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Who Taught You to Hit?

One of the questions I hear quite a bit when gunnies get together is “Who taught you to shoot?”  For a lot of us, it’s a parent or grandparent, or maybe that favorite uncle or aunt, who took us out back and showed us which end the bullets come out and how to hold it.

Everyone remembers who first taught them to shoot.

A very wise, and rather crotchety, old gentleman once told me that anyone can shoot, but it takes skill to hit.

So, who taught you to hit?

For me, the first person to teach me to do more than send copper jacketed lead in the general direction of an empty beer can was a volunteer instructor and RSO at Boy Scout camp in North Dakota.  For his sins, he spent a few weeks of his summer teaching 10 and 11 year old boys about safety, trigger control, sight picture, and breathing.  In the week I spent at camp, I got a lot better.  I wasn’t good, but at least I was only dangerous to the target.

He reminded us daily that our rifles, ammunition, and targets were all donated by businesses and people who thought it was important for young people to know how to handle a rifle.   At the end of the week, he had us write to our benefactors, thanking them for their generosity and telling them about how much we’d learned and how much fun shooting was.

So, who taught you to hit?  How to sight properly, control your breathing, and squeeze the trigger?  How to be safe, both on the range and in the home and field with a firearm?

Was it your parent or grandparent?  A coach on a rifle team?  A Scout or 4-H leader?

As you all know, I’m involved with my local committee of the Friends of the NRA.  We take in money through fundraisers such as raffles, games, and banquets, which is then directed back to youth safety and shooting programs, both here in Kentucky and nationwide.  Basically, we try to provide the things that the men and women who are teaching the next generation to be safe, responsible gun owners need to get the job done.

Our local banquet is going to happen on August 1, and if you’re close by and would like to come, we’d love to have you.  If you’re not local, I’ll bet that there is a committee close by to you that would either love to sell you a ticket to a raffle or to a banquet, or even better, have you as a volunteer.

But if you can’t do that, try taking a young person out and teaching them gun safety, responsibility, and oh yeah, how to hit.


  1. A couple of older veterans (Korea and Vietnam) gave me a few pointers at our local outdoor range, but told me that I was doing a lot of what they had to be taught to do instinctively. A couple swore they’d had boys in their unit that never lost the flinch from other people’s hot brass flying around, and were shocked that I didn’t really seem bothered by their brass bouncing off the top of my hat. Down my shirt was a different matter, and the gun always got set down and pointed downrange before I fished it out, no matter how much I wanted to dance and screech.

    It may have been instinct, but only a little bit.

    I read a lot. Between 12 and 29, I read everything I could get my hands on, including military manuals on rifle shooting, military fiction written by veterans that detailed how doing it right felt, and so on. I still read as much as I can, but time is a factor now in a way that it wasn’t before the second child came along. Much of my reading now is things I need to read to stay informed enough to trust myself to make decisions and vote. Oh, and a little bit on guns, here and there. Nowhere near as much on the shooting part of it as I used to, though.

    My shooting may well be guided by instinct. Maybe. But it’s also definitively guided by other proclivities.


  2. John in Philly

     /  July 21, 2015

    The “Who taught you to shoot?”, question would have been easy to answer. It was my father and it was a long time ago. His methods of teaching were the same as those he learned when going through army basic in the summer of 1941. And yet those methods were not very effective in teaching me how to hit.

    “Who taught me how to hit?” For me, a lot of people over a long time. I had to think on this one for a while. I do not remember any one person making a dramatic difference in the quality of my marksmanship. Instead it was a lot of people who helped me over a very long time.

    It was the fellow shooters at Blue Mountain Muzzleloaders in Shartlesville PA during the late ’60s and early ’70s who taught me that you can compete in rifle and pistol matches in a friendly and open way and if you help the struggling shooter they can pass the good attitude and the tips along later.

    It was Chief Gunner’s Mate McFarland on the William R. Rush (DD-714), and a first class Gunner’s Mate (cannot remember his name) on shore duty, who taught me to shoot the ancient service .45s well enough to get my Expert Pistol Ribbon.

    It was the instructors at FLETC who helped move from an OK pistol shooter to a good one. And the instructors and my costudents during the times at the Firearms Instructor Training who helped me become a better shooter.

    I know I might have said thank you to all those people, but I wish I had said it more.

    Thank you for making me remember the debt we own to those who helped us, and maybe get me to spend more time paying it back.


  3. MY grandfather taught me how to shoot, and how to hit with a rifle… Deputy Sheriff Ware taught me how to hit with a pistol. I owe them both more than I could ever repay, so I try to do my part to pass some of that along in my classes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I shot some at a summer camp I went to as a tad. I did OK, but no better. I don’t actually own a gun, though. I’m a slewfoot; awkward and inclined to trip over my own damn feet. Such people (IMHO) should not own guns or mess with powersaws amd the like. I still have a right to own and carry a gun, though, damnit, and a right to expect my damn government to follow it own damn laws.

    The people who undertake to teach the rising generation to hit what they mean to (and nothing else) have my gratitude and respect.

    Thank you.


  5. skidmark

     /  July 25, 2015

    Went to high school so long ago there was still a rifle team and a range in the basement, I was hell on wheels except for standing (off-hand), where I wobbled worse than a Weeble on crack. I can’t remember the coach’s name but he taught me how to use that wobble to put .22LR in the X-ring to the point it became boring. (Just kidding. I jumped up and down in my mind every time!)

    USMC tried to teach me how to hit with a .45 but what with parts being shaken off so often they did not have much of a chance. After I got out I bought my first legal firearm, a S&W Model 10 and asked a friend who taught shooting to the guards at the local prison to school me. He threw in shotgun, too. (You ever shoot trap with a .410?)

    stay safe.


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