HGR 031 - Training New Handgunners

HGR 031 - Training New Handgunners

This week, Ryan and special guest Joe discuss from This Week In Guns discuss the different methods of starting new shooters out with handguns, as well as some do’s and don’ts pertaining to training new shooters.

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Week in Review:


  • Did some shooting with the S&W Model 60, had it break on me! The “bolt” which releases the cylinder internally for opening sheared off, so I need to replace that. At least I have my Colt 1903!
  • Did some more videos for the YouTube Channel! Be sure to go check it out! There are some great videos of various handguns being shot, as well as a new video compilation of slow-motion handgun footage that I filmed in 2013.


Just getting over the flu, so I’ve been limited in range time, but I did get a few hundred .38spcl rounds loaded this week.

Main Topic: Training New Handgunners

Introducing people to shooting handguns can be a different experience for them if they have only shot long guns before. Likewise, a totally new shooter can be started off on handguns from the very beginning.  This week we are just going to go over some of the things that we feel should be done with a new shooter to ensure that their first handgunning experience is a safe, positive, and rewarding one.


Action Types:

  • Revolvers can be simple for new shooters to operate. There are no safeties to disengage, and it is not complicated to know when the gun is loaded or not.
  • Single action revolvers can offer greater satisfaction to the new shooter with their lighter trigger pulls and oftentimes greater accuracy potential. (over a double-action pull)
  • Semi-automatic pistols often fit hands better than revolvers. The Ruger SR-22 is a prime example of a handgun that fits many hands well.
  • Semi-autos will have more controls than other handguns, so you will need to instruct the shooter in the proper usage of those controls.


  • .22 LR is always the best choice for starting off a new shooter. Particularly if you can use a suppressor. .22 LR will allow them to be accustomed to SOME recoil without being overcome by it. Also, the fairly mild report will not startle the new shooter all that much.
  • A good step up is the 9mm in a semi-automatic, or a .38 Special loaded in a revolver. If you handload, you can make very mild .38 Special loads for practice.



  • Most new shooters will simply pick the gun up and use it at the range, without a holster. I would discourage new shooters from “working from the holster” right off, as that involves having the gun pointed fairly close to yourself. I would rather the new shooter be comfortable with the safety and utilization of the handgun first, before we worry about holstering and carrying.

Hearing Protection:

  • Many people are unaccustomed to the loud report of a gunshot. Most people will be comfortable with just muffs or earplugs, but some people may desire to use earplugs and muffs in combination. As long as they are comfortable, that is fine.

Eye Protection:

  • The 5$ pair of sunglasses you bought at Wal-Mart are NOT safety glasses. You need decent safety glasses that are certified and tested that will deflect fast moving particles and objects from injuring your eyes.

Safety Considerations- 

Muzzle Discipline: Sometimes more difficult with a shorter barrel with someone used to long guns?

Knowing the Safety Rules:

  • ALL guns are ALWAYS loaded. (Call me a safety sally all you want (people have), I don’t want an extra hole in me, and EVERY person who has been “accidentally” shot has been shot by an “unloaded” gun. (i.e. “I thought it was unloaded!”)
  • Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Your bullets will do damage some distance away. Know what is beyond what youre shooting at.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Index your finger alongside the frame.
  • Do not point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy/kill.


  • Do shoot the gun first in front of them to prepare them for the loudness and to show them you won’t whack yourself in the head.
  • Allow the shooter to be comfortable with the handgun.
  • Only load one round the first time they shoot, then load it higher progressively.


  • Don’t try to be macho and not observe proper safety like wearing hearing or eye protection. Be a good example.
  • Don’t give a person a gun they can’t handle. If they get hurt, they’ll never want to do it again.
  • Don’t be condescending to the new shooter. This is a whole new world to them, but it may be old hat to us. Enjoy helping them along in the learning process.


Until next week, have fun and SAFE SHOOTING!