by Aaron Marshall
The world of firearms is filled with misconceptions and myths. I want to zero in on three myths related to women and handguns. Throughout my career, I've trained thousands of women to use a firearm, and these three misconceptions (often believed and circulated by men) are among the most common myths I've heard. Let's look at these three myths and why they're wrong.
Myth #1: Women need a small gun. Now, it is true that many women have smaller hands, and as a result, some guns are too big for them to use practically. For example, Glocks have a wider frame than most handguns, and a woman with short fingers may have difficulty maintaining a comfortable grip on a Glock. However, this leads people to conclude that a sub-compact gun, like a Ruger LCP, is ideal for a woman. Here's the deal: These tiny guns are designed to be easy to conceal, not easy to use. In fact, as a general rule, the smaller a gun is, the harder it is to operate and shoot accurately. So if a woman is new to shooting and picks up one of these guns, it's going to be more frustrating and harder to get the results she wants. Full-sized guns have larger controls that are easier to operate, have softer springs that make it easier to rack the slide, and absorb more of the recoil, making it easier to control while shooting.
Ladies, there are many full-size handguns that will suit you well. In spite of what I said about Glocks, many women do very well with a Glock 17. If you need a gun with a smaller frame, consider something like the Smith & Wesson M&P or Walther PPQ. These feature an exchangeable back-strap which allows you to customize the size of the frame to your hand. This gives you a better grasp on the gun while still giving you the ease of use of a full-sized gun.
By the same token, many people think that any cartridge larger than a .380 is going to be too powerful for a small-framed woman to handle. This belief comes from improper shooting technique. The vast majority of my women students shoot 9mm or larger, and have no trouble controlling it once they've learned the proper technique. With a proper stance and grip, even a 5-foot, 100-pound woman can handle a full-power gun.
If you need a small gun for concealment, by all means get one. But you're better off first learning on a full-sized gun and transitioning to the smaller gun once you've mastered the skills on a larger gun.
Myth #2: Revolvers are better for women. Revolvers do have one advantage if the woman carries a gun in her purse, which is that she can shoot the revolver while it's inside her purse. Beyond that, however, there are few reasons to recommend a revolver to a woman (or to a man, for that matter). Usually, this myth stems from difficulty running the slide on a tiny gun with a tight slide spring. (See Myth #1.) So they figure that if they can't run the slide, that means they need a revolver.
Revolvers have heavier triggers which make them harder to learn to shoot accurately. They are difficult to operate if you have small hands, and require considerably more practice to master basic handling and reloading techniques. Again, proper technique can overcome difficulty running the slide on a semi-auto. It's usually easier to learn to overcome that one difficulty than the several difficulties that come with revolvers.
I've had many beginning lady shooters bring a revolver to class. It usually doesn't take them long to figure out that it might not be the best choice for them, and their relief is palpable when I put a semi-auto in their hand and they take a few shots with it. That's not to say that you can't learn to shoot a revolver effectively, but understand the extra time and effort it's going to take to get there.
Myth #3: Husbands should teach their wives to shoot. Gentlemen, I know you are well-intentioned when you offer to teach your lady how to shoot. But as both a firearms trainer and a husband, let me tell you: it's not worth it. With few exceptions, a man teaching his significant other to shoot is an exercise in frustration for both of you. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that the man usually wants his lady to absorb everything he knows about shooting in one lesson. He means well, but he dumps so much on her that she doesn't learn much of anything, and she just winds up upset with her man. I've seen this dynamic play out time and time again.
Take my word for it. Professional gun training is cheaper than relationship counseling. You're both better off, in terms of both finances and domestic tranquility, hiring a skilled firearms instructor.
All three of these myths deserve to die a quick death. Sadly, I've seen belief in these myths lead many women to give up shooting altogether. It need not be so. Please assist me in stamping them out by spreading the word to your well-meaning but uninformed friends.
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