OK, it isn't so much a Stupid Shooter story. But I needed a catchy title. So... Six over at his blog The Warrior Class, has lately been talking about introducing noobs to shooting. Since I'm all politicked out lately, I figured I'd add a tale to the topic.
Back in college I had a friend/roommate. He was a good guy, but a bit of a clown. Think: A Jim Carrey movie character. His dad had died when he was quite young, and he grew up a bit of a momma's boy in a wealthy Seattle suburb. He had never even *touched* a gun prior.
We drove up in the woods to a clearing outside an abandoned mine. I brought my Ruger Mk I, a Browning BL-22 lever-action, a Ruger .44 Carbine (old model w/ tubular magazine) and the Super Blackhawk. (Yeah, I like Rugers). First off, the usual rules about safe gunhandling, etc. He was actually serious and attentive for a change, which was good, since we were about 2 hours away from the nearest thing that would pass for "civilization." Then I turned him loose with the BL-22. Crack! "Whoo! Teehee!" Crack! "Dude!" Pine cones and such began to be struck with regularity.
Then the Mk I. Similar results. Then the .44 Carbine. I give him the obligatory "Keep in mind that a .44 is a LOT more than just twice a .22, OK?" BOOM! "Holy s**t! This is awesome!" (I can't believe that Ruger keeps discontinuing their .44 Carbines. They rule.) He was having a ball, and turned a lot of my .44 Mag ammo into empty brass. Had to slow him down before we ran out, because he hadn't shot the Super Blackhawk. Yet.
I shot a cylinder-full first so he could experience vicariously the noise and recoil. These were pretty hot loads my dad had cooked up on his old Rockchucker and the effects were, umm, "noticeable." Especially that stupid sharp thingy on the trigger guard that was already leaving a mark on my middle finger. I showed my friend the old cowboy "load one, skip one, load the other 4" thing even though the Ruger didn't really need that precaution. I just wanted to see what would happen when he clicked on an empty chamber. He took aim at on old surveyor's stake that was just laying there. BLAM! Nothing. The stake was untouched. No flying dirt or anything. Then - after a delay that seemed like forever - a distant tree limb creaked and groaned and fell to the ground. "Maybe I aimed a little too high?" "Yup." The next several shots were much more on-target. Then he clicked on the empty chamber and barely flinched. I was like a proud papa!
We burned through a bunch more .22 and called it a day. Over the next couple weeks, he went out and bought a Ruger Mk II (fancy-schmancy bull-barrel adjustable sight model that made my fixed sight, tapered-barrel Mk I look rather gimpy) a nine (don't remember for sure, I think a CZ-75 or similar) and used but still really high-end .22 rifle. I think it was an Anschutz. He even joined, and then became president, of the OSU Pistol Club.
The next time we went out, was to an abandoned rock quarry, and his girlfriend was with us. We went through new shooter instructions with her and stepped her up again from .22s to larger stuff. This time I had brought along the Winchester Model 54 in .30-30 (I know, weird caliber for a bolt gun, but it shot SUPER nice. Wish I never sold it.) She *loved* it. Then my friend was ready to show off the .22 rifle he was so proud of.
He was calling his shots. "See that pop can, next to the stump, about 40 yards away?"
Girlfriend quick-shouldered the Model 54 and blasted the can. "That one?"
"Yeah. Knock it off!"
"OK, that pine cone, about 30 yards, to the right of those weeds."
BLAM! "That one?"
"I said knock. it. off! Lemme get a shot!"
That went on for a while and everybody had a great time. I don't know if it was the guns or just natural maturation, but my friend got a lot less clownish over the coming months. I haven't heard from him in about 10 years, but last I heard he was a cop in the Seattle area and had a safe full o' guns. Pretty cool, huh?