Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

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Windy Wilson
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Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Windy Wilson » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:01 am

The title asks it all; is it better to start a newbie with a .22 rifle or an air rifle, or with a .22 or air pistol? A revolver or a bolt action will have less going on as compared to semi autos, and a pistol will have the advantage of going bang at arm's length rather than closer to the face. A rifle should have the advantage of the sight radius so hits should be easier -- or is that an unwarranted assumption?
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby mekender » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:04 am

i would say a bolt action .22... air rifles wont prepare them for the kick or noise...

bolt actions are easy to use and you only have to worry about one shot... so if they get excited and turn around, less chance of someone getting hurt... i would say that would be a good way to start for the first 20-50 rounds... then a semi-auto might work well too...

after they have some experience with a .22 you can move up to a larger caliber, or to a .22 pistol...
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Aglifter » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:05 am

rifles are easier, but they, almost, always seem to want to use pistols, at least at first -- once you get them more interested, they seem to like shooting at a distance.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Lokidude » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:08 am

Rifle. Longer sight radius, (generally) better triggers, and you can shoot more naturally from a supported position.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Rod » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:16 am

+ 1 to what everyone else has said. Rifle gives them confidence faster than a pistol will.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Bob K » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:40 am

I think it depends on the desire of the student ...

... Target shooting / hunting ... by all means the air rifle or .22.

... Self defense ... a pistol, probably a .22, and give the student a choice between a revolver or self-loader, with proper instruction.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby D5CAV » Tue Jun 16, 2009 6:19 am

Rifle.

I'll hand someone a pistol after maybe 4 or 5 times at the range with me.

Even then I'm always ready to grab the pistol when they invariably rotate their upper body toward me to ask me a question with the pistol rotating in the same plane.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Denis » Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:26 am

I have had some success with starting new shooters off on an air pistol, then an air rifle (both break-barrel single-shots) at home in the garage, where we can begin at three yards from the target and move back to seven or eight. The airguns get them used to the proper stance and sight picture without the distractions of noise or recoil, and they're good practice for safe gun handling.

Then I bring them to the range, where the nearest target holder is at 10 yards, and let them try a single-shot bolt-action .22 rifle, and a .22 autoloading pistol loaded one cartridge at a time. When I get my .22 revolvers off layaway, I'll start with a revolver, then move to the pistol, as the revolver action is probably easier to understand. After about ten single-shots with the pistol, they're generally ready to start loading two cartridges, then three, and so on. I stay at their shoulder to be able to nip any turn-around movement in the bud, and so I can see what their trigger-finger is doing.

I let the "student" choose which they want to try first. It's usually the handgun, but they generally seem to enjoy the rifle more, once they try it; probably because it's that much easier to shoot well. A signed and dated target to take home, with a little tiny group on it, is a great motivator.

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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby randy » Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:56 pm

First time I took my daughter shooting we started with a Ruger Mk II I borrowed from a friend. She wasn't quite up to handling my Glenfield Model 20 (.22LR boltie) physically and the indoor range available at the time wasn't set up for her to bench the rifle.

When weather got better she shot the Glenfield from the bench, and later I got her a Chipmunk and a Browning Buckmark for "us".
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby AndytheAxe » Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:01 pm

I start with a .22 boltie, then usually later that same time use a .22 automatic so they get to try both. Often they liked the rifle better and want to go back to it.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby SeekHer » Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:40 pm

I've also had some success with teaching some kids how to shoot and I've always started them on rifles usually rimfire but lately air...

mekender, what recoil on a rimfire while the recoil is pronounced and the noise of a fully charged air gun is louder, at ignition, then a .22 LR is...So pronounced that air gun scopes have to stand up to the recoil equivalent to big bore magnums/Nitro Express rounds so they are built differently, internally!

Why air? Firstly, because it makes then stay focused through follow through which is critical in air and not so in cartridge...Secondly, it can be fired indoors but the clincher is indoors of your own home...Thirdly, ammo cost is at least 1/3 less but good (not great) target quality guns are more expensive as is a compressor and a couple of S.C.U.B.A. tanks....

Rifle, rimfire, because I have one that I converted for my oldest daughter by taking 1" slabs off the butt of the rifle (keeping legal OAL in mind) that I had drilled two ¼" holes through, first, one just below the top and one just above the bottom that would go through all the slabs that I will cut...I then inserted a ¼" threaded female adaptor glued in place and had some long ¼" steel rods that I threaded on one end and had cut to various lengths, so that it would screw into the female in the stock...

When she (now they) were little, I would start with just the stock and butt plate and as they grew older, I'd screw in the first set of the two rods, slip on the next piece of the butt and mount the butt plate (friction fit) and would continue changing the length of the steel rods and adding additional slabs as they grew older and bigger and longer of reach until they could use a standard length rifle...It has six slabs, six sets of rods and one buttplate which makes it from 7¾" to 14½" as there are some extra shims (12) made from sheet vinyl showroom display samples cut out for the different lengths, to guarantee a custom fit...

