Over the years, I’ve had several men ask how they can get their wives or girlfriends into shooting. Some just want their lady to share in their favorite hobby, and others would like her to start carrying concealed for protection. Whatever the reason, they haven’t been successful in getting her interested and are looking for advice.
I usually give a brief version of the article below, but I always begin by cautioning them against forcing the subject. If she’s not interested and you push too hard, you might lose the chance forever. However, if you back off the pressure, she might come around and, in that case, let’s take a look at what you should and shouldn’t do.
Prepare at Home
Shooting ranges can feel shockingly loud and overstimulating for newbies. If your wife has never shot a gun, she might feel scared, overwhelmed, or intimidated. Don’t discount these feelings. Take time to prepare her and manage expectations first.
Before my first range trip, my husband taught me the four basic rules of firearm safety. Next, he showed me how to handle and disassemble our pistol. Learning how everything works made me feel less anxious and more empowered. Finally, we worked on dry fire so I could learn how to grip and feel the trigger.
My husband listened to my concerns and addressed them, knowing that our home was a safe, quiet place where I could learn without distraction. Looking back, this was more important than I realized at the time. I was still nervous at the range but didn’t feel blindsided.
Make a Good First Impression
No pressure, but if you don’t make her first experience a good one, you’ll probably never get her back to the range. Don’t worry. If you make the right moves, you can set her up for success, and I’d bet a box of ammo she’ll love it. There are several factors to consider, which I’ll discuss below, but you need to prioritize like you’re trying to secure a second date.
The more you can make your wife or girlfriend feel safe and comfortable, the more likely she will enjoy herself and want to shoot again. So, what’s the most common reason women hate their first experience shooting? It’s because of a poor choice of gun, which brings me to my next point.
Pick the Right Firearm
We’ve all seen women shooting a pistol they aren’t experienced enough to handle. Usually, there’s a man behind her laughing. If you’re tempted to hand her your subcompact .45 ACP on her first range trip, don’t. It’s not funny and will likely turn her off from shooting.
If you don’t have a gun that’s good for a beginner, go to a range where you can rent a few options. Of course, the choice depends on her hand size and strength, but I have found the Glock 19 to be a solid pistol to learn on because it’s large enough to reduce some recoil but not too big for most people to grip.
Go Slow and Have Patience
Your lady might love shooting after her first couple of shots or need more time to get into it. Either way, start slow with the first range trip. Use large targets at short distances so her shots hit and she feels accomplished. Focus on the basics, and don’t let your experience blind you when explaining grip, stance, trigger pull, sight alignment, etc.
There will likely be a lot of opportunities for correction during this first time. Do so gently and with patience. Remember, you weren’t great at shooting your first time either, no matter how much you want to romanticize it all these years later. You will win some serious brownie points with your wife or girlfriend if you can be proud of her for trying.
Remember, You’re Not an Instructor
Outside of that first introduction to guns, I don’t recommend you try and teach your wife or girlfriend. As someone who’s been with their significant other for 23 years, it never gets easier to take criticism from your person, even when you know it’s coming from a place of wanting to help.
I say this as someone who was initially taught by her husband. It worked for us because my husband is exceedingly patient and knows how to deliver feedback in a way that won’t make me want to punch him in the face. But I’ve talked to many women who never went back to the range because their man blew it.
If she’s ready to continue her shooting journey, it’s time for professional instruction. Set her up with a female-friendly class. Encourage her to join a local chapter of The Well-Armed Woman. Help her get plugged into the gun community to explore ways to improve and grow.
Yes, shooting is a serious activity, and safety shouldn’t be taken lightly. But it’s ok to make it fun. Consider setting up a date night at the range. Inviting another couple, especially if they’re already comfortable with guns, is an excellent way to make it more appealing.
And hey, I’m not one to give marriage advice, but if you want her to participate in your hobbies, you probably should stop complaining when she asks you to watch another Hallmark Christmas movie. Go to Hobby Lobby with a smile on your face, and she’ll remember!
Let Her Choose Her Gun
If you did everything right and your wife or girlfriend wants to continue shooting, it’s time for her to get her own gun. I cannot stress this enough – the choice needs to be hers alone.
I get it. You’re cringing, thinking about the tiny pink pistol you imagine she’ll pick out. And for good reason, because it’s probably the wrong choice. Here’s where you need to guide, but not force, her into a better option.
As experienced shooters, we know that smaller guns are usually harder to shoot, but that’s not what a newbie would assume. Plus, honestly, women like small, cute things. We can’t help it. It’s better to let her feel the difference by shooting different pistol sizes.
Make a list of pistols you think would suit her and rent them so she can shoot them. Let her see what she likes best and narrow it down. Encourage her to take her time with the decision. At the end of the day, if she’s set on buying the tiny pink pistol, you should accept it.
If you’re lucky, your wife or girlfriend might enjoy shooting as much as you do, maybe even more. I love seeing couples at the range. I encourage you to let her grow into her experience independently. My husband and I both love shooting, and it’s become a shared hobby that’s brought us closer together. But we also do our own thing, and that’s important.