View Full Version : Opinion question for the expert
I have been a competitive shooter for a while and have suggested that organizations consider programs/classes for beginners. For example similar format (but simplified) to IPSC or IDPA but with smaller caliber pistols. Maybe .22 caliber, .32acp or .380acp. I am thinking these classes would encourage youngsters, recoil sensitive folks and beginners. Obviously experienced shooters could not be allowed to compete heads up with the new shooters. What are your thoughts?
There are actually more programs in place than you would think but there is still room to grow these efforts.
For new shooters, the NSSF launched their First Shots (http://www.firstshots.org/) program which is designed to give people the opportunity to try shooting a gun. This program has been pretty successful as ranges that have held First Shots events have seen return visits by those participating in the program. NSSF is working with ranges to expand this program beyond just handguns.
With junior shooters there seems to be more opportunities as the various sports have categories in place for juniors. The most successful youth shooting program is the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) which NSSF started, and I had the pleasure to work on. In its first year SCTP saw 744 shooters. In the last year that NSSF ran the program, SCTP had 10,000+ participants.
SCTP covers the shotgun sports. For handguns, the Steel Challenge Shooting Association (http://steelchallenge.com/) (SCSA) has created the Scholastic Steel Challenge (http://www.scholasticsteelchallenge.com/index.php) (SSC) which is modeled after SCTP. In SSC the shooters will not draw from a holster but shoot from the low ready. They will also compete in teams of 4. Already this program has received tremendous support from NSSF, S&W, Glock, Action Target and others. This program is viewed as an entry level speed shooting discipline that SCSA and USPSA expect to draw from as shooters expand their skills.
It is important to note that in SSC shooters will compete with striker fired pistols in 9mm. The reason for this is that the number of manufacturers available to support the program (Glock, Smith, Ruger, Springfield, Taurus) is greater than the number that could support a .22LR initiative. The Steel Challenge format already has a .22LR component and shooters start from the low ready there as well.
USPSA and IDPA present greater challenges for new shooters because these are sports that require a higher skill level and understanding of the safety protocols. The run and gun nature of these sports make them very challenging for the new shooter. In fact, in talking to Chris Edwards at Glock, he confirmed my assessment that GSSF actually has served as the feeder program for both of these sports and played a very important role in the shooting sports.
The issue of a smaller caliber is often brought up but I don't believe it's necessary to start there. Many programs the industry has supported used BB guns to try and introduce shooting to new shooters. The problem with this approach is that it means those people are one step closer to having never shot a gun.
With SSC we made the conscious decision to go with 9mm in SSC because we know that young people aren't afraid to shoot 9mm and often prefer to closely follow the “adults” in the sport as much as possible. In SCTP we saw plenty of 5th graders shooting O/U 12ga shotguns – just like the top shooters do.
Recoil isn't as big an issue as you would think. We witnessed that in SCTP. It's the perception of recoil that poses the problem. TV has done the most damage to people's perceptions of shooting by making them think that shooting a gun will throw them back through the air because of the recoil. Obviously recoil can be an issue for some based on hand strength and general frailty, but we should approach new shooters from the standpoint that “shooting recoil isn't nearly as bad as you think and you can do.”
In the NSSF media seminar program, which I oversaw, we had the media shooting 9mm Glocks from the start. If somebody really had a problem with handling the Glock we had a Ruger .22LR there to try. But we didn't rely on the .22LR as our main instruction pistol. You'll find that what shocks most new shooters is a combination of the sound and the concussion. - ERHARDT
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