First Time Shooters

An Australian’s American Experience

I’m fortunate to have been introduced to a sterling young couple, Ben and Kristen Taylor, hailing from the Gold Coast of Australia. Kristen is actually American and her family lives near me here in Missouri. However, after living in Australia for the past few years, she’s not only picked up the accent, but found a husband!

On a recent visit to the States, I invited them both to my home just South of Joplin to try their hand at some shooting. Complete novices, they were excited by the opportunity, and frankly, so was I. I always enjoy introducing new young people to shooting, and also like the fact I can help to instill a “safe” mindset right from the get-go. Kristen and Ben were great students and, much to my surprise, both seemed naturals when it came to hand-eye coordination and getting solid hits right from the start.

Starting small, Kristen took to the new Taurus TX22 quickly.

Small Bore Starts

I introduced them to shooting using the new Taurus TX22 semi-auto and the very cool new Ruger Wrangler single action .22. While we take such things for granted, in Australia even owning something as simple as the affordable Taurus .22 takes a trainload of paperwork, joining a club, classes, insurance and rigid storage rules. So, the “kids” as I like to call them, were amazed at the fact they suddenly had such a cross-section of guns to learn about and have fun with.

After the basics of going over the four firearm safety rules, explaining what each one really means, and learning about sight pictures, grips, stance and trigger press, they both took to shooting instantly. They seemed to have a natural, relaxed way of adapting to this new challenge, and almost immediately delivered groups at about 15 yards any seasoned handgunner would be proud of.

And, their positive, good humor and sincere interest in learning and safety, made the whole experience a joy for me too. It’s always fun to introduce people to shooting — and it’s especially enjoyable when they’re such nice people, honestly interested in learning. Their friendly competition with each other helped to spice things up too! If I was a betting fellow, I’d bet Kristen is the better shot — at least for now!

"Holy mackerel, that's awesome!" Yeah, .44 Magnum tends to have that effect on people.

Bigger Bores

I took them up through the calibers, with a bit of shooting .22s up to and including a dose with a .44 Magnum. Ben insisted on giving it a try — a Smith & Wesson Model 69 customized by Mag-na-port — and you can see in the video his surprise when he touched a round off! Kristen was thoughtfully hesitant, deciding the milder .44 Special was enough gun. Smart girl. By the way, that very Mag-na-port custom Model 69 is highlighted in the Nov/Dec 2019 issue of American Handgunner in a feature. So if you’d like to learn more about it, tune in!

When the dust settled, Ben and Kristen were both excited and, if I can say this, had a more seasoned attitude about guns and shooting. As Ben told me, “There’s more to this than what you see in the movies. It takes skill and a good teacher to really understand it. And you have to keep your brain engaged constantly to make sure everyone is safe!”

They enjoyed the few hours we spent together so much, I made time for them to come back before they return to Australia. This time we’ll be shooting some rifles. I’ll make sure we get a bit of video so you can see what they think about all that!

Smiles all around after an afternoon of shooting!