A phobia is an excessive, often irrational fear of something. You may already recognize your aversion to guns as a phobia. Perhaps you consider your apprehension to be the result of not knowing much about guns. Maybe most of your perception of guns is as a result of what you see in movies or the news coverage on mass shootings.
Or it just could be that life experience has subconsciously defined your perspective. This may create a perception that guns are scary and inherently evil, which will only foster your discomfort around weapons.
Irrespective of the reason for your phobia, the good news is that it’s not insurmountable. If you’ve made a decision to learn how to use a gun, here are a couple of tips that could help you get your gun phobia out of the way.
1. Talk to Gun Owners Around You
Fear can sometimes drive us into a psychological silo where we fall under the illusion that our experience is unique.
Yet, when you start to have conversations with gun owners around you about what their experiences were, you’ll quickly start to realize that your fear of guns is a normal, common occurrence.
Nearly every person who’s comfortable around guns today had some form of apprehension in the past. Talking to gun owners can be reassuring and gives you the sense that you too can overcome your fears like they did.
2. Find the Right Instructor
A good instructor is one of the most potent weapons in your battle against gun phobia. Take time to identify and evaluate the instructors who work in the shooting ranges in your area.
Talk to family, friends and work colleagues to see if there’s anyone, in particular, they would recommend. Find out the specific reasons they prefer one instructor over others just to be certain those reasons would benefit you too.
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential instructors to just 2 or 3, explore the possibility of attending their Bellevue Gun Club class as an observer.
This would be a great way to see how the instructor interacts with their trainees. You would determine first hand whether their teaching methods and philosophy is something you’d be happy with.
3. Schedule a 1:1 Lesson
Your gun phobia can feel embarrassing, especially when you walk into a firing range and see how effortlessly other people handle weapons. If you feel anxious and think the people listening to and observing you could make your apprehension worse, schedule a private 1:1 lesson. This will allow you the space, time and privacy to ask your questions freely and to learn at your own pace.
You can have your first and perhaps second lesson as 1:1 where you would cover all the basics of marksmanship. After these initial lessons, you can decide whether you want to be part of a group class or whether you prefer to continue with the private lessons. The private lessons will cost more, so ultimately, this is a balance between your budget and the degree of instructor attention you receive.
4. Bring a Friend
If you’ve never been at a firing range or handled a gun before, the range can feel like a strange place. You can benefit, especially over the first few sessions, from having someone you are close to hanging around.
A friend, a sibling or a parent can help calm your nerves and make you feel comfortable being vulnerable. You want someone who will laugh with you over your awkwardness, who won’t judge you, who’ll help you solve problems you run into and who will be cheering you on.
5. Practice with Less Aggressive Means
There are ways you can practice firing a gun without actually discharging the weapon. You could use a laser grip to perfect your aim by pointing the unloaded gun at your desired target then activating the laser to see how close to the target you were. Dry firing drills will help you get accustomed to the trigger pull without the bullets, bang and the fear of making a mistake.
By reducing the aggression around your gun practice, you create a friendlier, less stressful environment that helps build your muscle memory.
With these tips, you will eventually find that many of your fears around guns are unwarranted and easily remedied.