I still start them on that but now with all the adjustable stocks available, it almost isn't necessary except when they're really young say four to seven years old...and of course I can't start them indoors with a rimfire...

With rifles at least you can prop it up on something, a sandbag atop a block of wood, three four sandbags or a steel RTB (return to battery) table rest with a proper sand bags where, while it can be done with a pistol, it's a little too tiring for young shooters to hold let alone hold on target...After they have developed their arm and especially wrist muscles, say by age nine or so then pistol is much simpler to start as they have the basics of sight alignment, breath control, slow squeeze and follow through from the rifles now it’s just refining the control…

My daughters, their friends and the neighbour kids practice nightly in the basement on the 5 lane, 10M range we built and there is a safe next to the area so they can leave their guns here if they want to…I believe everyone of them, now, has a 10M range in their basements for practice and now they’re able to switch around so not one family is inundated with swarms of teenagers and worse still near teenagers (11½ to 13 yrs) who’ll eat and drink their way through your larder quite quickly…

I let the youngsters try out the pistols from when they first start shooting, so they are accustomed to them, somewhat and they get to do what the big kids are doing—big psychological boost right there…My two youngest shoot more pistol then rifle as I can’t get any stocks to fit them properly, because of their builds and lack of rifles for them…

Regardless of what you use -- even bows & arrows, start them VERY close to the target, 5 feet, yes that’s feet, is fine and let them see their hits and let them then start worrying about group size but not score…once they have a good group in the black, move back another 5 feet and do it again and keep doing it until you get to 30 maybe 35 feet and then start to move back ten feet at a time but not until the groups, in the black are small—that’s your goal…By seeing the hits on the target it builds confidence, makes them happy and wanting to continue, wanting to do better, trying to figure out how to move that group from the eight ring at three o’clock to the centre…Keeping it to 30 feet before making a change, gives them 6 sets of targets that they have practiced on and were able to finally get all in the black or the ten ring…now the challenge is a bit farther forcing them to delve deeper into their reserve, steadying themselves and by the time you get to 25 yards, your final destination, you’ll have a solid mid 90s, 4x or 5x shooter on your hands and with practice, coaching and good equipment (that they can trust) especially sights and a 1,000 100x shooter is a strong possibility!
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Denis » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:19 pm

SeekHer wrote:I've also had some success with teaching some kids how to shoot...


OK, ok, consider me chastised :-)

(SeekHer has probably taught more people to shoot than I have had hot meals...)

Thanks for all the training tips, though! I'll be stealing those techniques...

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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby SeekHer » Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:41 pm

Denis wrote:
SeekHer wrote:I've also had some success with teaching some kids how to shoot...


OK, ok, consider me chastised :-)

Chastise, nay!--Belittle?

(SeekHer has probably taught more people to shoot than I have had hot meals...)

Whats-a-matta by you, your range break? You can't cook hot meals anymore? Your significant other must be slightly miffed, irked even!

Thanks for all the training tips, though! I'll be stealing those techniques...


Use whatever you need, for the situation you're in, freely just as I did from other instructors of the provincial Hunter's Safety Course...I was trying to find the word in German that expresses my feelings but couldn't find it and I believe it was gesmacklikunt (?) (sorry about the spelling) that doesn't translate into English worth a damn...

As long as they are having fun, seeing (positive) results then they will return for more or if not at least have a greater degree of respect for firearms in general...

Also, at the end of the session, have things that explode--kinda--like Necco Candy Wafers, or Ritz Crackers...that is the clincher for the deal!

Denis, at best, including formal Hunter Safety and military sniping, my children, their friends and their friends parent(s), I doubt that I've exceeded 250 students and that's over 41 years since I got my instructor's badge at 18...
There is a certain type of mentality that thinks if you make certain inanimate objects illegal their criminal misuse will disappear!

Damn the TSA and Down with the BATF(u)E!
Support the J P F O to "Give them the Boot"!!

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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby PawPaw » Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:06 pm

When I was teaching people to shoot, I usually let the demeanor of the student guide me in deciding which firearm to teach them first.

For example, the first time my daughter pulled a trigger, she used a .38 special revolver.

When I taught my mother to shoot, it was with a .22LR bolt.

My second son began with a .410 shotgun.

My youngest son (bless his heart)... I can't remember. He literally cut his teeth on a discarded 12 ga shotgun hull. He taught his kindergarten teacher The Four Rules. He was fortunate to be raised conversant and comfortable around all manner of gunny implements. We had a shooting bench in the back yard and targets set up at varying ranges out to 225 yards. I really don't remember what firearm he first used. I've probably warped that boy for life.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby SeekHer » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:45 pm

PawPaw wrote:I really don't remember what firearm he first used. I've probably warped that boy for life.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.


And we require one million more warped in such a manner!
There is a certain type of mentality that thinks if you make certain inanimate objects illegal their criminal misuse will disappear!

