A healthy percentage of my friends are laughing about a recent news story where I reporter in Vermont freaked out after shooting an AR-15 in an indoor range. Most of the comments are to the effect of “Hah-hah, what a wussy! I can’t believe he’s scared of a gun like that.”
But unlike those friends, I sympathize with that reporter’s experience. Let me explain why.
Many years ago, I was shooting in an indoor range in Mesa, Arizona, working on my trigger control with a .22 Pistol with a red dot. I had a booth near the entrance to the range area, and I could have a faint cry of shock coming from behind me. I set my gun down on the shooting table and turned to see what was going on.
Behind me was a young lady who was visibly scared due to all that was going on around her. She flinched with every shot, and clearly agitated and very, very scared. I asked her if I could help, and she said, “IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE ARE GRENADES GOING OFF IN HERE!”
I laughed and said, “Yes, it is a little bit intimidating. Do you have a lane, or are you meeting someone here?”
She told me she was meeting a friend who was going to teach her to shoot. Coincidentally, that friend was in the lane next to mine, and I walked her over to that booth and made my exit.
I’m teaching my sons how to drive right now, and it’s giving me new insight to just how difficult some things really are. little things, like braking gently before taking a corner or stopping on the stop line, not in the crosswalk, need to be taught from the ground up. I do that sort of thing intuitively, but I’ve been doing it for a long, long time. For my sons, this is new, this is strange, and it’s more than a little overwhelming.
So it is with guns. To be honest, I can’t stand shooting AR-15s on indoor ranges. The noise and concussion overwhelms anything I’m doing with the gun, and since most indoor ranges stop at 25 yards and don’t allow you to shoot from the bench, (with a few exceptions), the best you can do is get an idea of your mechanical offset and that’s about it.
So given the fact that a) the noise associated with an indoor range is overwhelming for new gun owners and b) shooting an AR-15 indoors is an unpleasant experience for even someone like me, yes, I sympathize with that reporter. If anything, I blame the range owners for improperly preparing that reporter before the range session, or failing to have him shoot a pistol-caliber AR instead, or maybe something with a 22 conversion kit.
Bottom line is, if you drop a newbie in the deep end of the pool, you shouldn’t be shocked if they panic and hate what is happening to them.
Every one of us, even Rob Leatham, started out as newbie. Remember that, respect that, and set your expectations accordingly.