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Competition Teach me to shoot: Part 16

Teach me to shoot: Part 16

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15

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
  • Familiarization
  • Determine eye dominance
  • Sight picture
  • Stance
  • 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.

Jill arrived at Karen’s apartment with a Daisy 499, targets, some Daisy Avanti Match Precision Ground Shot, safety glasses and a BB trap. Then the lesson began.

Safety first

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.

Sight picture

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.

499 sight picture
Move the BB gun until the black bullseye is in the center of the front sight aperture.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear


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.

Karen’s turn

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.

Royale Rangers class
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.

Royal Ranger small
Some of my students were smaller than the average bear. This guy in the yellow shirt turned 6 as were were shooting.

Marksmanship training

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!

Royal Rangers offhand
This girl tries it offhand.

Royal Rangers bag rest
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!

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

25 thoughts on “Teach me to shoot: Part 16”

  1. B.B.

    Good for you! However, I think you should have a minimum age or height like the rollercoasters do.
    Let 6 year olds practice shooting with a pointer finger and lots of jumping around…
    How many of the kids had cell phones?


        • My 12 year old grandson was lucky to get through a shot count test with a Maximus. He grasps the basics of shooting and can be quite competitive with me when shooting at plinking targets as he wishes to outshoot me, but because of his short attention span I have difficulty getting through to him the finer points of shooting. Like so many today, because of the various games he is already an expert. What does an old fogey like me know?

          • RidgeRunner,

            Set up a simple survival drill! Most of today’s kids can’t save themselves from a wet paper bag.
            Worked with my son and daughter…my son is working on the grandsons drills already.


  2. Some kids are hopeless. After telling my friends stepson to never point an airgun rifle at anyone and having to tell him again, five times in five minutes we gave up. I think he was 13. He was so excited he totally failed to pay attention.
    When I was his age I was smoking, attending high school, riding public busses in Brooklyn to get there and riding the subway in NYC every day after school at a job delivering packages in Manhattan NY.
    I was dumbfounded with this kid and figured he must suffer from ADD.

  3. Congratulations B.B. on your survival! Seriously, I commend you for introducing the kids to shooting safety and etiquette. Well done!
    My young son, to my consternation, is not enthused with shooting. He also has trouble holding the rifle and sighting. I’m going to back off and try again when he gets a bit bigger. It’s always harder for parents, it seems.

  4. As responsible shooters there isn’t anything more important we can do than teaching gun safety and the skills to shoot well.

    I’ve done it at my place in the mountains many times with kids of all ages. Three was the most at one time. Can’t imagine a whole classroom full of fidgety midgets. My setting allows reactive targets. Balloons, ice cubes, shoot-n-c targets, dum dum suckers, etc. keep their attention much longer and have helped me immensely. Short attention spans.

    This Country’s long tradition of passing down gun safety and the ability to shoot well is dwindling. It’s up to us to keep this sport/skill alive.

    Well done B.B.

  5. BB,

    Glad to see you went to the rest for the kids. Heck,… as an experienced shooter myself,…. I get quickly discouraged with my off hand skills. My fault no doubt from lack of practicing. That should build their confidence much quicker.

    From your picture with the little gal there,…. I can easily see wall hits happening and bb’s bouncing back off the 2×4 shelving.


    • Chris,

      There were three wall hits that I know of. When I allowed a man (the one in the second picture) to help his other son shoot because he was too young for Royal Rangers. The father never watched the angle of the barrel and all the boys shots hit high. I watched the barrel for every kid I coached and they at least hit the target paper.


  6. B.B.,

    Don’t beat yourself up too much Tom!
    You needed a few qualified (trained by you) assistants.
    “The real world …these children are Never still!”
    Most of them will (can) never be Marksman! Standard Distribution applies here too.

    “If I was teaching them to be marksmen that would be the progression.”
    Glad you realize that. So what should be the progression of the shooting part?
    Think auto bb gun.
    Many of them already think they are experts with a virtual Autoblaster! Show them how far from true that is! Get PA and SIG involved. Use an AUTO bb gun the next time PROVE that they need some training! Use bigger targets. Teach them that short bursts get more hits on target than “Spray and Pray” style shooting.

    “But this was a merit badge and they are off to another activity.”
    Was the Merit Badge for Gun Safety? Or perhaps a minimum of SAFE gun handling…I believe you succeed with that! You didn’t report having anyone shoot their eye out!
    “Lots of cell phones and tablets.”
    You need a rule! No cell phone, tablet, etc
    Water bottle with water only…avoids the i’m thirsty issue and keeps their hands and mouths occupied for at least some of the time!

    “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!”
    This is a group you might be able to do some very valuable work with.. As BobM so aptly pointed out recent generations of kids typically mature much, much later than the post WWII, Korean, Vietnam, and Cold War generations. I place the blame squarely at the feet of Educationists, Social Services/Child Protection and the Parents who buy into the No Rules/Limits school of raising children.

    End of RANT

    BLESS you!
    You will find a path with this!
    Don’t forget to ask for God’s help in your work.


    Sadly, we had to stop and they will have to try it again next year.

    • Shootski kinda cut off my rant at the pass, which is a good thing…that spares you all from an FM Rant along the same lines. Did not get any complaints about “mansplaining” the first time dad FM took his daughter to the firearm range. The first two rules discussed: 1) “Do not point any gun at anything you do not intend to shoot;” 2) “Always assume the gun is loaded and ready to fire.”

  7. BB
    You know what helped (ME) alot teaching my daughters to shoot. Notice I emphasize (ME).

    My iPhone scope cam adapter. (WE) could all see what was happening when one of us was shooting. Plus we could record if we wanted to.

    My daughters where more excited to watch to see the person shooting than to see what they did when they was shooting.

    Plus we could play back thier shots on our big screen smart TV. It was actually I’m going to have to say more fun to watch and discuss our shots on the tv than shooting.

    You know what happened as we did. They tried real hard to make sure they shot good when it was thier time up. Why because it was thier bragging rights time. And we didn’t put each others down when we messed up. We focused on helping each other improve.

    And ok. Here I go. I didn’t choose Gunfun1 for no reason. You got to make it fun for the kids in a way they can relate. It’s just the way it is.

  8. B.B. I remember you describing this foot position technique when describing proper target pistol shooting stance. I didn’t realize it would apply to rifle as well. Is this how most competition shooters build their stance? What advice would you give to training for more practical rifle marksmanship, like for hunting?

    • Roamin,

      Yes, rifle shooters use the feet, too. But they also have leather shooting jackets, shoes, gloves and leather pants that help them stand still.

      The hunter needs to find the best supported position he can. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lie down.


  9. BB and all,
    do I really want a BSA Model D? In .177? Here it is:


    To be honest I like it a lot. The character. The pellet tap. The pellet “clipping”. The pistol grip.
    A 1/2way decent peep on it would be amazing. Look at the potential sight “radius” ( I really don’t understand that radius bit…)
    If it sells for $300 … I will be a bit put out! Will watch to the bitter end. It is truly cool. Imagine FT with this beast. and a $1000 scope…. he he he.

    And I hear they are accurate! Which is what we like. : – ) Robert.

    PS Hank, I could not reply to your reply. but that TX MK III looks even heavier than stock. with that stock. If you see what I mean. No to FT? but then what?

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