BBs. When Karen saw how close they would be shooting she didn’t think there would be any strays, but Jill told her there can always be accidents.
At this point Jill explained the Daisy 499 to Karen. She told her what all the parts were called and what they did. Then she showed Karen how to cock and load the BB gun.
Determine eye dominance
Jill had Karen hold a small paper plate at arm’s length. There was a hole in the center of the plate and Jill, who stood 10 feet away, told Karen to look at Jill’s nose through the hole. Then she had Karen pull the plate back to her own face and when she did she was looking through the hole in the plate with her right eye. That means she is right-eye dominant. Since she’s also right-handed, that will be her sighting eye.
Jill pointed out the 499’s rear sight and the front sight aperture. She told her she should look through the peep hole and point the gun at the target until the black bullseye was centered inside the front aperture. Then squeeze the trigger until the gun fired.
Move the BB gun until the black bullseye is in the center of the front sight aperture.
Jill then showed Karen how to stand when she shot. She told her how important it was not to move her feet after she knew she was lined up with the target.
Then Jill shot five shots at the target to show Karen how it was done. When she finished she put the safety on and set the gun down, and both ladies examined the target. Five BBs were all in the 9 and 10 ring, in a group that could be covered by a nickel.
Now it was Karen’s turn. She cocked and loaded the gun, then lifted it to her shoulder and took the safety off. She pointed the gun at the target but stood there for about 10 seconds without shooting. Jill finally told her to cease fire, put the safety on and lower the gun.
“Why didn’t you shoot?” she asked.
“The front sight wouldn’t hold still! It keeps moving around and I wasn’t ever able to get the bull to stand still in the middle of the front sight.”
“Welcome to the real world. This is why shooting is something you have to learn. The front sight never stays still when you shoot standing up, but I have a trick to make it move less.”
First, let’s get rid of that shot that’s in the gun. Shoot it at the target without worrying where it hits.”
Karen did, then Jill had her put the safety on, lower the gun and get in shooting position once again. She showed her that her feet could be locked in place to steady her upper body. By turning in the toes of either foot she could make small changes in the direction she was pointing.
“Get in position again, but don’t raise the gun. Now, close your eyes and raise the gun, pointing it ahead comfortably. Now open your eyes.”
“I’m pointing off to the right too far!”
“Okay, turn the toe of your right foot to the left. Now, close your eyes and do it all again.”
“I’m much closer this time.”
Adjust your the toe of your right foot some more to the left. Or, if that leg is too tight, adjust your left toe to the left” Then Karen went through all of it again.
“That’s better. Now I’m pointing straight at the target!”
“Now, without moving your feet, cock the gun, load a BB, then raise the gun take it off safe and shoot.”
She did and this time she shot. “I don’t see where I hit.”
“Let’s not worry about that for now. Cock and load the gun again and shoot another shot.”
Karen did this four more times and then she put the gun on safe, laid it down and went forward with Jill to examine her target. Four of the five BBs were in the black, with one just outside at the bottom. She was amazed.
“I never thought I could shoot so well! That standing trick with the feet was just what I needed. It’s so easy when you know how!”
For the rest of the session Jill coached Karen and when she left, she left Karen the BB gun and all the equipment so she could practice. They scheduled their next session and Jill left Karen to practice on her own.
The real world
As you know, BB has been training some Royal Rangers boys and Girls Ministries girls at his church on gun safety and marksmanship. Some of what you just read, including the remark about the front sight not staying still, was heard in those sessions.
Pyramyd Air donated much of the equipment we used for the training. They would have donated a 499 but they were out when BB asked, so BB went online and bought one through eBay. That way with my own gun I had two shooters on the firing line at the same time.
Here are some pictures of what has transpired over the past six weeks. Safety was first.
The first three weeks were on gun safety. Here I point straight up, which is The Sign. Everyone has to be quiet when the sign is up!
It’s been a few decades since I taught junior marksmen. I had forgotten quite a bit. But it all comes rushing back when you do it.
Some of my students were smaller than the average bear. This guy in the yellow shirt turned 6 as were were shooting.
When we shot I started them shooting offhand at 5 meters. That was a mistake. Two things made it so. First, they are used to video games and they don’t understand why they have to hold something still. Second, these children are Never still!
Learned my lesson in week one on the line. After that they shot off sandbags. Don’t gotta teach old BB the same thing twice!
This girl tries it offhand.
When we moved to the bag rest the gun stopped moving around so erratically. But the kids still couldn’t find the joystick — ha, ha!
One problem I had was eye dominance. Many of the smaller kids were so unfamiliar with the gun that they kept switching eyes as they shot. At first I tried to control them, but as it progressed I figured it was best for them to find the most comfortable way to hold the gun.
Two of the kids that shot were just too small to hold the gun properly. I even cut off part of the stock of one gun to make it fit the smaller ones, but even that wasn’t enough. Sadly, we had to stop and they will have to try it again next year.
The word is out
Word got out about the shooting and now I hear rumblings that the teenagers want to do it. We shall see. Hopefully they don’t move around as much!