My brother was in town with his lady-friend. She’s from Chile, and had never shot a handgun before because guns are VERY strictly regulated there. As far I know, she’d never even held one in her hands, which are tiny. Her hands are even smaller than my ten year old daughter’s. So I offered to take them to the range, of course, as part of her “experience” of America. But what to shoot? Well, .22 LR, of course, but what else that would fit those tiny hands? The S&W 629 and other large revolvers seemed right out. So I grabbed a selection for the range bag and a few hundred round of ammo, and we headed for the range.
She tries the little S&W 22 AirLite first – fits her hand well, low recoil, but a long, heavy, rough trigger. She struggles a bit with the dry-firing as she gets the feel for it. I put the target at 7 yards, and she puts first round in the black. OK, good start. I load another round, and she puts it in the ring just outside the black. The next eight rounds all are inside the rings, and generally centered. Off to a good start!
We try the Ruger 22/22WinMag interchangeable cylinder next, but it doesn’t fit her hands well when dry-firing, so we skip it and go to the Ruger GP100 with 6″ barrel, shooting 38 Special. Dry fire for a bit, load one, shoot one in the black. All righty, then. Looking good. Try some more, all inside the rings. I do some coaching on stance and grip throughout, but she is starting to get the hang of it. She try some more 38s, does well.
We move up to 9mm, trying a Sig and a Glock. She likes the Sig more, but does fine with both. She doesn’t like the Glock trigger much, but the doesn’t like the Sig single-action double-action change of pull feel, either. Eh, pretty typical, I think.
So I got out the 1911 in 45 ACP, and her first three shots were all on the bottom edge of the paper… Hmmm? Night sights, maybe? We explained lining them up properly, and the next three hit much closer to the middle.
I demonstrate some heavy .357 loads (125gr hp with 16 grains of 2400 – they do about 2150 fps in a lever action, and produce a serious THUMP and flame in a revolver), and she says she’s like to try them, so she does, and again they are all in the rings.
She said she’d like to try “bigger,” but I didn’t have any because I didn’t even think the 1911 would fit her hands, so we just tried whatever she liked the most. She mostly moved back and forth between the .45 ACP and the heavy 357 Mag loads, which surprised both me and my brother. But, as I keep telling people, I don’t care how it looks on paper, or what it feels like at the gun-store counter, until you actually try it, you just really don’t know what’s going to float your boat when it comes to shooting handguns. Try a bunch, buy a couple, practice. All in all, another good day at the range introducing a person to the realities of shooting a gun.