Train rifles or pistols first? Good question.

| March 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

When I talk with women who have never shot before, I find that they always have an idea about what type of firearm “fits” them best. They usually imagine something small, like an iconic pearl-handled revolver. They say they find them less intimidating, more friendly and may have been told they are less complicated to operate. Unfortunately smaller handguns can be harder to shoot for beginners. Slimmer grips and lighter frames increase perceived recoil.

Rifles can look scary. They are bigger, heavier and have a “bad reputation” (Thanks uninformed media). When considering  a beginners course, most women don’t immediately think of rifles over pistols, but maybe they should.


Which one is easier to shoot?

4 years ago I attended my first fight-focused beginner rifle course.  I learned to add movement to my shooting and to execute dynamic reloads. This was my first class with other people, and my first time  shooting anything for a full day. I still had some recoil anticipation when using a pistol, so I was nervous about shooting a rifle whose recoil I assumed would be even harder to handle.

I was wrong.

That big rifle might have been loud and  heavy, but I was actually more accurate with my shots that day than I ever had been with a pistol.

I also felt like a total bad-ass.

Since then I have taken over half a dozen beginner, and about the same number of intermediate and advanced level courses. I think rifle training has benefits for beginners that pistol training does not, and should be considered more often.

When shooting an intermediate cartridge, the rifle is typically over-engineered and absorbs a lot of the recoil. You will have at least 4 points of contact (shoulder, both hands, and a cheek-weld) with the rifle as opposed to 2 with a pistol. This leaves new shooters less prone to grip issues which in turn  gives them better follow up shots and overall accuracy than with a pistol.

It’s pretty easy to get started.  Ask your instructors what they recommend for their class, they may even have items for you to rent or even be willing to loan them to you.

You don’t need a bunch of specialized gear, with a rifle you won’t need to determine what style or orientation holster you’ll need. A simple sling will do. Admittedly, you’ll see some students with some really cool accessories, but you can decide to invest in chest rigs and med kits later on if you like. Also, don’t be intimidated by the more experienced students. They are just glad you’re interested.

Gloves, speed-loaders, and using both internal and external ear protection will keep you more comfortable throughout the day. So will neck protection and a hat with a brim. Seriously, ignore all of those girls on the internet shooting in tank tops with loose hair flowing in the wind. They look SUPER CUTE…until they are flailing around trying to get the hot brass out of their bras and they can’t hit their target because their hair is in the way. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

If you’re new to shooting, consider training with a rifle first. The safety habits and overall techniques will translate to when you are ready for handguns.






About the Author:

The She-Shepherd The She-Shepherd is a defensive firearms student, mother and advocate for pushing the boundaries of how we train. She believes that defensive training must balance context, mindset, and skill to be most effective. Her specialty has become testing alternative modes of firearms carry and best practices of less than lethal force options through rigorous force-on-force scenario based training.

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