Discovery at Seven Yards
When the range went hot, I showed her how to load a magazine and I reviewed the manual of arms for the Ruger MKII she was to fire. She was tentative at first, not wanting to hold the pistol in a firing grip while handling it. I explained to her that like last night, she only had to lay her index finger alongside the frame to be safe. I showed her again how the trigger pin does double duty as an indexing point for the finger. Then I pointed out that she was less likely to drop the pistol or swing it inadvertently in the wrong direction if it was properly held. That made the difference.
Cassie was a little concerned about the recoil from the pistol she thought was heavy. After her first few shots, that concern evaporated. Between magazines she examined her target through binoculars. I quickly saw that she needed to learn to load her own mags. She was wearing me out. I actually had to ask her to slow down and become a bit methodical. The girl was having fun!
With the next cold range call, we went forward to take a look at her targets. She was all over the paper, but mostly in the black. I was satisfied with the target, but even more happy with Cassie's performance. She was loading and shooting the pistol independently, and she was cognizant of the safety rules.
When I noticed Cassie locking her elbows, I asked her to relax them. I explained that locking the elbows leads to tremors in the hands at full extension. Those tremors make for difficult sighting. "Just raise the pistol up into your line of sight, make certain the sights are aligned over the target and squeeze the trigger smoothly. Don't agonize over it, just do it," I said. That's when she informed me that the little Ruger was getting heavy.
"Not to worry," I told her. We benched the Ruger, stuck a chamber flag in the chamber, and I retrieved my Colt Woodsman from my bag of goodies. The little Colt is an ideal pistol for someone with small hands like Cassie. The small, slender grip fits their hands well, and it is light as a feather. It is however, one of my prize pistols, and I tend to be a bit protective of it.
Cassie did not like the lack of a last shot automatic bolt hold back function on the Woodsman. Manipulating the safety to hold the bolt back for a cold range call was difficult for her. She complained the the black front sight on a black target was difficult to discern. When the range went cold again, I stuck a red and white adhesive scope target over the black. Cassie continued to shoot the Woodsman, but she was overly concerned with harming the pistol. When she accidentally dropped the original Colt magazine on the concrete, she asked for the Ruger again. Frankly, I was happy to comply.
I had one surprise left though. I had brought along a four inch taper barreled Ruger MKII. I removed it from the range bag. It's been said that in 1949 Bill Ruger placed a tapered barrel on the first production Ruger Standard to make it resemble the then popular Luger. The real benefit of the four inch tapered barrel is reduced weight and natural pointability though. Cassie took to it immediately.
At first, I was concerned that the thumb rest on the left grip panel might be in the wrong place for her small hands. Cassie found an elegant solution naturally. She placed both thumbs above the thumb rest, in a perfect high thumbs hold.
Cassie had found the pistol that shot best for her. Perhaps I needed to consider a Pac-Lite upper for one of my Rugers. When I inquired about it though, Cassie told me that she just liked the tapered barrel better. The Lugeresque grip angle of the MKII pointed instinctively for her. She was off again, nailing her target over and over. In her eagerness, I had to instruct her once not to stand on tip toe trying to get the sights closer to the target.
I did not teach stances today, I simply showed Cassie how to hold the pistol and fire it safely. Stances can come later. If anything it appeared that Cassie assumed a near Isosceles stance naturally. That is not my choice, but I am not here to teach others how I shoot. My job is to help shooters find what works best for them.
Today, Cassie was happy to step up to the firing line and ventilate her cardboard aggressor without worrying where her feet were or whether her torso was bladed. She blazed through 550 rounds of Federal bulk ammunition. She discovered the pistol that shot best for her. She discovered a pistol that met her present needs. She also discovered a little about herself. She discovered the joy of shooting, and that's good enough for me.
Labels: Neophyte Shooters