Damn the TSA and Down with the BATF(u)E!
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Combat Controller » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:31 pm

Eh, I recommend rifle but everyone (usually girls) want to start with pistol. So I get them to handle and get comfortable with empty .22's both semi and revolvers and then we go to the range. I will let them try anything they want within reason, and start them with one round, then two then three etc. That way dropped or out of line guns have a bit more of a safety margin. I don't baby my shooter though, I let them know it is dangerous and they are going to have to demonstrate responsibility.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Windy Wilson » Thu Jun 25, 2009 7:42 pm

Thanks, all! Good advice from everyone. When I put it into practice I'll let you know how it goes.
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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Whirlibird » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:17 am

Can't say that it was a "teaching experience" but the 4yo got to fire her first shots through my heavily customized 10/22 with me supporting the gun and pointing it in the right direction for her. The grin on her face was well worth the 25 rounds in the magazine.

The 7yo likes rifles but has fallen madly in lust with my little Sport Woodsman. It's just his size. Now if I could just get him to use the sights.

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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Glenn Bartley » Tue Sep 08, 2009 2:54 pm

I have started off many adults and a few teens with rifles, and many adults with pistols, and one or two with shotguns (funny how almost no one seems to think of starting a newbie off with shotguns). It all depends on what the adult wants to learn to shoot.

For some reason the above seems to have drifted toward children as being the newbies taught. As for children I started off my daughter and son with air rifles, then moved on to .22 rifles. Did the same with some others, and started some others right off with .22 rifles.

Anyone I start off with either an air rifle or a .22 rifle gets to shoot at 5 yards first if possible. That was the distance used with young shooters when I first learned to shoot in summer camp. Shooting at less than that was considered unsafe for a variety of reasons with new shooters, such as splatter more likely to come back in their faces from shorter distances. With pistols and adult shooters I will start at either 3 or 5 yards, sometimes even 10 or 15 yards. It often depends on the range that is available.

I do not start children or adults off with airguns inside my home. Yes we have shot airguns in the home, but we did it outside first. I do not want to instill the idea that shooting in the home is the most desirable thing, at least not until I am totally satisfied that they have a full understanding and lasting impression about firearms safety - and then would only shoot an airgun in my home - never a firearm unless I had a real range constructed inside - but alas I have not hit the megamillions yet.

I think that a rifle chambered in .22LR is the best all round teaching instrument for new shooters and for their instructors. They are inherently safer than semi-automatics, they are easier to hold correctly that a pistol for new shooters for any length of time, a rifle is easier for the instructor to control should it start to point the wrong way, a rifle takes a quite a bit more movement to turn around to a truly unsafe direction at a range (think about this practically and not with emotion and you will understand what I mean), a bolt action can be used conveniently as a single shot, a .22 is not too powerful to scare someone off due to recoil (yes a .22 does have recoil by the way as opposed to what some seem to think - especially noticeable by younger children learning to shoot), the sight radius makes for more successful shooting right near the beginning of the lessons, a rifle can be altered to make it fit (but I have always preferred to buy one that fits from the get go, such as a youth model, and have found they did not require stock adjustments over the years they were used although I am not knocking stock resizing if someone has the time and know-how and if legal).

I use guns with open sights or peep sights in most instances of teaching with a rifle, and whatever sights come on a pistol. I try to avoid glass for first time shooters, but sometimes have gone almost right to it for various reasons dependent on the student.

Before I teach anyone how to shoot, I teach them how to be safe with a firearm. They do not even get to touch it on there own without first demonstrating to me a good knowledge of firearms safety. Of course with young children that is different than for teens or adults. Teens and adults need to be able to recite about 10 (or more) firearms safety rules to me - none of this abbreviated BS with only 4 almighty rules that are nonsense anyhow the way they are written in my opinion. Younger children on the other hand need to be able to repeat some of them, with help and prodding from me. By the way, I do not, never have, and will not teach children under the age of 5 how to shoot; just my preference. When I do teach youngsters, virtually every move they make while holding the firearm is physically controlled by me with hands on in the first stages, and then with me within easy arms reach of the firearm at all times after that. A child has to be quite an advanced shooter before I will back off more than that. With young children, and usually any new shooter, I strongly recommend an instructor to student ratio of 1-1 for safety reasons or 1-2 at most with more mature shooters. First handling and first shots fired should always be 1-1 if you can do it and unless you are teaching a class of cadets their is no reason it should not be 1 on 1.

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Re: Rifle or pistol? Which is better to start newbies with?

Postby Dedicated_Dad » Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:07 pm

I've had great luck using an old Iver Johnson lever-22. Easy to do single shots, also easy to let them burn up ammo if they're so inclined and capable.

Personally, I also like to use dry-fire practice where possible, before graduating to ammo - and the lever makes it much easier to do so since the hammer can just be thumbed back...

HTH...

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