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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Another Newbie Comment
    Gregory Morris, 12/14/07 7:48:02 pm
    But hoplophobia is sometimes chronic.

    I took a friend's mother to the range tonight, and it took a little bit of convincing. I'm not one to push guns on people, per se, but I do find necessary to help hoplophobes overcome their fears. So, if I ask "would you like to learn to shoot" and I get the reply "no, I'm not interested", then I leave it at that. When I get the answer "I'm scared of guns", that's when I pounce. I can't help it, just instinct I guess. I can understand people not being interested in guns, but I can't understand irrational fear of them. I certainly can't understand people passing on a free education in gun safety that could save their life some day.

    Anyway... as with every newbie, I start with the safety briefing. I do my best to present it in a non-threatening way. I go over safety, safety, and more safety, then I just glance over everything else, because I pretty much hold their hand through the actual range session.

    At this point, she was still visibly terrified. This is normal, and from my experience it usually goes away after the first round is fired (e.g. "Wow, that isn't scary at all!")

    After going over the safety rules, and meeting with the range officer to go over range rules, we stepped up to our stall. I went over the basic operation of my Bersa .380, emphasizing safe handling and a safe grip. I didn't go into a lot of detail, because beginners don't really need details their first time on the firing line. Next I let her dry-fire it (pointing down range, of course) so she could see what it would feel like to pull the trigger. I knew I was in trouble when she cringed as she pulled the trigger on my unloaded gun (she knew it was unloaded, because I showed her how to tell if it was loaded, and let her verify that it was not loaded.)

    She almost chickened out entirely, but I convinced her to fire one round (after demonstrating with one round myself.) She fired the round at the target (which was 5 yards away) and hit the black. Then she set the gun down (still pointing downrange), stepped behind the yellow line, and refused to touch the gun again.

    That was our trip to the range.

    We did talk for a while after we stepped outside, and I think we agreed that fear of guns really equates to mistrust of oneself. She as much as admitted to not trusting herself with the gun. I respect that, and I would never press the issue with her again.

    Some thoughts: First of all, indoor ranges are too loud and rarely well lit. That might have made a difference, but I doubt it. Irrational fear of guns is often something that can be cured through education and experience. Sometimes, however, it is so deeply ingrained that even after having 100% empirical proof that a firearm itself is not dangerous, the fear remains. What I took away from this experience is that no matter how gentle and re-assuring I am, no matter how safety-oriented I am, no matter how much confidence I have, no matter how good a teacher I am, there are simply some people that are beyond my help.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

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